Transcript of Press Conference with Members of Planned Congressional Delegation to Paris Climate Conference

Dec 11, 2015
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill/Evangeline George, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the original Members of a planned Congressional Delegation to the COP21 Paris Climate Conference held a press conference today.  Below is a transcript of the press conference:

Leader Pelosi.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for being here.  We are happy to see you but would be happier if we were on our way to the conference on climate change that is taking place now in Paris.  We’re very disappointed because our vote is scheduled tomorrow, our bipartisan delegation is not able to participate in person, but we have been getting briefings by phone from not only the Administration, but others who are over there as well as from our Senate colleagues who went last weekend.  They are scheduled to be on the floor around this time in the Senate, sharing their observations of what they saw there and how positive and cautiously optimistic about this subject. 

We have a tremendous delegation, a tremendous resource on this issue of environment and climate and energy.  And I want you to hear very briefly from each of them what they bring to the table.  Again briefly – it won’t be everything that they bring to the table, that’s for sure.  But let me say how thrilling it was for so many of us to have His Holiness Pope Francis talk about this issue.  To have his encyclical be – Laudato si' – about the climate crisis and the challenge it presents.  And when he spoke about it at the White House, he spoke about it in terms of air pollution.  And that’s what this is about: how do we reduce air pollution to increase the health of our children and honor our responsibility to future generations to hand them a planet worthy of our responsibilities. 

And with that we will, again, I’m sure you’ll hear a great deal right now but I want to yield to our Chairman of our communications committee in the Congress, Chairman Steve Israel. 

Rep. Israel.  Thank you, Leader Pelosi.  I’m disappointed we’re not in Paris because I had it all planned on the last day to say to Leader Pelosi: we’ll always have Paris. 


Leader Pelosi.  They’re too young.  They don’t even know that movie.

Rep. Israel.  They don’t know what that means.  Very, very briefly.  Look, for those that would deny that there is something damaging with our climate, something wrong with climate, I just checked: we’re two weeks from Christmas and it’s 63 degrees outside.  We could have done this press conference outside.  So, we know that there’s damage, we know that there’s something going wrong, and we know that we need to do something about it. 

83 percent of the American people understand that there is something going wrong with our climate, that it is effecting their health and they want something done about it.  So, this is not just a position of the President of the United States, this is not just a position of the Obama Administration, this is the position of the American people: that something needs to be done about the damages occurring to our climate and to their public health.  This is the position of the American people.  It is irrevocable.  It cannot be stopped.  It cannot be reversed.  It will be sustained.  And we’re so thankful we have negotiators in Paris along with the rest of the world who will move us in the right direction.  It cannot be reversed.  And with that, I’ll yield back to the Leader. 

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Mr. Israel.  In our delegation we have a number of Ranking Members of committees.  We’re going to hear now from Mr. Pallone, Ranking Member on the Energy and Commerce Committee; Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member on Science and Technology [Committee]; and Mr. Raul Grijalva, Ranking Member on the Natural Resources Committee – three committees very directly related to this challenge.  Mr. Adam Schiff who was part of our delegation has a briefing.  He can’t be with us now, nor can our distinguished Whip Mr. Hoyer.  And with that, I’ll yield to the distinguished Ranking Member on Energy and Commerce, Mr. Pallone. 

Rep. Pallone.  Thank you, Madam Leader.  I just want to stress that our Leader and all of us really feel strongly that America is prepared to take a leadership role on the issue of climate change.  As Steve Israel has said, there’s no question that there is a problem out there.  I saw it personally in my district in superstorm Sandy with all the damage that was done because of the nature of the storm which was, you know, greater than anything we had seen before of the coast of New Jersey.  But America is going to take the lead on this.  We want to do that.  We’ve always been the country that takes a leadership role whenever there’s a crisis, world crisis, national crisis, and this is no different than that.  And I think it’s also important to stress that we have the ability to do that. 

The Clean Air Act back in 1990 specifically allows the United States and the Congress to limit pollution.  The U.N. framework convention on climate change ratified by the United States Senate says that the United States can lead on the issue of accountability and dealing with pollution.  The Supreme Court upheld that and President Obama in 2009 said that EPA scientifically determines that carbon harms health and is a pollutant.  So now we have the Clean Power Plan that the President has put forward that is a major way for us to show leadership in terms of dealing with the greenhouse gas issue and that’s what we’re going to do.  We are going to lead.  Thank you, Madam Leader. 

Rep. Bernice Johnson.  Thank you very much.  Let me thank our leadership for taking a lead and also to say that I am delighted to work with the EPA – created under the Nixon Administration way back then; saw the need to answer to the people because the people spoken:  we want air, we want clean water, we want clean food.  And we have been a leader in this battle.  We will remain a leader.  We have the knowhow, we have the respect of the world, and now we have the cooperation of the world because everyone sees that we need to do something to address climate change.  We can have deniers but climate change itself convinces us that we have a real problem that we must address.  We’re attempting to do that.  I think we will.  We support the President’s stand.  And I can tell you, I’m from the state of Texas where many, many leaders will tell you that they have doubts, but the majority of the people, by 90 percent want to have clean air, clean water and clean food.  And that’s our goal.  We have agencies in place that are working and they are accustomed to bashing but their leadership has not faltered.  And we as a nation will not falter. 

Rep. Grijalva.  Thank you very much, Leader, and all of us here know and fully understand that we have a responsibility to lead.  The American people expect us to lead our country and the rest of the world toward an economy that doesn’t jeopardize the existence of our people.  And that is why confronting climate change and dealing with that very real issue is a priority of the American people and we reflect that priority as elected officials.  The threats of climate change, the American people understand them.  It affects our economy; it affects their public health and their well-being; it affects their lands, their waterways, and their sustainability and their security as a nation. 

We stand with President Obama and the Clean Power Plant initiative.  It’s important and a vital cog moving forward and we urge that the negotiations be ambitious; that we negotiate something that is transparent, rigorously transparent, and above all, that despite any doubters or people that cast out, the reality is this is reflective of what the American people want and we will support it and we will succeed.  Thank you. 

Leader Pelosi.  We will support it and we will lead.  I want to yield to the distinguished congresswoman from California, Anna Eshoo.  You might notice that there are many Californians on our delegation and you will be hearing from them about the leadership because, as others have talked about the legal authority, the treaty approved by the Senate in 1992, the Supreme Court decision springing from the Clean Air Act, et cetera, we also have the experience that is going on in the states and you’ll hear from Californians about that.  But first, to continue on America’s leadership on this subject, I want to yield to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. 

Rep. Eshoo.  Thank you, Madam Leader.  The United States of America is an indispensable nation but it has earned that reputation because of what we have done and how we keep our word.  And so the litany that Mr. Pallone read out to you – it is very important to embrace that all of this is embedded in law in the United States.  So, our word is good as we go out to help lead with 185 other countries.  And I think that is absolutely essential. 

As a Californian, we have led in an extraordinary way.  California has adopted more laws to meet this challenge than all of the states combined as well as other nations.  And so that is a part of the portfolio that is being examined in Paris and what it underscores is genuine American leadership.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Congresswoman Eshoo.  Since you’re bragging about our state of California, we’re going to have two former legislators from California who were instrumental in California’s leadership in the legislation there, Congressman Jared Huffman and Congressman Alan Lowenthal both of California.  Jared. 

Rep. Huffman.  Thank you, Leader Pelosi.  I’m honored to join this chorus of support for strong climate leadership in Paris and beyond.  You’ve heard from Ranking Member Pallone about the firm legal footing for every commitment, every process, every goal that will come out of the Paris summit that President Obama is leading.  But part of the reason we know we are moving forward and not backward on climate policy in the United States is what’s happening at the subnational level, and in particular at the state [level], where California – the seventh largest economy in the world – isn’t waiting for Ted Cruz to recognize climate change.  They’ve been moving forward and I was proud to work on these issues for six years in the State Assembly. 

California in 2006 set the world’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction policy.  It was challenged in court by the fossil fuel industry.  It was challenged politically in Sacramento.  It has been upheld at every step.  And most recently, the people of California and the legislature have decided to take the bar even higher.  Part of the reason California is leading on this and part of the reason other states are now working with California to take leadership in their own right is because they recognize that this is not just a moral imperative, not just an environmental imperative, it is perhaps the greatest business opportunity of our lifetime.  And that’s another exciting part of California’s climate leadership that I know my colleague Scott Peters is going to speak with you in a moment. 

Rep. Lowenthal.  Thank you.  I also work with Jared.  I’m Alan Lowenthal.  I was in the state legislature, chaired one of the environmental committees from 1998 to 2012.  I worked on much of the earth-shaking really and leading California legislation.  I too, we all support the President and I think one of the issues that I’d like to say is what California has also demonstrated is not only can we protect the planet, not only can we protect future generations but economically, we can invest in the future.  And this is a tremendous opportunity. 

I represent the port regions.  Our ports have reduced pollution and have reduced the amount – because of California’s leadership – reduced dramatically the amount of asthma, reduced pulmonary lung disease.  This is all part of a comprehensive approach that the President is supporting.  It’s good for the future, it’s good for the public but it’s also good for the economy.  And so I think that’s really why we support the President.

Leader Pelosi.  I want to do a shout out for Governor Jerry Brown, who is over there – maybe he’s on his way home now – but went full force there and he has been a tremendous leader on this.  We have many Californians who want to speak on this subject, but not before we hear from some of our other colleagues, Gerry Connolly from Virginia has been a champion on this issue – Gerry?

Congressman Connolly.  Thank you, Madam Leader, and I’m not a Californian.

Leader Pelosi.  We wish you were.


Congressman Connolly.  I know that surprises – but in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I can tell you, we have moved from the abstract to the very practical.  You look at some of our coastal communities, including down at Norfolk where the naval base is – there is legitimate concern about the rising sea levels and the impact of CO2 levels on those sea levels.  So, I think that also reflects what President Obama’s Secretary of State Kerry and the U.S. Delegation are doing in Paris.  We’re moving from the theoretical discussion to the practical and coming up with a plan of action for 195 countries to reverse global warming over time, so that we don’t suffer the worst consequences.  And I can just tell you that in my home state of Virginia, we understand that very well.  Thank you. 

Leader Pelosi.  Bringing his experience from his previous life to the Congress, Congressman Mike Quigley, who has been a champion on this issue, as well – of Illinois.

Congressman Quigley.  Thank you.  As a professor of environmental policy for seven years, I guess I would lecture the doubters: let’s remember though, the fourteen warmest years in recorded history are in this century. 

There have been over 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies that say that climate change is real and that man contributes significantly to its cause.  There are zero scientific peer-reviewed studies that say the opposite.  So, even if you don’t believe that, understand that emissions from power plants, for example, soot and hydrocarbon creating ozone, are leading the morbidity and mortality rates much higher on asthma and lung disease throughout our country.  So, if you’re not concerned about the future, be concerned about those who are impacted by these health concerns today.  Thank you.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Mr. – Professor Quigley. 


Now, back to California – Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Congresswoman Matsui.  Thank you so much, Madam Leader, for your leadership.  I am one who really thinks about the future.  I have grandchildren, who are 8 and 12 years old, and when we think about the goals we have for 2030 or 2050, I think about the fact that they’ll be the leaders of our country then. 

We have to do our part.  We in California have been doing it, probably, since the 70s.  It is part of our DNA, and what we’ve seen is that it has become part of our country’s DNA, too.  We stick behind the President because it is the right thing to do, and what we are doing [is] the right thing to do.  And as we look ahead, and we see the countries who are now with us, our leadership is critical, and we intend to keep leading.  Thank you.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you.  Another former Member of the California Legislature – Congresswoman Jackie Speier. 

Congresswoman Speier.  Thank you, Madam Leader, for your outstanding leadership.  I would just like to say that the Republican bubble of denial has been popped in Paris by 190-plus countries.  Our President Obama, Presidents Bush and Nixon – all recognize that we have an obligation to future generations.  Global warming, climate damage is real and it is resulting in the equivalent of 400 thousand Hiroshimas every single day.

Durability, ambition, transparency are all elements of what is being put together in Paris, and we applaud it. 

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much.  Mr. Cleaver was joining us – he’s not here yet, so we’ll go to Pennsylvania and Congressman Matt Cartwright.

I would be giving them glowing introductions, but their brilliance speaks for itself.


Congressman Cartwright.  Or else, she couldn’t think of one.


Thank you, Leader Pelosi.  There’s close to 200 nations in the world, who are gathering right now in Le Bourget, Paris.  I’m sorry we can’t join them and offer our moral support to the work that they’re doing.  As a very wise woman that I know likes to say, ‘Know your power.’


We as Americans are leaders, we are natural leaders in the world.  Other nations look up to us.  And I’m sorry I can’t say this in Paris, but I’m saying this here at the Capitol, across the street from the United States Supreme Court, which in 2007, in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA, affirmed in the Roberts Court that it is legal, under the Clean Air Act, originally enacted under the Nixon Administration – significantly re-written in 1990 and passed overwhelmingly – and with a huge bipartisan support – under those acts, it is fitting and proper that greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change can be regulated. 

So, I want to echo the words of Ranking Member Pallone and Chairman Israel that is not going to evaporate – the American support for these regulations, these plans is not ephemeral.  It will not go away.  These are things that are part of the American legal fabric, as has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.  It’s not going away.  You can count on America to stand by its promises.  Thank you, Leader.

Leader Pelosi.  Another Member, another Californian, another Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee – Congresswoman Lois Capps.

Congresswoman Capps.  Thank you, Madam Leader, and thank you for your leadership on this topic.  You know, our President kicked off the talks in Paris on climate change, and we are proud to stand with him, as we stand here with our Leader today.  And as I speak, I represent the fishing folk of my district – Pacific Ocean – who can tell me, and do so regularly, that things are changing close to waters.  And they are the ones who are speaking, much like the canary in the mine, to say, ‘Something is happening,’ and we need to speak on their behalf and act on their behalf.  And so, we stand with them.  And I’m proud to acknowledge today that we are among many nations participating in this climate conference.  The leadership of the world is strong, and we want to be with and among them today.  Thank you very much.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much. 

He was already heralded as going to speak to the – he may decide to speak on something else – but Mr. Scott Peters of California, a real champion on the environment as well.

Congressman Peters.   Thank you, Madam Leader.  It’s a pleasure to be joined today by some terrific colleagues.  You know, [in] California and in San Diego, we rejected a long time ago this false choice between a prosperous economy and a healthy environment.  In fact, California has demonstrated throughout the leadership of Republican and Democratic governors that even with this – what some people are scared of by this energy revolution – and in an attempt to really deal with climate in an effective way, we’ve really prospered.  So, I’m really excited about that, and I’m excited about the optimism that comes from the participation of the business community as well. 

California is the home to a lot of innovation.  Just up the coast – Bill Gates, from Washington state, is participating fully in this conference.  Look what Elon Musk is doing in California to change the face of energy and to change with battery storage and electric vehicles.  This is a conversation not about denial, it’s a conversation about opportunity.  And I’m excited about the tone of Paris – sorry we can’t be there, but happy that it’s going on – and we’ll look forward to picking up and leading forward after today.  Thank you.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Scott. 

One of our newer Members of Congress, she represents a district that was formally led by Ed Markey – she brings the same values of commitment to the future and protecting our planet – Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

Congresswoman Clark.  Thank you so much, Madam Leader, and it is a pleasure to be here with my colleagues from the other coast.  And many Californians in Congress were actually born and raised in the Bay State – just to make that note. 


But I am excited very excited [about] what we are hearing from the talks in Paris, because I think we should be optimistic that the message and the urgency that the American people have sent to those talks through our President and Administration are being heard.  And what we are seeing developed is an agreement that is clear, with an emphasis on transparency and with periodic five-year reviews that are going to ensure that we continue our commitment, we continue to raise our ambition around this issue, and that we will continue to spark the innovation and the American response that is in our history, in our DNA of how we rise and lead in these issues and make sure that not only is our future brighter but our economy is stronger.  Thank you.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much.  Now, I’m very proud of my Members – 16 speakers, including me, in 20 minutes.  Quite remarkable, don’t you think? 


Thank you for honoring the one-minute rule, by-and-large.

Congressman Israel.  To limit the hot air.


Leader Pelosi.  But as our colleague just said – a clear plan, a five-year review, and the very important aspect of this conference is transparency, transparency, transparency.  It is the key to ensuring that it will all work, and we’re proud of the – hopefully, there will be a binding on transparency agreement that comes out of the conference.  We’re cautiously optimistic on that score.  And I think that – we talked about the legal authority that the president has – I think we should talk about the accomplishments that that policy has produced in our country so effectively.  You see, in the paper today that China – it’s just off the charts, the pollution that is going on there.  So, they have a from-the-grassroots-up motivation to be involved here, but nonetheless, I salute President Obama for his diplomacy in bringing China to the table in such an effective way in Paris.  I’m sure my colleagues would like to answer any difficult questions you have.


And I’ll be pleased to answer any that you have as well – on this subject, for starters.  Any questions on Paris?


Q:  Somewhat related to Paris – could you talk a bit about what Democrats are looking for in exchange for an oil export…


Leader Pelosi.  Well I’ve – first let me just say this, my colleagues, I know, are very, very busy.  This is a tremendous intellectual resource, as you see the determination, the commitment over the long-term, the knowledge on this issues prepare us very well for how we will help make sure that Paris is not only a successful agreement that is signed but a policy that is enforced.  So, I thank you, my colleagues. 

On that score – say it again?

Q:  Oil exports.

Leader Pelosi.  Oil exports.  It’s important to put in perspective, and I call on any of my colleagues to join me on this subject – the following: this is a new item that they have brought up.  Before Thanksgiving, we were talking about how we can come to terms.  Then, they came in with the oil export.  How that relates to Paris is the following:  the oil industry here wants to export oil – crude oil.  Crude oil. 

We still depend on our energy of about 25 percent of oil – 25 percent of oil coming into the United States.  It used to be a third, it is now down to 25 percent.  Why it relates to Paris is the following: that crude oil – [when] it leaves our country, it receives a higher price on the international market than it would receive domestically.  And that’s what they’re trying to do – get a higher price for that fossil fuel.  What it does is abandon U.S. refineries.  So, it’s going to cost billions of dollars for us to make good on the refineries who are losing work because they’ve decided to seek a higher price for their own private sector purposes. 

What they also want to do is suppress any commitment to long-term renewables – whether it’s wind and solar.  Well, we can’t let that happen. 

My colleagues, any – you all know this.  Steve, did you have anything you wanted to add on that?

Q:  So yesterday, when you and I talked, you expressed disappointment about not getting to go to the conference, obviously. 

Leader Pelosi.  Yes.

Q:  But the schedule has been shifting here.  I was told by Republican leaders that they were aware of the schedule – they weren’t going to talk about it…

Leader Pelosi.  They?  Please don’t use pronouns.  Who is ‘they’ [that] were aware?

Q:  Republican leaders.

Leader Pelosi.  …That they were aware of the schedule.

Q:  That they were aware of the schedule.  But do you think there was anything nefarious going on with this schedule shifting, so that folks couldn’t go?  Because they said we were going to be here this weekend, and now we’re not.  And here we are, having a press conference about not going to Paris.

Leader Pelosi.  Would you like to speak to that, Jared?


Q:  I thought you said you were going to answer the tough questions.

Congressman Huffman.  Let me just say, as one Member of Congress, the climate denial agenda of the Republican Party here in Congress – which is the last sanctuary of climate denial on the planet, by the way – hasn’t been going so well.  It’s not going over with the American people – we know that from polls; they’ve staged a few events in Paris with the Heartland Institute and other fossil fuel funded think tanks and entities.  They’ve gone over very poorly.  And so, I think, now, with the rest of the world now on the cusp of doing something really big and meaningful and historic on climate change, the last thing they can do is scuttle this delegation, where many of us would have gone to Paris and reinforced the message of climate leadership from the United States Congress.  They don’t want the world to hear that, but we’re certainly going to keep pounding that message in every way that we can.

Q:  And to be clear, obviously, this schedule with the omnibus and CR has been in flux.  But what you’re saying is you think that was part of the calculus?

Congressman Huffman.  Of course, how naïve can you be?

Congressman Israel.  Look, there are nearly 200 nations represented in Paris – almost all the nations of the Earth are represented in Paris.  There are 200 House Republicans who don’t think that climate damage, and the adverse impacts on peoples’ health, is a big deal.  We are on the side of the nearly 200 nations on the face of the earth who believe that something needs to be done.  And House Republicans have found a way to stop us from going there.  Whether that was their intent, or just the effect, is irrelevant.  What is important is this: nearly 200 countries represented in Paris, pushing for a change so that we can protect peoples’ lungs and the air that they breath; 200 Republicans who don’t think it’s a big deal.  They are insignificant in the scheme of things.

Congressman Connolly.  I think it defies imagination, Chad, that the Republican Leadership would knowingly and willingly prevent the presence of the House of Representatives delegation at the biggest climate change conference in world history.  So I’m a little different.  I can’t believe it.


Leader Pelosi.  Well let me just say this: whatever their witting or unwitting intensions were, it certainly was not a priority for them.  Because they told us up until yesterday: “Be prepared to be in all weekend, because we don’t want to send people home” – for whatever reason – “we don’t want to send people home.  And we’ll have a short-term extension of the CR, and go from there.”  So, the two votes that we’re taking tomorrow could have easily been taken today.  We weren’t scheduled to leave until tonight.  So, it’s unfortunate.  So, whether it was intentional or not, it certainly was not a priority.

And this was a bipartisan delegation.  There were, not as many of us, but a large number of Republicans who were going to go there, as well, who can’t be there as well.  So, it’s unfortunate, because, as you know, for me, this was my flagship issue when I was Speaker – to establish a Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, Ed Markey chaired it; we passed one of the biggest energy bills in the history of our country under the leadership of George Bush, working with him.  He wanted nuclear; we wanted renewables; we came to terms.  And then we couldn’t get the climate piece of it passed later.  We did in the House, but not – never mind.  So this has been  a high priority.  It’s hard to understand why it isn’t a high priority for other people.  But, you know what?  With your help, we’ll be able to get our message out from here – and every single day.  I’m so proud of our Members who could make the trip. There are others for whom this is a priority that will be working with us as we go forward.

On this subject?

Q:  On the omnibus…

Leader Pelosi.  Are people leaving behind me now?


Q:  Could you talk about your sense of negotiations right now, and the offer that you said you made yesterday?

Leader Pelosi.  The offer I that said that I made yesterday?  I wouldn’t exactly pose it that way.  I mean, we’re proffering back and forth.  What is an official offer probably will happen when we get to the end.  Here’s where we are: as you know, there are two bills – the appropriations bill, the omnibus bill, and we have the extender bill.   In my view – and I think the only bill that matters in terms of keeping government open is the omnibus bill – in my view, we will have to come to terms on that.  And in my view, I think we will.  One thing I’ve said to them is that – this has been part of the discussion in the committee, and then they rejected it, and so we’ve brought it up again – don’t ask us to vote for a bill that puts a ban on research on gun violence in our country.

This has been – they have said, on other issues: “We can’t make a decision about these things, because we don’t have the data.”  And on the other hand, they say: “We don’t want the data.”  It’s like the people who threw themselves on the mercy of the court as orphans who have just shot their parents.  So it isn’t – we want to see that ban lifted in this bill.  We want to see the riders gone.  These riders have no place in the bill.  It's like they piled a pile of trash on our doorstep and said: “Now pay your way out by giving us oil, and giving us this, and giving us that.”  These things didn’t belong there in the first place.  So when we talk about this particular bill, we will have our back and forth and understanding.  My understanding from them is that they need Democratic votes to pass it.  So we will have to come to terms to do that, and we look forward to doing that, and doing it soon.  On the extender bill, let me just say this about the extender bill: this is a bill that damages the future.  It’s very hard, because they will put things in there that individually might appeal to people.   But the fact is, it is too big.  It’s hundreds of billions of dollars.  And I’m going to yield to Steve Israel to talk about that.

Congressman Israel.  Well I would just say this: we have a new Speaker, but it’s the same old day, and it’s the same old Caucus.  And if they’re going to pass an omnibus or extenders, and they need our help, those packages need to reflect our values and our priorities.  And our top value, and our top priority as Democrats, is protecting the lives of the American people – protecting them in terms of international security, and protecting their personal security.  And protecting their personal security means we’ve got to do something about gun violence in this country.  And that means forcing them to close the Terror Watchlist loophole, and it means forcing them to allow the CDC to compile the data that is necessary for us to effectively address gun violence.  Now, government’s first obligation is public safety.  They want to pass a budget?  The first obligation in that budget should be public safety.  And if that budget does not allow the CDC to compile that data, that information, so we can figure out how to more effectively address the public safety requirements of the American people, then – I’m just speaking for myself – it’s a budget not worth voting for.

Q:  I just want to be clear on this.  Are you guys specifically asking for the Terrorist Watchlist aspect and the data aspect?  Because that wasn’t clear before.

Congressman Israel.  Two tracks.  Mike Thompson has, as you know, put forward a discharge petition that would force the Republicans to allow us to debate the Republican Peter King bill.  And we’re going to continue to go full throttle on that.  And with respect to the omnibus, the Leader has made her position clear, and it reflects the position of the Caucus: if they want Democratic votes on a budget, that budget must allow the federal government to do the research that’s required to keep the American people safe. 

Leader Pelosi.  And that one is appropriate in that bill, because the bill has that ban in the bill.  May I just say: this weekend, we will observe the three-year anniversary of Newtown.  We have had how many, 27 moments of silence on the floor since Newtown?  We have no right.  Of course, we want to pay our respects and be prayerful in honor of those who have lost their lives and their families, and those who have been the victims of violence.  But what right do we have to go to the floor and have a moment of silence, which then requires us to remain silent?  We will not remain silent.  What keeps us up at night is the fact that we have not been able to respond to these families who come in here on a regular basis, using their grief to help other people not have to suffer the way they did, with that generosity of spirit, and the deep sorrow that their families feel for losing their children by gun violence.  And it’s not just the high profile – and by the way, it’s been more than a thousand days since Newtown, more than a thousand days since Newtown, my colleagues, and more than 1,000 high profile mass shootings – one a day.  And in addition to that, of course – the gun violence that is pervasive in our country because of too easy access to guns.

So we want the background check bill.  It’s a bipartisan bill – Peter King, Mike Thompson.  How could you explain to anyone how someone who is on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist is able to walk into a shop, and 91 percent of the time, walk out with his or her gun of choice?  And of course, we want the research.  And that is in the bill.  And we’re saying: you can’t expect us to vote for a bill that has the ban in it.  Take the ban out.  I think we – I promised you you’d have a question.

Q:  Won’t House Democrats vote for a bill that doesn’t include indexing child tax credits?

Leader Pelosi.  Well, I don’t know what Democrats you’re talking about.  But the Senate may – I don’t know.  We wanted indexation before they even talked about big oil.  So we’re negotiating, negotiating, they’re saying ‘No’ on indexation.  Imagine that they would give over $100 billion in tax credits for people who want to do business overseas, and they won’t give us the money for indexation for young people – money that is spent immediately because people need it.  That money is a stimulus.  And I know it very well, because I negotiated this with President Bush when I was Speaker.  And he agreed, and we put forth one of the biggest packages, most progressive packages, to get resources, refundable resources, to low income people, with the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.  And now it’s time for it to be increased, to be indexed, just as Social Security is indexed – and by the way, just as their estate tax [credit] is indexed for wealthier people.

Q:  Just a quick follow up on the very first question, if I could: on the oil issue, export issue, do you see any realistic scenario where you can agree to do that right now?

Leader Pelosi.  I hope so.  I hope so. 

Q:  You’ve been very critical.

Leader Pelosi.  Because it’s an act of desperation on their part.  They want it so desperately, but do they want it more than depriving low income children of an indexation?  We’ll see.

Q:  So would that be the top issue that you would need to have in order to agree to that?  Or where are you right now?

Leader Pelosi.  You know, I’m not having – again, as the Speaker said to you earlier, we don’t negotiate right here in the press.  But that – we’ll see.  And my colleagues, any comments on any of these things?  Okay.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you my colleagues.  I’m so proud of them.

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