Pelosi Remarks at House Democratic Leadership Press Conference at 2017 Issues Conference
Contact: Drew Hammill/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616
Baltimore – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley and Vice Chairwoman Linda Sánchez for a press conference today at the Democratic Issues Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Below are the Leader’s remarks followed by the question and answer session.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m sorry to be late. We had a very important meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, [in] which I was very honored to participate – a small meeting early this morning. But I wanted to get here. We rushed back over to get here in time to praise the leadership of Joe Crowley and Linda Sánchez for putting together quite a remarkable Issues Conference. The attitude of the Members was so receptive to ideas but also, appreciative of the diversity of program that was brought to them.
And I’ve said to you over and over again: we don’t unite our Caucus. Our Caucus is united by our values. What was particularly rewarding to all of us here are the values panels that our Chairman and Vice Chairwoman brought forth, speaking from the diversity of our country, from the soul of who we are as Americans – and really, not in a political way. Really, not Democrats and Republicans, but about America. And whether we’re talking about Bryan Stevenson and his beautiful presentation or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with how he talked in a values-based way – it was very inspiring.
But, our Members are inspiring too. And I want you to know this: that when I meet with our Members, from time to time I’ve said to them: look around you because under this roof – and look at each other – under this roof, you are sitting with a collection of great integrity, intellect and imagination for new ideas to help the American people.
So, whatever the failings of our party may be, in terms of pulling everyone in and making sure everyone knows what we stand for, there is no – no institution has done more, in terms of creative ideas, more challenges to the conscience of our country than the Democratic Party. And in this room, you see the greatest collection of that – integrity, imagination and intellect in order to get the job done for that.
So, to see so many of them here – it’s almost record-breaking I think – a real tribute to the Chair and Vice Chair, a record-breaking number of Members here, again, demonstrating our harmony – and it isn’t unanimity. People always say, ‘Well, so and so said this.’ It’s never unanimity. It’s our harmony, it is our values, and it was the good spirit that prevailed here that was so bonding and so remarkable. So I thank you both for that. And again, with more to come – it’s not over yet. Linda has to be leading a session right now at 9:30. So, I’ll end with that. Thank you.
Q: Madam Leader, you said that you met with the Prime Minister of Japan. What did you discuss with him? And did you have a chance to talk with him about this infrastructure package?
Leader Pelosi. Well, we had a – he is now at a breakfast with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This was a coffee before the breakfast, and I was pleased to attend as House Democratic Leader. The only other people there were Senators – I think about eight Members of the Senate because they are in session. They were in session until 3:30 last night, I guess. And they are back in session. The House is not in session.
But anyway, my point with the Prime Minister – and I was honored to – any time I can accept an invitation to meet with him, I make every effort to do so because I have great respect for Prime Minister Abe’s leadership. I commended him for the courage it took and the risk he took in proving our U.S.-Japan defense relationship. It was very courageous of him to move forward in a way that added more responsibility to the Japanese for the defense of the U.S. And that, again, wasn’t particularly popular in Japan. But I wanted some of the newer Members there as well as the White House to know that it was his personal intercession that has made the American people safer. I also commended the Ambassador for his good offices – I’m also going to put up the self-serving sign, self-serving. The Prime Minister mentioned that I had received Japan’s highest honor, the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun. I received that from the Emperor a year and half ago, in the presence of the Prime Minister. I mention that because it was all part of what we were doing working together for the defense of our country for our shared values and economic interests. But I did praise the Ambassador for his good offices in using diplomacy, we think on the path to having President Obama make a decision to visit Hiroshima. Which was a very important step for the American people, as well as then Prime Minister Abe and the President visiting Pearl Harbor, and later today the Prime Minister will visit Arlington [National Cemetery]. So, the respect that we have for each other’s country’s security is very important.
To your question about infrastructure, I did give him the best regards of our Governor Jerry Brown to call attention to high speed rail in California and infrastructure investments the Japanese may be making in the United States. We didn’t want them to forget about their good friend California, sharing the Pacific with them. The Prime Minister as you know will then be going on to meet with the President and then to Florida with President.
But it was a very special meeting, with all of the Senators there who shared their views. I never like to repeat what somebody else says in a meeting but it was all in the interest of our national securities, Senator McCain, of course, leading the way on that; but in the interest of our national interest of our economic success together, and our shared values.
So I did mention California and Jerry Brown.
Q: Leader Pelosi, just on the Court ruling last night. Do you have any sense of – just what is your reaction to the court ruling on the travel ban and the Administration’s reaction?
Leader Pelosi. The court ruling last night, unanimously, that was very important. The court ruling indicated once again that what the President did was unconstitutional and indeed, in my view, immoral. They were speaking to constitutionality, I’m speaking to values too. Also, it shows the American people whatever you might think about the ban, how the President proceeded with this was not only incompetent, but it was strategically incoherent. To go forward with something so significant that will be challenged constitutionally without even consulting with the leaders in your own administration whom you have appointed or those who are there who know something more about this, so that you can proceed in a manner that really is protecting the American people.
But to do so in such a strategically incoherent way, without consultation to those who know more and to do so in a way that pretends to make the American people safe when it makes the American people less safe. So selling the idea that it makes us safer, if you don’t know too much about the issue in which the President is speaking, has a market. But he has a responsibility to protect and defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States. He failed in doing that, the courts rightly ruled and I salute their – but he said, ‘I’ll see you in court,’ so we’ll see what that means.
Thank you all very much. Thank you, Mr. Crowley, again.
Chairman Crowley. I just want to add my own thanks to you all for your cooperation this week as well. For our first caucus retreat, I think speaking on behalf of my colleagues, their opportunity to meet with you all in a social setting, but the way you’ve conducted yourself in a professional manner. I just want you to know I really appreciate that.
# # #