Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
Washington, D.C. – Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Speaker-designate’s remarks:
Speaker-designate Pelosi. I'm watching the House, as I'm sure you are as well, postponing business until later.
‘Donald's right. I agree with him.’ Putin. ‘Donald's right. I agree with him.’ Putin.
Imagine. That is the comment of Vladimir Putin on the actions taken by the President of the United States in relationship to Syria. An action that was taken without the benefit of the thinking of our national security establishment and our intelligence community included in that. A decision made in a cavalier fashion in terms of our allies in the fight against terrorism. A decision that is dangerous. And a decision that is a Christmas present to Vladimir Putin, to give him license in Syria.
It comes at the expense of the Kurds, who are fighting with us there against terrorism, and with several very serious questions.
The good news is, and the bad news is, that perhaps the President will forget about it by the weekend – or maybe he won't. But whatever it is, it's frivolous, unworthy of our men and women in uniform.
At the same time, the Administration is now deciding they will make an assault on poor people in America. It's one of their regular themes. It's our understanding that they'll shortly, by executive order, undo the bipartisan agreement that was reached, House and Senate, in the Farm Bill in terms of nutrition for people in America. They will undo that. Why? Why, at Christmas, would you take food out of the mouths of the American people?
At the same time, as you see, the GOP lawsuit on the Affordable Care Act had its day in court. It's a day in court that they may rue, because certainly we will fight the decision of that court.
But what's interesting about it is, since that decision the number of enrollments went up. Maybe 10 days ago we thought that there would be a drastic reduction in enrollment in this week. Four million, since that time, four million – more than four million people enrolled.
It's still down, because they have stopped their outreach and the rest, but it went down from what we anticipated might be ten million, a 10 percent reduction, but four million more people signing up.
Everybody knows the name Jakelin now. A little girl, started her journey at 6 years old, now 7, died with an over 105 degree temperature in the custody of the Border Patrol. The President wants to build walls, physical walls, at the same time he's building walls around the hearts of some people in our country.
It's interesting because the evangelical community, which had been champions of welcoming people to our country, have testified in public that the U.S. refugee resettlement program is ‘the crown jewel of American humanitarianism’ – ‘the crown jewel of American humanitarianism.’ And yet this President, either not knowing the law of the land or not caring about it, has policies implemented that do not meet a standard.
I mean, I keep asking people to read Ronald Reagan's last speech as President of the United States. I've said it to you a number of times. I won't go through the whole thing again except to say how much he appreciated the value that newcomers bring to America.
So here we are. Republicans are in a state of disarray. We don't know what will happen next. Later, after some things happen, I'll come back and talk to you about the continuing resolution and where we will go from here. But for now, I'll take questions on these other subjects.
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Q: Madam Leader, is there any circumstance – there seem to be some discussions ongoing on the floor of the House right now among Republicans around trying to pass this short term funding bill. They're discussing adding wall funding. They're also potentially adding disaster funding. Is there any situation you think Democrats could support beyond a clean continuing resolution?
Speaker-designate Pelosi. Depends on what they have to say, but not wall funding. I think we've made that clear. It was not clear? Yeah. No, I mean, we'll see what they come up with in terms of disaster assistance. We'll see. But in terms of wall funding, that's a nonstarter. I think they know that.
Q: Have you gotten any assurances from the White House or the President, himself, that he will sign this spending resolution?
Speaker-designate Pelosi. I don't know that anybody ever has any assurances from the White House on any subject, including this one.
Q: Thank you, Madam Leader. Is your side prepared to deliver the votes if they say, like they did on some of these other major pieces of legislation – Sandy – if they say, ‘Well, hey, we can only get 50 people to vote for this, can your side carry the rest of the freight even if you're in the minority?’ Has that question been asked?
Speaker-designate Pelosi. Are you talking about the current continuing resolution?
Q: Yes, or any variation of this, you know, morphs in the next few hours.
Speaker-designate Pelosi. It depends on what you're talking about. Yes, on the current version. We're prepared to not only support the resolution, but to support the rule, because that's what they'll try to do, is bring down the rule.
By the way, they have a lot of people who are missing, who are absent here. So they never did have the votes for their wall, but they now don't even have a full complement of Members here.
Q: Leader Pelosi, Donald Trump just tweeted that if he doesn't get any sort of wall funding this time around he may look at the infrastructure bill going into the next Congress. What are your thoughts on that?
Speaker-designate Pelosi. Well, I believe the President wants to do an infrastructure bill. I don't know that he'll throw a tantrum over it when he sees what the bill might be. We've talked in a very positive way. Almost every conversation I've had with him since he's been President has – almost every, not every – but almost every one has included how we can work together on infrastructure.
It's something the country wants very much. It's something he promised in the campaign. So if he's keeping campaign promises to the letter, he probably would want to get to work on an infrastructure bill.
Again, this is, I think, whimsical on the President's part. He has a whim that he might not sign it. Let's get the bill first and then have a discussion as to what happens to it next.
Yes? Yes, ma'am?
Q: Can you describe a little bit of what this negotiation has been like? Speaker Ryan cancelled his press conference. He gets called by the President, has to step out of a meeting. Are you under the impression that this is a negotiation? Is this a momentary blip, and then you'll head to the floor and pass a bill? I mean, what do you think is happening here?
Speaker-designate Pelosi. Well, I don't really want to make any characterizations because we're right in the middle of a sort of a meltdown on the part of the Republicans. You just really have to ask them.
From our standpoint, we had bipartisan support for six bills. Working together, House and Senate negotiated six bills that could come to the floor, and then the seventh bill would be a continuing resolution of the funding for last year. We had that opportunity. We offered it.
Leader Schumer presented that when we were in the Oval Office to the President and said: Let's just go down this path. If you don't want to go down that path, we can pass all seven bills, under continuing resolution, until the end of the fiscal year, in both cases.
The President rejected that. We said it is unthinkable that we would have a shutdown. So we agreed to this February date that Senator Shelby worked on, and others.
And so this is a path. Now they're having a breakdown over this. But we're not in the negotiations on what they're doing right now. That's how we got to where we are.
Q: Madam Leader, you're the first female Speaker, and you're about to work with the largest incoming class of women freshmen.
Speaker-designate Pelosi. Isn't that exciting?
Q: And my question is, what can they learn from you, and what can you learn from them?
Speaker-designate Pelosi. Well, we all learn from them, because they're the new class. And every time a new class comes, we always say: ‘Here they come. Who among them will lead in this body? Who among them will run for other office? Who among them could be President of the United States?’
They bring the fresh from the trenches energy that is so useful to the Congress. They learn from us how Congress works. They have an impact on it, to make change, as to how Congress works.
But it's a pretty exciting engagement, even more so now when we have such a large class that is transformative. We have 64 Democrats in our class, 43 who are – it may be 65, we'll see but 43 new Democrats who replaced Republicans in the Congress. And many of them are women. We'll have up to 95 women on the Democratic side in the House.
It's a decision we made a long time ago to grow that number. When I came, we were at 12 women on the Democratic side, 11 on the Republican side. And we said: ‘This can't be, out of 435 people.’
So we went each year to add more and more and more. Going into this election, we had 65 women. They had, maybe, 20. We made a decision to grow. And now this election, women marched, women ran, women voted, women won, 95, pretty exciting, on the House Democratic side alone. Over 100 between us and 120 or 130 when you include the United States Senate.
So, again, over 95, about 40 percent, at least 40 percent of our Caucus, House Democratic Caucus, are women. Over 60 percent are women, people of color, and LGBTQ community members.
So that beautiful diversity is our strength. Our unity is our power. And we'll learn how we will work together with the constant reinvigoration of a new class.
But what I've always wanted them to know, and they teach us back, is that women are essential in decision-making in our country and that they should have confidence that what they bring to the table it’s pretty exciting.
It'll be the Congress where we will observe the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote. How appropriate that we have so many women Members to celebrate here for that. Thank you.
Q: Speaker Ryan gave his farewell address yesterday. I wondered what you made of what he said in his message.
Speaker-designate Pelosi. Well, this may come as a shock to you, but I was busy doing other things at the time.
I wish him well as he goes forward. I did not really have a chance to go to the speech and hear what he had to say. But I wish him and his family season's greetings and best wishes for a wonderful future.
Thank you all very much.
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