Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference With House Democratic Women Calling for End to Trump Shutdown
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Democratic Women of the House of Representatives for a press conference to highlight critical, long-overdue and bipartisan priorities of the American people as Democrats work to end the Trump Shutdown. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.
Leader Pelosi. Good morning everyone. Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of women – and their friends, and men – poured into the streets to champion the values of the American people. Hundreds of thousands of people here, hundreds of thousands of people in different cities across the country. Tens of thousands throughout, in different venues.
On the anniversary of the Women's March, on day one of the Trump Shutdown, Americans marched to call on our government to honor the priorities and values of the American people.
I am proud to stand here today with House Democratic Women who are leading the fight for those priorities and values in the Congress. Yesterday on the Floor of the House I said, ‘there is a path’ and here today we want to talk more about that path.
You heard yesterday in our press event when Mr. [Peter] Welch talked about his letter to the President to say what are the priorities we are fighting for in all of this.
I just want to say something to our men and women in uniform. We in Congress take an oath to protect and defend the constitution and the American people. We value the service and courage and leadership of our men and women in uniform and we are here for them. We want them to ignore anything they are hearing from the other side, they are not going to get paid. That we’re not there from them. They are going to get paid, and we want them to have the resources they need to keep America safe and to keep themselves safe.
We know from listening to General [Jim] Mattis and the Department of Defense that the best way to keep them safe is for us to have an Omnibus until the end of the fiscal year instead of once again CR after CR after CR. Honoring our oath to keep the American people safe and recognizing that in the domestic budget there are security initiatives that relate to Homeland Security, veterans, State Department, anti-terrorism activities in the Justice Department, we really need to have parity in our discussion of the budget.
The additional money on the domestic side is what we are here to discuss this morning so people know what this discussion is about. We’re not resenting – we are supporting the defense initiatives, if that is what the Department of Defense thinks we need to keep America safe, but at the same time there are security functions on the domestic side and we want additional money to address some of the challenges that our country faces.
One of those that is very, very important in every district in America, where there is strong bipartisan support, every one of our solutions on the path to an agreement, which we could make in an hour – we want the President to come to the table and negotiate how we can do this in a very short period to open up government. Every initiative has strong bipartisan support as you will hear. One of the issues that affects every Member of Congress all across the country and the strength of our country is the opioid epidemic. A leader in that fight here, leading a bipartisan coalition is the Congresswoman Annie Kuster from New Hampshire.
Leader Pelosi Closing Remarks.
Leader Pelosi. As you can see, the breadth of knowledge on these subjects that our women leaders have matches the depth of the values they are acting upon. I thank all of you and all who are here, and many more who are away for the short notice of coming in the Washington area but supportive of what we’re saying here today.
What we are saying here today is there is a path, and it is a bipartisan path and when you hear Representative Kuster talk about opioids, it has always been bipartisan – but we need the money. We share that value. We need more resources.
Representative [Barbara] Lee when she talks about CHIP, we are talking about Community Health Centers, infrastructure to provide the delivery of service through the CHIP program and other primary care doctors and medical education, extenders for Medicare, it is about family. As Mr. [Donald] McEachin’s bill spoke to this week – it is about children and families.
When Congresswoman [Debbie] Dingell talked about the pension issue which is bipartisan, this is an opportunity for us to advance that.
Again, when we talk about our DREAMers, this is bipartisan as the distinguished Chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus [Michelle Lujan-Grisham] told us.
With the infrastructure in Puerto Rico, we really have tremendous needs. And you work with the Republican Commissioner so there really is a commonality of interest in how we meet the needs of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, very important in terms of Virgin Islands.
And Congresswoman [Nita] Lowey said it so well. This is four months, we have had four CRs. [Four] CRs, five shutdowns of government. Let's just look to the future.
We ask the President to come to the table so we can get this done. The purpose of today is to once again say this isn’t about misrepresentations that are being put out or misunderstandings that people may have. Every dollar we want to have in parity is a bipartisan dollar related to the priorities we shared today. There are others.
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Q: We are hearing there is a possible compromise taking shape where the President would get all the money he wants for his wall in exchange for protections for the DREAMers. Would House Democrats support such a deal?
Leader Pelosi. All of the money he wants for his wall?
Q: $20 billion.
Leader Pelosi. Well, come on. Let me say this. We all have a responsibility to protect our borders, north and south. There’s no question about that. So what do we need to do that? Why don’t we have an appraisal of what that should be? Right now our [Congresswoman Lucille] Roybal-Allard is our Ranking Member on the Subcommittee that does Homeland Security and they are responding to what the Border Patrol says that they need. That’s largely what’s in your discussion among the appropriators.
When we talk, when we had a bipartisan bill coming out of the Senate, there was much more of a commitment to more border infrastructure but we were protecting 11 million people, this is in the hundreds of thousands, every one of them precious and dear to us that we want to protect.
You are on the wrong path if you think $20 billion. We are trying to protect opioids and our veterans and all of these things.
Q: I understand but –
Leader Pelosi. There can be a compromise!
Q: But if there’s a deal that comes out –
Leader Pelosi. I don’t think there’s a deal that comes out. I’m not dealing in hypotheticals. What they’re talking about – none of us is at a table where they’re talking about $20 billion. Should there be fencing? Should there be technology? Should they mow the grass so that people can’t hide in it? Should there be bricks and mortars some place? We’ll see what works but I’ll end it there unless Michelle [Lujan-Grisham] wants to speak to that.
Congresswoman Michelle Lujan-Grisham. We’re reading what you write, so thank you very much, it’s very helpful!
Given that Kelly, just met, Chief of Staff, with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and he confirmed that when you’re a candidate you don’t have the same information and you change your mind. What you said on the campaign trail is different than what you might do at the White House. A less informed -- I am repeating what my colleagues are reminding me about this meeting.
The issue is, one day it is clear from the White House about some aspects, and one day it is nothing we are getting out of the White House.
I agree with the Leader that until we see something from the White House and clear language from the Senate, there is nothing to react to. The last contact we had with Kelly is [he said] ‘that wouldn’t make any sense a wall, whatsoever.’ That is the last statement that he made. Notwithstanding infrastructure and security, that is the last statement he made to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Leader Pelosi. The original author of the DREAM Act, Congresswoman -- here she is – Lucille Royall-Allard and now she is a Ranking Member on the Homeland Security Subcommittee of Appropriations. I’ve spoken but you know more –
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. Let me just follow up with what the Congresswoman said about our meeting with Kelly. I’m the one that asked him the question – to define the wall. Because when we talk to different people, they have different ideas about what the wall is. So he made it clear, it was not the Trump Wall of the campaign but it would include lots of things. It could be levees or fencing, including technology. One point he made was that Border Patrol had to be part of making those decisions.
What we did was, with the Hurd-Aguilar Bill, we went to Border Patrol -- they have a 10-year plan – and we took their recommendations of what could be done and what was needed to secure our border and we put those into the Hurd-Aguilar bill, on the security part. That is what we are trying to get passed.
It meets the requirement on border security that Kelly told us and also meets the desires of those who support DREAMers, it also meets those requirements. It is bipartisan. Something that has been worked on by both Republicans and Democrats from which we are getting more and more support. We are getting 26 Republicans now and there’s others who say if it comes to the Floor we will vote for it.
So again, the question is, Speaker Ryan why aren’t you bringing up this bill? It’s a bipartisan bill. It meets the requirements of the White House according to Kelly, it meets the requirements of those who are supporting the DREAMers.
Bring it up, bipartisan, it will pass and we can open the government and get this done with.
Leader Pelosi. And by the way is that $20 billion going to be paid by Mexico?
Q: Friday night, it sounded like Senator McConnell offered Graham and Durbin a vote on their bill by February 8, if a deal had not been reached before then. To meet the criterion of a path to get a DACA deal done that a lot of Democrats have called for. Is that the type of thing you’re looking for, is that enough assurance, a senate vote on Durbin and Graham?
Leader Pelosi. No, no it would have to be a vote in the House and the Senate. A vote in the House and Senate.
Q: So without assurances from [Speaker] Ryan, that’s not good enough for you?
Leader Pelosi. Well let me just say with openness on this subject, we’ve been saying with the passage of the omnibus to have this resolution on there. There has been some in the Republican leadership who said they want to do it separately. Okay, but you have to do it first.
Any other questions?
Q: The President has made it very clear that there will be no negotiations on DACA while there is a shutdown. How has that changed the dynamic of the negotiations and is the onus now on Democrats to end this in order to get what you want?
Leader Pelosi. Let me just say what we are asking for to support a continuing resolution. We object to the fact that is the fifth. It’s ridiculous. Ask General [Jim] Mattis. Ask the Secretary of the Navy [Richard Spencer]. It’s no way to run a country. It’s no way to run a military to go from CR to CR. So we object to that. We could come to an agreement if the next CR has the four pillars: parity, pay-fors, DACA, border. And the parity and CRs are the heavily-weighted side of this. Opioids, veterans, CHIP, pensions, disaster assistance – the list goes on, but it is all bipartisan. We didn’t come up with some idea with a progressive agenda for the future and asking them to pay for it if they want our votes. We are saying, ‘You agree with this, we need this money, these are emergencies we need to address.’ We cannot let them cannibalize the rest of the domestic budget.
And let me just finish this thought, so if they have a CR that says, ‘This is what we will work on in the next two weeks.’ That is to say the topline on the money, the recognition of the pay-fors, the parameters of the DREAMers and security because the President has said he wanted security and we do too. If we have that, then the appropriators can sit down and write the bills.
So for the President to say that – I’d like him to come to the table, I’d like to talk to him about that because that might have been a momentary notion but in actually getting something done, we need a strong idea.
Congresswoman Lujan Grisham. I just wanted to remind everyone that we are well aware that the President created the DACA crisis, he didn’t know to do that. We, the Democrats, made sure that the first CR – when they didn’t do any of their work in September – got over the finish line because we want government open. This is about appropriations, this is about stability. CRs are bad for everyone. There is not a single state or community that thinks a CR is a good idea. We don’t want it. We want to, in a bipartisan manner, get government open and get a full year of appropriations. The President created a DACA-fix problem, and to say that he is unwilling to talk about it now – then he should not have rescinded that in September. We’ve done everything we can and everything that the White House has asked us to do and now they have to come to the table and put Americans first and be clear that we are all about creating an environment where we are fully funding the government and deal with every issue and priority that deserves our attention. In fact, that’s our job.
Leader Pelosi. May I just remind you that yesterday, here on the Floor of the House, our Whip [Steny Hoyer] reminded everyone that 100 percent of Democrats voted for the first continuing resolution to give it time to get it done because they had failed to get it done in the first place. But as this goes on – another CR, another CR, another CR – again, ask General Mattis – Secretary Mattis now.
I thank my colleagues for their leadership on this. We have work to do. We are on the Floor now so we will have to go.
I just want, on a personal note, pay tribute to someone: Paul Booth, who passed away this week. Some of the Members have visited to sit shiva with his wife Heather Booth, they are real champions for the American people. Leaders in the labor movement, leaders in the movement for equality. Heather came to the [women’s] march yesterday for a short period. But I just want to pay tribute to them as true American patriots and extend my condolences to the Booth family for the loss of a sweet man, an angel, a man of deep values about our country. A true patriot.
Thank you very much.
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