Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 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 Opening Remarks
Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.
As you know, last night [Senate Democratic Leader] Chuck Schumer and I had a very productive meeting with President Trump, where we agreed to a plan to work out an agreement to protect our nation's DREAMers from deportation.
We insisted that the bipartisan DREAM Act, the one introduced by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, would be the basis for the protection and that we would review border security measures that do not include building a wall as we go forward.
We also urged, on another subject, we urged the President to make permanent the cost sharing reduction payments under the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier in the day, [Democratic Whip Steny] Hoyer and I, along with the chairs of the Tri-Caucus – that would be the [Congressional] Hispanic Caucus, the [Congressional] Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus – we had a very good meeting with the Speaker [Paul Ryan] in which we agreed to move forward to try to put the DREAM Act on the floor as soon as possible.
He, too, wanted to see some border initiatives, which we said we would look into. We suggested to him and to the White House the McCaul-Thompson border security package that unanimously passed the Homeland Security Committee.
Any solution to the challenges facing the DREAMers must include the bipartisan DREAM Act, as I said, sponsored by [Congressionwoman] Lucille Roybal-Allard.
As you know, I think you must be aware, the faith community, the business community have implored Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
And the American people, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, support action. Seventy-six percent of Americans support citizenship or permanent status: well over 50 percent citizenship for the DREAMers, with only 15 percent backing deportation. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans back either citizenship or permanent status versus 24 percent of Republicans who support deportation.
So this is about not just the young people. That would be justification enough to do this. This is about who we are as Americans. And it's pretty exciting that so many people are rallying to the DREAMers.
Our American values, our faith and our basic human decency demand that we pass the DREAM Act and prevent the senseless deportation of hundreds of thousands of patriotic young Americans.
Hopefully, Congress well, hopefully – we're more than hoping. We're working for Congress to get this done soon.
Later today, House and Senate Democrats will also unveil our newest legislation for child care for working families, called the Child Care for Working Families Act, as part of our Better Deal. It's a bold solution to close the gap to access affordable quality childcare and early education. It is a bill to put children on the path to success tomorrow and parents on the path to bigger paychecks today. Children learning, parents earning, that's our mantra.
And, again, A Better Deal means better jobs, creating better jobs, raising incomes for American workers, lowering cost for American families, and giving every American the tools to succeed in the 21st century. This falls into the lowering cost category.
Democrats will continue to advance and expand on our Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future.
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Q: Leader Pelosi?
Leader Pelosi. Yes?
Q: Thank you. Can you help us clear up some things, since you were actually there last night, regarding the details of this? When they say when you guys say that the DREAM Act is the basis of what's going to be involved in this –
Leader Pelosi. As far as we're concerned.
Q: Is it your understanding that would include a pathway to citizenship for these folks?
Leader Pelosi. That's in the DREAM Act. It's a long path. I mean, it's like a 15 year path. And this is an earned path. In other words, in the DREAM Act it's about serving in the military or being employed or being in school for a period of time. So it's an earned path, but it's a long road.
Q: And then two other quick things. Would this agreement have to include, in your view, cuts to legal immigration, something along the lines of that RAISE Act?
Leader Pelosi. This is not about that. This is about DACA. This is about protecting it. We would love to engage further in the conversation about comprehensive immigration reform, but that's not what this is about.
Q: Thank you. Just to be clear, it's your understanding that the President does support a pathway to citizenship, and you have no doubt that you and the President are on the same page here?
Leader Pelosi. Well, we agreed on our path, which is our insistence in every conversation, with the Speaker, with the President, with the DREAMers, that it will be the DREAM Act sponsored by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, which will, on September 25th or 26th morph into a bill by the Chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus, Congresswoman [Michelle] Lujan Grisham, into a discharge petition. That's what that is.
Q: Just to step back a little bit based on what happened last week and what you guys are saying happened last night, I think three makes it a theme, but have you sensed a change? Do you feel like this is the new path forward between the relationship between the President and Democrats, or is this a one-by-one thing?
Leader Pelosi. I think it's a one-by-one thing. I do think that one-by-one you establish more understanding of whether, in the President's case, understanding of the legislative process and, on our part, what some of his priorities might be as we go forward.
But there's plenty of work to be done in many areas, and we talk about this, and we talk about infrastructure, we talk about a number of issues, trade, et cetera. There are plenty of areas to find common ground. This is one of them. And maybe on some other issues we won't find common ground.
Q: Madam Leader?
Leader Pelosi. Yes, ma'am?
Q: Do you trust the President of the United States, and should the DREAMers trust him?
Leader Pelosi. Now, is that a fair question?
Q: Sure. Absolutely.
Leader Pelosi. When we're talking about this legislation to protect the DREAMers, yes, I do trust that the President is sincere in understanding that the public supports – that overwhelmingly the public supports not sending these young people back.
The President, we've had a discussion of this quite thoroughly, and as Chuck and I – as Leader Schumer and I said coming out of the meeting. It was interpreted by some that we had a deal on the bill, but that wasn't – on the package.
That wasn't the case. We had an agreement to move forward, in our view, with the DREAM Act as the basis for how we protect the DREAMers and for further discussions on what provisions relating to the border might be in an accompanying bill or whatever as we go forward.
So I trust the President in that regard.
Q: If I could just follow up briefly, too. We know from reporting, talking to your office, you're the only woman sitting at dinner. Can you just give us a sense, what was the mood like around the table? What was the most interesting moment? How did it unfold?
Leader Pelosi. Really, the atmospherics of the dinner were very friendly. We made it clear from the start that there were certain concerns that we had had about some of the President's statements, relating to the Muslim ban, Charlottesville, DACA decision, those kinds of things, and that we needed to establish some trust and confidence as we go forward. And one path to building that confidence and trust would be the DREAM Act, DACA. The President likes to call it DACA.
I believe that we've had enough conversation with the President, with enough reiteration of his commitment to protect the DREAMers, in fact, publicly. You saw his statements today that it wouldn't be wise to send these young people back.
So, yes, I think, we have votes. I have no question that if we put the bill on the floor it would win. And for these and other reasons, I believe that the President, because of conviction, because of reality, is there for the DREAMers.
Q: Madam Leader?
Leader Pelosi. Yes, ma'am?
Q: Another clarification. Did the word ‘citizenship’ come up in the meeting? And does the President understand that DREAMers includes a path to citizenship?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I'm not here to speak about what the President understands. But, you know, I do believe that there is an understanding that down the road there is an eventual path to citizenship in the DREAM Act and that overwhelmingly the American people support that. In a poll today, over 50 percent. And then 12 percent want to send them back and then others somewhere in the middle.
But it came up in the context of the suggestion that there might be other bills to be considered, and that didn't last long.
Q: Madam Leader, Congresswoman –
Leader Pelosi. Not yet. I'm sorry. Back there, please.
Q: Did the President give any indication of whether he would fund the CSRs? And if he does, what do you think that means in terms of what the Senate Health Committee is doing for stabilization and any next steps in stabilization bills?
Leader Pelosi. We put the issue of CSRs on the table, because it is really essential to the wellbeing of the American people that the CSRs be funded. We didn't have any commitment back from the President on that, but we had an opportunity to convey how important it was to do that.
Quite frankly, I believe it is in the President's interest to do it and to fund it. And then when we have and we had this discussion a while back, I think, on this subject when we do finally our omnibus for the year, if we can arrive at agreement, that it would include language that clarifies that Congress has a goal in doing this, which – more than some of you may want to know on the subject – which is part of the court case, the uncertainty in the court.
So clarifying it in the law. And that enables the President not to have to do this every month. But should he come up with his own health care proposal, to have it be easier for him to do that.
Q: Madam Leader, when you say down the road on the pathway to citizenship, does that mean not in this current DACA bill that you're –
Leader Pelosi. No. No. No. It's in the DACA bill. But the path to citizenship, even when we talk about comprehensive immigration reform, when we're talking about people are here and not fully documented and we want them to be on the path to citizenship, they get way at the end of the line of people who have been here fully documented.
So as I say, just in terms of timing it's a long way down the road. That's all. Not down the road in terms of legislation.
Yeah, because I have to go. We have votes. I'm sorry. We have 14, 14, is it, votes on the floor, right?
Q: Regarding tax reform, the Speaker yesterday said that growth was the most paramount concern of his when he was asked about whether it will be revenue neutral. Is revenue neutrality and thus deficit neutrality a condition, in your mind, for House Democrats to support tax reform efforts?
Leader Pelosi. First of all, I would not characterize anything the Republicans are doing as tax reform. I would characterize it as same old warmed-over stew, trickle-down economics, and tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and at the expense of growth.
Now they're saying, yesterday, they're not going to give any tax breaks to the high-end. Well, we'll see when we see it in writing.
That was really news to me, because it is basically in their DNA to give tax cuts to the high end and have trickle-down economics as opposed to what we support, which is middle class economics: Better Jobs, Bigger Paychecks, Better Future. And when the middle class has consumer confidence they consume, injecting demand into the economy, creating jobs.
Revenue neutral is a very important standard for us to have. I tell anybody who goes to any meeting for us: put growth in the middle of the table. Growth is what is important, growth of good-paying jobs, growth in our economy. And that growth means that we do so in a way that creates jobs and reduces the deficit.
What the Republicans have been proposing would increase the debt by $3 trillion at a minimum. We cannot go down that path.
So they want to say, ‘Oh, the growth is going to pay the tab.’ It never has. It's only created more debt. They're trickle-down.
Now, let's make a judgment when we see what they have. But so far it's not about tax reform. What we want to do is engage them in a bipartisan way in simplification, fairness, closing special interest loopholes, and having appropriate revenue to meet the needs of the American people and create growth in our economy.
Because growth does not just come from tax cuts for the wealthy. That's what they think. It hasn't. Growth comes from the education of the American people, investments in research and development. And we will have our agenda on this as part of the Better Deal.
But, yes, to your question, revenue neutral is very important to us. What we have coming up are certain deadlines, which was part of our discussion last night, that we have certain deadlines coming up September 30th. Many things expire. We'll have to extend them by the 30th or shortly thereafter.
You see a lot of activity on health care. Senator [Bernie] Sanders just introduced his in the House. Our Democrats have introduced Medicare for everyone over 50, to 64. All of these are on the table to be considered.
Universal care, that is our goal. We think the Affordable Care Act is a path to that. If they have a better idea, let's see what the numbers are and how we can come together about it. But I don't want anybody to think that the Affordable Care Act is not an important path to universal care.
And that's why, coming back to the question, we want the cost sharing reductions to be made permanent. And that's what we asked the President, to make them permanent, or else have language in the bill that says Congress can act and it doesn't have to just be the President.
Because the more you have, the integrity of the system, the more people stay in. The more outreach you do, the bigger the pool. The bigger the pool, the healthier the population, the lower the cost to everyone, bringing us closer to universal health care for all Americans.
Now we have 14 votes, and I have to excuse myself.
Q: Madam Leader, the President just now in Florida said: ‘We are not looking at citizenship. We are not looking at amnesty.’
Leader Pelosi. We're not looking at amnesty. We're never looking at amnesty.
Q: But citizenship, you said that it was your understanding –
Leader Pelosi. That's in the bill. That's in the bill.
Q: Well, he seems to be – so he seems to not understand that –
Leader Pelosi. Well, you know what, maybe I can't, I'm not here to respond to tweets. You asked me about the meeting. I'm telling you about the meeting. I'm telling you where we are on it.
I think the issue of citizenship is not just about these young people, which would be justification enough, or about other undocumented immigrants in our country, who would and under a comprehensive immigration reform should, in my view, be on a path, a long-term path, an earned path.
This is an earned path to citizenship, whether it's work, military service and education. It's not just about them though, as important as that is, it's about who we are as a country. We're not having two different kinds of people live here.
It's not even second-class citizenship, because it isn't citizenship. It's about anyone in our country having the opportunity to earn their path to citizenship, and that's what the bill does. It's an earned path to citizenship.
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