Transcript of Pelosi, Van Hollen Press Conference Today

Apr 3, 2014
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, held a press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center.  Below is a transcript of the press conference:

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning.  Sadly, today we come together with really great sadness in our hearts for the men and women at Fort Hood.  For the second time in five years, this community of soldiers, service members, civilians and their families have faced tragedy at their base.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the entire Fort Hood community.

Yesterday in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court decided to pour even more money into our politics and our process – really sad.  Our Founders, they sacrificed everything – their lives, their liberty, their sacred honor – for a democracy: a government of the many, not a government of the money. 

It wasn't surprising what the Court did, this being the Court that decided Citizens United, but it adds great insult to a terrible injury to our democracy.  That's why we have our D.A.R.E. that you have heard me talk about before.  D.A.R.E.  Disclose: where's the secret undisclosed special interest money coming from?  And that doesn't mean just at the time of donation, that means at the time of advertising.  People know the source of the message when the money is fueling it.  Amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United.  It's hard, but it's a great mobilizing tool across the country, because the public is so skeptical about their government and their voice in it.  Reform: we have our bill that John Sarbanes is cosponsoring, the democracy bill to empower small donors.  And empower: stop this wholesale throwing up of obstacles to voter participation across the country. 

This all amounts – this D.A.R.E. amounts to change, which is to empower people.  The Court talks about voice in a democracy, but all of this money is suffocating the airways, suffocating the voices of the many.  That's why it's really important for us to have this reform message be part of the campaign.  Whoever wins the election should know that the American people demand that their voices be amplified, and not the voices of those who would exploit the environment, exploit workers, opposing raising the minimum wage.  The list goes on and on.  There's a terrible agenda here.  This is very, very wrong, disappointing, not surprising from this Court.  That was yesterday. 

The day before, well, we had great cause for celebration this week.  The Affordable Care Act's first open enrollment period ended, and we learned that more than seven million Americans enrolled in quality, affordable coverage.  The Affordable Care Act is working.  Thanks to this historic law, millions of Americans are enjoying new health security and the personal and economic freedom that comes with it.

As you know, more than seven million people enrolled on the marketplaces.  In addition, 3.1 million young people have been able to stay on their parents' policies until 26 years old.  Millions more secured new coverage for themselves and their families through the Medicaid expansion.  Probably this will bring us to around 15 million people.  We're still awaiting confirmation on some of the Medicaid numbers, but I think it will be at least to that point. 

The Affordable Care Act, as was its purpose, was to make health care a right for the many, not just for the privileged few – for all Americans.  Harkening back to our Founders again, they promised “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence.  They put that forth.  This is about a healthier life, the liberty to pursue your happiness, not job locked, but free to self employ, start a business, change jobs, reach your fulfillment, follow your passion, not be chained by your policy.

This week has been a busy week.  This week the Republicans unveiled a very different set of values, values that the privileged – here we see – that values the privileged Big Oil profits at the expense of our seniors, incentives to send jobs overseas at the expense of creating jobs in the U.S., tax breaks for millionaires at the expense of the middle class.  Our distinguished Ranking Member on the Budget Committee will speak to all of these issues in a moment. 

The Republican budget unveiled by Chairman Ryan on Tuesday is an attack on our seniors, our students, our workers, our families, our middle class and our future.  Republicans are planning to end the Medicare guarantee for our seniors, open the donut hole, and force them to pay for more checkups, prescription drugs –  even as they give big tax giveaways to Big Oil.  AARP swiftly panned the Republican budget, writing:  “Removing the Medicare guarantee of affordable health coverage for older Americans by implementing a premium support system and asking seniors and future retirees to pay more is not the right direction.”  That's what a budget is.  It's a path.  It's a statement of values.  It's a blueprint for the future.  This is not the right direction. 

The Republican plan will cost our economy three million jobs in just two years, but it protects the perverse tax incentives that ship American jobs overseas.  Republicans are raising taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000, according to the OMB, but they give a $200,000 tax break to millionaires. 

Perhaps the most regrettable are the cost to our nation's investment in education, earliest childhood education – Head Start, K through 12 and beyond.  The cuts in Pell Grants are just so hard to understand.  But, again, not surprising considering the source.  The Ryan Republican budget even rejected the immigration reform, with its promise of creating jobs, stronger small business, a growing economy, and dramatically shrinking the deficit.  As the CBO said, over the 20 year period, nearly a trillion dollars in deficit reduction coming from the immigration bill.  The Chairman said we shouldn't be rewriting law in here, so we shouldn't do the immigration piece, and was countered by your colleague on the Committee, Mr. Cardenas.  As he said, we shouldn't be rewriting Medicare law here either.  I think the Chairman agreed.

This budget is in sharp contrast to the budgets presented by the President, by Congressional Democrats, which are committed to creating growth with good paying jobs, investing in our future, responsibly reducing the deficit.  And we could not be better led in that statement of values for our country as to what is important to us than by our distinguished Ranking Member of the Committee, working with our Democratic colleagues on the Committee, the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Van Hollen. 

Thank you, Mr. Van Hollen.

Congressman Van Hollen.  Thank you, Leader Pelosi.  It is great to be with all of you today. 

As Leader Pelosi said, this Republican budget that we voted on in the Budget Committee yesterday and is expected to come to the floor next week is very important.  It's important because it tells the American public exactly what Republicans in Congress would do to the country if they have the power to impose their will on the country.  This is a road map of what they would do, and so people need to take it very seriously. 

We encourage every American to read this Republican budget and then read the President's budget, because budgets are about choices.  If you look at the Republican budget, it chooses to rig the rules of the game in favor of the very wealthy and privileged special interests at the expense of everyone else and at the expense of everything else – beginning with jobs. 

The Congressional Budget Office indicates that their budget would slow down economic activity over the next couple of years.  That means less jobs.  They have tax breaks that would encourage companies to ship American jobs overseas.  We want people to be shipping American products overseas, but these tax breaks shift American jobs overseas at the same time that they radically cut investments in jobs right here at home in America. 

They dramatically cut investments in research and development, in innovation, in our infrastructure, which is important to keep the economy moving.  They dramatically cut investments in advanced manufacturing, and then they make very deep cuts in the area of education. 

You know, we all say that we want America to be the land of opportunity, and if you want a land of opportunity, you want people to be able to climb the ladder of opportunity.  This Republican budget systematically knocks the rungs off that ladder, beginning with a cut of $145 billion to the education part of the budget and, on top of that, a $245 billion cut to our current policies with respect to higher education.  So fewer kids will be able to afford college.  If you come from a family that can pay the bill, you're fine.  But anybody else struggling to try to get to college, you're out of luck under the Republican budget. 

When we should be investing in early education, they cut Head Start, and early education, and K through 12, and special education.  So they undermine the whole notion that we need to be investing in our future to help grow our economy and be competitive as a country.

Seniors – as Leader Pelosi said, seniors really get socked in this budget in a number of ways.  First of all, seniors with high prescription drug costs will immediately see their prescription drug prices skyrocket, because they reopen the prescription drug donut hole that was closed by the Affordable Care Act.  They reopen it, so seniors fall through.  That amounts to $1,200 more per year on average for a senior with high prescription drug costs. 

They're immediately going to require seniors to pay copays in order to access preventive care services, diagnostic services.  They move again to the voucher plan, this time within their budget window.  And so all those things are going to have a dramatically negative impact on seniors.

On top of that, they cut Medicaid by over $750 billion.  When I am talking about Medicaid here, I'm not talking about expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, just the traditional Medicaid.  They cut it by one quarter by the end of their budget window – 25 percent.  So if you are a senior in a nursing home, this is going to squeeze – put the squeeze on you.  In fact, two thirds of the Medicaid budget is spent on the elderly and the disabled. 

Let's look at middle class families.  As Leader Pelosi said, they are going to get socked.  You know, Dave Camp went through a reality-based exercise of tax reform.  It's as if Dave Camp had disappeared from the planet in this budget.  Because whatever you think of his proposal, what it demonstrated was you could not achieve the Republican budget goal of cutting the tax rates for millionaires by a full one third without increasing the tax burden on middle class families, right?  If you drop the top tax rate from 39 percent to 25 percent, that's a full one third cut in the rate for a millionaire.  If you are going to do that in a deficit neutral way, you have got to recover a lot of money. 

What Dave Camp showed was you can get to the top rate of 35 percent, which was what was in his budget, which by all accounts did not shift the burden of taxes among different income groups.  But this Republican budget, once again, goes back to this ideological goal of cutting to 25 percent, and that does result in increasing middle class families' taxes by an average of $2,000.  It's simple math.  That's Tax Policy Center and OMB.

And just to make sure, we wanted to find out if that was the Republicans’ intention.  One of the amendments that was offered yesterday was an amendment that said: “Let's make sure we maintain the progressivity of at least the current tax code.”  Shouldn't that be a principle as part of this budget?  And you shouldn't increase the tax burden on middle class families.  So we added an amendment.  They all voted “no.”  So they voted to protect tax breaks for millionaires, and they voted against an amendment to say we're not going to increase the tax burden on middle class families.

Finally, the safety net: look, this is a very cruel cut to the safety net.  We had a debate about food and nutrition programs to try and help families that are struggling to get out of poverty and get into the middle class.  They absolutely devastate that safety net, tear it up, all under this pernicious idea that somehow you're going to be helping people by taking away food and nutrition for their kids.

And the last point I want to make has to do with their false claim of balance, right?  So they go through this entire exercise of protecting tax breaks for special interests and very wealthy people.  And in order to do that, they sock it to kids' education, they hurt seniors, they squeeze the middle class – all because they want to claim to have a balanced budget at the end of 10 years.  But they don't, because in the same budget they claim to totally get rid of the Affordable Care Act, but they don't totally get rid of the Affordable Care Act in their budget.  They get rid of all the good parts of the Affordable Care Act – all the benefits.  The tax credits that help people afford insurance in the exchanges – they get rid of those.  They get rid of the provisions that say you can stay on your parents' insurance policy until you're age 26 – they get rid of those.  They get rid of the provisions that make sure you can't be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.  That's all gone.  But you know what they keep in their budget?  They keep every penny of Medicare savings, and they keep every penny of the revenue from the Affordable Care Act.  That's $2 trillion in their budget.  You take that out, they don't come close to balance.  So it is a fraud to claim at the same time that they have a balanced budget and they are getting rid of the Affordable Care Act. 

The Heritage Foundation pointed out that their budget includes all the revenue, right?  And we know – you just have to look at it – that it includes the Medicare savings even though they demagogue against that. 

So I hope no one will print that they have a balanced budget unless you print at the same time that the Republicans have changed their mind, and now they are accepting all of the revenues and all the savings in the Affordable Care Act, because that is the only way they come close to balance.  They don't even balance with that.  They had another gimmick in there, but they don't come close without that.  They go through this exercise of hurting everybody except the very wealthy in order to pretend to achieve a goal that they don't really achieve in this budget. 

So we are looking forward to the debate on the floor, because, as we've said, this shows the country exactly what the Republicans will do.  And we think it is very out of touch with where the overwhelming majority of American people are.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Mr. Ranking Member.  Any questions from our regulars here?

***

Q:  Good morning.  There was a hearing yesterday about the Commerce Department ceding control of some of the Internet to the United Nations.   

Leader Pelosi.  Can we just stay with the budget for a moment?  Because I have some things I want to bring up, too.  I am going to go back to some other things.  Chuck, is yours on the budget? 

Q:  I wanted to ask you a question on the McCutcheon ruling.

Leader Pelosi.  That's something we have been talking about.

Q:  You criticized it very harshly.   

Leader Pelosi.  Yes.

Q:  But can't the DNC and the Democratic Party in general take the same advantage of this ruling that Republicans can?  It lets you seek more money from some of your biggest donors.  It lets you form joint fundraising.  Why can't Democrats use this to their advantage just as much as Republicans? 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, it doesn't make it right.  In other words, we have had our D.A.R.E. out there for a while.  We have for a number of years now tried to empower small donors to diminish the role of money in politics.  I think that's what the public wants to see.  And, by the way, I want to mention that in the D.A.R.E., Disclose – our champion is Congressman Van Hollen.  He has been early on this pushing for disclosure.  That makes all the difference.  The Chamber of Commerce told us, if our Members had to disclose, they wouldn't give to these secret PACs. 

Now, with McCutcheon, if they are giving this big money to parties, that will be disclosed.  But my understanding of the decision is that we can't ask anybody for anything more than we have asked them in the past.  They can give to many more.

Q:  The aggregate giving?

Leader Pelosi.  Yes, the aggregate giving is unlimited.  But what we can ask them for, which is the maximum that the law allows, $32,400 or $5,200 to candidates – that doesn't change. This comes at a time where, for a number of years, we had been working at the grassroots level.  Many groups have been involved in all of this, Common Cause, the Brennan Center, League of Women Voters.  Everybody knows that this has to change.  If we are going to elect more women, in my view – one of my impetuses through this is, if you are going to elect more women, young people, new people to Congress, minorities to Congress – let's focus on women for a moment:  you decrease the role of money, you increase the level of civility, you'll have more women running for public office.  And that's probably the most wholesome thing we can do for our country. 

Just because the ante is raised for everyone does not make it right.  And it was a very bad decision, but totally consistent with their backward thinking and undermining our democracy, which this Court did in Citizens United.

Q:  Is it a concern that more megadonors seem to be conservative and, therefore, pro Republican?

Leader Pelosi.  I'm not thinking politically about this, I'm thinking about our democracy.  Is this supposed to be a money war?  Is that what this is?  That's what really turns off the public.  Nothing, again, is more disillusioning to the public than the vast display of money spent on campaigns and largely on the part of the exploiters in terms of the environment, workers, workers' rights, all of those things.  They don't talk about: “We want to degrade the environment;” they misrepresent what their purpose is, confuse the public, decrease turnout, and that's a victory for them. 

This is a very existential threat to who we are and how we do our campaigning and our government, and it should be something that should be roundly rejected.  There is nothing we can do about it, it's the Supreme Court.  But we can organize against it, and we can have a message of reform that says this is unacceptable, and we can, again, pass the democracy bill that Mr. Sarbanes is advancing that empowers small donors to give a better way for campaigns to be funded based on small donors rather than just unlimited money from donors. 

How can they talk about this being about the First Amendment and the voice of the people when they have snuffed out the voice of the people with these decisions? 

Q:  How do you juggle, though, organizing against this when at the same time Democrats are using the same exact tactics that Republicans are in terms of this thing…

Leader Pelosi.  Raising money.  Well, the fact is that you have to raise money to win the election.  You're not going to unilaterally disarm.  But if you can win the election, then that's where you differentiate, and you go forward with initiatives to change the laws under which our campaign funding proceeds. 

Yeah, it's difficult.  You can't win unless you have the resources to fight an unlimited constant spigot of undisclosed, God knows from where and from whom, supply of money into the system.  It's just plain wrong.  It's just plain wrong.

Many of us – I am a former Chair of the California Democratic Party.  I am a grassroots person, and there are VIPs who are volunteers in politics, and that program included people who gave us $5, $10, like that, to grow the campaign war chest that we needed.  But this is outrageous.  It's really outrageous, especially when you see that the very same people who are putting up all this money are the very same people opposed to raising minimum wage, are the very same people who are advocating no regulations of clean air, clean water, food safety, all of those things that are our responsibility to the American people. 

Walter Reuther said that the bread box and the ballot box cannot be separated, and this is absolutely so.  The well-being of the American people are affected by what happens at the ballot box and if there is just unlimited money poured into it. 

And just to your point, this it isn't about if Democrats can do what Republicans – let's just get rid of all of this, let's just get rid it.  And let's offer an alternative to the public instead of celebrating the fact that more money can be poured in.  I am rarely surprised around here.  ‘Surprise’ is not a word that is even in my life, but when Senator McConnell said “not that there's” – was it a few years ago?  He said: “It's not that there's too much money in politics, it's that there's not enough.”  I wasn't surprised that he thought it, but that he would say it?  I mean really, it's stunning.

The American people expect and deserve to have elections where they can make a choice.  They expect to have government where the people's interest are served and not the special interests.  You go down this path that we have now without a fight in a public arena about reform, and the skepticism the American people have in government will only increase, and that's not a healthy thing for democracy.

Yes, ma'am?

Q:  I want to ask you about the vote today in the Senate Intelligence Committee.  They are expected to vote to declassify…   

Leader Pelosi.  Anybody else on the budget?  And I'll come back to other questions.

On the budget?

Q:  Yes. 

Leader Pelosi.  Are you sure? 

[Laughter]

Remember last week? 

Q:  Cross my heart.  Last night there was an amendment by Representative Yarmuth to boost the amount of advance appropriations that VA would be eligible to have.  Does that take on – it was rejected, of course, as all the other amendments were.  But does that take on new significance in light of what happened yesterday in Fort Hood? 

Congressman Van Hollen.  Well, I think it's significant under any circumstances.  I think what happened at Fort Hood underscores the fact that we have to keep faith with our military and our veterans, and that was what that amendment was all about, keeping faith, because we want to make sure that if we ever have a situation again where there's something like a government shutdown, that our veterans' benefits can be completely paid. 

As you may recall back last October when Republicans shut down the government in order to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they hurt the entire economy, but they also put in jeopardy support for a lot of different groups, including our veterans. 

And so we were disappointed our Republican colleagues did not support this amendment.  It also included President Obama's proposal for jobs, a jobs plan for our veterans.  It had a lot of very important elements for our nation's veterans, and it did not – they voted it down.  It's one more example, I think, of where people's priorities lie. 

If I could say one word on McCutcheon, because this is further rigging the rules of the game in favor of the very wealthy special interests and millionaires, which is exactly what the Republican budget does.  This is opening up the doors where people can write a million dollar check, right?  How many Americans can write a million dollar check to political campaigns?  Not very many.  And I can assure you that a lot of them are spending that money to try and stop things like the increasing the minimum wage, to try and block our agenda of empowering the middle class, and in order to protect the tax breaks that millionaires and special interests enjoy. 

So all it does is tilt the field, the playing field, further in their favor, and to add insult to injury, Republicans have blocked us from requiring that when these outside groups spend money in elections, that they tell the American public who they are.  And the reason that's important is because people need to know what special interests are trying to spend money to influence elections and try and get the kind of legislation they want out of the Congress.  And Republicans want to keep that secret.  They don't want the American voter to know who is spending that kind of money, and that's just wrong.  Transparency is important to our political process, to our democracy, and they want to keep that secret, and I think the American people want to know what they are trying to hide. 

Leader Pelosi.  If I just may add to that, the fact is that some of the notorious – you know who they are – who brag about how much money they are going to spend and have spent and all the rest of that.  It's one thing for people to know that they are spending; it's another thing for them not to put their name on it.  They have fake names that they put on ads.  We want the public to know who these people are in real time when they see the ad and the rest. 

And I don't say this about the fundraising because I say it from a point of weakness.  Democrats can raise money.  People care about our values, our interest in science and technology, and protecting the environment, and innovation and the rest.  They understand the difference between Democrats and Republicans.  But it's not fundraising, it is about the exploitation of any of those situations, and whatever it is, we shouldn't have it on either side.

On the veterans, I am very proud that when we had the majority, we – working with our veterans service organizations – did have the advance funding as part of our agenda right from the start.  I was very proud to be invited by the American Legion to introduce the Commander of the American Legion to the joint House-Senate hearing last week on the Senate side, and we talked about how important that was.  Unfortunately, it did not pass in committee yesterday – the enhanced, shall we say, forward funding.

Sadly, in Fort Hood, both of those were Active Duty personnel.  That doesn't mean we shouldn't – you know, the problem goes beyond veterans in terms of what we need to do.  We look to the military to present some solutions.

Any further questions? 

Yes, sir? 

Q:  Going back to the McCutcheon…   

Leader Pelosi.  I owe Chad because I left him with a Commerce and the domain.

Q:  Thank you.  That is kind of a foreign policy question.  Thank you.  So there is concern that if the Commerce Department cedes control of this portion of the Internet, that you would have countries like Russia or China could take over, and that could – we talked about the First Amendment here – could trump Internet freedoms in some places, potentially even here.  To what degree do you think that that is a potential, particularly if we are seeing this type of action by Vladimir Putin, doing things without impunity over there and sort of how he approaches things?

Leader Pelosi.  Well, I thought the system as it was running was doing a fine job.  We all learned about it years ago, how the names and domain and all of that.  So I think that there's some answers that you raise that need to be answered, and a justification for ceding that jurisdiction needs to be made. 

I had the same questions you had when I saw that they were doing that from a practical matter as well as from a political, shall we say, in terms of the countries that you named.  I think it deserves very thorough study, real attention to it and to their justification.

One last.

Q:  Now, that McCutcheon is the law of the land, how does this change how Democrats approach elections?  I mean, you said, you know, it will open up the spigot even more for money, but how do you combat that?  How do you still get your message out? 

Leader Pelosi.  Have you heard about when women succeed, America succeeds?  We are going all over the country with our agenda for women in the workplace, raise the minimum wage, pass the Pay Equity Act, equal pay for equal work, paid-sick leave, issues that relate to early childhood education, quality affordable child care.  We don't want them to be political issues; we want them to be issues that will be discussed in the campaign and that we will convince enough people that whoever wins the election, these will be on the agenda. 

I view campaigns as a debate arena as well as a political fight.  Part of the success that I've always told, in my years as Chair of the Party and the rest of that, candidates, is you can win the election, but you have to win the campaign on the issues that you are presenting.  They must be advanced.  So that's where we are.  We're into mobilization at the grassroots level.  We are doing that with a message of fairness, and opportunity, and freedom for the American people; jobs creation, good paying jobs here at home.  It's met much of what is in the budget, and again, managing all of that – and we have Steve Israel to do that. 

Does this give us a little more opportunity for people who might be more inclined to help one other committee or another?  I don't know.  It remains to be seen.  But we are on our path.  We have outraised everybody.  We have outraised everybody.  We have no power, no gavel, no nothing, but we do have the House Republicans, and that is an urgency that the grassroots community understands, and our donors understand, and our Members understand, and that's why we've outraised all the congressional committees. 

I just want to get back to the budget, because the fact is: for the good of the country, this debate is essential, how we go forward.  These are two different paths.  The contrasts could not be greater.  You see what they're doing at the expense of whom.  Another chart will show you what the Democratic proposals will do and what the President's proposal will do about investments in the future – something about innovation and education.  Innovation springs from the classroom.  And the list goes on. 

So we're very excited about that.  That's why we're here.  For a long time all of those issues were bipartisan issues, our jobs initiative, Make It In America.  Don't just do tax incentives to send jobs overseas; have tax incentives to keep good paying jobs here, A.  B, build America's infrastructure.  That's always been bipartisan.  That's always been bipartisan.  C, listen to our communities on how we protect that our communities have clean, safe environments for our children to grow and thrive.  And D, D.A.R.E.: disclose, amend, reform, empower to, again, strengthen democracy. 

Again, everything that is in that budget is central to the decision that the American people have to make.  The question that will be called on the Congress of the United States is whose path do they choose?  The path that is for them and about the American people, or a path of special interests that ships jobs overseas, gives tax breaks to millionaires at the expense of America's workers, socks it to our seniors, and undermines our children's future? 

So we're about the issues.  We'll see what the resources are.  We never would have as much as the, shall we say, “big outside money” they have coming in, but we'll see just how much of their “big outside money” wants to be disclosed by giving directly to the Republican Party, which has not been doing very well in the Congress in terms of their fundraising.

But in any case, I'm very, very proud of the work Chris Van Hollen and the House Democrats have done.  I think the hearing yesterday was just fabulous.  I mean, the difference was so clear.  The fact is, though, we are under the dome; this is a cone of silence.  We have to take it to the public.  And I'll end where I always say, President Lincoln said: “Public sentiment is everything.”  The public has to know.  There are more ways of telling people something than just by spending money to do it. 

I thank you all very much. 

Q:  Can I sneak in a question about the CIA.  They're declassifying a report. 

Leader Pelosi.  I did promise to get back to you.

And back in 2009, you essentially said the CIA misled you. 

Leader Pelosi.  Yes, they did.

Q:  If this report gives evidence to that claim, and there's proof that there was misrepresentation of the interrogation program, what kind of consequences should there be for the CIA?

Leader Pelosi.  Well, you know, here's the thing.  The CIA is made up of many very patriotic Americans who take risks to protect our country.  Good intelligence prevents conflict.  That's one of the hopes that we have, and it has been our experience.  So some of what was done at the CIA, in my view, came from a, shall we say, a ‘higher pay rate,’ came from ‘higher ups’ to direct them to do what they were doing.  So we'll see what they did. 

I'm not surprised by it at all.  They hold a meeting, control the report on it, add facts after the – not facts – add mythology, or whatever, their view, after the fact, obviously no review or consensus of the minutes of a meeting.  And then they do what they did to, what they alleged to have done to the Senate [Intelligence] Committee. 

But what will happen is that if it passes out of committee – which I suspect Chairwoman Feinstein has the votes to do – then it will go to the CIA for classified vetting, is that correct? 

Q:  It goes to the President. 

Leader Pelosi.  It goes to the CIA for some classification vetting, and then it goes to the President, and the President, like that, can declassify. 

It's a funny thing because when some people, some declassification took place that should not have taken place during the Bush years, the Vice President was responsible with the license of the President.  It was like: “Well, wait a minute, the rest us are sworn to all kinds of secrecy,” not to jeopardize sources and methods, but there's another…    

Q:  Have you urged the President to declassify it?

Leader Pelosi.  I haven't had a conversation with the President on this particular aspect…    

Q:  But should he?

Leader Pelosi.  …of the CIA.  Well, it depends on what they come up with.  I'm all for declassification.  You know, we used to make a joke when I was on the committee that you go upstairs – upstairs is where it used to be – and you'd see The Washington Post, and it would say ‘classified’ on it, just classified, everything is classified.  That's an exaggeration. 

But so I think the more classified – more declassification, the more transparency, the better.  And by the way, the sooner the better.  And when people in their performance know that there's going to be declassification, it might affect their performance. 

But again, I want to pay tribute to all the members of the CIA who work so hard, do their job for our country, and not to paint everyone there with this brush that we are seeing a criticism of some in the CIA. 

But really, if you're going to serve in Congress, and you're going to have responsibilities of oversight over the CIA, you shouldn't be at the mercy of their characterization of your oversight.  And they have a lot of power.  They have a lot of power to undermine anyone who criticizes them.  So, I congratulate Senator Feinstein for her courage and her thoroughness that she is known for to move this along. 

Thank you very much.  Bye bye.

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