Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today

September 30, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Good morning.  Good morning.

What's happening?  Is this about the San Francisco Giants beating – winning the most games ever?  I don't think so.

Good morning, everyone.  Today's an eventful day.  That's why you're here, I guess.  But we do have some of our regulars.  Thank you for being here, all of you.

As you know, we had a full agenda this week that involved, first of all, keeping government open.  Right now, earlier, a little bit later this morning, the Senate will be voting on a Continuing Resolution, which they will send back to the House, which we will pass and send on to the government – to the President, to keep government open. 

We hope that this can be a strongly bipartisan bill because it keeps vital services running, protects up to hundreds of thousands of workers from shutdowns.  A shutdown is not anything anyone wants.  It was never thought that we would have one.  But, nonetheless, it will happen today. 

Yesterday, as you know, in the House, we voted the other item on the agenda for this week – was lifting the debt ceiling, and I was very pleased that we were able to send that legislation back over to the Senate.  You know how cataclysmic that would be.  It would trigger the loss of six million jobs, $15 trillion in household wealth, four percent decline in GDP and massively increase costs.  Any of you that have a car loan, a home mortgage, a credit card bill?  All of your interest rates would go up.  And I'm worried about that across kitchen tables across America.

Only three percent of the debt that we are talking about here is incurred under the Biden Administration.  And this is about, not as we go forward – this is about paying the bills.  The way you have to pay your credit card bill, so does America.  As I've said to you before, the 14th Amendment says the full faith and credit of the United States of America shall not be in doubt.  For some reason, we've put ourselves in a situation to vote on this each year.  We'll have to examine that process. 

But for now, yesterday I was very proud of the Members, once again, lifting the debt ceiling.  And as you recall, we had done so the week before with the, with the Continuing Resolution to keep government open, and 100 percent of the House Democrats, and then, 100 percent, 100 percent of the House Democrats voted, the Democrats voted for it.  The Republicans voted against it.  One hundred percent of the Republicans in the Senate voted against lifting the debt ceiling and keeping government open, even though many of them, in the House and the Senate, had families in their district suffering from Hurricane Ida, many of them wanting to help the Afghan evacuees in our country.  Nonetheless, they thought it was a good idea to vote ‘no.’ 

Hopefully, today on the CR they will vote ‘yes’, and I'm hoping that it will be a very positive bill.

So, I know you've come here about what else comes next.  We have two items that, well, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill – the BIF – and of course the reconciliation. 

I just told members of my Leadership that the reconciliation bill was a culmination of my service in Congress, because it was about the children, the children, the children, the children: their health, it's about health, their education, the economic security of their families, the security of their families, a clean, safe environment in which they could thrive, and it gets, gives a world at peace in which they could succeed.  This is more about the domestic – first four parts of that. 

So, remove all doubt in anyone's mind that we will not have a reconciliation.  We will have a reconciliation bill.  That is for sure.

Today, the question is about, we are proceeding in a very positive way to bring up the bill, of the BIF, to do so in a way that can win – and so far so good for today.  It’s going in a positive direction.

It's impossible, though, to persuade people to vote for the BIF without the reassurances that the reconciliation bill will occur, and it will.  We cannot – because of rules of the Senate in terms of the Parliamentarian having to pass on any bill before it comes to the Floor and pass on any language – we cannot really guarantee what I had hoped in terms of having a more legislative form.  But, nonetheless, the framework that – if it pleases – if it's okay with the President of the United States, who has this vision for our country.  As I've told you before, he’s said, ‘I want to work on the bipartisan bill for infrastructure, but I will not confine my vision for America to what is in there.’ 

We have to Build Back Better and to do so in a way that honors our climate goals, honoring our responsibility to our children to convey this planet in a responsible way, that does so that respects the needs of – not needs, the opportunities for working families with issues.

So, all jobs.  Jobs, green technology, jobs for women in the workplace, dads who may need home help.  So, of all the things, Child Tax Credit, Child Care Tax Credit, child care, issues that relate to universal pre-K, home health – home health services, if you have a senior, a person with disabilities in your home. 

Some of you know this.  You hear it every time you come here.  But, I just want to make sure that it is reinforced as to why this is important.  Because it's jobs for women.  It's jobs for people who have been previously underrepresented.  Build Back Better, so when you build the infrastructure of America, you're doing so with a workforce that has workforce development, can be involved in those decisions. 

And it has a justice to it that the President has insisted upon, that we're not building in ways in the past that have separated communities and perpetuated environmental injustice, but, nonetheless, but instead Build Back Better with justice. 

And, then, of course, the health care issues which are so important: the extension of Medicaid, the strengthening of the Affordable Care Act, expanding of benefits for Medicare, all of that as part of the health piece.  And those are jobs as well. 

So, again, we – I think we're in a good place right now.  We're making progress.  I can't stay here too long because I have to deal with – step-by-step with this.  But I'm only envisioning taking it up and winning it.

Q:  Madam Speaker, I don’t have to tell you, you’ve got a Senate problem on your hands.  Joe Manchin said last night that the reconciliation bill is the ‘definition of fiscal insanity.’  He talked about vengeful taxes.  Does that sound like someone who's open to further negotiation? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.

Q:  And how do you get something pre-conference – how do you move forward with that on the other side of the Democratic Party? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, we're talking about substance.  We're not talking about rhetoric, and we're not even talking about dollars.  We're talking about what is important in the legislation, where can we find our common ground. 

If I paid attention to everybody's public statements, oh my goodness, even some that maybe you inadvertently make that are not quite on point.  But he said some other things after that, that said, ‘I'm for reconciliation.’  And did you see that further statement?   

Q:  Well, is he saying something privately then to you or to the President that gives you more hope that that can move forward?  

Speaker Pelosi.  You think I'm going to talk to you about my conversations with Joe Manchin in here?  If you promise not to tell anyone.

[Laughter]

Q:  Oh, absolutely. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Look, I think that Joe Manchin is a great Member of Congress, of the Senate.  We're friends.  We're Italian Americans.  We get along.  Catholic.  We have shared values.  I have enormous respect for him. 

One of the joys of my service in Congress was to work with him to make sure we had the health benefits and pension benefits for our mine workers.  Not that I think clean coal is anything but, you know – well, nonetheless about that.  But I do believe in the workers, their needs and the rest.  And we did that at the end of last year, working together.  So, we have our common ground. 

Q:  Madam Speaker, just to clarify your intentions on this vote today, are you planning on delaying this vote if you do not have enough votes to pass this on the Floor?

Speaker Pelosi.  I do not plan on not doing anything.  I plan on moving forward in a positive way.  And everybody has to think that this is the path we're on.  It's not a fork in the road – maybe here, maybe there.  It's a path that we're on.  And right now, as I've said, we had a great morning, lots of conversations as we come to the end. 

Let me just tell you about negotiating.  At the end, that's when you really have to weigh in.  You cannot tire.  You cannot concede.  It's this is – this is the fun part. 

Q:  The September 27th date, was that a problem – negotiating that September 27th date?  Was that a mistake to lead with that with the moderate Members? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No.  No.  No.  No.  Well, it's important to note that in the, the reason we could agree to that is because in the bill is all of the reauthorization for highway, highway programs and the rest of that.  So, our best interest is served by passing this bill today. 

Q:  Madam Speaker?

Speaker Pelosi.  Okay.  Alright.  Okay.  What do you got? 

Q:  Thank you.  I'm not going to ask you about the Giants, but we'll talk later. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Don't take blue for any mistake. 

Q:  That's Dodger blue right there, Dodger blue.

Speaker Pelosi.  No, no. 

Q:  So, when you talk about these concerns – and I know Garrett asked you about Senator Manchin – but when Senator Sanders says, ‘Well, I think they will blow up the bill on the Floor today,’ the progressives say they've got 50 votes here, how do you  – what do you say to those left of your Caucus and the moderate centrists in your Caucus to get them together on both deals when things haven't gone the way they want? 

Speaker Pelosi.  We're on a path to have something that I can say to my colleagues with integrity and certainty – is the path we're on. 

And in terms of timing and the rest, I wish we had more time.  I will say that, in terms of, we only found out a week and a half ago – over 95 percent of my Caucus supports the 3.5.  As of a week and a half ago, it was all systems go, 3.5 – the President, the Leader in the Senate.  So, we're having to compress a lot of our discussion here. 

But I can't say anything to them until I have – we have an agreement.  When I say ‘I’, I mean the President, the Senate, we have to have an agreement together.  I think that the path we are on is leading to that agreement. 

Q:  Madam Speaker, will that happen before the end of the day?

Speaker Pelosi.  That is the plan. 

Q:  Madam Speaker?

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, ma'am?

Q:  To follow up on Manu's question, are you committed to having a vote on infrastructure today? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.

Q:  Regardless of whether you have the votes?

Speaker Pelosi.  I intend to – I don't – we're on a path to win the vote.  I don't want to even consider any options other than that.  That's just the way it is.  And that's our culture.  If you don't understand that culture, you don't understand that culture.  But that's our culture.  We go in it to win it. 

Q:  Madam Speaker?

Speaker Pelosi.  Okay, one more.

Q:  Yesterday you told us that the Democratic Caucus is not a rubber stamp party.

Speaker Pelosi.  That's right. 

Q:  But you guys have such a narrow majority, an eight seat majority right now that's only able to lose four seats – or four votes on the Floor.  You're going to pass the two biggest spending bills of this Congress possibly.  I mean, have you bit off more than you can chew at this point? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No.

Q:  Are you confident that you can get this across the finish line? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No.  No.  Do you think that when we came in with the Majority that we have – well, you have to remember, we had more.  But we had Marcia Fudge as the Secretary of HUD.   We're waiting for her replacement to come in, in another 4 weeks.  We had Alcee Hastings who passed away.  We're waiting for that replacement. 

But from what I imply from – infer from what you say is that we should have just done nothing because we had a slim Majority?  That's not who we are.  As we said, if you think you shouldn't do these things because you have a slim Majority – no. 

Q:  I just wondered if perhaps the packages are too big –

Speaker Pelosi.  No, it's not too big.

Q:  To be able to draw the appeal to your full Caucus.

Speaker Pelosi.  No, it's not too big.  In fact, it will – a compromise. 

But it is – let's recall what our President, President Biden, has put forth.  He put forth the Rescue package.  For us, it was a great victory because it had the essence of the Heroes Act that we tried to get through with President, the former President, and now it's in that package with, of course, imbued with vaccinations, vaccinations, vaccinations, which made a difference in it. 

And now we have a couple hundred million vaccinations in people's arms, people back to work, children back to school, money in people's pockets because of that bill.  State and local governments reinforced to do their job.  Honoring our heroes who work there, the ones who provide our health care, food service, our transportation, police and fire, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers.  Would we not do that because we only had a few votes?  No, we definitely did. 

And, then, we go to this legislation now, the BIF, which has the bipartisan support in the Senate.  I don't know if we'll have bipartisan support in the House.  They say there may be a few.  I understand there's some dynamic going on, on the other side, but I don't know it and can't speak to it.  But maybe we'll have some Republican votes.  I hope it is as bipartisan as it was in the Senate. 

And, then, we go the reconciliation act, which is the Build Back Better.  Build Back Better with women.  Just Build Back Better, not – and addressing what many of our Members have concerns about.  They said, ‘Every time people build, our people suffered in our neighborhoods.’  Well, that's exactly what President Biden wants to change, and we will. 

And, no, it's not too ambitious, because we're meeting the needs of the American people.  And what that is, is what our agenda will be. 

Q:  Madam Speaker? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Oh, you?

Q:  Yes, me. 

[Laughter]

Q:  You said that you're –

Speaker Pelosi.  I didn't recognize you without your mask. 

Q:  Well, I just took it off so you could hear me better.  You said this is the culmination of your time in Congress. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes. 

Q:  But, I mean, are you trying – culmination means the end of an experience.

Speaker Pelosi.  Get out of here.  Get out of here.

[Laughter]

Q:  You said it, not me.

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah, no, but I have, of course – the Affordable Care Act was remarkable, and I take some proprietary interest on that. 

But, in terms of finally seeing a time where we can think in a large way about our children, our people with disabilities, our moms.  I mean, I'm a mom with five children.  When I was young and was raising my children, people don't know, this is a challenging job, even one child or two.  I didn't even wash my face some days.  In fact, I liked it that way.

[Laughter]

But the fact is, is that we have to, if we're going to be really Building Back Better, we have to give women the opportunity to work in the workplace.  And that's about child care, home health care, universal pre-K, family and medical leave, and like that.  And other countries, most developed countries have that.  We don't.  We will. 

And that is – each one of those is something we fought over the years for and now is coming together in a way that is transformative, not incremental, but transformative to what we are doing on the infrastructure side of things.  They go together very well. 

And, then, when we talk about the planet, when I was Speaker the first time, climate was my flagship issue when I came in.  And President Bush was President.  And we did not – with him, we passed the biggest energy bill in the history of our country, the energy bill of 2007.  He wanted nuclear.  I wanted renewables.  We had a big celebration to sign the bill.  And President Obama used that, authorities in that bill, for some of his Executive Orders. 

So, that we’d take it to this place now.  And this legislation is about jobs, to give good green jobs, preeminent in the world in green technologies, addressing the health issues of clean air, clean water for our children, the issues of, as I've said to you before, about national security, security globally, where migrations occur because of drought and famine and natural disasters, so people are competing for habitat and resources.  And, of course, our moral responsibility for our children.  So, it has so many.  So, they have that. 

And then health care, as I've said, the Affordable Care Act, I take great pride in the courage of the House Democrats for – and Senate, for passing that legislation.  And we will strengthen it in this bill.  And part of the Affordable Care Act was the expansion of Medicaid, which we will have in this bill. 

So this is – I mean, it's so much.  And that's why I said that, yeah. 

Q:  Madam Speaker? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you all very much.  It's going to be an eventful day.  Perhaps I'll see you along the way.

Hi.  See you along the way.  Think positively, okay?