Transcript of Pelosi Interview on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos

September 20, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week to discuss the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the more than 125 days since the House passed the Heroes Act and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

George Stephanopoulos.  Let's get more on this now from the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.  Speaker Pelosi, thanks for joining us this morning.

Speaker Pelosi.  Good morning. 

George Stephanopoulos.  You wrote Friday that the passing of Justice Ginsburg is an incalculable loss for our democracy.  How do you remember her, and how will the House honor her? 

Speaker Pelosi.  I'm so glad the country is providing such an outpouring of love and support to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Petite, tiny in size, huge in impact and powerful, brilliant brain on the Court.  She was so remarkable, and I can't help but thinking the good person that she is as we extend condolences to her family.  She would want us to keep our eye on the ball of the 200,000 people who will be – probably this weekend we’ll reach – sadly reach that number. 

This challenge that we have is directly – if the President thinks this isn't about the coronavirus, it is.  It's about health care.  So, the President is rushing to make some kind of a decision because he – November 10 is when the arguments begin on the Affordable Care Act.  He doesn't want to crush the virus.  He wants to crush the Affordable Care Act. 

So, again, in terms of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, any one of us who knew her, who loved her, who respected her, and that includes almost anybody who had an appreciation for greatness, mourn her loss, but would want us to move forward to protect the people who are sick, those with coronavirus who now have – millions of them now have a pre-existing condition.  That's what the President wants to crush when he says he wants to replace the Chief Justice – excuse me the Justice in this short period of time. 

George Stephanopoulos.  Of course, you're the Speaker of the House, not a Member of the Senate.  Is there any way Democrats can slow this nomination down or block it? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, as you say, that is a matter for the Senate, but I will say this.  It's really important for everyone to get out there and vote.  The day the Justice passed away, ten states started early voting that day.  We just want everyone across the country who cares about health care for all Americans, who cares about crushing the coronavirus, who cares about a woman's right to choose, who cares about LGBTQ rights, the list goes on and on, to vote.  The election is very important. 

Let me just remind that when we had the Lilly Ledbetter case before the Supreme Court, the Court ruled against women in the workplace.  Justice Ginsburg wrote the dissent.  That dissent became the Lilly Ledbetter law that was the first bill signed by Barack Obama. 

So, the Congress has the ability to overturn the injustices that spring from the Supreme Court, and that's why we have to have a big turnout in this election, not from politics, not for anything other than what it means to people in their homes, in their lives. 

George Stephanopoulos.  You are in the middle of negotiations over government funding.  The government runs out of funding at the end of September.  Is there any way you can use leverage in those negotiations to slow this nomination down? 

Speaker Pelosi.  None of us has any interest in shutting down government.  That has such a harmful and painful impact on so many people in our country, so I would hope that we can just proceed with that.  There is some enthusiasm among, some exuberance on the left to say, ‘Let’s use that,’ but we're not going to be shutting down government. 

I do hope though that the focus on health care and what it means in terms of the courts will have public opinion be of such magnitude that the Republicans will finally, finally address the coronavirus crisis, finally subscribe to a plan to crush the virus, to listen to scientists about testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, sanitation, ventilation, social distancing.  Why have we not adopted that as a country?  That is a place where we can slow the growth and perhaps crush this virus.  Instead – well, I don't want to go into instead.  You know what instead is.

George Stephanopoulos.  Let me press you though on what happens.  You said you want people to get out there and vote, but even that's no guarantee that the White House and Senate Republicans won't try to push through a Supreme Court nomination in a lame duck session even if Joe Biden wins on November 3rd, even if Democrats win, pick up seats in the House and maybe even the Senate.  So, what can you do then?  Some have mentioned the possibility if they try to push through a nominee in a lame duck session that you and the House can move to impeach President Trump or Attorney General Barr as a way of stalling and preventing the Senate from acting on this nomination. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, we have our options.  We have arrows in our quiver that I'm not about to discuss right now, but the fact is, we have a big challenge in our country.  This President has threatened to not even accept the results of the election with statements that he and his henchmen have made.  So, right now, our main goal and I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg would want that to be to protect the integrity of the election, as we protect the American people from the coronavirus.  And I have faith in the American people on this Sunday morning. 

I hope and pray we have a vaccine, and that it will be soon, but it must be safe and efficacious when we do.  Not one day sooner or one day later than that. 

But the fact is, this Administration has been a total failure in protecting the health and well-being of the American people, and it has had an impact on our economy.  The lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy are threatened by this Administration.

So, again, when people say, ‘What can I do?’  You can vote.  You can get out the vote, and you can do so as soon as possible.

Ten states as I said, on Friday, started their early voting, the day that we lost Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

George Stephanopoulos.  But to be clear, you're not taking any arrows out of your quiver?  You’re not ruling anything out?

Speaker Pelosi.  Good morning, Sunday morning.  We have a responsibility.  We've taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people.  That is when we weigh the equities of protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver.

George Stephanopoulos.  And, finally, if the Republicans still are successful, many of your colleagues have called for, again, if a majority is voted for Democrats in November, expanding the court in retaliation.  Your response?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let's just win the election.  Let's hope that the President will see the light.

Again, there's many, many people in our country, and millions more now because of coronavirus who have pre-existing medical conditions.  The President has not been truthful in what he has said about that.  He is in court to crush the pre-existing condition as he crushes the Affordable Care Act instead of crushing the virus.

So, people have something at stake in this decision, and how quickly the President wants to go.  I don't think they care about who said what, when, and all the rest of that, but they do care about their own health and well-being and the financial health and well-being of their families if they are subjected to unlimited costs because of a pre-existing condition, as well as eliminating the caps that have been placed by the Affordable Care Act on what insurance companies can charge.

So this – again, this is about the people.  It's about their health, their economic well-being, the health of our democracy.  We have a great deal at stake here.  I think we should be very calm.  We should be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She was brilliant and she was strategic and she was successful.  And she did more for equality for women in our country than anyone that you can name, and women appreciate that, and I think that you will see women weighing in on all of these decisions, be they elections, confirmations or the rest.

George Stephanopoulos.  Madam Speaker, thanks very much for your time this morning.

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure.  Thank you, George.