Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
Contact: Speaker’s Press Office,
Washington, D.C – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today via conference call. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Thank you, all.
Good morning, if you're out here. Good day, wherever you are.
In this Holy Week, Passover, approaching Easter Sunday and Ramadan, it's an appropriate time for us to more deeply pray for those who have lost their lives and whose families are suffering and those who are sick with this virus.
It is a very, very sad time for our country, as we awaken this morning to see the totals that are there. We're approaching 450,000 people infected. We're approaching nearly 15,000 people who have lost their lives. That is the sad, sad part of it all. More than 17 million initial unemployment claims. Hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the month of March and now millions more expected in coming months.
So, the assault on the lives and the livelihood of the American people is one of epic proportion and one that demands that Congress continue to take bold, urgent and effective action, bringing real, rapid relief to the health care workers, first responders and others who are suffering, to small businesses, hospitals, state and local government and the rest.
On Tuesday morning, Secretary Mnuchin called, that would be two days ago, Secretary Mnuchin called and asked for a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours, with no data, just a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours. This morning, Leader McConnell honored that request – I say ‘honored,’ really, dishonored the needs that we have – with a stunt on the Floor of the Senate, requesting that $250 billion, no data as to why we need it and the rest, when there are outstanding needs we should've been doing. And what we offered to do was to sit down and figure out what the numbers are that are needed most urgently.
And so you may have seen this morning that the stunt was performed by the Senate Leader, knowing that it would fail, and a good faith proposal to negotiate and address the immediate needs that we have, put forth by Senator Ben Cardin, the Ranking Member on the Small Business Committee, and Chris Van Hollen, proposing the Democratic – Ben objecting and saying why, and Chris Van Hollen proposing our plan.
And what our plan would have done would've been to give some money to the PPP. We are very proud of the CARES Act. We're very proud of what we did to turn it from a corporate-down, trickle down plan to a workers, bubble up plan. So we want it to work. We want it to work.
An essential part of it was to honor entrepreneurship in America and recognize the role that small businesses play in the economic life of America. And we want all of them to be able to participate.
The banks are our friends in all of this. Under the plan that the Secretary proposed, that rather than waiting for the whole process of going through the SBA, that the banks would make the loans which the SBA would anoint. Further to that, the Fed has said we'll take those loans off the books of the banks facilitating their participation.
However, with the large number of requests, the first come first served in this process, many people who do not have banking relationships were going to be last in line. And that's why, when they asked for more money, we said, ‘Well, let's help everybody here. Let's help the banks do what they're set to do. And let's call upon some of our community development financial institutions to do what they can do to help many rural and small businesses, Indian country, women and minority owned businesses and the rest – farmers, again – to be able to have easy access to this, to the PPP.’
So if they were asking for $250 billion more, that meant the sum total of it all is $600 billion. That's what the Leader said: ‘I just want to amend the CARES Act to say $600 billion.’ Well, we were asking for one tenth of that, $60 billion, for what we call community development financial institutions.
They are community based, like credit unions, the allocations for that, minority depository institutions, certified development corporations, microlending, which is a program of the SBA, in order to assist getting these resources to those small, small businesses that might not have, again, a relationship with one of the banks that were making these loans. It had other provisions to facilitate the work of community banks, et cetera, just to expedite the PPP.
In addition to that, in terms of small businesses – and that's essential – we had two features that were in – one was in an earlier bill and one in CARES. In the earlier bill, we had the disaster loan program. We had a billion dollars in that, which would leverage to seven-plus billion dollars in these disaster loans. They are in great demand, to the tune of almost $300 billion of requests.
So, in our proposal today, we were saying – well, what we put forth yesterday, but on the Floor today – called for $50 billion in SBA disaster loans. And that would be leveraged to the $300 billion. If we want to help small businesses, this is a very fast way to do it. In the CARES Act, we had a grant program, a bipartisanly supported grant program, for grants to small businesses, $10 billion. Well, it's already called upon beyond the $10 billion, so we put $15 billion additional there.
So, what we're saying is we'll have the same amount, $250 billion, to help small businesses, but we will have $125 [billion] of it to go directly to PPP, as we respect, and another $125 [billion] to be divided among the loans, what we call the disaster loans, a big ticket item used by all of the small businesses; the grants, the grants – they are grants, they are not loans; and $60 billion to have other financial institutions used to dealing with small businesses and the rest in the community to be facilitated to do this.
So, again, same thing, $250 billion for small business, but done in a way that really gets to where we see the data for the need.
Eventually, will we need more for PPP? Okay, let's see the data. But, right now, they haven't spent even a third of that. Say they have spent a third; they still have two-thirds of it left. So we have time to negotiate, to see how and where and when we should have more money there.
In addition to that, though, in our proposal, there's the recognition of the needs for our health care workers and those in hospitals who are providing services, ministering to the needs of those who are sick and dying, and we want to have those hospitals to be funded and equipped. And we also want to have funds for state and local government, who are carrying a big burden of all of this. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to not only anticipate but reimburse states and local and hospitals and other health serving institutions for what they have already put out.
So let's negotiate on the timing, the amount, and the rest. We know these are bare minimums that we need, in terms of other than the PPP. The PPP, let's see the data, how that is working. Let's consider the banks our friends. And let's see how we can all help as many people as possible in this regard. And so this is a tragedy that has befallen our country, and we want to make sure that everyone participates.
One of the goals of the Administration and all of us is to keep people off of Unemployment Insurance if they can instead be running their businesses and keeping their workers employed. Wouldn't that be another good way to address this economic challenge that we have?
Well, there's so much going on. What we want to do is to make sure that it is done in the best way for the most people. It's a lot of money, a tremendous amount of need. Everybody affected very directly – personally, health-wise, as well as financially health-wise. And as we do so, we must have the oversight to get that done, and I think it's really important to make that point.
So, again, I'll close as I began. As people of faith observe Passover and prepare to observe Easter and Ramadan, we pray with and for all who are weathering this threat, again, to their lives and livelihoods, and we pray for those entrusted with caring for them.
This is the prayer of Saint Francis – excuse me, I keep saying ‘Saint Francis’ – Pope Francis. Saint Francis is the patron saint of my city of San Francisco. But Pope Francis, a couple of weeks ago, put forth this world prayer that prayed that God would enlighten those responsible for the common good so that they may know how to care for those entrusted to their responsibility.
Let us hope that we all can have hearts full of love to receive that enlightenment, all of us, for the good – for the common good, as His Holiness references.
With that, I want to ask if you have any questions.
Operator. Our first question comes from Tal Kopan. Your line is open.
Q: Hi. Thanks for doing the call.
I know you've said that now is not the time to consider electronic voting, but when there was discussion of perhaps you seeing another supplement, there are more and more Members pressing for it. So my question is, under what circumstances would you start to consider options for remote voting? And are there any interim steps that you consider feasible?
Speaker Pelosi. Seeing, again, we are so consumed in addressing the tragedy that is befalling our country, the Chairman of the Rules Committee has been tasked –
Speaker Pelosi. – to see what the options could be.
There is a constitutional requirement that we vote in person. There are some ethical challenges that would have to be overcome even to consider it. And there are security – serious security issues involving the issue of –
Speaker Pelosi. – also is considering –
Speaker Pelosi. – proxy voting –
Speaker Pelosi. – precedent –
Speaker Pelosi. – for committee voting.
Speaker Pelosi. – voting or proxy voting would require a rules change.
Staff. I'm so sorry to interrupt, ma'am. Can you please speak into the phone? We're having trouble hearing you.
Speaker Pelosi. I'm sorry. Oh. Did you hear me talk about the challenges to constitutional security and technological?
Again, as we all become more savvy in terms of technology, one would say we can transfer that to remote voting, but it's not that easy. And so, again, this is something that is being pursued, but has – and there are some technologies that you might think would be workable, but they might not be secure.
So forgive me for not being close enough to the phone on the first part of this. But I have confidence in Mr. McGovern, Rules Committee, whatever is done, whether it's proxy voting or whether we could reach a place where we could guarantee the security and the technology – and constitutionality, that would have to be something that would be voted on by the Congress of the United States.
But to tell you the honest truth, he is working on that, and I'm getting reports from the House Administration Committee about what some of the technological options are.
But, I'll be very frank with you, we don't want anybody coming back at any time that might not be healthy for them. But we are, right now, concerned about the health of the American people, the health of the people who are going to work every day to minister to the needs of those who are sick, or those who are supplying the food, the first responders, the firefighters – all of those who are taking risks that we wish they did not have to take. And that's why we would like to get this additional funding for state and local as well as hospitals put through – the same time as we talk about our own safety as to what it means to come in.
And, again, we pray for a cure, because that is the solution – a vaccine or a cure. And we have allocated tremendous resources to that. I wish that everyone would pay a lot of attention in the Administration to testing, testing, testing. Because that is really what is going to give us a handle on what the challenge is that we face.
And that's why, in the amendment that Chris Van Hollen put forth this morning, we had a call not only for rapid testing so that we can take inventory but also a documentation: the data on the racial imbalance and the impact of the coronavirus. You see the statistics out there of how it has an inordinate impact on minority communities. We want that documented.
So we want to see not only how many people are infected, not only people who die. We want to see how many are tested. And we want to see how that is impacting the diversity of our community so that we can further address and more wisely address the challenge that we face.
Thank you for your question.
Operator. Our next question comes from Sara Mimms. Your line is open.
Q: Hi. Madam Speaker, thank you for doing this.
I wanted to ask about the student loan relief options in the second CARES Act. The House's bill included more relief for student loan borrowers, including $10,000 towards federal student loans that were not covered by the CARES Act as well as private student loans. I wanted to know if that's something the House is still considering for CARES 2 and is that something that could pass the House?
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Our Chair of the – let me just say, in a blanket way, our Chairs of the committees have been dazzling in their brilliance and knowledge, their experience in all of this, and their strategic thinking about what they think we can get accomplished.
So Bobby Scott, the Chair of the Education and Labor Committee, has been focused on this in a very – I'll use the word again – strategic way.
One of the things that has been also considered is that, you know, for a while there, we were focusing on public service debt forgiveness. Before the coronavirus, just when we were talking about health care in general for those in primary care, et cetera, for a certain period of time, to have a certain percentage of their student loan forgiven. So we're looking at that now.
But we're also looking at how we could do something about hazardous pay. Because some of these people who are risking their lives and being essential workers in this to defeat the coronavirus are not about student loans, but they're about, again, risks that they are taking and courage that they have to be participants in this battle. So, Bobby Scott is examining what our possibilities are there.
And we don't like some of the provisions, frankly, that are in the CARES Act. We got rid of some of them but not all. And we think that the focus can be a little more on the – shall we say, on the borrower rather than on the for-profit universities that benefited from the CARES Act in a way that we thought – not to paint them all with the same brush, but, again, more than they should have gotten in the allocation of resources.
In order for us to do what we want, though, we have to have a bigger allocation for education. And our first bill we were proposing – our first was 70 billion. Then we got it to 60, because we thought perhaps they would accept that. They agreed to 30.
So we know that we have to do much more for education, K-12, whole system. But, in order to do what we need for higher education, we need a bigger allocation of money in order to have a realistic discussion of how we can be helpful on the student loan front.
Q: Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Operator. As a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press ‘star, one’ and record your name.
Our next question comes from Alan Fram with The Associated Press. Your line is open.
Q: Hi. Thanks a lot for doing this.
Can you specify, please, what changes in election law you'd like to see enacted over this period to make it easier for people to vote? I'd also like to know if you're thinking of any changes in this interim bill or if you want them to wait for the next major one. And, also, McCarthy said that you're using a pandemic to try to restructure government and that any election changes should wait.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. Well, we had a different values system about what voting means to a democracy. And, clearly, we want to remove all obstacles to participation. That's why we've had major disagreements with the Republicans on voter suppression that is rampant and their values system and other obstacles that they have put forth, when that suppression means a number of different things, including number of days, number of hours, number of locations and the rest.
John Lewis has a very important piece of that reform in our H.R. 1. H.R. 1 is our breath of fresh air to the whole system to reduce the role of big dark money in politics, to remove obstacles to participation and to empower small donors to participate, to increase the voice of the public rather than the private interests in the electoral process.
So, we have a major disagreement in terms of our democracy. No surprise that he might dismiss opening doors of participation as something that is a plus, especially in a time of a pandemic. Especially in a time of pandemic, when elections are being postponed because of the threat to people coming together, of those who are attending to the polls being there for hours and communicating with people in a way that, if it isn't necessary, why do that?
We do want to have vote by mail because we think it is – it, again, removes obstacles to participation, but it's also healthier at this time. And so, again, some people may prefer to go to the polls, but the lower that number is, the healthier for everyone. So, in terms of – that was your last point.
In terms of your first point – your second point was whether we have in the interim plan. What we had there was something very simple. In the CARES 1, we had a major, you know, a couple billion, two to four billion dollars-worth, say $2 billion. Under extraordinary circumstances, we might need more, and we want to be open to that. But we were in around the billion dollar area in the CARES 1. I think it was $1.6 billion that we thought was needed right then and there – not as the last dollar, but right then and there. We got $400 million.
But what they did on the Republican side was they took out some of our positive pieces that we wanted to include: that would be same day registration, mailing a ballot to every registered voter, initiatives like that that opened the process.
Instead, they substituted three obstacles to participation. One was matching money, a 20 percent match from the states. In order to access the Federal dollars, you had to put up 20 percent. Well, these states don't have that money. In fact, there's rumor that some of the states are raiding their electoral money in order to pay for the coronavirus. It's that big an emergency. So, there's no 20 percent.
And then there are a couple other provisions that relate to unreasonable reporting – so unreasonable that the National Association of Secretaries of State, which is bipartisan and led by a Republican Secretary of State, has sent a letter to us to say: remove those obstacles from CARE 1 – CARES Act. Remove those obstacles. And that is bipartisan. So, in this interim package, to your question, Alan, we weren't removing those entities.
We also included, just – not to be adding anything, but just for clarification purposes, we're saying that the money that was in the CARES Act, the CARES Act 1, could be used to compensate for other funds that had already been spent. Really more of a technicality than a – more a technicality than any real change.
So, in any event, the third piece of your first part of your question, what do we want to do next; we want to do next what we proposed in our bill, putting families and workers first, our bill, our CARES bill, which was, again, instrumental in turning the Republican, corporate America, trickle down to workers first, bubble up.
We're very pleased with the impact that we, working with the Senate Democrats, were able to have. And in that original, the House version, we had more money, calling upon more openness to the system. And that's what we would hope to have next.
This is a matter also, though, of public opinion. Why should we be saying to people, ‘Stand in line for hours,’ when we don't even want you leaving the house? Some of these primaries that are taking place now or are being put off. Why does it make sense?
The President says that he thinks that if we had vote by mail no Republican will ever get elected. Well, have more confidence in what the Republican Party stands for. It had been a grand old party. It has been hijacked, I know. But, nonetheless, I can say with some knowledge, as a former chair of the California Democratic Party, the largest party in the country, that we would always do much better on election day than we did with the vote by mail. The Republicans know how to vote by mail. So he shouldn't belittle the ability of Republicans to make their voices heard for the candidates they support, and not be afraid of the voice of the people.
But they are. And that's one of the reasons they want to stand in the way of a more open democratic system in a time of a pandemic, where people have concerns about going to the polls. Let's recognize that and do the right thing.
Thank you, Alan.
Operator. Next, we'll go to Sheryl Stolberg with The New York Times. Your line is open.
Q: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Q: Madam Speaker, the other day – hi, how are you? I hope you're well.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, I'm good. You, too.
Q: The Problem Solvers Caucus sent you a letter the other day about remote voting and operating Congress in a remote way. I know this is not an idea that you have been keen on, but they propose various ways of doing this – telephone voting, video conference. They're also proposing committee debate and markup via videoconferencing. And I'm wondering what thought you have given, if any, to making these kind of changes either in the short term or the long term to allow for this kind of remote –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I've heard from a number of our Members and others. Their letter I would've referred to Mr. McGovern because he is the person who is weighing all of these options.
The simple fact is there are prohibitions. I was keen on having conferences – you know, a conference – how can we say – committee meetings, Democrats and Republicans having committee meetings electronically. That is not necessarily allowed either.
So, again, let me just say this: our rules are our best protection. And I say this as, you know, a longtime legislator, and I say it also as a long-term political activist in the party. I would say to people: the rules are your best protection, so be there when the rules are written and use them to your advantage.
And the rules are what they are. Now, if the rules need to be changed, that has to be done carefully. It took three years to change the rules after 9/11. After 9/11, there was a concern that people could die in an attack on the Capitol or something, or there would be an assault on our country where a number of Members of Congress would be incapacitated. If you die, you don't count in the quorum. If you're incapacitated, you do. You get my point?
Speaker Pelosi. So, they had to change the terms under which they would change a quorum number, reflecting the fact that people were incapacitated and couldn't be there.
And this takes – this is a – we're talking about our democracy. We're talking about our Constitution. We're talking about our rules of how we proceed. This is nothing from one day to the next.
And so, again, we had no expectation that it would take three years, but it did then because it's about the operation of government, something called COOP, the continuation of operations.
And there are, shall we say, systems in our government about the continuation of government. And if something happens at the Executive Branch level, what is the continuation of operations?
So, again, this fits in a bigger picture. Let us hope that the blessings of technology will give us more options sooner to review. We aren't there yet. And we're not going to be there, no matter how many letters somebody sends in, with all the respect in the world for that. And it won't happen unless we can do it in a bipartisan way – in a bipartisan way.
So, again, our focus is on saving lives, saving the economy. In what would be normally the break for Passover and Easter now, use that time in terms of ideas and communication across the aisle – we're telling our Chairmen, ‘Work with your Ranking Members and the rest.’ So that we're ready when we would normally be coming back, or as soon as we can come back, to proceed.
In the meantime, the Chairman is trying to figure out how, within the rules – and recognizing what rules might need to be changed on how we go forward.
Again, it's about how government operates. It's not about – God, we're hoping and praying and putting resources to find a cure and a vaccine. The vaccine will probably take longer. I hope a cure would be sooner.
But whatever it is, in terms of shelter in place, whatever it is that takes this place, at some time we're just going to have to have participation. What form that takes will be according to the rules. And how that happens, the sooner the better.
But let's use our best minds, at this time, to address the assault on our economy and on our – because there are a lot of people going to work, the doctors and nurses and health care assistants and first responders, whether that's firefighters or emergency services people or even TSA, to that extent, but our law enforcement officers and the rest.
And we just have to figure out how we can continue the operation of government without undermining the integrity of it, the legitimacy of it, and that we do not pass legislation that ends up in the courts because it was not legitimately viewed as constitutional.
Q: Thank you.
Operator. Our next question comes from Heather Caygle with Politico. Your line is open.
Q: Madam Speaker, thank you.
I was hoping you could just provide an update on where you see the negotiations on this interim package going this weekend. Do you expect any kind of deal by the time the Senate has its Pro Forma on Monday? Have you talked to Secretary Mnuchin today, and do you plan to speak with him or any of the other principals this weekend? Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. We have made our statement. This is as – let me just put this in a context for you that is important to so many of us and the people we represent.
There is a disparity in access to capital in our country. We do not want this tragedy of the coronavirus to exacerbate that disparity or to ossify it, to solidify it.
What we're trying to say is, everything is an opportunity. Maybe the opportunity that we see with the disparity of how the coronavirus affects people in the minority community more than others is a – gives us a path to diminishing those disparities that put us in that situation.
And maybe this assault on our economy, which is horrible not only for the economy but in the lives of the American people – and so let us – you know, ten percent. We're talking about $60 billion out of $600 billion that would go for the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program. Why couldn't that go through those community development financial institutions that are culturally and geographically and economically poised to help those with the smallest businesses?
So this is about alleviating some of the pressure on the banks to do some of the loans that they're not used to doing. But they have an important job to be doing, with the others – the onslaught of requests that are coming in.
And, again, I'm pleased that the Secretary had this formula where it would be the banks, with the blessing of the SBA to do that, so we don't have to go through the whole SBA formula. And I'm also pleased that the Fed, in the last couple of days, said it would take, actually, these loans off the books, effectively, for the banks, so it didn't come off any cap that they might have felt pressure to be under, in terms of loans. So it doesn't count against that. This is something separate.
Let's consider banks friendly in terms of all of this, as we also recognize there are those who are more immediate, understanding the needs, the neighborhoods, the businesses that they are established to help. We're not creating entities. These are entities that exist. If we need to create an entity, we have to do that working together too.
But, right now, we have in place just ten percent, $60 billion. That doesn't mean that would be exhaustive of their needs, but that is the capacity right now. And, again, as there might be more needs for the PPP as we go forward, to be ready to address those, as the data shows us that this is what the requests are and this is the timetable on which they are being considered and facilitated, instead of us getting concerns from all over the country because things are not happening as quickly as people want.
But that's almost understandable. It's a brand new initiative. So let's give it what it needs, and it has that. If they need more, let's talk about that, but to do so in a way that does not ossify disparity to access to capital.
As so, in terms of this weekend, well, I mean, I've said this to others, I'll say it to you: as a Catholic, Christmas is the joyous holiday of our lives, for the children and for all of us, the birth of Christ. The resurrection is the article of faith. [Sunday] and this time leading up to it, for us, is, ‘He is risen.’ This is the essence of our faith, for those of us who have the gift of faith.
And so I don't have any intention of spending even one second on Sunday trying to convince anybody that it is necessary for us to address the needs of everyone in our society. If they don't know that, if we don't share that value, they're not going to get it on Easter Sunday or Passover or Ramadan. It's self-evident that we should be doing this. Now, if they want to negotiate amounts and timing and the rest, that's what the legislative process is about.
But I think it's really important for us to see the opportunity that this is. Again, you see the statistics about the impact health-wise on the minority community – disproportionate. You see the impact of the PPP on businesses disproportionately the other way.
That is okay. We don't resent that for anybody. We just want to make sure that there is the access for rural small businesses, farmers, women and minority-owned businesses, Native Americans, et cetera, who do not have traditional – some of whom do not yet have traditional bank relationships. Maybe they will. But that is one of the reasons why banks are not, shall we say, set up to lend to them. Because that's not how they're set up. And that's not to make an indictment against the banks. It's about mitigating for that by having other institutions who are set up for that, to do that job.
So, no, I haven't spoken to the Secretary today. And we've been clear – the House and Senate Democrats have been clear. This is not – and I told the Members – this is not CARES 2. This is not about putting everything in there that they want.
It's about what is timely at the moment, responding to the Secretary's request for a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours.
Really? No. We need more data and we need more oversight in terms of how this works and how we can make it work better. Not to criticize, but to hopefully judge how we can work together to make it all work faster and better. And if it needs more money, let's see how that is justified.
We never thought that CARES was the last bill. You know that. So what we want to do next is, again, more – for any of the entities, this is a proven formula. It's bipartisan, signed by the President. Three bills in the month of March – March 4th, March 14th, and then the final bill, the most recent bill, signed on March 28th by the President of the United States.
We have a framework for bipartisanship there. Let's let that continue, not just the Secretary asks for a quarter of a billion dollars in 48 hours, and the [Leader] of the Senate says, ‘I'll take it up under unanimous consent without consultation,’ A.
And, B, let me just say this very clearly: what the Secretary requested and the bill that the Senate Majority Leader brought to the Floor would never pass the House by unanimous consent. It is a basis for some negotiation, but it would never pass the House by unanimous consent.
I already get concerns about some of the things that aren't in CARES 1 as we prepare for CARES 2. This is – this would be out of the question for us.
Thank you for your question.
Q: Thank you.
Operator. I'm sorry. Mr. Shepardson, we lost you. Just one moment, and I'll get your line opened.
Operator. Oh, there you go. You're open now. There you go.
Speaker Pelosi. I can hear him better than anybody.
Q: Thank you, Speaker Pelosi, for doing this call.
Just two quick questions: since earlier this week, has Secretary Mnuchin moved closer to the Democrats in terms of providing grants to the airlines without unreasonable or onerous conditions? And, secondly, there was a letter yesterday from about nineteen Senators calling on Congress to provide direct aid to local news outlets and broadcasters in the wake of the pandemic. Are you open to that idea?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say, on the second point, we are being inundated by concerns from the restaurant industry, the hospitality industry, parking lot industry. Because everything is a business – everything is more or less a small business, or, if not a small business, a larger business that should be able to comply in terms of seeking the benefits of the CARES Act, but, apparently, the way it is set up, it is not necessarily so.
So, as we go into CARES 2, I think we have to look at this to say this is about our economy. I wouldn't just say we should be doing one category or another. We should be saying, how can all businesses participate?
But then there are certain particular features of certain businesses that have to be taken into consideration or else they will be, shall we say, outlawed. That's not quite the word, but they would not qualify for how to go forward.
So there is a wide range of sadness, really, out there, some of it springing from people sending to me, ‘I went to the bank. I didn't get my loan yet.’ Well, you know, it's 4 or 5 days ago. Okay, let's give it a chance. But others can't make the cut because of one thing or another in the technology – I don't want to say the technology, in the regulations.
And so that is something that I think the – I would hope that the Secretary would be receptive to, if, in fact, it just takes some kind of more openness as to who can qualify. And it may be that we have to have that debate and specifically include restaurant – the restaurant industry is so central to the cultural life of our country.
What you're talking in terms of communication, so central to a democracy so that people know what is going on. If you are a business, and businesses are getting advantages from this CARES Act, why would you not? Are there regulatory things, regulations? Let's find out.
But I had not heard that request, in answer to your question, Mr. Shepardson. Now, on the – what was your first part? The first part was?
Q: On the airlines.
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, the airlines. Yeah. I think we're okay. We stay kind of in touch on that.
I think, just to put this in context, there are three things – and some of you have heard me say this again and again – three things that, really, the American people get angry about: one, that our workers do not have what they need to do their jobs, to keep them protected. As they try to save lives, they shouldn't be risking their lives and then risking the lives of their family members on top of that. And so they need to have the personal protective equipment to protect themselves. They need the ventilators and other preparation equipment to help people live and not have to make choices about who lives. And they also need to have testing, testing, testing so we know what we're – and the equipment to do so, so that we know what we're dealing with, and that there is a plan. There is a plan.
So they want our workers protected and those who are sick to have what they need.
Secondly, they want their checks. They want their checks. Unemployment check. Is it direct payment? Is it a loan from the PPP? They want their check. They want – it's immediate gratification. Although, as we know, some of this takes a little longer.
I assume that the direct payments will be out next week, we're hoping electronically, without waiting for a fancy Dan letter from the President to say, ‘Look what I just got for you,’ when it's less than what Congress was proposing, but that's a different story.
They want their check. They want people to have their protection. They want their check. And, third, they do not want big industries and the rest, corporate America, taking taxpayer dollars for anything other than the purpose of retaining workers. And that's what we're doing with the airline industry.
And so we have conditions there that say no buy backs, no dividends, no bonuses, no big time corporate pay and the rest of that with the taxpayers' dollars that were given to you for the purpose of job retention, for the purpose of saving industries – not companies, but industries that are important to the economy of our country, and not just to improve the bottom line of the company and the payroll of the management and the rest.
So, those three things, again, are all part of what we're trying to do: get the equipment where it needs to be for protection and for lifesaving; get the paychecks and whatever check it is – checks, money in the pockets of the American people; and, third, we will have oversight to be sure that the money – we're talking about the big money, we're talking about now that goes out there that is used for the purpose for which it is designed: to save jobs, to save our economy. And that we will do as we go into phase four.
So, to your question, I think we're in pretty good shape in terms of the airlines. It was a debate. You know, I mean, people get there and make it look like it just happened overnight. Our Chairman, Peter DeFazio, is brilliant and knowledgeable when it comes to these kinds of issues. He's the Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Been on the Committee for 30 years, Chairman, and former Chairman of Natural Resources – so, I mean, he is an experienced legislator. And he is also fair minded. That is to say, he's not trying to lose face for everybody. How can we do this working together?
And that has been why we were successful in getting where we think we are on this. And I believe that we're in a good place at this moment.
And just so you know, I mean, for those of you who don't know, the assistance to the airlines was divided in two-fold. One was loans. And that had all those conditions that we talked about, about buy backs and all of that. And then the other were grants. And the grants were the money that the federal government was giving to the airlines for the purpose of keeping people on the payroll.
It was a payroll passthrough. Nothing for the airline – all of it – well, for the airline, for the people who work for the airline, so for the airline to keep people employed, and with the recognition that collective bargaining would not be harmed, no diminution of commitment to legacy costs and the rest of that.
So, this was really a genius plan. Peter DeFazio, the master of putting together – and, again, with respect for other concerns on how we could implement this in a fair minded way without, again, the Administration not getting a comfort level as to why this would be important for the industry.
So, we hope that this will stand up to it all and that it will be a template for how we do these things in the future. Let's just stipulate to the fact that we have to have fairness and respect for workers and the rest as we allocate federal dollars to sustain an industry.
Thank you for your question.
Operator. Thank you.
That concludes today's conference. Thank you for participating. Stay safe and healthy. You may now disconnect.
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