Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today
Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today. Below is a transcript of the press conference.
Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.
Today – did you know that today is the 147th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which, among other things, granted equal protection for all? Today, the same day, appallingly, Republicans will cast a vote on an amendment in support of the Confederate battle flag.
Last night, while the South Carolina Legislature was debating the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse, in this House, Republican Ken Calvert was proposing an amendment in support of the Confederate battle flag, attempting to reverse successful Democratic amendments already in the bill. After Charleston, after so many decades of this flag serving as a banner of oppression, hate, and segregation, it's long past the time to put away the Confederate battle flag.
Back from the 4th of July recess, Republicans have swiftly resumed their attacks on our children's education, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and failing to create good paying jobs.
Another sharp contrast between Democrats and Republicans was demonstrated when candidate Jeb Bush said people should work longer hours. Americans are working longer hours, but their pay has stayed the same. And that's why the contrast between Governor Bush's statement and President Obama's actions to compensate for the overtime of millions of salaried Americans is such good news for the country, the overtime pay. We are in the period of public comment on that subject.
In terms of our children's education, the Republican Elementary and Secondary Education Act does violence to the promise of a quality education in America. It freezes funding for six years, diverts funds from low income schools, eliminates accountability, and it fails to recognize that the most important investment we can make in our children and in our country's future is in the education of the American people, as a value, as a democratic principle. But also, nothing brings more money to the Treasury than the education of the American people. Early childhood, K-12, higher education, postgrad, lifetime learning. Nothing brings more money to the Treasury. So it's a false economy to do what the Republicans are doing in that regard.
In terms of the Interior bill on the floor, the damage Republicans are doing to the future of our children this week in continuing the Interior and Environment appropriations bill, what they are doing in their bill is empowering polluters and eviscerating protections for clean air and clean water. If that were not enough, the Republican Congress is taking no steps to avert their manufactured crises that they have put in play. I'm optimistic that we will get a Highway and Transit Trust Fund bill. It expires in just 23 days, even fewer legislative days, on July 31, and Republicans still have no plan for long term reauthorization of our nation's needs. I am optimistic that, working with the Speaker, we can try to get something done. I hope that his Caucus will agree to that.
The Export-Import Bank, Republicans have already forced the charter to expire next week. We have to take action. The Export-Import Bank is about America's competitiveness in the global marketplace. Every major country has such a facility to accommodate trade. And it costs the taxpayers no money. In fact, it brings money to the Treasury.
At the same time we are in the process of appropriations, the road to nowhere. The Republicans continue to advance unacceptable, special interest, destructive appropriations bills pushing us toward another Republican shutdown, government shutdown. But that can be avoided. And that is why last month House Democratic leadership sent a letter to our Speaker calling on him to immediately schedule bipartisan budget negotiations so we can work together to produce appropriations bills equal to the challenges and opportunities we have in our country to meet the needs of the American people.
Republicans' destructive budget strategy has reached the end of the line. We must find a balanced and fiscally responsible way to lift the sequester, get rid of the sequestration, invest in stronger defense, better infrastructure, bigger paychecks, education for America's hard working families.
Do you have any questions?
Q: Madam Leader?
Leader Pelosi. Yes. We've missed you the last few weeks. You were staying away because the Giants were here at the White House. They were declared, again, the World Series champions.
Q: I'll ask about Phil Cuzzi throwing out Vogelsong the other night.
Leader Pelosi. The Warriors won the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Q: And my Reds took two straight from the Nationals.
In any event, what did you make of the situation with the New York Stock Exchange yesterday? You represent a district that's near Silicon Valley. Some people have said that there's inadequate software, just not at the New York Stock Exchange, but this speaks to broader technical issues we are going to have. Could this be something portending cyber threats? We talk a lot about cybersecurity around Capitol Hill. What's your assessment here and what needs to be done?
Leader Pelosi. Well, it's a very big issue, cyber threats, and that is a fundamental requirement we must address to do that. What happened at the stock exchange indicates that we have to have paths to better technology. It's an inconvenience. It isn't on a caliber of cyber because I don't believe that that was terrorist inspired. I think it was just a glitch of some kind. But we'll learn more.
Three things happening at once. United Airlines – as a traveler, a constant traveler, a computer glitch is what the airline – although that was massive, and for a few hours. That was one thing, happening the same day as the New York Stock Exchange gave people suspicion something was afoot. And then the Wall Street Journal's website. But people said that happened because everybody went from the New York Stock Exchange to the Wall Street Journal website and so it was overloaded.
I think obviously we have to learn more about what caused it, what the cause was, and what we have to task for us to do. But as one who lives in the world of technology in California, this is ever-escalating, from one year to the next. You ain't seen nothing yet. And so the challenge is to, as we used to say in Intelligence, we have needs and you have leads. So the needs are to make sure we have a system that works. You may know more about what we need because you are in the lead on these issues.
It is like the air we breathe, technology, in terms of what it means to our national security, how we balance privacy and security, and then, on the other hand, how we conduct our business and the rest. And we don't want any of it to be at the mercy of those who would undermine it, but we have to recognize the distinction between something that technically went wrong or something that was intentional.
Q: But I guess that's what I'm getting at, is that we have on one side of the ledger the potential cyberterror threat, but here we have another issue where we are so reliant on this stuff, and then when something massive doesn't work, everything shuts down. You can't fly a plane, you can't trade stocks.
Leader Pelosi. Everything didn't shut down. United Airlines shut down for a few hours, and the stock exchange…
Q: Right. No, but it still shut those two things down for a long time, and I think that gave people pause about what are we doing with this kind of…
Leader Pelosi. Well, I think that I answered your question. They have to analyze what went wrong in their system, and then they have to see what they need to modernize or advance. I don't know what the status of their modernization is.
But, again, I am a believer in technology, and if you have a need, task flow what that is or see how fast things are moving there, that will make your system which seemed state-of-the-art when you purchased it to be obsolete in a short period of time, and also in terms of the traffic.
Now, the New York Stock Exchange used to be 85 percent of the market, my understanding is. Now it's about 15 percent of the market. And so while it was unfortunate in terms of what happened yesterday, it didn't have the same effect it might have had when the New York Stock Exchange had a bigger share of the transactions.
Q: Madam Leader, earlier this week Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that the United States over the course of the last year has only trained 60 moderate Syrians to combat ISIS. Can more be done by the administration to combat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
Leader Pelosi. Well, to that question – I am curious to see more about what the Secretary said. I understand that his response was that the standards of the U.S. for vetting are high and therefore the outreach has to be – he didn't say, but I say – the outreach has to be stronger in order to train. But it, I think, was a surprising number, and hopefully – the question is, are these people there to fight Assad or are they to fight ISIS? Our law that was written allowed for training of both in the hopes that there was a commonality of interest there.
But it was, I think, a surprising number. I appreciate his candor because for such a long time during the Iraq war and during the Bush years we were told that so many more thousands of – tens of thousands of people were being trained when it was a very small percentage of that?
Q: Regarding Treasury's currency redesign plans, there's been a lot of talk about putting a woman on a bill. There's been a lot of talk about…
Leader Pelosi. That is pretty exciting, Isn't it?
Q: Hamilton being demoted from a bill. I was wondering your thoughts on the other aspect of that decision, which is to leave Jackson on the $20 bill given Jackson's, some would say, objectionable historical record.
Leader Pelosi. Well, this is an interesting debate that the American people will participate in. It's sort of a relief to talk about such a thing when we have such challenges that we face. So I did see one article that said leave Hamilton alone, he established the first bank, the first Secretary of the Treasury, all that, and go to Jackson and put the woman on replacing Jackson. There are so many great women candidates, we could probably use several denominations to accommodate their greatness.
Q: Do you favor, though, that idea of changing the 20 as opposed to the…
Leader Pelosi. To tell you the truth, I haven't spent a whole lot of time on it. But I think why not do both, why should we be confined to one denomination when there are so many denominations?
Q: Should Congress or the administration, Treasury Department, do something about Puerto Rico debt?
Leader Pelosi. I think that Congress should pass legislation that enables Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. I think it is really one important step in bringing them to solvency. I hope that there are other initiatives that can be taken because the people of Puerto Rico deserve our best thinking on the subject, free from any bias or the rest.
So in terms of Congress and what we can do, the bankruptcy law, I think, should pass. I think our colleagues on the Republican side have been sort of noncommittal on whether they support that or not. I hope that they do. And there are some other initiatives that our colleagues have suggested that might be useful from the executive branch, but I am not at liberty to discuss those right this second.
Q: Leader Pelosi?
Leader Pelosi. Yes, ma'am?
Q: Negotiators on the Iranian nuclear talks are missing another deadline, and Senator Durbin said that the President told Senate Democrats the other night that there's less than a 50 percent chance of a deal. I'm just wondering what you're hearing from the White House on the prospects of a deal, and if you have concerns, now that they've missed this deadline, if there is a deal, it would be sort of sitting out there for now 60 days, what that could mean for the deal.
Leader Pelosi. Well, it was part of the legislation that was passed by the Congress, that should they miss the deadline, that there would be a 60-day review period. I feel confident that if the President brings an agreement to the Congress that it will be sustained by the Congress. I hope that that is possible, not just any deal, but one that does the job.
I have not heard what you just said about – I mean, apart from having heard that from the Administration. My understanding is that Secretary Kerry will be making a statement today. But we are all in pretty close, whether by means of briefings and the rest, following it very closely because it's very important. Very hopeful and prayerful that they can reach an agreement. But if it's not the agreement that works, then hopefully there is another route to stopping the proliferation of a weapon of mass destruction. That is a very, very serious matter.
So I look forward to also what the P5+1 statements are about the progress of the negotiations.
Thank you all very much. I think they need the room, the Speaker.
Q: I thought you were going to bring Stephen Curry.
Leader Pelosi. Excuse me?
Q: I thought you were going to bring Stephen Curry.
Leader Pelosi. Did I not mention his name on more than one occasion when he wasn't here when the Warriors won? How about Stephen Curry?
Q: We don't have an NBA team.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you all very much.
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