Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
Jul 22, 2021
Contact: Speaker’s Press Office,
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. My apologies for being a few minutes late. On my way here, we had the pleasure of visit – of Chuck Schumer and his first grandchild, Noah. And Noah looked in at the House and saw the American flag. He got some chocolate at my office. And it was the perfect way to begin, because he is the future, and all that we do is about the future.
As we speak, right now, on the Floor of the House, we have the ALLIES bill. Promises made, promises kept to those who helped our men and women in uniform in Afghanistan, to have the visas and the opportunity for them to be safe. I've been to Afghanistan nine times, bringing the best wishes of our – the American people to our men and women in uniform, and also thanking those who have helped to keep them safe. This is a very important measure in that regard.
And then, and then, when I leave here, we'll be welcoming the King of Jordan, His Majesty King Abdullah, to talk about peace in the Middle East. So, it's a busy – it's a busy time.
In terms of where we are on this, we have the fact that the bipartisan agreement in the Senate looks like it has prospects to be brought up soon. I don't know when. I hope that it will, because that infrastructure legislation is very important.
But I want to talk about our men and women in uniform. We always promised them that we will build them – we will build for them a future worthy of their sacrifice, and President Biden's Build Back Better initiative does exactly that. We are – jobs are coming back, going to about 60,000 every three days. Wages are rising. Paychecks are growing, the strongest rate before the pandemic, since 2006. The economy is booming. The CBO – the CBO, IMF, Federal Reserve, World Bank, OECD and others all project we'll reach the highest levels of growth in nearly four decades, and we'll do that this year. And we need bold infrastructure investment to Build Back Better.
Better jobs – when we ran in ‘18 and then in ‘20, we said we were going to lower health care costs – lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. That's what we’re – what we had set out to do and are in the works to accomplish. Jobs are coming back, as I mentioned before.
Now, as we go forward, it is important for us to, again, have them pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. As I said earlier, we don't know when – it’s the Senate schedule, but it seems to be imminent, and I hope that it will succeed. I have said, and I repeat, that we will not be – while we are eager for it to pass, we will not be taking it up until the Senate passes the reconciliation bill. And the timing of that, of course, is up to the Senate.
As you know, January 6th was a day of an assault on our Capitol. It was one of the darkest days in our country's history. It was an assault on our democracy. It was an assault on our Congress. It was an assault on our Constitution, as rioters tried to undo or prevent us from honoring our Constitutional responsibility to ratify, to certify the Electoral College vote and officially name Joe Biden President of the United States.
In the time since then, the six months or more since then, we've tried to have a bipartisan Commission. In the House, we passed it, it was – we yielded on many scores in terms of makeup, process and timing. And it was bipartisan in terms of the Committee, and I salute our Chairman, Bennie Thompson, and Mr. Katko, the Ranking Member. Even though it was something that was bipartisan and yielded on many points to the Republicans in order to achieve bipartisanship, the Leadership of the Republican Party in the House opposed and whipped against the bipartisan Commission.
Still, in all, we had the votes: 35 Members on the Republican side voted with us to send it to the Senate. It was very hopeful that we could pass it there. We had seven Republican votes, but not ten and we needed ten to get up to 60. Hopefully, one day, that opportunity will still present itself.
But because it was not possible in this timeframe, last month, we passed our legislation for a Select Committee. The Select Committee is bipartisan, and it has a quorum, and it will do the job it sets out to do. And that is to investigate the causes and that of what happened on January 6th, to find out how it was organized, who paid for it, who messaged to get those people here for the assault on the Capitol.
As you know, well over 100 people were injured. Some died. It was a horrible, horrible thing. I'll never forget the trauma it caused, not only for our Members, but for our staff and for the people who work in the Capitol to make our work here possible. Some of you were here that day, as well. So, you can attest to the fact that it was not all love, hugs and kisses, as it has been characterized – mischaracterized, I should say.
So, as you know, I've – we named our Commission – Committee. It's bipartisan, again, and we have a quorum. Staff is being hired to do the job. We're there to seek the truth. We're not – we're there to get the truth, not to get Trump. T-R-U – truth. Trump, that seems to be what the other side is obsessed with.
So, as the legislation allows, I did not accept two of the five people who were appointed. They had made statements and taken actions that I think would impact the integrity of the Committee, the work of the Committee. This is deadly serious. It's about our Constitution, our country. It's about an assault on the Capitol that's being mischaracterized for some reason at the expense, at the expense of finding the truth for the American people.
I'm very pleased at the response we had received across the country and from my Caucus on the subject, and we will – I'm very pleased with the leadership of Bennie Thompson, our Chairman, the bipartisan nature of our Committee with Liz Cheney, the other Members who are on the Committee, who have experience and patriotism as their calling cards. So, we will proceed. As I said, they're in the process – their Committee is in the process of hiring staff to that end.
It is my responsibility as Speaker of the House to make sure we get to the truth on this, and we will not let their antics stand in the way of that.
On another subject, again, we are working very hard to get the job done for the American people, to lower health care costs, lower pollution, raise – as I said to you, when we ran, we said, ‘lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government,’ and that's what we are about. The cleaner government comes with the H.R. 1 – H.R. 1/S. 1 – combine them, the Senate Resolution, the House Resolution, to get this done.
So, in any event, as I mentioned, we are here to get the job done. We cannot respond to some of the legislation until the Senate acts. As I said, we will not take up the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation bill.
With that, I'm pleased to take any questions.
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, ma'am?
Q: Would you appoint additional Republican Members to serve on this Select Committee given the fact that the legislation says you have the power to appoint thirteen Members?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, well, we – I did suggest to the Leader that the three – make sure you understand this. People, I hear the press saying: ‘Well, they didn't vote to accept the Biden’ – that had nothing to do with it.
Right from the start, when the Members acted in that way and said they were not going to vote for the certification that Joe Biden was President, I said to the Members, ‘Do not let that stand in the way of you finding bipartisan agreement on legislation here. I'm not encouraging that at all. You find your common ground. We strive for bipartisanship.’ So how they voted on that bill is not relevant to how we are legislating.
On the other hand, the two people that I excluded – so of the three that I appointed, one of them voted against the ratification and the other two voted for it. Having said that, though, the other two made statements and took actions that just made it ridiculous to put them on such a Committee seeking the truth.
At the same time, we have a Committee to address economic disparities in our country. And the Leader gave me six names for that Committee. Five of them voted against making the election of Joe Biden official, but I approved all six of them, even though only one of them voted in that regard. So, it has not been a factor, even though the press, somehow or another, you all think that it might be. It has not been a factor. The Chairman of that Committee, Jim Himes, is already staffed up and ready for hearings, a hearing next week, as is Mr. Thompson for a hearing next week.
But the Leader may want to rescind those names. I'm ready to have them be accepted on the Floor of the House. So, we'll see. We'll see. I mean, there are some Members who would like to be on it, but we'll see.
Q: Can you elaborate more specifically what statements and what actions caused you to –
Speaker Pelosi. No, I won't. I'll just give you their statements. I'll give you their statements. I think one of them was sort of the – of Mr. Banks – was that the Biden Administration was responsible for January 6th. There was no Biden Administration on January 6th. But let's not go into that. Have you – are you up to date on their statements? I’d like you to see them because they completely just make it impossible for them to exercise judgment.
Again, this is about seeking the truth. And it's about not – as I said in my comment, with respect for the integrity of the investigation, with concern that the American people want to know the truth, and in light of statements and actions taken by them, I could not appoint them. I said that while this may be unprecedented, so was an attack on the Capitol. I'm not going to spend any more time talking about them.
Q: Madam Speaker, so, on the bipartisan question about this Committee and Ms. Cheney, you keep saying this is bipartisan – when you talk to Republicans, many of them believe that the election was stolen from them and so on. How do you convince people on the other side of the aisle that what's going to go on in this Committee is going to be bipartisan, to truly get to the truth –
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. It's not even – it isn't even bipartisan. It's nonpartisan. It's about seeking the truth. And that's what we owe the American people. And probably the biggest incentive for that is that the more – the less partisan it is, the more it will be accepted by the American people.
Q: Madam Speaker, Leader McCarthy is promising to have his own probe –
Speaker Pelosi. You know what? I'm not talking about him. What have you got? No, I'm not. I'm not concerned. Let's not waste each other's time, okay?
Q: Madam Speaker, there's a bill before the House that would prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions that’s been brought by Republicans 37 times for a vote on the House Floor, but has been blocked by Democrats. Can you explain why?
Speaker Pelosi. It has been blocked by Democrats?
Q: Well, it has been blocked for a vote, to allow a vote on the House Floor. A bill to –
Speaker Pelosi. But it hasn't been blocked by Democrats?
Q: Well, it hasn't been accepted, I should say.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we will be voting on it. It passed in Committee. We think it's the right thing to do. It's something that many of us have been concerned about for a long time, as an issue of health, as an issue of fairness. And we will send the bills over to the Senate. We’ll see, maybe –
Q: No, I’m sorry. I think you misunderstood. It's a bill to prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions, to have money go to taxpayer-funded abortions.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, that's in the law for Medicaid. You're talking about Medicaid. That's in the law. What we have in our bill is to overturn that. There's no need to have that. That is the law now.
Q: The reasons why to have it overturned?
Speaker Pelosi. Because it's an issue of health of many women in America, especially those in lower-income situations and in different states. And it is something that has been a priority for many of us a long time.
As a devout Catholic and mother of five in six years, I feel that God blessed my husband and me with our beautiful family – five children in six years, almost to the day. But it's not up to me to dictate that that's what other people should do. And it's an issue of fairness and justice for poor women in our country.
Q: Given how divided the country is at this point, do you risk half the American public not believing what the Committee finds – with what you’re finding in the Select Committee? Also, can just you talk about Liz Cheney’s role now after Leader McCarthy has withdrawn his Members?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, no. In fact, I don't accept your stipulation that half the country is – there is a percentage of the country who is in denial about COVID and getting vaccinated. It's sort of the same crowd. But overwhelmingly, if you look at the polls, if that's what your measure is, they want to know the truth. It's like in the 70’s that people want to know more about what happened on January 6th. And 59 percent of Republicans, according to the polling that came out this morning, think we need to know more about what happened on January 6th.
I think that, just to take this to an end, these people are going to act up, cause a problem. And people said to me, ‘Put them on and then when they act up, you can take them off.’ I said, ‘Why should we waste time on something as predictable?’ The Republicans that they put on will have their own point of view. Nobody is saying that it should all be one point of view going on to the Committee. But it is – when statements are ridiculous and fall into the realm of ‘you must be kidding,’ there's no way that they're going to be on the committee.
OK, I've got to go.
Q: – accounts for the rightward shift of Latino voters in the 2020 election, and should the Democratic Party be preparing to appeal to the demographic differently in the midterms?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you want to talk politics?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, obviously, the Latino community is the future of America. If you actually study the numbers, there was a very strong vote for Joe Biden in that. The message – part of our issue in the last election was that we could not go door to door. We could not go door to door to get out the vote. We will be able to go out door to door next.
But regardless of that, we should be paying a great deal of attention. And I'm so proud of our Congressional Hispanic Caucus for the work that they do in the Congress to bring the concerns of the community into a priority place in our debate and our discussion. And their communication is helpful to us to understand more fully what some of the issues are. Some of the issues are newer issues to the discussion. The Latino community is a young population. It's a young population. And we really have to reach out better to young people, as well as the Latino community.
But I have to go to the Floor because I have the King of Jordan coming right now.
Q: Should Dr. King's ‘I Have a Dream’ speech be required to be taught in public schools across the country? There's an effort in Texas to strip that from the curriculum.
Speaker Pelosi. You know, the curriculum in schools is a local decision. That's just the way it has been. I think it is a sadness for the children if they are not able to hear or learn about that speech because it is so inspirational about our country. It's not partisan. It's patriotic. It's fair.
You remind me that this weekend we had the privilege, many of us, to go to San Diego for the launching of the John Lewis – the ship named for John Lewis. It was such a beautiful occasion. And I recalled – when I made my speech, I recalled two years ago around this time – the end of July, a little bit later – John Lewis and the Black Caucus and I went to Ghana. And we went to where – the Door of No Return, where the first slaves that came to the United States 400 years ago – well, to America. It wasn't the United States then – went through that Door of No Return and got on those death ships. If they survived, slavery was their destination. It was just so tragic. And John – you should have seen the reception he received. It was so beautiful there. But John said to us, ‘You know, this is as much a part of American history as the walk over the Selma Bridge. This is how people came.’
And what he did say – and I'll close with this – he said, ‘We may have come to America on different ships, but now we’re in the same boat.’ And that's how we view this. We're in the same boat of America for a more perfect union. He's such an inspiration to us, as was Dr. King. Mr. Clyburn has it, I think, constantly going in his office. Because no matter how many times you hear the speech of Dr. King, it continues to inspire, strengthen and keep us focused on our purpose: that we're all in the same ship.
Thank you all. Thank you.
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