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

August 6, 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 evening. 

We had what I would call a consequential meeting.  It was one where we could see the difference in values that we bring to the table.  We have always said that the Republicans and the President do not understand the gravity of the situation and every time that we have met, it has been reinforced.

We want to reach an agreement for the American people, for our children and their education, for everyone and their health care, for our workers, for our the economy.  It’s so clear that this – that we should do something and we should do something big and we should do it in a way that is bipartisan as we have done every other bill. 

I couldn’t help but thinking while we were at the table that what they were offering us was Sophie’s Choice.  Not enough money for food.  Not enough, nothing for housing, in terms of rentals.  A moratorium, that’s nice, but it’s not money for rent.  It isn’t – not enough money for money in the pockets of the American people who really need this, who through no fault of their own are out of work. 

And, certainly, just – when they said a skinny proposal, it was anorexic and it was not to meet the needs of the American people.  What is a negotiation about?  It’s not about who gets more what in the halls of Congress.  It’s about what it translates into the lives of the American people.  And that’s why we kept asking them, ‘Why?  Why won’t you do this?  Why won’t you do that? Why won’t you do this?’ 

But nonetheless, we’ve had some exchange, further exchange of paper to be clarified to see if we can find some further common ground, but we’re very far apart.  It’s most unfortunate. 

I want to yield to the distinguished Leader in the Senate.  As I’ve said before, a former Member of the House of Representatives.  We welcome him back to our side of the Capitol.

Leader Schumer.  Well, thank you. 

And first, We’re very disappointed in the meeting, but we urge our Republican colleagues to come back and to continue to negotiate.  A few times it looked like they weren’t going to do that and we urge them to do it.  And why?  Because negotiation and a broad comprehensive agreement is the best way to go.  

But their stance was disappointing.  We asked them, would you meet us in the middle?  And they said no, it has to be mostly in our direction.  They were unwilling to meet in the middle.  They said it mostly has to be their way and they admitted that.  And that is what makes this so disappointing, because we believe we’re covering the needs of the American people.  

And they said, well, the President may do an Executive Order, a few Executive Orders.  But even then, they admitted that that would not – that would leave out millions and millions of people.  It would be as – did you –

Speaker Pelosi.  Sophie's Choice.

Leader Schumer.  Sophie's Choice.  Which of your children do you take and you leave a whole bunch behind?  And so we still urge them to rethink.  An Executive Order will leave millions of people out.  It will be litigated.  It won't be effective and things will get worse.  So we urge them to rethink their position. Their position is their way or the highway.  

And, again, I want to repeat almost the exact words I have, ‘Would you meet us in the middle?’  And they said no, it has to mostly be their way because the President wants it that way.  We urge the President, we urge the negotiators to rethink.  We want to sit down and negotiate tomorrow.  We want to keep going.  Because the best and, really, only good way to help the American people is a broad, strong bipartisan agreement.

Speaker Pelosi.  I just would like to say I saw something familiar in the room.  You know, I have been in the White House when the President has slammed the table and walked out.  And that is really what Mr. Meadows did, slammed the table and walked out.  

You are slamming the table on our children and their schools.  We need substantial help for our schools.  Everything tells us – authorities on the subject tell us that to have actual school, virtual school, or hybrid school costs approximately the same.  And, yet, the President is insisting the money will go to the schools that are only open actually.

So what does that say?  What does it say to children with disabilities, where we really need them to be getting as much care as possible, so that if there is a situation where they can be taken care of?  Well, they are saying, ‘Don't you want to take care of private schools?’  Yes, we want to take care of children in private schools, but they don't have to take care of all the children who have special needs or high risk, who are disabled or have special – are especially at risk and the rest.  

So, this whole thing about the schools, I mean, as a mom, as a grandma who has children in every, whether it’s Catholic, private, public school, teachers in the same vein.  We know that this is, God, central to the life of America, that our children are learning, the parents are earning.  

And that – this virus has prevented that from happening.  It’s because they didn't take the virus seriously in the beginning.  They’re not taking the consequences of the virus seriously at this time.  That is why it is hard to come to terms.  It’s, really, insensitive, it’s disdainful of America's working families.  It’s disdainful of the needs of our children and it’s disdainful of the attempt that we made in our legislation which contained what we needed. 

Now, if we need to cut back on some of the timing to reduce the cost, we can do that, but our priorities don’t go away.  Maybe the length of time that we have them there could find us in the middle, but they rejected that.

Leader Schumer.  I would say right now the President only has two choices.  The first is to negotiate with Democrats.  He knows Republicans can’t pass a bill.  He probably can’t even get a majority of Republican Senators to vote for any bill, let alone the House. 

So, one choice, the best choice is to continuing negotiating with us and realize he has to meet a compromise in the middle.  We can’t be all his way, or 95 or 90 percent his way. 

The second choice is to try his executive orders, which will leave most people out, will not cover the broad expanse of what’s needed, will be litigated in court and awkward and difficult to implement.  It’s not a good choice at all.  And they admitted that in the room.  They said, ‘That’s not a good choice.’ 

So, we plead with them.  Continue to negotiate, realize that you have to do this in a truly bipartisan way, not the way Donald Trump seems to see it, which is it mostly has to all be his way.  And we’re ready to sit down.  We want to sit down tomorrow.  We urged them.  We said we’d be here.  They’re going to think about it, but we urge them to come back.  Thank you.

Speaker Pelosi.  If I just may make this one other point about all of this, because I heard them reference, ‘We’re not going to bail out the states.’  You’re not bailing out the states.  We’re protecting the jobs of our heroes.  That’s why it’s called The Heroes Act, our health care workers, our first responders, our transportation, sanitation, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers.  There are a million and half who have been laid off already.  It was projected that there will be three and a half – 3.6 million more workers laid off.  And that’s what this – a lot of this discussion is about. 

The very idea that they would use the term, ‘We’re not bailing out the states.’  No, we’re helping to pay for the cost of the coronavirus, significant outlays.  And we want to avoid the layoffs that will come unless there is that help for the states. 

So, this is about our heroes.  We lose all moral authority to thank them and praise them if we’re not willing to help them keep their jobs.  They risk their lives to save other lives, and now they may lose their jobs.  And that’s because the Republicans are saying they’re not going to bail them out.  We don’t call it bailing out our heroes, we call it honoring them.  And that’s what this debate is significantly about. 

Q:  What did you offer to go into the middle with?  When you’re saying middle ground, what were you offering there, $1.5 trillion?  What exactly are you guys saying middle ground is?

Speaker Pelosi.  One point – do you know how to add and subtract?

[Laughter]