Transcript of Interview on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union 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:
Jake Tapper. Joining me now to discuss, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi, thanks so much for joining us. Take a listen to Judge Barrett yesterday.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett. If the Senate does me the honor of confirming me, I pledge to discharge the responsibilities of this job to the very best of my ability. I never imagined that I would find myself in this position, but now that I am, I assure you that I will meet the challenge with both humility and courage.
Jake Tapper. Judge Barrett graduated first in her class, she clerked at the Supreme Court, she earned unanimous endorsements from her fellow law clerks and law professors in 2017. Now, I understand you disagree with her views, but isn't Judge Barrett qualified to be on the Supreme Court?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, that will be up to the Senate to decide when they go through the hearings and the meetings. I’m not into that process. That's a Senate function.
What I am concerned about is anyone that President Trump would have appointed was there to undo the Affordable Care Act. That is why he was in such a hurry. So he could have been in place for the oral arguments, which begin November 10th.
And it doesn't matter what the process is here. What matters is what it means personally to the American people. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, that benefit will be gone. If you are a woman, we'll be back to a time where being a women is a pre-existing medical condition. If your children are on your policy – say your adult children are on your policy, no longer will they be, and that in the time of a pandemic. Again, if you have seniors in your family who are having long-term care paid for by Medicaid, they're going to be pretty soon moving back home and living with you. That may be a wonderful experience, but it isn’t – you should have a choice and that's not what this is about. So, I’m not – it's up to the Senate to make that judgment and to have that process. I don't think it’s – I don’t know – whoever he appointed was going to be there to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
But, be hopeful. People have to be hopeful. This is unfortunate that the President would be so disrespectful and rush into this. But, nonetheless, it's what it is. But vote. The antidote to whatever he does is to vote, vote, vote. Vote for affordable care, vote for your pre-existing condition, vote for your safety and vote for your health.
Jake Tapper. So, you just criticized the President for rushing this. In 2016, you said that Republicans were showing, quote, ‘A disrespect for the Constitution.’ You said that Judge Garland was, quote, ‘Owed a vote in the Senate.’ If Judge Garland was owed a vote, then isn't Judge Barrett owed one as well?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, wait a second. When did Justice Scalia pass away? In the beginning –
Jake Tapper. February.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, February. This is now September. So, the time frame is quite different, that this court would go that long a time without a Justice. So, I don't see any equivalence in what you are presenting.
But let me just say about Justice Ginsburg, because she said something that is important for people to know. We honored her. And when we were honoring the women members of the Court for Women’s History Month a few years ago – we honored all of them, she spoke for the women members. And she talked about someone called Belva Lockwood who tried to, a hundred – in 1876, who tried to be – argued before the court to be a member of the Supreme Court Bar. She was turned down. There were nine Justices then, 6-3, because she was a woman. She didn't take it sitting down. She lobbied Congress and then Congress passed a law that said, ‘Women who possess the necessary qualifications must be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court.’
Now, here's the point. This is what Justice Ginsburg said next: ‘It is my favorite example of how sometimes the Congress is more in tune with the changing times and the expansion of the idea of equality than the court is.’
Well, the same thing applies when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. Vote, vote, vote. Whatever they do and rush in to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and that is their purpose, vote, vote, vote. Congress can come back. We have to win the House, we have to win the Senate and we have to win the White House.
Jake Tapper. So, you've noted that you think a 6-3 conservative court could hear and overturn Obamacare. There is that case one week after the election. Are you concerned about Judge or Justice Barrett voting to overturn Roe v. Wade? Is that something that you think is seriously on the table?
Speaker Pelosi. Right now what is on the table is a court case that Republicans have advocated for, overturn Roe – of the Affordable Care Act. That is the case that is on the table in the Supreme Court. So, that is where our concern is.
But let me also say the election is, what, 37 days from now?
Jake Tapper. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. The next election – and the Senators have to remember this – the next election is 38 days from now. So many of the Senators who are up now may not be worried about what this vote overturning Affordable Care Act means to their constituents. But the next round – so I tell you this: they overturn the pre-existing condition benefit – which they have been trying to do over and over again in the Congress and, now, in the courts – they overturn that, they overturn the Affordable Care Act, they will be seeing elections that look exactly like 2018 over and over again.
And, again, the power – public sentiment is everything. Lincoln said that. Public sentiment is weighing in on this in a very substantial way.
Jake Tapper. Right, so in –
Speaker Pelosi. Because nothing matters more to people. It's not what it means in the court or in the Congress. It's what it means at the kitchen table of the American people.
Jake Tapper. In 2017, Democrats were criticized for questioning how Judge Barrett's Catholic faith influences her views from the bench. California Senator Dianne Feinstein told Barrett at the time, ‘The dogma lives loudly within you.’ You're a Catholic. Do you think it's appropriate for Democratic Senators to ask Judge Barrett about her Catholic faith?
Speaker Pelosi. I think it's appropriate for people to ask her about how faithful she would be to the Constitution of the United States, whatever her faith. It doesn't matter what her faith is or what religion she believes in. What matters is does she believe in the Constitution of the United States.
Does she believe in the precedent on the Supreme Court that has upheld the Affordable Care Act? This is, again, directly related to a major concern of the American people, as it was in 2018: health care, health care, health care. The three most important issues in this election. Even more so than in '18 because of the pandemic, which the President has failed to address and caused over – some of the over 200,000 deaths, nearly 7 million, in fact, I think it's over 7 million now infected.
Understand the power of people and their connection to their health care, to their children's health care, to their seniors’ health care and the rest. Republicans in Congress don't believe in a public role. They think Medicare should wither on the vine. That is their statement: Medicare should wither on the vine.
Jake Tapper. So, Speaker Pelosi, it sounds as though you're almost resigned to the fact that Judge Barrett will become Justice Barrett. And you're saying very clearly that your message to viewers right now is vote, vote, vote. Vote November 3rd or early voting or whatever. That would seem to suggest that you are no – are not on the program when it comes to individuals like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who, this week, did not rule out this long-shot effort to try to stall the confirmation of Judge Barrett by impeaching Attorney General Bill Barr. Now, you haven't ruled it out –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I’m not familiar with what suggestion the distinguished Congresswoman made. The fact is, the more the public is aware of what this appointment – and, by the way, it's not about this Justice. It's about any Justice he would appoint right now because they were ready within an hour or two of Justice Ginsburg's passing. They said, ‘We’re going to have a vote on this,’ within like two hours.
Jake Tapper. But, yes or no, you’re not going to –
Speaker Pelosi. So, whoever it is is to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Jake Tapper. But yes or no, you're not planning on bringing an impeachment of Attorney General Barr?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the – what’s the use of talking about that? What we're talking about is the price the Republican Senators will pay if they vote to overturn the pre-existing medical condition, which they've been out to get, as well as the President, have been out to overturn, no matter what they say. Now, I’m not into the process. I’m into the policy. But I do want to point out that they have totally misrepresented their position on this, in fact, you could say they are lying.
Jake Tapper. So, before you go, you and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin have been talking about a COVID relief bill. The clock is obviously ticking before everything gets even more partisan around the Supreme Court hearings. What is the status of your negotiations with Mnuchin? And theoretically, would you be willing now to go below $2.2 trillion in order to get a deal? And if you don't get a deal, will you offer that as legislation?
Speaker Pelosi. This – look, I have been willing to come below $3.4 trillion. We have come all the way down. So, I don't know why the press decides that – this equivalent for me to come down further while they're not going up any further. So, we are having our conversations. When I have a conversation with the Administration, it is in good faith. I trust Secretary Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution and I believe we can come to an agreement.
However, at some point, the public is going to have to see why $2.2 [trillion] or, now, $2.4 – perhaps – trillion dollars is necessary. Because the President's denial of the virus and just resistance to doing anything to crush it has made matters worse in so many ways. For restaurants, for small stages around the country, for, again, more money needed for PPP, more money for the airlines and the rest. So, we may need more money than that. And we will reveal what that is in a short period of time.
Jake Tapper. And if you don't get a deal, you'll offer it as legislation as a lot of your Members will –
Speaker Pelosi. That is definitely a possibility.
Jake Tapper. Definitely a possibility.
Speaker Pelosi. But I’m hoping for a deal. I’d rather have a deal which puts money in people's pockets than to have a rhetorical argument.
But if they do not want to go to that place, if they're not going to meet the needs of the American people, if they're not ready to do what is necessary to crush, to crush the virus, to honor our heroes, our health care workers, our teachers, our transportation, sanitation, first responders, police and fire. If they don't want to recognize that these people are risking their lives to save lives and now they will lose their jobs to the tune of millions of people and then go on Unemployment Insurance. Was that smart? I don't think so.
But I think we, we have a chance to get something done and we want to – what we will be putting forth is a proffer to say: Now, let us negotiate within a time frame and a dollar amount to get the job done to put money in people's pockets, to honor our heroes and to crush the virus.
Jake Tapper. Okay. Well, best of luck with the negotiations, Speaker Pelosi.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Jake Tapper. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.