Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on Trump Shutdown
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks with Democratic Members of the House of Representatives on the Trump government shutdown. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Q: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is offering a CR through February 8 and said he will do that in exchange for putting the Graham-Durbin bill on the floor for open debate as well as any other proposals come up with. Is that in your mind an acceptable path forward?
Leader Pelosi. Now you understand they are going into the [fourth] continuing resolution. Again, incompetence resolution. I have said it once and I will say it again, we are willing to go to a short-term CR if, in fact, we have come to a conclusion and an agreement on the parity, which is important to us.
The investments, whether it is domestic or defense. We have to come to an agreement, or an outline for DACA and border security. If we have those agreements, but we are not writing an Appropriations bill, but we are saying these are the terms under which we will ask the Appropriations Committee to write the bills. Then, there is reason to have a CR – otherwise, we could have innumerable CR 's. These could go on forever.
This one happened to expire last night. In the first minute after midnight was the first anniversary of President Trump's first year in office. He promised infrastructure, he gave us a train wreck. He promised he loved the DREAMers from his heart, that we would be able to work together in a bipartisan way – [but] he always seems to be pushed back from it.
So, he said, ‘what this country needs is a good shutdown.’ We don’t agree. What he said of President Obama when we did not control the Congress – and he controls the White House, Senate, and the House, and Obama who did not control the Congress – he said, ‘it starts at the top,’ that is what he said. ‘The problems started at the top and it has to get solved at the top. The President has to get everyone in the room, and he has to lead.’ President Trump.
And now, at the one-year anniversary, a big, fat failure ‘F’ for that first year. So it’s no use having another CR unless we have the terms of engagement on how to go forward on the parity, on the pay fors, on the pensions, on DACA, and on border security.
Q: Isn’t it better to have a government open while you negotiate these matters on the side? Have a CR for a few weeks in order to –
Leader Pelosi. This is the fifth one. And the Secretary of the Navy said, he said – [Defense] Secretary Mattis said, ‘it just creates unpredictability, it makes us rigid. We cannot deal with new and revealing threats. We know our enemies are not standing still, it’s about as unwise as it can be.’ The Secretary of the Navy [Admiral John Richardson] had similar words. It is about transportation. It is about education. It is about all of our meetings of the American people.
The Republicans do not want to invest in a domestic agenda. They’re using the kids as an excuse. They’re using children of CHIP as an excuse. They’re using the children of the DREAMers as an excuse. Not to address the fiscal discussion that we must have.
Mr. Hoyer? Mr. Clyburn?
Assistant Leader Clyburn. Let me just say this. We do not want a shutdown. And we have made that clear all along the way. Now, if we are going to have negotiations while our government runs, the question is, who are we open to serve? Are we open to serve the veterans? I don't know how many of my colleagues have VA hospitals in our districts. I have two. The Williams Jennings [Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs] Hospital in Columbia, [South Carolina] is named after one our former colleagues. The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, [South Carolina] a young African American who threw himself in front of a hand grenade so he could save all the people around him.
These people have made significant sacrifices. And yet, we are not funding the programs they need to live their golden years in dignity and respect. We are saying, let's address these issues, the children. Not just the children of the health insurance program. The fact of the matter is, they are refusing to fund these hospitals – basically ruining my district where these children have to go to get their care. They are refusing to fund Community Health Centers. Refusing to fund, properly, teaching hospitals.
All of which we are here to say, let's not continue to lurch from one CR to the next. Let's lay out a smooth trajectory so that our military can plan. So that our veterans can live out their lives with dignity. So that our children will have a place to go to get health care. That is what we would like to see, and that’s what we’re standing here for.
Leader Pelosi. Let me just say, what I said about having this CR, we could do it in an hour. There is no new information. We could do this in an hour.
We can establish this, if they wanted to do it. We have stood ready to cooperate and yield on many scores in order to get that done. Our distinguished Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey is here, and so many other members, who are with us and helping to work on these issues and getting ready for the [Women’s] March. They stand here ready to work. Sleeves up and ready to work. We could get these provisions in a continuing resolution right now.
Otherwise, we are becoming accomplices to their incompetence, and we cannot do that to the American people. The buck stops here. Happy anniversary, Mr. President. Your wish came true. You wanted a shutdown. The Trump Shutdown is all yours.
Q: Leader, how far and how long are you willing to go? And at the stroke of midnight, the White House released a statement that the Democrats were acting like obstructionist losers not legislators. Are you the face of this shutdown?
Leader Pelosi. Oh please, oh please. Anybody else with Republican Talking Points?
Whip Hoyer. No American ought to be confused. Consistently, the strategy of the Republican Party has been to take America hostage and shut down the government. They did it under Gingrich. They did it three years ago for 16 days. And they are pursuing that policy now.
This is a shutdown that President Trump welcomed. Which is why he wouldn’t allow, and McConnell would not, nor would Ryan, put on the Floor, issues on which we have consensus.
Speaker Ryan said this, ‘we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.’ And then he said, ‘we will not duck the tough issues. We will take them head-on.’
His failure to do either of those has realized the President's objective of shutting down this government. The answer to your question is absolutely. None of us here have supported policies to shut down the what we have supported our government. Positive policies for the American people. And we have not spent a minute putting on the Floor, an agreed upon, over the last four years, a parody of increases of domestic spending and military spending. Both of which we support. Both of which, Speaker Ryan supported in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Why doesn't he agree on that now? I don't know the answer, but it has led to the fact that this incompetent leadership has not sent one appropriation bill to the President of the United States.
This is not just about a CR. What is a CR? Funding government. No business, no enterprise, no government can function 30 days to 30 days without extraordinary inefficiencies and losing money. It is a four billion [dollar] cost on the CRs. So we ask our Republican colleagues: do what Speaker Ryan said. Do what President Trump said.
When they talk about illegal immigrants, the only reason they are illegal is because Donald Trump made them so. Donald Trump made them so. And what did he say? He said, ‘Congress, fix it, and I will sign it.’ What did he say yesterday to Leader Schumer? ‘Come down to the White House and let's work it out.’ Senator Schumer went down to the White House and he's thought it was worked out. But somebody in the White House, maybe it was himself worrying with himself, but maybe it was someone else that says, ‘We don't want to make a deal because what you wanted, Mr. President, was a shutdown and show them.’ Let's be responsible.
Leader Pelosi. Maybe it was Mr. Mulvaney, but speaking to Sean Hannity, Mr. Mulvaney said, ‘I found out for the first time last night at the person who was technically shutting down the government is me. Which is kind of cool.’
Leader Pelosi. This is how playful they are, and I think the President thinks this is some kind of novelty.
Q: So, going back to the question before me. You say it is not just about DACA, yet we are talking about this issue again. How far are you willing to go? That is what we really want to know. How far are you willing to go with the shutdown to get your demands met? And are you willing to give up on an agreement on DACA? It sounds like Republican leadership doesn't want to go there.
Leader Pelosi. May I respectfully disagree with your characterization and not stipulate to the fact that you may legitimately believe. If there wasn't one DACA, or one DREAMer in the world, we still have a discussion about investments. This is about the money side. Mr. Welch talked about the priorities we have put forth. He had that in a letter to the President, which overwhelmingly, the Members of Congress have talked about. It is about opioids. It is about veterans' needs. It’s about pensions. It’s about National Institute of Health. It’s about disaster assistance. It’s about CHIP. This is a discussion about the budget.
It also happens to be a discussion about the DREAMers because it is a vehicle leaving the station. They want to have a separate vote, we are happy to have it, but that is what this is about. If there never was a DREAM – now, my view and what I see is fear in their eyes of their own Caucus because their own Caucus doesn't want to, as Mr. Hoyer pointed out, doesn’t want to have the parity in terms of domestic increases as we have defense increases. It is not as easy as just talking about DACA because this is a conversation we're having. They are using the DREAMers as an excuse not to invest in our domestic agenda.
And what if we proposed, we said we want to work with you? If you want to increase defense spending, then you have to increase domestic. In doing so, our proposals are strictly bipartisan. We are not coming up with anything that wouldn't get an overwhelming vote on the Floor of the House. Opioid – the opioid epidemic, the veterans – meeting their needs – CHIP, disaster assistance, pensions. These are non-partisan issues, but the issue is, will they invest in the domestic agenda? That is at the heart of the matter, and that is the reason they are using DACA as an excuse, they are using the kids as an excuse and are using CHIP as an excuse.
Let me tell you this: when I was Speaker and we had a Democratic President, we had an opportunity to send a CHIP bill to the White House. It was one of the first bills we passed – Lilly Ledbetter, then CHIP. I just want you to know that when we took that vote in February 2009, 144 Republicans voted against CHIP. Among them, [Speaker] Ryan of Wisconsin, [Congressman] Scalise of Louisiana, [Congressman] McCarthy of California, [Congresswoman] McMorris Rodgers of Washington state. The Republican Leadership in the Congress.
And many of these Members talk about how they are madly in love with CHIP, and they voted against it. 144 Republicans voted against CHIP at that time. So now, first they had one where children pay for children's health; we had to reject that one. Now, they are using it as a shield for their incompetence, and using the DREAMers as a shield for their incompetence.
Children – just think of the ‘C’ word – children. Courage, lack thereof. Competency, lack thereof. Consistency, lack thereof. If you want to cover this, cover the background. This would be the fifth CR. As Mr. Hoyer points out all the time, this is the fifth Republican shutdown since 1990. We believe in governance. We don't believe in shutdowns and this is the course they are taking us.
But it is a good debate. I thank you for your question because it gives us a chance to pull back the shades and say, ‘Now this isn’t about that.’ If there was never were a DREAMer on the face of the earth, we still have this budget debate about what our values are.
And if they care about CHIP, why did they work to exhaust themselves of everything like votes, time, legislative interests to pass the tax bill, and then say, ‘We can't pass CHIP?’
Whip Hoyer. We could pass CHIP by 12:30 today.
Q: Let me ask you, Leader Pelosi, you talked about, in the past that a government shutdown could contribute to a previous Speaker being run out of the building. Do you think that [Speaker] Paul Ryan risks losing his gavel should he renegotiate to open the government? And what would your advice as a former Speaker to him be to overcome some of those hurdles?
Leader Pelosi. Let me just say this: I think that is a question better directed to the Republican Caucus. Right now, what we are focusing on – we proposed something we thought they would accept because it was bipartisan. We worked hard to keep it that way. We wrote to the President to make sure that he was aware of that. Republicans know full well that we are willing to do that.
The fear that I see in their eyes is that their own Caucus who do not want to invest into the domestic agenda. And why? They fear it will increase the deficit, which they already borrowed from our children's future, over $1.5 trillion with interest in order to give tax cuts to the top one percent of the country and corporate America. That is what their priority is and that is why they are weak on this in terms of how we write a budget
Congressman Welch. [Speaker] Paul Ryan has a really simple decision: country first, party first. The demands we want are not demands. They are common commitments to the folks who meet their pensions, to first responders with opioids, to the community health centers in the Children's Health Insurance Program and so on. And [Speaker] Paul Ryan has made a decision to go with the Tea Party, to go with the Freedom Caucus, and to give the back of his hand to folks willing to work with them.
Congressman Crowley. Thank you all very much.
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