Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today

Oct 19, 2016
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill/Caroline Behringer, 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.  I didn't know if any of you would be here.  I thought you would be on the road or something. 

Good morning.  When I knew that I was going to be in D.C. this week and conferencing and meeting with my leadership, it was really to talk about where we go from here after the election in terms of dealing with a lame-duck session, also to talk about what is at stake in the election in terms of policy. 

And as you know, one of the biggest differences between the Democrats and the Republicans in the Congress, and certainly in the House, is: show me your values, show me your budget.  And the Ryan budget is a budget that, [I] emphasize over and over again, eliminates the guarantee of Medicare.  So if there were three issues I would want the American people to be aware of in the Ryan budget, it would be: Medicare, Medicare, and Medicare – that it removes the guarantee.  This is a very drastic unraveling of one of the great pillars of economic and health security for America's seniors and others who benefit from Medicare. 

However, between planning to be here today and today, the issue of the integrity of the ballot and the election has emerged as a focus.  This is so fundamental to our democracy.  Voting is a sacred privilege.  We are on sacred ground when we, any of us, Democrats, Republicans, or otherwise, question the integrity of our elections. 

Our Founders sacrificed everything, their lives, their liberty, their sacred honor for our democracy.  And that meant people having the right to vote.  Thank goodness they had our founding documents, which too are sacred, to be amendable so that privilege could be extended to everyone who is eligible to vote. 

As you probably know, the four leaders, Senator Reid and I joined with Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan in sending a letter to the States saying avail yourself of the services available, especially in the Department of Homeland Security, to protect the integrity of your voting records.  I think maybe like 36 States are cooperating by now.  That's different from the election.  It's the voting records. 

And so to have a situation where one of the candidates for President of the United States is questioning the integrity, outcome of an election on the basis of no facts, and again almost relishing the involvement of Russia into prying into our records and then saying that the election is rigged on the basis of nothing, is really so irresponsible it goes beyond the pale.  And that's why it was good to hear even the Republican Secretary of State of Ohio talk about the integrity of the records and the ballot in that state.

We have never, in the history of our country, as hard fought as our divisions have been, ever not accepted the results of the election. 

So now I know he is backing away from it a little bit, but this is irresponsible.  And to thrust confusion into an election is an obstacle of participation.  People then decide to stay home.  What am I going to be subjected to when I go to the polls?  It should be, again, a privilege, exercising a right that is a currency of the realm, the vote, in terms of the people ruling, being the boss.  And to dampen that by obstacles. 

Now if they want to talk about making our system more democratic, let's talk about overturning Citizens United, which is part of our DARE [Agenda]: Disclose.  Where does this money come from?  From Citizens United?  Amend the Constitution to eliminate Citizens United.  Reform our voting so that we favor small donors with matching funds – and we have the Sarbanes legislation to do just that.  And empower people.  Stop all of these obstacles to participation that are being put out there. 

And join us in calling for a commission on redistricting, which we have the bill, Zoe Lofgren, we have had it for a number of years, we have rising support for it across the country, some of your editorial boards.

And there are some of the ways, reduce the role of money, raise the level of civility, you will have more women running for office – that would be a good thing, as we are now on the verge of electing the first woman President of the United States, who happens to be – she happens to be a woman, but she definitely is capable.  She knows her call to service, her purpose, she has knowledge of the issues facing our country and challenges, and she has a plan to take us into the future.  So it's pretty exciting. 

Sadly, we had a shooting in San Francisco last night, four students at June Jordan School for Equity in San Francisco in the Excelsior section of our city, and four young people are in the hospital.  We hope the others will be apprehended who perpetrated this shooting.  And one [teenage girl] is in critical condition.  And so we pray for her, and the other three, their recovery and the swift apprehension of the perpetrators. 

We had some good news today on the ACA.  The numbers released showed that a million more people signed up in the open enrollment than before.  So we are well over the 20 million people who have access to quality, affordable health care who did not have it before, in addition to the three quarters of our country who receive their health care through their employment having better, better health insurance. 

No preexisting condition discrimination. No lifetime limits. If you are a woman, no longer are you discriminated against in your purchasing of a policy.  And if you are up to 26 years old you can be on your parents' policy.  And the Affordable Care Act has resulted in the slowest rate of growth in premium increases in the 50 year history that people have been measuring such things, and similarly for the growth of the cost to our budget. 

Any questions?  I have some more things, but why don't I talk about what you want to talk about.  Okay?  Oh, to correct the record, the ACA number announced is a projection for 2017.  That is what they are projecting that the enrollments will be.  Any questions?  Yes, sir.

Q:  Madam Leader, there is talk among Republicans of doing a series of minibuses, as they call them, for spending bills, and perhaps letting a CR carry the rest of the appropriations load of the bills that they don't think will necessarily pass.  Would Democrats go along with that? 

Leader Pelosi.  No.  No.  I mean look, we have said if you want do an Omnibus, that's the way we should do it.  When everything is agreed to, then everything is agreed to.  If you want to do minibuses, they have to add up to an Omnibus.  But to do a minibus and a CR is like two derelictions of duty.  We are failing on two scores. 

We have to rise up to our responsibility of what we have to do.  We come back, we are ready to cooperate in any way to get this done in a reasonable time and remove all doubt that we will have an appropriations bill going into next year.  But this is a little bit too cute.  Yes, sir? 

Q:  Thank you.  You mentioned a joint letter that you and the other leaders of the Congress sent to the States.

Leader Pelosi.  Yes.

Q:  Have you given any thought to whether a similar bipartisan affirmation of the results of the election would be warranted after the election? 

Leader Pelosi.  The people will speak, and that will be the result.  I don't think – well, the Electoral College will be the affirmation of what has happened in the country.  And so that is the affirmation. 

I do hope, though, thank you for your question, that Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan would join us in saying that our – we have confidence in our system and that we always respect the results of the election.  Yes, sir.

Q:  Leader Pelosi, on the election, where do you put the odds of Democrats winning back the House?  And since you mentioned a woman possibly becoming President, what does that mean to you both personally and professionally if a woman becomes President? 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, I have never, in my own rise to power here, I know about power, I know about women and power, I know I never have ever asked anyone to vote for me because I was a woman, and I never had any of my whips ask anybody to say wouldn't it be great if we had a woman Speaker or Leader, whatever the race was. 

So in terms of Hillary Clinton, it's exciting because of who she is.  As I said earlier, her call to service, her purpose, her vision for the future, her knowledge, her strategic thinking, her connections to America's working families.  She has dedicated her life to issues that relate to our children. 

So for these and other reasons, whether it's the defense of our country, the strength of our economy, the success of America's working families, she will be a great President.  That she happens to be a woman is the icing on the cake.  It's just very thrilling. 

And it will, I think, send a message of confidence to all Americans, especially girls and women, that any door is open to them.  As immodestly she says, my becoming Speaker, the second most powerful position in the country, President, legislative branch Speaker, evoked that kind of response on a different level.  President is much different from Speaker in terms of public awareness of it all. 

And then she will be the leader of the free world.  This is not just an office in our country.  It is leadership in the world.  So it's pretty thrilling.

Q:  And on the House prospects for Democrats? 

Leader Pelosi.  We are good.  We're good.  I'm good.  I'm here.  I think it's good.  I heard Steve say this morning – Steve Schmidt – say this morning that we were like at 25, he thought, and trending Democratic.  He is a Republican, known political adviser to Senator McCain.  So it was nice to hear that validation from others. 

But we have a great Chairman, Ben Ray Luján, we have great candidates, some of them self-recruited, others are reached out to and are doing excellently.  We have in all of our three Ms met our goals and beyond: messaging, mobilization on the ground, and money, did very well last month and every month before that. 

So I think we are in a good place.  And again, it's all about the ground.  You know, it's like football, you have an air game and you have to have a ground game, and we have both.  But the air game doesn't count without the ground game.  You are having a conversation instead of a political mobilization.  So I feel pretty good about it. 

But as I said to you, I think we will be within single digits either way.  And so hopefully it's – of course I hope it's single digits for the good of the winning side, children in America who live in poverty, defeating the Ryan budget, for the good of a woman's right to choose, for the good of gun safety legislation, immigration reform, the list goes on and on, the respect for our climate as God's creation that we have to be good stewards of.  I hope we have the advantage to us. 

Yes, Chad.

Q:  Madam Leader, to that point, though, about where things stand, single digits every way, there have been definite Democratic trends here the past month or so, the closing days of this.  Doesn't this come down to the fact that Republicans have this built in advantage from 2010, the census, and therefore redistricting, and that is why it is so challenging for your side to get over it, if it is in the single digits, to get over that 30 seat threshold? 

Leader Pelosi.  It's an obstacle but not insurmountable. 

Q:  But you think were it not for that that you would have the House going away 10, 15 seats?  I mean, you got more than 1.7 million votes in 2012 for the House.  Wouldn't that translate now, and that's the problem, that firewall? 

Leader Pelosi.  No, I don't think it's an obstacle, but I like your description of how strong we are in spite of the obstacle that is there.  But let me just remind you, in 2006, when we won.  People didn't think we would win.  They were shocked.  But we had just suffered a terrible redistricting.  In the mid-decade redistricting in Texas took seven seats from one side and put them on the other side, 14 seat difference. 

And that was like 2005.  You remember Tom DeLay almost went to jail over his tactics in that.  And then we came right back and we won 29 seats.  So I don't want to win 29 seats, I want to win 30 seats.  But that's the range in which we are. 

But you can't – in other words, you'll never – if you say that, then you have just surrendered to a very bleak future for children and other living things in our country.  Some would even say for civilization as we know it today. 

Because if you can't accept a redistricting that says, well, you can't win, so when are you going to win?  You have to win so you can change the redistricting.  Or in our case you can change to a commission redistricting, which we have in California, nonpartisan commission redistricting, objective redistricting.  One can't object to that. 

But if you just accept your fate, a fate that – one version of your fate, then how are you going to make the difference in the next redistricting? 

I think we have time for like one more question.  Yes, sir.

Q:  Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell have both said that they want to get 21st Century Cures done, the FDA reform package. 

Leader Pelosi.  They want to do what? 

Q:  Get 21st Century Cures done in the lame duck.  Have you been in touch with Representative Pallone on that?  And what would be necessary on the Democrat side to be able to advance that legislation? 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, I support Ranking Member Pallone and Congressman Diana DeGette, who have worked very hard on this, and said that we stand ready to help pass it in the lame duck.  That's not a universal view in our caucus.  Some people don't have the same support for it.  So we are just going to have to build consensus. 

But if the leadership takes it up, I think it will pass.  I think it will pass.  I thought you were going to say something else. 

One thing that they are saying now is we want “checks and balances.”  Now that is a real admission on the part of the Speaker and the Leader that Donald Trump is a “here today, gone tomorrow” candidate for President of the United States.  So what does “checks and balances” mean?  It's a euphemism for obstruction.  It's a euphemism for obstruction. 

The Speaker also said at his speech in New York that he wants a unified government.  Well, that's not going to happen, because – in his view a unified government with Republican control – because Donald Trump is not going to be President of the United States. 

Although respectful of the fact that people have not voted, he is not going to be President of the United States.  So how that unified government comes around sounds okay to me.  We are going to have a Democratic President.  He was talking about unified with the President, the Senate, and the House of one party. 

But when they talk about – when they talk about “checks and balances,” probably none of you were around in 1996 when Leader Dole was the candidate for President.  Beautiful, lovely man, great leader, hero in our country.  He was the candidate for President.  But when it became apparent that he was not going to win, the Republicans started talking about “checks and balances.”  And you know what that translated into?  Impeachment of the President of the United States. 

So “checks and balances” are important in terms of the “check and balance” between parties, between the executive, the legislative, and judicial branch.  But when they say “checks and balances,” that's their code word for obstruction or something worse. 

Thank you all very much.

Q:  Your Giants lost. 

Leader Pelosi.  Yeah.  Well, I went to the Dodgers game.  I did my share.  I went there.  I think the last game, the fifth game – I mean the fourth game, we never got to the fifth game – the ninth inning was probably one of the worst innings I have ever undergone.  It was similar to game seven of the NBA.

Q:  You lost that one too, didn't you? 

Leader Pelosi.  Yes.  Not very nice of you.  We have come a long way.  I am proud of the Giants.  I am grateful to them for a great season, and Baltimore too.  I thought they were going to send them to the Blue Jays. 

Q:  Niners are rotten this year. 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, it's a building year, as we say.

Q:  Thank you. 

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you all so much.  Oh, don't forget, Medicare, Medicare, Medicare.

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