Remarks at Media Availability with Leader Schumer Following Meeting with Trump Administration on Coronavirus Relief Legislation

August 5, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer held a media availability after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to discuss further coronavirus relief legislation.  Below is a full transcript:

Speaker Pelosi.  Good afternoon. 

As we come together here in the Capitol, the American people – among the American people are many millions of children who are food insecure, many families who are concerned about being evicted, tens of millions of people who are on Unemployment Insurance.  We have to come to an agreement that meets the needs of the American people.  That is the standard.

This is an unusual negotiation, as I’ve said before, because people are dying.  And so, there is an urgency and a value that we have to address that is in the here and now.  And so, time is of the essence.  The Leader and I are determined that we will come to agreement, but it has to meet the needs of the American people.  That is our purpose here. 

And it has to be done in a timely fashion, because that is what is happening there.  We’ve got to end the virus, so we can open our schools and open our economy.  We’ve got to help state and local governments so that they can meet the needs of people.  And we have to put money in the pockets of the American people so that they can stimulate the economy, spend the money, inject demand and the rest. 

And we have to do it in a way that is respectful and not disdainful of America’s working families, as if we have to subject every dollar they receive to a scrutiny that we would never give to someone, a big tax break for wealthy individuals. 

So, this is the challenge that we have.  And, again, it is about some issues that are important to us and our big dollar figures that are important to us, and that is honoring our responsibilities to the American people in terms of the postal system.  Motherhood, apple pie, the postal system, an all-American system as well as how that has an impact on the life of our democracy. 

So, our lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy.  That is what we are having a discussion about, and I feel optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  But how long that tunnel is, remains to be seen.  

[Laughter]

Leader Schumer.  Let me first say we did meet, as the Speaker mentioned, with the head of the Postal Service.  It was heated discussion.  We told him that elections are sacred, and to do cutbacks at a time when the ballots – all ballots have to be counted.  You can’t say, ‘Oh, well, we’ll get 94 percent of them’ is insufficient.

We are demanding that the regulations they put in place, which cut employment and cut overtime, be rescinded, particularly because of COVID and because of the elections.  We need those to vote, and we will advocate strongly for money so that they can hire all the people necessary, both overtime and new people, to make sure that every single ballot is counted.  And that is a sine qua non for us. 

We told that to the Postmaster.  He had some answers.  I don’t think we found them adequate, but we are going to push for both the money and rescinding those rules that would get in the way of all the ballots being counted.

As for the main issue, the Speaker hit it.  This is a huge crisis.  We will – our Caucuses will only support a bill that meets that crisis.  To have a skinny, little bill, to say we’ll just pick one or two things and do those and walk away from all the other responsibilities, when we are in a deep recession, when we are in a major health crisis, is not living up to our obligations to the American people.  And so we’re going to keep sitting and working as the Speaker said.  And we are not walking away.

We heard that Mr. Meadows said in the lunch that if he doesn’t come to agreement on Friday, he’s going to walk away.  We confronted him with that.  He said he didn’t quite say that.  But a number of Senators say he did.   We will stay here as long as it takes to get an agreement.  And we urge Mr. Meadows to sit down and continue to work with us and to do it as long as it takes. 

There are wide differences in certain areas, particularly in terms of the areas, in terms of the high dollar areas, in terms of the amounts that are needed.  But we will sit and work and work until we meet the needs of the American people and get this job done.