Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
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.
How are you?
Speaker Pelosi. Good. That's good.
We've been hearing from people all over the country in the last – since last night and this morning. It seems like people have a spring in their steps because the President was held accountable for his reckless behavior. No one is above the law, and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. No one is above the law, and the President has been held accountable. It really is interesting to see the response that we are getting, bipartisan, across party lines.
I, myself, want to say I have a spring in my step because of the moral courage of our Caucus. To see them all, so many of them, 100 Members go to the Floor – that's all we had time for – to go to the Floor, and speak about our Constitution, about the facts of the case so clearly, so patriotically, so prayerfully and so solemnly, but so definitely.
I – just to get this off the table right away, if we impeach the President immediately, everybody moves on to the next thing. The next thing for us will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate, then we'll know the number of managers that we may have to go forward, and who we would choose. That's what I said last night. That's what I'm saying now.
The precedent for this – and I met with my six chairs after some of us were together for a press conference after the votes last night, and we discussed the precedent of it all, and that is, in the most recent case, taking up an impeachment, there was a proposal on the Floor, put together in a bipartisan way, 100 senators voted for the process on how they would go forward on the case of President Clinton.
We would hope that they could come to some conclusion like that. But, in any event, we're ready. When we see what they have, we'll know who and how many we will send over. That's all I'm going to say about that now.
We've had a very eventful week. I'm so proud of our Members, and really, in some cases, the bipartisanship of some of this and some not. Last year's campaign we said For The People, we would lower the cost of health care, starting with lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the pre-existing condition benefit.
Within the past week, we passed the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Cost Now Act, which does just that. As we were passing it last week, we discussed the particulars of it. But with the savings that we gain from that, I think it's important to note that we already said we would be spending the hundreds of billions of dollars in savings on expanding benefits for Medicare: dental, visual, hearing and then the most, the biggest expansion of Medicare since its inception.
Next we did – we did lower – important bipartisan bills, the appropriations bill to keep government open and to do so early enough so that you knew to make your weekend plans and get started for all the holidays you may be observing.
And that was a major accomplishment. It took constant back and forth, but we ended up with, as I have always said, as an appropriator myself, one forged in that culture, left to their own devices, the appropriators can get the job done. And, I solute Chairwoman Nita Lowey for her work, the Ranking Member as well. And we're very pleased with that legislation.
I guess I would take up cloture or something on the Senate pretty soon, and hopefully it will be on its way to the President for a signature.
Before I leave the subject of impeachment, though, let me commend our six chairmen: Adam Schiff, Chairman Adam Schiff; Jerry Nadler, Chair of Judiciary, so proud of him; Maxine Waters, Financial Services; Richie Neal, Ways and Means Committee; Eliot Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee; and also the very important committee chaired now by Carolyn Maloney, the [Oversight and Reform Committee].
I said last night and I say today, while he isn't with us today, physically here, Elijah Cummings is with us in spirit. The foundation he helped lay for justice is with us. And he said, ‘When we're dancing with the angels, what will we know about what we did to keep the Constitution intact?’ When he said that, it was very prescient. Little did we know that by the time we passed the impeachment resolution of the articles of impeachment that he would be dancing with the angels.
Right now, as we speak, they're debating on the Floor the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement. I hear my colleagues on the Floor last night saying, ‘Well, if we weren't doing this, we could do Mexico.’ Well, we are doing Mexico. And the discussion that took some time to convince the Administration and the other countries was that we weren't going forward until we had the strongest possible enforcement of the trade agreement, and also manifested in the legislation that we'll have on the Floor today, the implementing legislation.
As you've heard me say over and over again, this is about enforcement, the overarching issue. If you can't enforce it, it doesn't matter what you put forth and of the concerns that we had when we're – workers' rights, the other pharmaceuticals and the other environment.
We made giant progress from, first of all, over existing NAFTA for sure, but apart from that, big distance between what the Administration was proposing to begin with in all of those areas, and to where we ended up now, going forward.
I'm very pleased to have the statement today that went out from the AFL CIO from Richard Trumka. He said – we are so proud – he said, ‘There is no denying that the trade rules in America will now be fair. Working people have created a new standard for future trade negotiations.’
I think it's a template for future trade agreements. Some of my Members think, let's not give it that much. We'll see how it goes in the implementation. That means everything.
Then after that, today we will do SALT, and that is going to be the state and local tax that the Republicans put on to punish blue states, largely. It is paid for, this legislation, to repeal the SALT tax. And, it will be paid for by increasing the rate on the wealthiest individuals in our country.
When the President first proposed his tax scam, they were saying, we're never going to lower the individual rate and then they did, and now we will raise it again to repeal SALT.
So, we're very proud of what we have done. As you know, the Republicans keep saying, well, we should be working. We've sent over 400 bills, 275 of them sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk. Well, 400, but 275 of those, at least, are bipartisan.
The range of subjects is – well, you've heard me say it, but it bears repeating, I think – that includes all of our top ten pieces of legislation, bipartisan background checks, expanding backgrounds checks. People have to have a background check, unless they buy it at a gun show, online or in some kind of straw transaction.
So, this is not creating backgrounds check, it is expanding them, as well as the South Carolina – one is H.R. 8, the other 1112; 295 days ago, we sent those bills to Mitch McConnell, the grim reaper.
I have news for him. He may think they're dead on arrival there, but, they're alive and well in the general public. And every day that he does not take up that legislation, because he knows it will pass – he fears that it will pass, or else he'd take it up. Every day that he does not pass it, 100 people die, not all of them by gun violence. Not all of them would be saved by the legislation, but some. And so, we urge him to take up that life-saving legislation.
And the list goes on: Paycheck Fairness, Equal Pay for Equal Work; Violence Against Women Act, again about women; the legislation to raise the minimum wage. Of the 30 some million, 32, 33 million people who will get a pay raise with the increase in the minimum wage, over 20 million of them are women. Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community; Dream and Promise Act; the SAFE Act, Save Our Federal Elections Act; Butch Lewis Act, protecting pensions for America's workers; Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which we passed the other day, with bipartisan support, and has bipartisan support inside and outside the Congress; again, Lower Drug Costs Now.
One other bill that we did pass that I – we had an enrollment ceremony – perhaps some of you came – was the futures – FUTURE Act. And that was about Minority Serving Institutions, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, higher education institutions that deal with our Native American population. It's very important. We sent it. That did pass, and that is on its way to the President.
So, with that, we – said to my Members, what I say to you guys all the time: the words recreate and re-create are the same words. They are spelled the same, and they mean something the same.
When you recreate: renew, rest up, be with your family, you are re-created to come back for the discussions and the debates ahead as we go into the future. And, as we go into the future, again, we are inspired by our Founders that said ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ ‘From many, one.’ ‘From many, one,’ no matter what our differences, and they certainly had theirs, we always have to remember that we are one country.
I have my Speaker's pin on today, but many times, I have on the flag pin which said ‘One country, one destiny.’ We have to think in those terms, and we look forward to doing that after the – well, as we go forward. We still have a day here, as we go forward.
So, I wish you happy holidays and whatever you are celebrating. In our House, we celebrate them all: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year's, whatever else. But I hope you have it.
Speaker Pelosi. And I'll have time for a few questions.
Q: Do you run the risk, as the Republicans have said, of looking like you're playing games with impeachment, if you hold onto these articles for too long?
Speaker Pelosi. I said what I was going to say, Nancy. We are – when we bring the bill which is, just so you know, there is a bill made in order by the Rules Committee that we can call up at any time, in order to send it over to the Senate and to have the provisions in there to pay for the impeachment. And then, the next step, whatever you want to call it, the trial. That is where you put the managers. I was not prepared to put the managers in that bill yet because we don't know the arena that we are in. Frankly, I don't care what the Republicans say.
Any other questions? Not on this subject. I've said this is it.
Q: Last night, you suggested you’d proceed with a fair process in the Senate –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we would like to see a fair process, but we'll see what they have, and we'll be ready for whatever it is.
Q: Is that a requirement for you to see a fair process before sending over the articles?
Speaker Pelosi. We would hope there would be a fair process, just as we would hope they would honor the Constitution.
By the way, I saw some of it – I didn't see it, but I heard some of what Mitch McConnell said today, and it reminded me that our Founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected that there could be a rogue President. I don't think they suspected that we could have a rogue President and a rogue Leader in the Senate at the same time.
Q: To that end, you have talked and criticized Senator McConnell today –
Speaker Pelosi. Any other questions? Anybody want to talk about Mexico Free Trade Agreement? Anybody care about that? Jobs for the American people, progress and addressing globalism and the issues? Anybody want to talk about the SALT tax that we're passing today, important issues that we relate to the economic vitality of our communities? Any other questions? Because I'm not going to answer any more questions on this.
Clearly, do you understand, when we see what their process is, we will know who and how many we want to send over. Not until then. I'm not going to go there anymore.
Q: USMCA, one expects the President will campaign how he got rid of the worst trade deal in history, and made a better deal. Is that something you want to take credit for?
Speaker Pelosi. Of course we'll take credit for it, because what he proposed did not fill the bill of what he just described. But there are those, and some of you who care about substance in the past have asked about whether we would pass that, because it would be – have what we call collateral benefit to the President. I don't care about that.
We had – we had an opportunity do something very important for the American people, for America's workers, and we could not let him stand in the way of that because he would go out and take credit.
So this is – this isn't about him. It's about American workers. It's about being good neighbors in our hemisphere. And, frankly, we weren't going to go down that path until the Administration conceded on many of the provisions that they had in the original proposal, which were not acceptable and which were not, as you described, the President would describe it.
Q: Have you had any conversations with Congressman Van Drew about maybe caucusing –
Speaker Pelosi. No.
Q: – within the new year?
Speaker Pelosi. Zero.
Q: Do have you any advice for the Congressman?
Speaker Pelosi. No. I don't, nothing. Zero.
One more. That's it.
Q: The President last night had some pretty harsh comments about your dear friend, Debbie Dingell, and her late husband. I wanted to know if you had any reaction.
Speaker Pelosi. Let us pray. Let us pray for the President. This is – the President clearly is insecure when it comes to statespersons, whether it was John McCain. Think of what he said about John McCain, and his supporters just overlooked that. John McCain? Now John Dingell.
What the President misunderstands is that cruelty is not wit. Just because he gets a laugh for saying the cruel things that he says doesn't mean he's funny. It's not funny at all. It's very sad.
Thank you all very much. Happy holidays to all of you.
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