Transcript of Pelosi Interview on Bloomberg's Balance of Power with David Westin

September 18, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined David Westin on Bloomberg’s Balance of Power to discuss the more than four months 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: 

David Westin.  We now turn to the woman who has been trying to get that stimulus for over four months, right now.  She is Speaker of the House and she is Nancy Pelosi.  Madam Speaker, thank you so much for being with us. 

You heard Brian say we need stimulus, but before stimulus, there’s also that little pesky thing like keeping the government going past the end of the month.  Let’s spend a minute on that first.  There were reports we might have an announcement midday today.  Are we ready to make an announcement on that? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, we are not ready to make an announcement right this minute, but we are very close to one.  The – I have said for a while now that we would keep government open and we would have a clean Continuing Resolution.  The Secretary of the Treasury has made a similar statement.  Now, we’re just working out the details.  But we hope to have it today so that we can bring into the Floor early next week and then go to the Senate, which usually takes a little longer in terms of their process.  So that by the end of the fiscal year, which is September 30th, there will be no question that the government will be open. 

David Westin.  Can you give us anything, a peek?  How long will it extend it?  Will it be December or past then? 

Speaker Pelosi.  That is a question that we are still negotiating. 

David Westin.  Fair enough.  I tried, I tried.

[Laughter]

Let's go back to that fiscal stimulus.  As I said, Brian Moynihan, the head of Bank of America, earlier today, said we need more stimulus, we need it for the people who really are hurting right now.  Where are we on that deal right now?  You came in at $3.5 [trillion], came down to $2.2 [trillion].  The Republicans were well south of that.  Now, we have a $1.5 trillion compromise.  Where are you? 

Speaker Pelosi.  I am at $2.2 [trillion].  The – I represent our Caucus.  The Senate Democrats and the House Democrats agreed on the $3.4 [trillion], the Heroes Act.  I don’t know why that the Republicans didn’t think the American people were worthy of that investment, but they didn’t.  So, taking some of the time off of it, not changing any priorities, but shortening the time in which the law would apply, we came down, took down $1 trillion, asked them to come up $1 trillion, which they didn’t.  Then we said we will meet you halfway, that’s at $2.2 [trillion]. 

But as your show has demonstrated and – if that was Brian, I couldn’t see – said, there are other issues that have emerged because the Administration has had contempt for science, not done with the scientists have recommend in terms of testing, tracing, treating, distancing, sanitation, mask wearing and the rest.  We have not improved our situation from a health standpoint.  So, therefore, whether it is airlines or restaurants or small businesses and the rest, there are some additional needs. 

We say $2.2 [trillion] is our figure.  If we have to negotiate for some of these additional things, that would come out of the hide of our priorities we had before, but if that’s what the traffic will bear.  So, we will negotiate with the Administration and the Republicans, not with ourselves. 

Now, the other point is that, with all of this, quoting the Chairman of the Fed, he has again and again said we need his monetary policy, yes, our fiscal policy.  So, elected officials have the power to tax-and-spend.  It is really important that we have a substantial package.  He also said that the state and local governments are – their fiscal stability is important to our economy.  He has also said that unless we get rid of the virus, we’re never going to really solve our economic problems. 

So, that is what our bill does.  Many of the things that help state and local government, crushes – tries to crush the virus and also does so in a way that helps people, puts money in the pockets of the American people so they can spend.  We’re, as you know better than I, a consumer economy, so consumer confidence being very important in all of this. 

David Westin.  Yeah, no doubt about it.  You mentioned negotiating with the Administration.  The Administration has sent signals, they weren’t very subtle, saying they’re interested in something like $1.5 trillion compromise, which would have, as I understand it, $450 a week – not $600, but $450 a week for people for at least eight weeks, and would have $500 billion for the states.  Not the $900 [billion] you asked for, but not the $100 [billion] the Republicans have said.  Isn’t something better than nothing? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No.  It is a missed opportunity.  It is a missed opportunity.  And I have all the respect in the world for the work that our colleagues are doing.  I have a large number of my Members who want us to just go right back to the Floor with a $3.4 trillion.  I have some who have their suggestions about how you spent $2.2 trillion, but they also are saying with additional needs for airlines, transportation in other forms, restaurants, retail, issues like that, that we need to go higher than $2.2 [trillion], and then the $2.2 [trillion], which we have on the table. 

Now, it is – the state and local is critical.  As I said, they have contempt for science and that is why we are still in this unhealthy situation that we are.  Sadly, this weekend we will observe 200,000 people who have died from the virus.  Could we have saved them all?  No.  Could we have saved many?  Yes.  Science, science, science has the answers. 

And in our negotiations – differences between the two, we have $75 billion to do that.  That is what science, the academic community, higher learning, all the authorities tell us is needed to crush the virus.  They have $15 billion and they have said: if we – ‘We’ll compromise, we’ll go to $16 [billion].’  Well, that’s not – that is not going to be. 

State and local government, you, none of us could be functioning without state and local government having – our health care workers, our police and fire, our first responders, our food workers, our teachers, teachers, teachers, transportation, sanitation.  We could not be functioning without them. 

And yet, the disdain the White House has for them, largely saying, ‘Well, they’re blue states, so why should we be helping them,’ is really problematic for us because these people have risked their lives to save lives and now they may lose their jobs.  And when they do, services are reduced, taxes may be raised.  But then, these workers go on Unemployment Insurance.  What is the good of that?  Do we think we are saving any money in that way as we reduce services and the rest.

And of course, central to all of this is the education.  Every family in America is concerned about children, grandchildren in my case.  Are their children going to be able to go to school safely?  And that takes money.  That takes money.  So, these are part of the debate.  So, it’s not as in a little bit.  This is not a check the box situation.

These are the needs.  We have come down halfway in terms of meeting you halfway, but the needs are only growing.  They are not diminishing, if we are going to help the private sector as well. 

David Westin.  Madam Speaker, we talked with Senator Chuck Grassley, and one of the things he said, and we’ve heard from other Republicans as well, is on the question of state assistance, there is a fair amount of money left over from the CARES Act that has not been dispersed.  Why don’t we disperse that first?  What is your response to that?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, first of all, it is not a fair amount of money.  It is a small amount of money, and it has constraints on it that the Administration placed.  For example, the money that we want to do for state and local government has a formula that says for the outlays that you have spent fighting the virus.  That is one allocation of funds.  

And the other is for the loss of revenue.  When we did the earlier bill, the Administration would not allow the states to use any of that money for loss of revenue.  So, that is that packet.  That is about $150 billion, and that is just simply not enough.  And so, for them to say that – now, one of the reasons the money is not spent is because states do not have the flexibility to apply it to loss of revenue. 

The other reason is because people, states are saying, ‘Is there any more money coming?  How I spend whatever is left for me depends on what is coming next.’  I never thought four months would go by and the disdain for state and local government would be so dominant in the value system of the President of the United States. 

Now, what the President says, I thought you were going to go to the old chestnut that they bring up all of the time, not you, but they.  And that is, ‘Oh, these states, they just – ’ well, Mitch McConnell said it very clearly: let them go bankrupt.  Let them go bankrupt?  Let them go bankrupt?  Is that a good idea?  In fact, is it even an idea?  I don't think so. 

Next, these are strictly coronavirus-centric outlays.  They have nothing to do with any other cost expenses that states have or had from before or pensions or any of that.  But that is what they want to say because they do not want to spend the money. 

We know that it is a good thing that the Fed has done sureing up credit so that the market is where it is.  And that is a good thing.  No complaint about that. 

But aren't the American people worthy of being sured up by trillions of dollars of fiscal investment as well as monetary investment that the Fed has made in terms of credit?  We think so.  We think so.

And I don’t know, I say to the Republicans, is it the price?  You think it is too much money?  Or is it the money?  You just don’t want to spend it here?  You have other ideas like tax cuts for the high end where 80 percent of the benefits go to the top one percent.  But you've heard me say that before. 

So, here we are, and here's what the American people think.  A poll came out yesterday.  Who you trust in terms of the coronavirus?  Congressional Democrats, 49 [percent].  President Trump, 30 [percent].  They know what we need.  We need a scientific response to this so that we can open our economy and our schools safely and our polls so people do not have to choose between their health and the ability to cast their vote. 

That is another fight we’re engaged in.  

David Westin.  So, Madam Speaker, finally, as I say, you've been laboring in this vineyard a long time.  That Heroes Act was more than four months ago now.  You said you’re going to keep your House in session until you get this done.  Does that mean you think realistically even get it done in the next couple of weeks? 

Speaker Pelosi.  We’ll keep it going until they come to the table.  We have – the ball is in their court, and we will wait for them to come to the table.  But our Members stand ready to be here for the American people, and the American people are hurting.  We represent them.  

I have represented my constituents for over 30 years.  I love them like family.  I do not want them to feel the pain, but I do not want them used either.  By, ‘We will send you a check with the President's name on it.  That should keep you okay.’  Forget about 14 million children in America who are food insecure and millions of their families are about to be evicted or the people from the – our state and local heroes, who are about to – millions of them about to be fired if they do not get the resources, or the fact we are ignoring the science that will crush this virus and take us to the next place.

There are other issues, but those are the key ones. 

David Westin.  Thank you so much.  That was terribly helpful.  That’s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.