Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Representing the 12th District of California

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Pelosi Transcript of Press Availability on GOP’s Reckless Plan to #MakeAmericaSickAgain

Mar 8, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke with reporters on the Republicans’ Pay More For Less bill, which offers Americans less coverage and fewer protections for higher costs. Below are the Leader’s remarks.

Leader Pelosi.  Hello, everyone.  We’re in the middle of votes on International Women’s Day and A Day Without Women, in some circles.  But as we observe all of that, in a few moments, we will be coming together, Democrats and Republicans, to observe the 100th anniversary of the election of the first woman – the swearing-in of the first woman in Congress, Jeannette Rankin from Montana.  A Republican, as a matter of fact, in 1917.  So, that’s our bipartisanship for the day.  

Unfortunately, that does not run over into the consideration of the Affordable Care Act.  As we speak to Committees – [Republicans] are in the midst of marking up bills, which by the Speaker’s own standards, do not meet his test.  

When we were doing the Affordable Care Act in 2009, Speaker Ryan wrote to Doug Elmendorf, the Director of the Congressional Budget Office – he joined the Ranking Members of Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means and Education and Labor, and he, as Ranking Member on the Budget Committee – he said, “Speaker Pelosi has indicated that this legislation will be marked up before the Committees of Jurisdiction and debated on the House Floor by the beginning of August.  Before Congress changes health care as the American people know it, we must know the likely consequences of the House Democrat[ic] legislation, including the number of people who would lose access to their current insurance, the number of jobs lost due to business taxes, the number of uninsured people who would obtain coverage and the extent of the cannibalization of employer coverage due to Medicaid.”  He goes on and on.

What he is saying is: until you have a CBO report, he said, given the state and the intention of the Majority to have committees – committees – consider this legislation, we ask you, please provide a preliminary cost estimate before then. 

I have this letter for you to have because it was demands made by the Minority.  They didn’t have to make that demand.  We had already submitted our legislation for a CBO review and were not marking it up in committee or debating it on the Floor until we had that report.  

What is it that the Republicans want to hide now?  Is it the number of people who will lose their insurance?  Is it five, 10, 15, 20 million people?  Those are the estimates that we have heard.  We had nobody say, that no one – as President Trump has said – would lose their coverage.  What does it mean to seniors?  Seniors on Medicare, the solvency of Medicare – what does it mean to those on Medicaid?  What does it mean to the people in the disabilities community?  What does it mean to families across our country?  

So what they’re doing is very destructive.  It represents the reverse Robin Hood.  It represents the biggest shift of money and benefits to the wealthiest people in our country – the top one percent – at the cost of working families in our country.  

So, our Members – I’m so proud of our Members of the Ways and Means Committee – the Democratic Members of Ways and Means, the Democratic Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee for their work pointing out the harm that will be done by the Republicans and the inconsistency of the Republicans to demand a CBO report and now just proceeding without [it] because they are afraid of the facts.  

I also just want to say that health care consumers, civil rights groups – AARP, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, American Healthcare Association, Essential Hospitals, Public Health Association, National Disabilities Rights Network, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Easter Seals, the list goes on and on and I submit it for your review, of all of those who have spoken out largely in opposition to the substance of the bill.  All of them saying you cannot repeal, and you cannot make these changes, without having the facts.  The Speaker and I talked about having evidence based decision making, this is decision making without the facts, without the evidence.  Afraid of the facts, afraid of the evidence. So here we are engaged in this fight, between those that think health care is a privilege for just the few, the Republicans, and the Democrats who believe that health care is a right for all Americans, not just the privileged few.

Any questions?  Yes ma’am. 

Q. On the CBO score, several Republican leaders and the White House Press Secretary have been raising concerns about the credibility of CBO, saying they were not accurate when they participated as a [inaudible] body on the original healthcare bill.  Do you have any concerns about what a CBO score [inaudible] and would it be viewed as nonpartisan? 

Leader Pelosi. No.  May I just remind all of you that the Congressional Budget Office’s Director has been appointed by the Republicans, and what some of the Republicans are saying that they don’t know what they’re talking about, or they’re deliberately misrepresenting the facts, the fact is that when the Affordable Care Act was put forth it came very close to what the Congressional Budget Office projected would be the number of people covered.  The only difference was when the Supreme Court said that all states did not have to expand Medicaid, that really was the only difference, but on the facts of the bill the CBO was very close.  And again,  they’ve appointed this Congressional Budget Office person, they have demanded Congressional Budget Offices speak, state the facts before people can, Members can act upon the legislation, except right now because they’re afraid of the facts.  Yes sir, I heard a sound over here, was that you? 

Reporter. She just asked my question. 

Leader Pelosi. Okay, okay.  Well, in any event, yes ma’am. 

Q. You guys right now are sort of dragging out the hearing process, [inaudible] do you think that you can extend this until the CBO score comes out next week? 

Leader Pelosi. Well, it’s not a question of dragging it out, it’s a question of getting the facts.  We shouldn’t be having this mark-up without a CBO report.  There are other concerns that Members are bringing up because they want the facts.  If Republicans say that seeking the facts is dragging it out, well you understand they don’t want to see the facts.  Yes ma’am, yes sir. 

Q. You’ve see these reports of GOP members who are struggling to get support even in their own caucus as you know, but they’re trying to whip by offering members a binary choice.  As they say, are you with President Trump or are you with Nancy Pelosi?  What do you think about the [inaudible]?

[Laughter]

Leader Pelosi.  Oh, how about that!  I think they should be with their constituents, and their constituents have a lot to lose if they go along with this.  It’s interesting to see the figures of the people who supported President Trump and are on the Affordable Care Act.  And, let me say, and I thank you for your question, the question should really be are you with the wealthiest families in America or are you with your constituents?  

The way they wrote the bill, the richest in America will get a big tax break and it will come at the expense of benefits being deprived of middle and low income families.  Many of those families are in red states that voted for Donald Trump.  So the money will go to California, New York and states like that where the wealthiest individuals are, and the benefits will come away from the red states.

So this is really a bad deal all around for people who depend on the Affordable Care Act for their good health but also for their financial stability.  So the question is not whether they are with the President or whether they are with me.  The question is are they with their constituents or are they with the 400 wealthiest families in America who stand to benefit to the tune of millions of dollars every year as a result of the legislation.

Q. After seven years of being on defense on Obamacare, sometimes struggling to get that message across to voters, do you feel like [you’re on the offence now]?

Leader Pelosi.  Well I think Democrats are on the side of the facts and it’s not a question of offense.  We’ve always been on the right side of the Affordable Care Act.  We’ve had to do so up against a campaign of misrepresentation and mischaracterization by the Republicans over and over again.  But since you’re talking about then and now, let’s talk about the fact that for years Republicans have been baying at the moon, complaining about the Affordable Care Act and now they have their chance to put something forward – which they do in the dark of night, without CBO report, without having any idea what the consequences are of their actions.  So this is about – you’d think in seven years they could of come up with something better than what they’ve done; to give the biggest transfer of wealth and opportunity to the wealthiest families in our country at the cost of working families.

Q. Representative Pascrell raised the issue of President Trump’s tax returns in the Ways and Means markup, does your conference have more cards to play on that point?

Leader Pelosi.  Well it’s a question of the American people wanting to know the truth.  Why is it that President Trump should be the exception to every candidate or cabinet nominee for president since Gerald Ford – that the public has been able to see the President’s tax returns.  What does the President have to hide?  What do the Russians have on Donald Trump, personally, politically and financially, that he is keeping a secret?  Why are the Republicans in Congress accomplices to that secrecy?  Why are the Republicans in Congress voting to say “no, we don’t think he should release his tax returns?”  It’s a very bad vote for them.  That’s a very bad vote for them, that’s a very bad vote for them.

So our members – Mr. Pascrell as you know, acts with great spontaneity, yesterday Congresswoman Eshoo, others Members of Congress want to say, “we want the facts, we want the truth.”  The tax returns many believe are part of the Russian connection, the disruption of our election, the money pouring into the Trump organization, any personal embarrassment to the President – we want to know the truth, and we can start by seeing his tax returns.  Which is not an extraordinary request – unless you’re Donald Trump and think you’re above custom, tradition and maybe even the law. Thank you!

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