Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room to discuss the more than 100 days since the House passed the Heroes Act, Senate Republicans’ empty COVID relief proposal and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Wolf Blitzer. Speaker Pelosi, thank you so much for joining us. When we look back on September 11, 2001, at that time all of us remember Republicans and Democrats showed great unity in the face of that threat. I wonder why, why can't Republicans and Democrats come together now in the face of another deadly threat to pass, for example, much-needed relief for the American people?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, Wolf, thanks. First of all, may I thank you for opening up this conversation remembering 9/11. It's hard to imagine that it was nineteen years ago. Our hearts still carry the memory and the pain of those families who lost their loved ones in that assault on our country.
At the same time, we have fires burning in California, we have people still suffering from the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and we have the COVID challenge, the coronavirus challenge. One of the reasons that we have not been able to come together is because our Republican colleagues and the President of the United States and apparently those who advise him have not been willing to accept the science. Science, science, science. The science tells us testing, tracing, treating, mask wearing, isolation, sanitation.
There is a way to curb the spread of this virus. It's exactly what we have spelled out in our Heroes Act. But if you're not accepting science and you don't believe in governance, you don't want to have government action, then we have that unfortunate results that we have.
All of the scientists tell us, the academics tell us testing, testing, testing. And I was so pleased that earlier this week nine – there were [eleven] leaders within the [NIH], pushed back on the CDC guidance on testing in saying this is an answer for us to go forward.
It's just so sad. We don't know how many lives would've been saved, but we know that many would have if we would have only followed what science was telling us.
Wolf Blitzer. This is clearly another critical moment. There are a lot of people out there who can't pay their rent, who are even having trouble putting food on the table. Why not, Speaker Pelosi, why not work together? There's a Republican majority in the Senate, a Democratic majority in the House. Neither side can completely get what they want. Why not come up with some sort of compromise, at least in the short term, and help those Americans right now who are struggling, struggling bitterly to pay the rent and get their businesses back afloat and worry about some of the bigger issues down the road, at least pass something right now?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you pose a question, as usual, very well. And that's why we came down a trillion dollars right from the start and said, ‘We’ll come down a trillion and you go up a trillion.’ And then we went further than that and said, ‘We'll meet you halfway.’
But you posed in terms of hunger and rent. And that's exactly what the Republicans did not have in their bill that they had on the Floor yesterday. Millions of children are food insecure in our country, millions of their families are on the verge of eviction, but yet not $1 on rent or any money for food insecurity.
The testing, testing, testing that we have in our legislation is essential, essential to stopping the spread of this terrible virus, which if we can crush it, we can open up our schools and our economy more safely. But if you are referencing state and local government as something that we can put off until later, I strenuously disagree.
State and local government is where our heroes are, hence the Heroes Act. Our health care workers, our first responders, police and fire, our sanitation, transportation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. Over 90 percent of our school budgets come from state and local government. And the President has every day, including I think today, sadly on 9/11, he decided to be critical of states who have outlays on coronavirus, have revenue lost because of coronavirus, but will not help their budget. That's the fiscal soundness of state government is very essential to the soundness of our economy.
So, what we have in our bill is essential, essential to ending the virus, opening up our schools and economy safely. And, again, we have come down enormously to cut our bill in half.
Wolf Blitzer. So, Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. But if they don't believe in science, have no money for food, no money for rent as was indicated, then you've posed – a challenge.
Wolf Blitzer. So, Speaker Pelosi have the talks now collapsed and we shouldn't anticipate anything passing between now and let's say November 3, election day? Or are you still talking to the White House, to the Republican leadership in the Senate? I know you're not talking directly with the President.
Speaker Pelosi. No, I don't, because I find no reason – there's no, shall we say, validity to whatever he says. But putting that aside because it's 9/11, let's just go to your question.
No, I'm completely optimistic, as is Chuck Schumer. I was so proud of him yesterday to reject that terrible skinny bill to a massive problem that we have. Not even trying to find common ground to meet the needs of the American people, in fact, being disdainful and contemptible of the needs of the American people.
So, no, I'm optimistic. I do think that we should have an agreement. That's what we all want. But we're not going to say, okay, if the President could just only get his name on a check that goes into a family, then we don't have to worry about 14 million children food insecure, millions of families on the verge of eviction, the virus affecting communities of color in such a disproportionate way, the mental health challenges that go with all of that.
This is a very big assault on the well-being of our country, and they're coming up with a mini-mouse little proposal. And you're saying, why don't we just take that? You're not saying that, but there are some who might say that. But the fact is, this is, is that this is about our country and our future. And science, science, science is giving us the answers, which they have rejected.
We had testing in the first bill, March 4th, the first bill. We've had testing in other bills. But they simply will not embrace the need for what is called – we need more than one million, maybe three million tests a day. And then we can trace, and then we can treat. And as we separate and the rest, we can conquer this virus. We can conquer it with science. We cannot conquer it with ignorance.
Wolf Blitzer. Let me put up on the screen a tweet from the President of the United States. ‘Pelosi and Schumer want trillions of dollars of bailout money for blue states that are doing badly, both economically and in terms of high crime, as a condition to making a deal on stimulus – But the U.S.A. is coming back strong!’ Do you want to give me a quick reaction to what the President is saying there?
Speaker Pelosi. Pathetic as usual. The fact is that what we have in this bill is corona-centric. It's to compensate the states and the localities for their outlays that they have made for their health care costs related to the coronavirus. And then, it is also – have the flexibility to use some of the funds for the loss of revenue because of stay-at-home, shelter-at-home wisely used in the spring and that helped delay some of the spread of it. Since we passed our bill – so when the President says that, it has no relationship to the reality, and this money goes to all the states and localities in our country. But that's not a reason, it is an excuse. And it is really an abomination because the fiscal soundness of these states is important to the fiscal soundness of our country.
And nonetheless, if we don't do the money, what happens? People who have risked their lives to save other people's lives will now be at risk of losing their jobs. They lose their jobs, they go on Unemployment Insurance. Services are cut to people, taxes may be raised. What we are proposing is what is an answer to it. And even the Fed and other economists are saying we must support the state and local governments.
And for the President to say that – well, I can't explain why he says anything, but, again, putting it aside, it is not anything that we can put off until later. It's something that must happen now. Over 90 percent of the education of our children comes from state and local government.
Wolf Blitzer. Alright. Let me make a quick turn while I have you, Speaker. The President making a dramatic announcement today on normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and an Arab state, Bahrain, the Kingdom of Bahrain. This follows the peace treaty that’s about to be signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates this coming Tuesday at the White House. These are dramatic developments in the Middle East. How much credit do you give the President of the United States for these peace agreements?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, hopefully they will, they’ll be beneficial to the region. We've been waiting for a very long time for the President's proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that honored the two-state solution. It was coming in two weeks, it was coming in two months. It still hasn't come in any way that has brought peace. So, good for him for having a distraction on a day when the numbers of people who are affected and the numbers of people who are dying from this virus only increase.
Since we passed the Heroes Act, over 5 million people have become infected. That's when Mitch McConnell pressed the pause button. Over 100,000 people have died when Mitch McConnell pressed the pause button. That's what we're dealing with right now. Life and death in our own country.
And if you want to talk about the Middle East, how ridiculous is the President's statement about the slaughter of Khashoggi and his, I don't know what you would call it, of the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince. Why – think of this. Why would the President of the United States on his first trip out of the country go to Saudi Arabia? Why would he do that? All of our former presidents in recent times have gone to Canada. George W. Bush went to Mexico. We have plenty of allies we could have visited. Did you ever wonder why he went, and I particularly wonder on this day of 9/11, why he chose to go to Saudi Arabia?
Wolf Blitzer. Well, what do you think? Why did he do that?
Speaker Pelosi. I ask you. I ask you.
Wolf Blitzer. Well, you're the Speaker of the House. You're privy to the most sensitive intelligence information out there.
Speaker Pelosi. I wonder. I wonder.
Wolf Blitzer. Do you want to give us a thought?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I just wonder because it was strange and it's doubly strange now that he is absolving the Crown Prince of any association with the slaughter of Khashoggi. But it's the same thing as he's done with Putin. He seems to be attracted to people who do not have a respect for what we would consider civilized human behavior.
But, again, putting him aside, forget him. Forget what he says about elections. Because he only wants to scare people. He wants to tell them their vote may not matter because it may not be delivered in time by the postal system, which he is dismantling.
So, you know, we don't agonize, we organize. And we are organizing to elect a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, Joe Biden president of the United States, Kamala Harris vice president, so that we can make the change. And part of that change will be to work in a bipartisan way, as you suggested earlier, with the respect for the dignity and worth of our Constitution and the American people, protecting our planet, protecting our values. And I really am excited about that and look forward to that because right now our country has a sickness, and it begins at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Wolf Blitzer. You got to come up with a compromise. As I said, there's a Democratic majority in the House, a Republican majority in the Senate. You got to work together. There are a lot of people out there who need help right now. And the Congress, the Executive Branch –
Speaker Pelosi. Believe it or not, as Members of Congress, we know that. We are here to meet their needs. That's not what the Republicans are about. But we must strive to find our common ground. I agree with you with that. But if you are concerned about those people who are hungry or homeless and the rest of that, talk to your Republican friends about that as well.
Wolf Blitzer. Well, there's got to be a compromise out there because there are a lot of people who are needy. Speaker Pelosi, you were very generous with your time today.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure.
Wolf Blitzer. Thank you so much for joining us. Stay safe out there.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. You too. You too, Wolf. Bye-bye.