Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin

September 14, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Craig Melvin on MSNBC Live 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: 

Craig Melvin.  I want to bring in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now, a Democrat who represents San Francisco.  Madam Speaker, let's start there in California with the wildfires that are raging.  First of all, have you talked with the President directly about getting your district and state some additional relief? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No, I haven't.  But let me first say, I extend the sympathy of all of us in Congress to those who lost their loved ones, lost their livelihood, lost their homes and the rest in all of this uncertainty in many states, including California.  A large number of people have lost their lives.  Let me salute our firefighters who are so courageous, so brave, risking their lives to save other lives.  We’ve lost one, hopefully no more. 

But you see the danger that is there and the courage that it takes to fight it.  The governor of the states – the governors of the states, as well as our Members of Congress who represent these districts, are in communication with all of us here. 

When I left California over the previous weekend, the air was unhealthy and terrible.  It's even worse now.  So, again, there are short term and long term issues that have to be dealt with.  The denial of the science of climate change is something that is – some people are going to have to answer to their children and grandchildren for. 

I just had a meeting of world leaders, virtually of course, of the speakers, the presidents of the parliaments from the seven – the G7 plus the EU.  The theme was Addressing the Climate Crisis with Economic and Environmental Justice. 

That will now have to include COVID, which descended upon us since we established that theme one year ago.  There is agreement among everyone outside of our country that there is – that this is a fact that has to be dealt with.  Why the President ignores that, I don't know. 

In the short term, however, we did make a change in a bipartisan way in the Congress in 2018, where we stopped the borrowing from the fire funds.  People were borrowing the money for cleaning up rather than using the money earlier on for prevention and increasing the amount of money that we had to mitigate for future damage as we went along.  That is an improvement, but we have to do much more.

When the President says all they have to do is rake the leaves and ignore the climate challenge that we face, it's really quite sad.  I understand that he had an anti-science rally, is what the press reported.  It was an anti-science rally in Nevada.  So, you see the challenges, a clear one. 

But I don't have any complaint about any of the cooperation that is being received from the national level to our state in California.  I can't speak for the other states. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker, let's talk about the pandemic that continues to grip this country, specifically, another relief bill.  The Senate not taking up the House's bill, the Senate couldn't even pass its own bill. 

Speaker Pelosi.  That’s right.

Craig Melvin.  Here we are approaching some 200,000 deaths.  Millions of Americans are unemployed, underemployed as well.  Will we have another round of negotiations before the election?

Speaker Pelosi.  I hope so.  That is our goal.  We all want to have an agreement, but it has to be real.  What the Senate did was not real.  The fact is, though, one of the focuses that we must have if we're going to come out of this is to attack the virus.  We must crush the virus.  That's one of our big disagreements, is to crush the virus, to have sufficient funds for the testing, treatment, tracing, social distancing, wearing of masks, sanitation that is necessary to crush the virus, to stop the increase in the numbers, especially in our communities of color.  That's what we do in the Heroes Act.

We have $75 billion.  They have $15 billion.  They said, ‘We'll compromise and go to $16 [billion].’  In addition, we are honoring our heroes, our health care workers, our first responders, our sanitation, transportation, teachers, teachers, teachers, who are fighting this fight, the COVID fight. 

One major disagreement between us is that the Administration and the Republicans in Congress are disrespectful of the role that state and local government plays in fighting the virus, as well as in educating our children and meeting the needs of the American people.  So, we came down $1 trillion.  Then we came down further and said, ‘We'll meet you halfway.’ 

We have tried to cooperate in terms of – now, we're not being Sophie’s Choice, saying, ‘We'll feed these children; we won’t feed these.’  We're just cutting the time of the authority that we are giving, with the hope that the need will not increase and that we will have a different Administration in January to meet the needs of our children. 

Children, millions of children in our country are food insecure.  Millions of their families are on the verge of being evicted.  These people that I talked about are heroes on the verge of being fired because the resources are simply not there.  When they're fired, they'll go on Unemployment Insurance.  Is that smart?  I don't think so. 

But the main way that we can open our economy and open our schools is for us to crush the virus.  Instead, the Administration is trying to crush the Affordable Care Act in the courts, doing away with the benefit of pre-existing conditions, which is so important to over 150 million of America's families.  Even more so now with the coronavirus. 

But to your point, yes, we all know that we need to come to agreement.  Coming to agreement is not, though, to say, ‘What's the least we can do?  Let's ignore the states.  Let's ignore the need for the testing.  Let's ignore the hunger.  Let’s ignore the evictions.’ 

I heard the Secretary this morning – of the Treasury saying, ‘Everything is great.  The brightest spot in all of this is the housing market.’  No, millions of families are on the verge of eviction.  The President says he wants a moratorium, but a moratorium without money doesn't really help.  It certainly doesn't help the landlords who will face foreclosure.  So, we have our differences, but we also have our responsibility to find common ground. 

That's why Senator Schumer and I, Leader Schumer and I, agreed to come down $1 trillion if they went up $1 trillion.  Then we went further and said, ‘We'll meet you halfway.’  But, where they are in all of this is an insult to the intelligence of the American people and an anti-science, anti-fight against the coronavirus. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker, you just eluded to the election.  We are 50 days away now. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Fifty. 

Craig Melvin.  The President, as you know, has made a number of unsubstantiated claims of mail-in voter fraud.  In fact, it's been a bit of a centerpiece at a number of his rally speeches.  Just this weekend, he said that Democrats are rigging the election because it's the only way your party could win.  How do you counter this messaging from the President –President?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I have a motto.  We don't agonize, we organize.  And we – I tell people, don't pay any attention to him because he either doesn't know what he's talking about or doesn't care that he doesn't know what he's talking about.  The fact that he would try to persuade people that their vote doesn't count tells you everything you need to know and then more about this President.  But forget him. 

Again, with the coronavirus, let's not dwell on what he did in the past.  Let's go forward and crush the virus.  Let's go forward and have a free and fair election and, whoever wins, we will honor that decision by the American people. 

But don't try to manipulate and dismantle the postal system so that people's votes are in doubt, as to whether they received their ballot or whether it will be received back by the authorities to count their vote.  And again – have the involvement of Russia, which is fully documented by the intelligence community, that they have been 24/7, for a long time, trying to manipulate this election.  The President welcomes it.  It's wrong. 

But, again, forget him.  We're organizing to make sure – I tell people to go to  You'll find out how you can participate. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker, with all due respect, you just said, ‘forget him.’ 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah.  Forget him. 

Craig Melvin.  Talking about the President.  You haven't talked to him about the wildfires.  I get the impression you probably haven't talked to him about the coronavirus relief bill.  Have you and the President just stopped talking?  Is that where we are? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I’ve spoken to his representatives and he says that they speak for him.  I take that to be true about the Secretary of the Treasury, and we have worked together. 

We worked together to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, a bill completely different from what the President sent us.  But when the Democrats weighed in for America's workers and our environment, we had a bill that we could pass.  People said to me, ‘Why would you give the President that victory?’  I said it’s a victory for America's workers, and it's a different bill than he sent us.  So, we worked with his team on that. 

We worked for – with four COVID bills with the Administration.  Four passed in an overwhelmingly bipartisan way and I hope that we can do it now. 

Quite frankly, my experience with the President is it hasn't been on the level.  You know, he'll say something, then it doesn't really happen.  So, in the interest of time, we'll work with who he sends over to – if he has their – if they have his confidence, then we'll work with them on these issues.  But, you’ve seen on TV any number of times, where the President said, ‘You send me a bipartisan immigration bill and I will sign it,’ and then walks away.  You wonder who is in charge there, if he says that and then walks away from it.  So, I don't find it a good use of time. 

But I do know that the Congress and the Executive Branch need to work together to get the job done.  And the good use of time would be to follow the data, look at the science.  Science, data, facts and evidence.  

I do have concerns about this Administration and what they're trying to do, trying to mischaracterize what the data means and the rest.  I’m very pleased that the heads of the centers at the FDA, Food and Drug Administration, have said they're not going to proceed any faster than science determines in terms of approving a vaccine. 

I’m very pleased that, was it nine?  Eleven?  Eleven leaders at the [NIH] said they were going to promote testing, testing, testing as opposed to the guidance put out by the head of the CDC at the direction of the President.  And I was very pleased that the, was it eight heads of pharma companies said they will not promote, nor will they market, a vaccine that has not met the standard and passed the test of approvals at the FDA and approval of the independent advisory committee that would be necessary.  So, there are scientists who are speaking out about the need to follow the science, the evidence, the data, the truth. 

Craig Melvin.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, we'll have to leave it there.  Speaker, thank you.  Thank you for your time this morning. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Always my pleasure.  Thank you, Craig.  Thank you.