Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes

September 21, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes 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: 

Chris Hayes.  Here now is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  Thank you, Speaker, so much for your, your patience.  I’ve reported on you long enough to know that you are both patient and determined, so I had – I had faith that we would make this happen together. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, any time I can hear Jane Mayer, I'm happy to do so, so no apology necessary.  And to hear you, as well. 

Chris Hayes.  Well, that’s kind of you.  And I want to start today with the announcement that Ruth Bader Ginsburg – this really blew my mind, I’ve been thinking about it all day – Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in state in the United States Capitol and, if I am not mistaken, be the first woman in history to do so.  It's remarkable that that is the case. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, she is the first woman to lie in state in the Capitol.  Before, we were able to have Rosa Parks lie in honor in the Capitol.  Lying in honor is for those who have not been in public office.  Lying in state is a different honor that Ruth Bader Ginsburg rightly has.  We're so proud of that. 

Chris Hayes.  You – you have been very clear.  I know that you have known the Justice for a long time and obviously are mourning her loss.  You have also been very clear about the stakes of her – of the nomination of her replacement, particularly about the Affordable Care Act and the fact that the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments that would uproot all of it.  What do you want people to know about the background condition under which this – this election, actually, is taking place and the Department of Justice's brief in that case? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, first let me just say how sad it is that we lost this wonderful, wonderful giant of the court at this time.  Any time she would leave would be a catastrophic loss for our country, but at this time.  And I would have hoped that we could have had a few more days to respectfully mourn her passing.  I do know that passing on the last minutes before Rosh Hashanah is a special honor of the righteous in the Jewish faith, so that may be why God took her at this time, because she certainly was righteous in any way. 

The Republicans decided they would be disrespectful and move ahead that very night by saying they would have a vote on her replacement.  Let's remember this is a lifetime appointment, somebody that could be there for 30 years.  It’s important to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  It should be done with care, whoever the president is.  So, the hypocrisy of the Republicans on this is really not important in people's daily lives, but it is indicative that they don't keep their word. 

And this appointment, the reason the President and Leader McConnell are moving forward so quickly is because they want to overturn the Affordable Care Act.  When people understand, and they do, what this means in their lives: no more benefit of the pre-existing condition, no more having your children be on your policy until 26 years old, no more having Medicaid expanded to cover long-term health care and the needs of our children with pre-existing conditions and returning to a time where being a woman is a pre-existing medical condition. 

The people know that.  And that's why the Republicans are rushing.  They want to get it done so they can overturn the Affordable Care Act.  And you know what?  They're going to be paying this price for elections to come, elections to come.  Everyone is looking at what makes a difference in these senatorial races.  We'll see.  But what they don't really understand is they're going to see 2018 again and again and again in terms of defeats in the Congress. 

Chris Hayes.  Let me ask this.  You know, we talk about the sort of electoral consequences and the substantive consequences for people's health care.  I mean, again, in the midst of a pandemic. 

Speaker Pelosi.  In the midst of a pandemic. 

Chris Hayes.  Who knows what long-term lung or heart damage people who survive COVID have.  We're just learning about that. 

There is a growing sense that the Senate is broken in some ways and that there’s a kind of Democratic deficit in America, and if Trump’s able to appoint this Justice after what they did with Merrick Garland, that Democrats have to be thinking in more procedurally radical ways, right?  Adding new members to the court, getting rid of the filibuster.  Are you thinking along those lines?  Do you favor those two policies? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I think that we have to think short-term and long-term.  Plenty of time when we win the election, House, Senate and the White House, which we would today, but the election isn't today.  And we can have just a conversation if you want.  But we want to have effective political action.  We have to not agonize, but organize.

And that means that we must show to people right now, and they know for themselves because this is their experience, that this move on the part of Mitch McConnell – and I see you said, ‘Mitch America,’ no, it's Moscow Mitch.  It's Moscow Mitch.  Let's correct your sign there.  Or at least understand how others refer to him and there is a reason for that.  But anyway, keeping it on this, the fact is people don't care about what we're doing in Washington.  They care about what is happening at their kitchen table, in their lives, their health. 

And by the way, the three most important issues in this election are health care, health care and health care.  At a time when we should be crushing the virus and the President has ignored the science, ignored the science, criminally ignored the science and instead we have now crossing into 200,000 people who have died.  Instead of crushing the virus, they want to crush the Affordable Care Act. 

This is what we have to focus on right now so that people get out and vote and they vote early and they vote in good health and they vote for their health.  Vote your health.  Vote your health.  And that means the Affordable Care Act, pre-existing conditions and the rest.  If they get rid of pre-existing conditions, they have a price to pay for elections to come.  They get rid of a woman's right to choose, they have a price to pay for elections to come. 

So, we're looking at the these Senators in the near term here, that's one thing.  But others – you know what, there is, what, 43 days until the election?  It's 44 days until the next election.  And many of these Senators are looking at their next election.  And women, people of color in their district, in their states will remember if they gave them a vote for their health care or if they gave President a vote for his power grab. 

Chris Hayes.  You have some business ahead of you in terms of a must pass piece of legislation.

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.

Chris Hayes.  A Continuing Resolution to fund the government or the government shuts down before election day.  Mitch McConnell issued a statement – you came out with the draft language, Mitch McConnell doesn't like it.  There is some farm legislation he wants to see in there he doesn't have.  Here is my question to you.  Is the CR, is that leverage on the fight over the Justice or is that a parallel track that has nothing to do with the Justice nomination? 

Speaker Pelosi.  It's a parallel track.  We wouldn't even think of threatening to shut down government.  A great part of the west is on fire.  Our south – the Gulf Coast is battered by hurricanes.  We have a pandemic in the country.  We're fighting for our heroes, our state and local government and federal employees who are health care, our first responders, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers, our sanitation, transportation workers.  We want them to test, trace, treat, wear masks, separate and the rest, and we need public employees to do that.

So, we're not about shutting down government.  And it's not a lever.  By the way, the Republicans don't believe in governance.  It's a welcome thing for them to shut down government.  That's why they have done it over and over.

But in addition to that, you think if we shut down government they would say, ‘Okay, now we won't move forward with the Justice?’

No, they won't.  They won't, because they are on a path to undo the Affordable Care Act.  They're on a path to undo a woman's right to choose.  And there are many more issues that relate to the LBGTQ community, clean air, clean water, pollution.  They're coming after your children.  Protect your children from what they are trying to do in this Court.

Chris Hayes.  There is nothing – so I take you there, and I feel like that's clarifying, right?  These are parallel tracks, the government, the CR negotiations, you view that as something that’s going to get done, has to get done.  There is the nomination fight in the Senate.  

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, it will get done.

Chris Hayes.  But then, between those two, there is the fact that the Heroes Act, which was passed in May, Mitch McConnell said, ‘We don't have to move quickly, we're going to take our time.’  They passed what you said is a far too small package, you know, a few weeks ago.  Is it your sense now that there is nothing forthcoming, that restaurants that are closing now or bars that are closing now or all the people, the municipal governments that need budget help that will start laying off policemen and firefighters and teachers and all those folks that this is it until the election?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, no, I certainly hope not.  But let me say, Mitch McConnell said more than you attributed to Moscow Mitch.  He said of the states, ‘Let them go bankrupt.’  That's what he said.  Let them go bankrupt.  Really?  Well, that's contrary to what the Chairman of the Fed says, state and local governments are important to the economy of our country.  

And then these people are really – you and I would not be able to function without the work of our state and local government employees, whether it's health care, first responders, as I said, sanitation, transportation, food, teachers and the rest.  How do you think we function?  And they want to shut that down.

Now, those people, the services will diminish.  Taxes may be raised.  People will be fired almost to the tune of five million people.  They will go on Unemployment Insurance.  What's so smart about that?  ‘Let them go bankrupt.’

He pushed the pause button when we were trying to put forward a comprehensive plan to crush the virus, four months ago.  Crush the virus.  Instead, they ignored the science, the science, the science and now we're crossing 200,000.

Let me just say this.

Chris Hayes.  Please.

Speaker Pelosi.  My heart is broken over the death of the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Madam Justice, but 200,000 people’s families are suffering the same loss of a loved one, a spouse, a child, a sibling, a loved one, a parent, so many – 200,000 people and more to come unless they embrace science.  They're anti-science, and they're anti-governance.  

They want to ignore science so that governance doesn't have to weigh in and require anything.  So, we see them undoing the guidance from this Centers for Disease Control.  We see them undermining the scientists at the Food and Drug Administration.  It's just appalling.

Chris Hayes.  Yeah, I want to ask you – let me ask you about that.

Speaker Pelosi.  People are dying.

Chris Hayes.  Here is this reversal on guidance today about airborne transmission from the CDC.  They posted, and then they took – that they then took down.  There is belief that there is some political interference there.  I mean, do you – what is your current posture towards these agencies of the federal government, whether the FDA or the CDC or all of HHS, which appear to have been taken over from the top by the sort of political appointees to push the science in the direction of the President's messaging?  What does that mean for our ability to crush the virus, as you said?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I think it's sinful, really.  It is immoral.  The President wants politics to determine how we approach the virus, not science.  I have tremendous support for the science at the FDA.  They're working 24/7, some of the best minds in the country to make sure that we will have a safe and effective vaccine when that is ready.  Not one day before, not one day after, just as soon as it is ready.

I think the CDC has been totally discredited.  Thank you, President Trump, for discrediting the Centers for Disease Control, which is the prevention agency to stop the spread.  But if you think it's a hoax and it's going to stop miraculously by some magic or something like that, then you have discredited the Centers for Disease Control.

And HHS is completely a joke because that has been taken over politically by the Administration.  It is such a tragedy because there should be a place where politics has no bearing whatsoever.  It is about the health and well-being of the American people.  And we are leaders in the world to cooperate with other countries, and, yet, the President wants to cut that off as well.

Something is very wrong here.  Why else would they not have accepted our strategic, scientific plan, testing, tracing, treatment, separation, sanitation, wearing face masks?  Why would they have turned that into the tragedy that it is, 200,000 people?  

Would we have saved them all?  No, I'm not saying that.  But we would have saved many.  And we can make a difference to save some as we go forward – forgetting, you don't want to forget what happened before.

Let's talk about how we go forward to save lives because I want to tell you many of these people now have a pre-existing medical condition.

Chris Hayes.  They do.  Yeah.

Speaker Pelosi.  Millions more than who had it before.

You talked about it earlier.  So, now, you have many more people.  They take away the pre-existing medical condition with their fast track for something that should be serious.  Take a deep breath, we have had a loss.  

Okay, now let's prepare for the future.  This is a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.  This isn't a casual filling in an office for a short unexpired term.  So, why should we treat the Court that way in such a frivolous way?  

But nonetheless, the President doesn't care.  He doesn't care.  Now, it will be interesting to see because in our House we have such beautiful diversity and so do the states that some of these Senators have to run in.  They will be hearing from some of that diversity.

Chris Hayes.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it is always great to talk to you.  And thank you again for bearing with us through those technical difficulties.

Speaker Pelosi.   My pleasure.  No problem.  Thank you so much.