Remarks at Media Availability with Leader Schumer Following Meeting with Trump Administration on Coronavirus Relief Legislation
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:
Leader Schumer. Well, thank you for coming. It was a disappointing meeting. We reiterated in very strong terms our offer. We come down a trillion from our top number, which is 3.4 [trillion dollars]. They go up a trillion from their top number, which was one [trillion dollars], and that way, we can begin to meet in the middle. Unfortunately, they rejected it. They said they couldn’t go much above their existing $1 trillion, and that was disappointing.
The bottom line is very simple. There are only really two choices. Choice one, negotiate – for them. There are only two choices for them. Negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. Don’t say, it’s your way or no way. And if we do that, we can accomplish a whole lot of things. The other choice is for them to do executive orders, which by their own admission – they’ve said it to us repeatedly, is not close to as good. It doesn’t cover opening of schools. It doesn’t cover testing. It doesn’t cover dealing with rental assistance. It doesn’t cover elections. It doesn’t cover so many things. There’s a long list; I could go on and on and on.
So, we’re asking them, again, to be fair, to meet us in the middle, not have a my-way-or-the-highway attitude, which they seem to have, and we can really get this done. Because there are some areas where we didn’t come to agreement on that many things, but we narrowed our differences and saw where each other was.
So, we’re hopeful that they will think about it and come back and tell us they’re willing to meet us halfway.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Leader. As you were speaking and in these meetings, I always think about the children. When people ask me what are the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children, their health, their education, their economic security, their families, the health and safety, a place for them to live and thrive and a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfilment. The first four of those are in this legislation, their health, their health.
It’s disappointing that now that today marks the twelfth week since we passed the Heroes Act. Central to it is how we can open our economy, open our schools safely and the rest. Since that time, twelve weeks ago, 3.5 million people have been added to the list of those infected, since we passed our bill, 3.5 million people and 70,000 have died.
At that same time, Mitch McConnell said, ‘Pause.’ He pushed the pause button. If we had acted in a closer time, then so many lives and livelihoods would have been saved. So, the health of our children. And the health of our children depends on having access to food. There are millions of food insecure children in America, and that’s one of the prices where we had a big difference. We had $67 billion for food and utility costs, most of it food; they had $250,000.
So, we are far apart, yes. Can we find some common ground? Yes. Can we cut back on our number? Not cut back on our number of children who are fed, but for the length, how long the legislation lasts. I just say that to give you an example of how far apart we are, and how we can make a change.
Our children and their education, what is more sacred to us than sending our children, in my case grandchildren now, to school in a safe way? We all want our children to go to school. Children want to go and be with their friends. Parents need them to go so that they can go to work. Teachers want to be honoring their vocation, teaching children.
But we cannot subject our children to risk of being sick, contrary to what the Secretary of Education said is, ‘Astronauts take risks, why shouldn’t children take risks?’ So, that’s what we’re dealing with. And in the proposal that they put forth, the money largely, overwhelmingly going to schools that were opening up. Well, we’re seeing most schools in the country are virtual or hybrid, some opening up, some undecided yet, because it takes – they want to see how much money they have. Because it makes a difference how much money we have. Now, it is interesting to them and they did not know that hybrid, some virtual, some in-person, in-person actual and virtual cost about the same amount of money.
So, why on Earth was the President saying, ‘Unless you take this money and open up, we’re not giving you this money.’ So, we have a philosophical difference as well as an amount of money difference. Our children, their health, their education, their housing.
Housing has such a psychological impact on children and their well-being. Many families, millions of families, actually, by one estimate 12.9 million families face eviction, face eviction. The President may do a moratorium. It takes more than a moratorium, it takes money. It takes money and they had to be convinced of that. So, this takes time. There are other things: the economic security of their families, the economic security of their families and that, of course, is impacted by how much money we put out there for America’s working families, those unemployed.
Very important to all of this, the health, the education, the economic security of our children’s families are the state and local governments. That’s why we honor our heroes with the resources that are there. Health care workers, first responders, teachers, transportation, sanitation, food workers who meet the needs of people. Whatever we do with education from the federal government is minor compared to what state and local government invests in education. You cut that, you’re cutting education. You cut access to the health care workers, millions of people will be fired. One and a half million have already been fired at the state and local level and the expectation is 3.6 [million] more.
So, when we have these debates, it is rooted in the well-being of our children, the kitchen table issues of their families. This isn’t about tax policy or whatever other kind of philosophical argument. This is about the safety net for our children, just as we have a safety net for the markets. The markets are doing well, they have their safety net. Let’s have that, because this safety net isn’t just for our children, it’s for our whole economic system. Pay now or pay later. We have to do so much more now.
This morning was a disappointing – I don’t care what rose they try to pin on it, it’s got a lot of thorns. And that’s because four million jobs in June, 1.8 [million] in July, it’s fading. And the four million, and even the 1.8, are because of the major investments that we have made. We need to make more.
Everyone tells us, again, pay now. Pay later and pay bigger, in terms of the health of the lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy, as the distinguished Leader has referenced. So, when we talk about this, this isn’t about negotiating or leverage or – it’s about meeting the needs of the American people. Can we trim back some of the timing that goes for ‘x’ number of – we fully expect to be able to correct all of that in a short period of time anyway. But I’ve told them come back when you are ready to give us a higher number.
If I just may, pardon for a moment, Mr. Schumer.
Leader Schumer. Please.
Speaker Pelosi. We had two victories. Last night, we won in court on the attempt by the part of the Republicans to challenge the proxy voting. You know, they took it to court.
Leader Schumer. Right.
Speaker Pelosi. And we won that. And then today, in the McGahn case, there was a district court, en banc, en banc, en banc, that means the whole court voted, seven to two in favor of the House having standing in order to bring, bring the case. They were trying to defeat us on standing and now that case will be heard. So, we were pretty happy about our court decisions as we go along and I just wanted to share that.
Leader Schumer. We have time for a question or two.
Q: What now? I mean, has President Trump ever talked to either of you?
Speaker Pelosi. Perhaps you missed what I said. What I said, I said, ‘Come back when you’re ready to give us a higher number.’
Leader Schumer. We asked them, had they talked to President Trump about this, they said yes. But we said, ‘Well, we hope he’ll change his mind.’ Because we do want to come to an agreement, very much so, but it’s got to be an agreement, as the Speaker said, that meets the needs of kids and not just, they said, my way or no way. Because we can’t, with that number, meet the needs of workers, of teachers, of schools, of all of those things.
And even when they do – if they were to do and they didn’t mention it in the room – an Executive Order, it didn’t come up, it’s not going to be done in as good a way. You can’t do unemployment benefits in as good a way as you can legislatively. You can’t do a payroll tax cut, which even their own Republicans are against, if you don’t do it legislatively. All these things, you can’t do student loans, some forbearance, as good as you can legislatively –
Speaker Pelosi. Or a moratorium.
Leader Schumer. Because you can’t spend the money, as I understand it, you just have to delay it. You think a small business person is going to want to pay twelve months or six months of payroll tax all at once six months from now?
So, we were asking them come back and negotiate, but realize the House is Democratic, they need a majority of Democratic votes in the Senate, meet us in the middle, for God’s sake, please, for the sake of America, meet us in the middle. Don’t say my way or no way, which is what they’re saying. They don’t want to come off their number.
Speaker Pelosi. And by the way, it’s not a question of they have a good bill, we have a good bill. No, they don’t have a good bill. They have a piecemeal bill. But let me say this other thing –
Leader Schumer. That can’t pass the Senate with Republicans.
Speaker Pelosi. With – the Republicans don’t even support their bill. For other reasons, however.
When you have an opportunity like this, to do something for American people, it’s an opportunity, but we can’t have it be a missed opportunity to do that by settling for something so low, so beneath the needs – meeting the needs of the American people.
Leader Schumer. Thank you.