Transcript of Pelosi, Hoyer, House Democrats Press Conference Calling on GOP to Stop Blocking Bipartisan Senate Violence Against Women Act


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Democrats held a press conference today calling on the House Republican leadership to take up the bipartisan, Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act instead of the House GOP version that rolls back critical protections for women.  Below is a transcript of the press conference:

Leader Pelosi.  Good afternoon.  I’m very honored to be here with my distinguished colleagues for whom the Violence Against Women Act passage has been a high priority.  Our distinguished Whip, Steny Hoyer, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Congressman John Conyers, Congresswoman Gwen Moore the lead author of the legislation, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, the Ranking Member on the Immigration subcommittee, which has important considerations in the Senate bill that we would like to see in the House bill.

It’s a very important day; as we gather here, in the floor of the House we’re debating in the Violence Against Women Act.  Some of the women engaged in the debate may be joining us to answer some of your questions momentarily – depending on the timing on the floor.  Eighteen years ago it was, Members of Congress came together, in a bipartisan way, to make history: with the original passage of the Violence Against Women Act, we helped ensure that the victims of domestic violence would no longer have to suffer in silence.

I want to particularly commend the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, who was a leader in this effort at that time.  And then time and time again.  Twice, in the intervening years, we have come together, again, in a bipartisan way, to reauthorize and strengthen the law.  This year, our colleagues in the Senate acted similarly – passing a strong bill with a strong bipartisan vote of 68-31 – including the support of every single woman in the Senate, Democrat and Republican alike.

Since VAWA’s been enacted the rate of violence against women has decreased by more than 50 percent – that is quite remarkable.  In sharp contrast to the Senate bill, which it takes the Violence Against Women Act to an even better place, in sharp contrast the House Republicans have brought to the floor today a controversial bill that will weaken protections we give to those who suffer domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  It fails to protect vulnerable women, Native American women, the LGBT community, immigrant victims, all people deserve to be protected from domestic violence.  There should be no exceptions in this.

But because the Republican bill is a step backward from the current law of the land, more than 300 organizations, from ‘A’ to ‘Y,’ from the American Bar Association, to the YWCA, have spoken out in opposition to the Republican bill.  Local law enforcement officials say the bill, quote: will impede criminal investigations, undermine prosecutions and interfere with victim safety.  Religious organizations such as the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the National Association of Evangelicals have also expressed strong opposition to certain provisions of the Republican legislation.  The many advocates and experts who work day in and day out on the issue of domestic violence have also opposed the House Republican version of VAWA.  Republicans have chosen not to listen to the professionals in the field and are failing to give the many organizations, religious and otherwise, who are serving battered women, the tools they need.

For nearly 20 years, the Violence Against Women Act has strengthened communities and provided critical, life-saving support to victims of violence.  Because of this law, more victims get the help they need and domestic violence rates have decreased, as I mentioned, 50 percent.  Not only has the Violence Against Women Act saved lives, it has saved money.  Yet too many women continue to live in fear.  That’s why we must strengthen – never weaken – the Violence Against Women Act.  That is why we will oppose the House Republican bill and I urge our colleagues to take up the bipartisan Senate bill.  Again, passed in the Senate in a bipartisan way, strongly – 68-31, all women, Democratic and Republican in the Senate, voting for that bill.  Our Democratic substitute that we requested last night in the Rules Committee was that same Senate bill.

With that, now I’m pleased to yield to our distinguished Democratic Whip, Mr. Hoyer.

Whip Hoyer.  Thank you very much Leader Pelosi and I’m pleased to join you and others in speaking about this very critical bill that is before us.  As a cosponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994, I am deeply disappointed that Republicans are politicizing this issue.  As the Leader has pointed out, as all of you know, we have a bipartisan bill from the United States Senate, that bill is supported by all of the groups that are now opposing the bill that is on the floor.  Traditionally, domestic violence legislation has always been a subject of bipartisan consensus.  And the morality of our country is that individuals matter.  There have been some societies where individuals didn’t matter, maybe groups mattered, but in our society every individual has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And therefore we have a responsibility to ensure the protection of every individual.

We are retreating from that with the bill that is on the floor.  In the past, we rallied together around the common responsibility to help law enforcement stop perpetrators of sexual assault, stalking, and partner abuse and provide resources to victims.  The Senate passed, as I said and as the Leader’s pointed out, a bipartisan bill – 68-31, every woman Republican voting for it in the United States Senate, with 15 Republicans voting in favor of it, so an overwhelmingly bipartisan bill.  It will strengthen the Act and extend its protections and the tools it provides to law enforcement.

I had the opportunity to meet with about 30 of my law enforcement officials on Monday.  And I asked them about this and they were clearly of a consensus opinion that this alternative the Republicans are offering on the floor would undermine their ability to successfully intervene and pursue prosecution of domestic abuse.  We ought to be considering that bill in the House today.

But the bill we’re considering today, instead of bringing us together, has become yet another tool in the Republicans choice of confrontation over consensus.  It is also the latest in a series of Republican proposals that should give women pause, frankly, in America.  Republicans believe that only some people ought to be protected apparently.  What the fight is about, ultimately, is whether we as a nation believe all people are equally deserving and worthy of protection – or just some of us.

It’s time Congress stood up for everyone.  Let’s pass a bill that says a victim is a victim and ought to have the same rights and resources as any other.  This bill weakens the protections we have in place, denies law enforcement the tools they rely on to stop perpetrators, and plays partisan games with women’s lives.  I say to my Republican colleagues in this House:  throw out this bill, and let us have a vote on the Senate’s bipartisan version instead.  That will be good for those who are victims of domestic violence and it will live out the principles of our country.

Thank you very much and I will now yield to the next Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, John Conyers.

Mr. Conyers.  The once and, hopefully, future Chairman of Judiciary.  Ladies and gentleman, the Leader and the Whip have described this accurately and fully.  The only thing that I would add is that we’ve got to get the Native Americans as well.  And, in addition, the LGBT community have the language that weakens their rights are removed under this bill.  It’s pretty disturbing to label a bill Violence Against Women Act and then completely erode the qualities that have made this a bill that I can proud of, to say that I worked with the Vice President when he was a Senator in the House side when it came before the Judiciary Committee.  And so, for all the reasons state we have a responsibility to make sure everybody understands what a sham, and how disrespectful it is to accuracy to have this bill labeled by the House leadership as a Violence Against Women Act.

I thank you very much and I bring forward the author of the House version, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin.

Ms. Moore.  I just want to thank Leader Pelosi and my other co-authors, Representative Lofgren and certainly, the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, for sponsoring a bill in the House that was exact and the same as the bipartisan bill that passed in the Senate 68-31.  As a member of this body.  As a survivor of sexual assault, battery from age 5, on through my teenage years, through my early adulthood, I can tell you that it is very traumatic to be here in this body today and to find my colleagues not taking the recommended updates that people who work with domestic violence victims, those advocates, law enforcement, DAs, the FBI, the Department of Justice, have put in front of them as best practices of what we need to protect all women from violence.

You know one experience that I had, that occurred to me, I thought of this morning, was when I took a ride with a guy I thought was a friend to get some fried chicken.  And he decided to take a detour behind some buildings to rape me and choke me, almost to death.  I’m sort of seeing that little light that you often hear about.  I went to the hospital, was examined, they could see that I had been raped.  I had lacerations on my throat from having been choked.  When we got to court, I was on trial, I was the young women that had a child out of wedlock.  I – what I wore that night was on trial.  And he was found not guilty.  This was over 20 years before we had the Violence Against Women Act.  When we gave law enforcement the tools and the education to know what the circumstances are.

As a woman of color, I am particularly aggrieved that this bill ignores the special circumstances of women who are minorities.  Women who are in the shadows.  And that we have created a veritable sanctuary for those who would commit sexual assault and abuse them on tribal lands where over 50 percent of those crimes are not prosecuted because the nearest common seat of government is miles and miles away.  Where LGBT folks, where lesbians may not be able to get an order of protection because no one will take their plight seriously.  And immigrants being made less safe than they are under current law because once again, the word of the abuser is set to be the law of land.

I would implore my colleagues to take up the Senate version of the bill, our version, as Democrats, of the bill, which 68-31.  And stop playing games with the lives of women – this is yet another, they don’t want to hear us talk about it being a war on women.  But I mean this is a direct assault on women’s lives.  Three women a day die from victimization.  And I would implore my colleagues to stop playing games.

And with that I will yield.

Leader Pelosi.  My colleague has been a tremendous intellectual resource in the Congress of the United States for liberty and justice for all, in every respect.  She has, as we have heard, had personal experience in this regard, and her generosity of spirit, in sharing that with us, demands that we act upon the challenge that she put forth.  And we thank her for her leadership, her generosity of spirit and just the tremendous leadership, again, that she has provided.

We have been joined by some more colleagues.  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Congressman Al Green of Texas and others will, as I say, will be coming and going.  I’m seeing them on the screen as they speak on the floor of the House.  All of our colleagues are a resource to you as we go to the Q and A.  Now, I’ve noticed today that you’ve all gravitated to this side.  I don’t know it was per our conversation last week, or many of you have, but I’d be pleased to take any questions that you have.  I hope that we can focus on the subject at hand and not go beyond that.

Yes ma’am.

Q:  One thing that Republicans say, in the House, that there is no need to specifically say that Transgender, or Lesbian, or Gay, or anyone specifically needs to be singled out because the bill, they say, already protects everyone.  What is your reaction to that?  

Leader Pelosi.  I’m going to yield because we have such a tremendous intellectual resource, either to the author, or to the ranking, on the subcommittee, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

Ms. Lofgren.  It is correct that, if you’re a victim of violence you can receive protection under state law in most cases.  The problem is, and we’ve had actually testimony to this effect, that many law enforcement agencies are unaware of this obligation.  And so the major impact of the Republican bill is to remove the training money for law enforcement agencies, so that they can be better equipped to do their job.  There’s no reason for that.  And I think it displays a lack of understanding of the need for education in this area.

Ms. Moore.  I just want to respond to that.  Eighty-five percent of the advocates that we speak to say that they have spoken to LGBT clients who were not turned away from the shelter because they were a woman, or because they were a man, but because they were homosexual.  There is a need to specifically site the plight – whether it means finding the appropriate accommodations in housing, training, for it to not be a snicker, I have seen trivialize the rights of gay and lesbian, and people of color, and even folks in the shadows in other ways – Muslim women and, you know, this bill that passed the Senate, recognizes the importance of cultural competence in providing services to people.  You know, someone doesn’t speak English, they have special needs that they have.  There are people who need to wear a scarf, their special needs, and if there are people who are transgendered, or they’re lesbian, or they’re gay, we don’t need to just erase and make them invisible by saying that we have a gender neutral bill.

What is it we’re pretending not to know?  The victims of violence in this country are primarily women.  And three of them will die today.

Q:  Madam Leader, so, we’ve heard today that you’re saying that Republicans are politicizing this bill, its bipartisan, it passed the Senate, they’re saying that you’re politicizing the bill.

Leader Pelosi.  I didn’t politicize it.  I’ve just talked about the bill and made a comparison between the two bills.  I didn’t politicize the bill.  I said that they had bipartisan support in the Senate – that every woman in the Senate, Democrat and Republican, voted for it and that there were differences within the bill.  I didn’t politicize it.  I don’t accept that characterization.

And I subscribe to what my colleagues have said.  We’re saying to women: we’re passing the Violence Against Women Act, that means all women – not so fast if you’re Native American, immigrant, gay, lesbian, or whatever, not so fast, don’t step forward, this doesn’t include you.

We’re talking about the substance of this.  This is a very deeply felt and intellectually exercised piece of legislation.  I was there from the start.  I was on Appropriations where we had to get the funding for this legislation.  This goes way back for us and I will not allow the Republicans to trivialize in the way that you characterize.  And that is my response to you.

Q:  Leader Pelosi, I have a two part question.  The first one is, Democrats in the Rules Committee tried to offer the Senate bill, that was rejected on a vote.  Is the plan of the Democrats to offer that as a Motion to Recommit?  And then the second question for whoever wants to take it, I’m wondering what a lot of debate on this bill has gone around the topic of immigration, specifically on this – I know the differences between the House and Senate bill, but a lot of the debate in the Judiciary Committee meeting that Ms. Lofgren was at centered on immigration.  So, I’m curious why that’s been the dominate topic in a bill where that’s not the dominate thing written in it.  

Leader Pelosi.  Mr. Chairman if you want to respond to any of these questions.  I will just say this.  I wish we could have the Motion to Recommit to be the Senate bill and I wish that could have been made in order, as we suggested, in our Democratic substitute.  However, the Republicans have said that the Senate bill, which passed in a bipartisan way, 68-31, is outside the scope of the House Republican bill, which just tells you the narrow scope of the Republican bill.  So it won’t be a Motion to Recommit.

On the subject of the immigration, we have our Ranking Member on the Immigration Subcommittee speak to that.

Ms. Lofgren.  I think that the discussion – their bill actually reduces protections that exist in current law.  For example, the U-Visa is available to immigrants, undocumented immigrants, who are victims of domestic violence.  This was a measure that was adopted by Republicans in the past in order to get the visa the law enforcement agency has to recommend and ask for the visa to be issued because it’s important to them as a police agency that this victim, witness, be available.  And so, the law enforcement agencies came to Congress and said this has worked very well and not only that, they’ve run out of visas and they need more.  The testimony we’ve received from police agencies is that if we were to recapture visas that Congress intended to be awarded but were not, because of bureaucratic delays, if we were to recapture those visas, it would be 10,000 additional criminals taken off the streets.  This bill does not respond to law enforcement in that effort.  And it also makes other changes in existing law that will deter victims from coming forward.  It also empowers abusers to essentially have a say over the fate of the person they have abused, which is a change from existing law.

So, I think that has been a focus because they’re actually going backwards from what exists in current law.  And, in the past, on a bipartisan basis, this wasn’t a Democratic plan, it wasn’t a Republican plan, it was a bipartisan plan that said we’re going to trust the police of this country to make this judgment and its more important to save lives then to try and turn this into a witch hunt that has to do with immigration.  They’re turning their back on that.

Ms. Schakowsky.  I have an immigrant-rich district and I’ve long worked on this issue.  Immigrant women, undocumented immigrant women are in double jeopardy.  One they’re in fear of their abuser.  But two, they’re in fear of deportation.  And so their abuser is empowered by that.  By holding control over his partner or spouse by saying ‘and if you don’t do exactly what I say, and if you report me, you will be deported and I will have the children.’  So there is a real grip.  But the other thing that this bill demonstrates with back stepping on protections for immigrants is that they don’t trust these immigrant women, they actually are suggesting that women are getting themselves beat up for an excuse in order to get a U-Visa, which in the past enabled them to separate themselves from their abuser and get on a path that would actually allow them toward citizenship on their own – not rely on the status of their abuser.  And now they’re saying: well we think that right is being abused.  Imagine not trusting that women who have been victims of torture, sexual assault, or domestic violence are going to lie about their black eyes and their beat up bodies and their necks that are scarred, in order to go to the police.  That’s why the police want them because that’s the tradeoff – you get to be on your own if you go report to law enforcement and cooperate all the way.  A very dangerous moment for a woman to do that.

Ms. Maloney.  Law enforcement strongly supports the immigrant visa portion and it has been very successful in actually achieving sex trafficking convictions.  So, it’s very important not only for law enforcement, but for the protection of women.  And I would say that the indifference in this bill towards some, just some, is as chilling and callous as anything I have seen come before this Congress in modern times to actually exclude coverage for LGBT, for Native Americans – do they not bleed and bruise, and are injured just as much as anyone else?  And is it not the responsibility of our government, a prime responsibility, to protect our citizens.  The Republican bill actually rolls back those protections, excludes those protections.  And I really want to thank our leadership but also my good friend Gwen [Moore] for speaking so beautifully and forcefully in support of this bill.  And I think her story tells how important this bill is and it’s just another assault in what has sadly and surely become known as the Republican War Against Women.

Q:  I was going to ask about one provision in the Manager’s Amendment, that it gives religious organizations, faith based groups the right to make hiring decisions based on religion and I wondered if that caused some concern in your Caucus. 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, we have concern in our Caucus about the Republican bill coming to the floor in the first place.  It was hoped that the Manager’s Amendment would have addressed some of those concerns but in this case it has made matters worse.

Ms. Lofgren.  We have always supported religious organizations who are making religious hires to follow their faith.  What this does is quite different from that.  It basically repeals the Civil Rights Hiring Act, I think that’s a problem.

Q:  You mentioned that Republicans are waging a war on Women, I wanted to get your take on the…

Leader Pelosi.  I did not mention that.

Q:  In the past, you mentioned…

Leader Pelosi.  Oh yeah, yeah, yeah – they are.  But I did not mention in relationship to this.  But if you want to draw an inference from that I would say that this is added to the list of insensitivities on their part in relation to women.

Why don’t you frame your question?

Q:  My question is about the recent CBS-New York Times poll that shows that Mitt Romney has a lead, a two percent increase on President Obama among women voters.  Wanted to get your take on that and what you attributed that to?

Leader Pelosi.  I didn’t see that.  I didn’t see it, but I do know that the purpose of a campaign is to put forth our path to the future and in that path you will see a Democratic path that talks about women.  We’re hoping that the Republicans will bring up the pay check, the fair pay legislation.  We, the first bill we sent the President to sign was Lily Ledbetter – to end discrimination in the workplace, issues that relate to women’s health in the health bill.  No longer being a woman is a preexisting medical condition and it has been in the past.

So, our agenda on women, whether its women’s health, women in the workplace, women in the military, women in business has been a strong one and we have a stronger message so people understand what that is.  All of our colleagues have been strong fighters for women in our country and liberty and justice for all, our heritage, our hope of equality in every possible.  The issue before us today is a deeply personal one.  And I, for the life of me, I study motivation, understand where people are coming from on issues and I don’t try to question your motives, I simply don’t understand who you can bring a bill to the floor and say ‘this is violence against women, except not everybody.’  So, put it in any category you want – it’s not a good idea.

Q:  Congresswoman Moore, your colleague, Sandy Adams, obviously has her own experience with domestic violence.  I was just wondering if you’ve spoken with her, or if you guys had any discussions, it seems that…

Ms. Moore.  No, but you know, I absolutely am not surprised that she has had an experience with violence.  I think that, you know, while I may have come, and Sandy Adams may have come out and talked about our experience.  I think that, you know, 25 to 30 percent of all women experience violence some time in their lives.  And this is why the Violence Against Women Act is so critical and so important because it changes the culture of violence.  People have to know that there are consequences.  That you can’t just move to tribal land for example and rape someone, beat them up and those folks call the police and nobody comes, nobody with any authority to arrest you.  If you’re a non-native person you can just rape them and beat them, and then rape them and beat them again.  People have got to know that just because you’re in a lesbian relationship that the law enforcement is not going to take it seriously, that the D.A. is not going to not provide orders of protection because they don’t perceive you as being someone that this law protects.  Particularly when there’s been such a violent debate about it and a deliberate exclusion, because that can be read as not protecting you.  So, I think that, you know, to the extent that violence is pervasive, epidemic in America.  We need some sort of enforcement tool to protect all women.

Leader Pelosi.  I think anyone watching this will see that this is, again, deeply felt but strongly studied and documented.  In our community in San Francisco, we just had an event there, we have it annually, about violence against women, under the auspices of Esther Sola, a national leader on this issue.  Joe Torre comes, he came a couple of times and this year he was there with Willie Mays and it was a focus on men and domestic violence – men teaching men – we had Vice President Biden come in by teleconference into the meeting.  I think that we work here in Washington, we live where we live, this issue is really relevant to the lives of many people in our country, maybe many more than our Republican colleagues know.  And I’m very proud of the initiatives we’ve had where men have taken the lead to teaching boys and other young men about this issue.  And providing leadership on it.  It’s quite a remarkable thing.  And that this Congress of the United States should take a step backward when the American people understand and are going forward in it, is really hard to explain to anyone.  So, I can’t explain it you, why they’re doing this.  But, in any event, we have a better alternative; the Senate has acted in a bipartisan way.

Q:  So, we’re getting details from the meeting that you had at the White House and, clearly, Speaker Boehner said that he was expecting to have cuts larger than the increase in the debt limit the next time that that comes up.  President Obama said that he disagreed with that.  What was your take from the meeting?  What did you take away from the meeting?   

Leader Pelosi.  Well, so what you’re saying is what the characterization that the Speaker gave the meeting?

Q:  What is your characterization?

Leader Pelosi.  Well, I’ll tell you what happened if that is of interest to you.  My colleagues bear with me for a moment.  Earlier today we had a meeting with the President of the United States, the Speaker, and the Minority Leader in the House and the Majority and Minority Leader’s in the Senate – Senator Reid and Senator McConnell.  The President put forth his ‘to-do list’ that we all know about – job creation.  Whether it’s creating American jobs.  Whether it’s giving credits to small businesses so that they can create those jobs.  Whether it’s clean energy jobs for the future.  Whether it’s helping people with their mortgages; which is good for the economy, and then helping our Veterans get to work when they come home.

That was the ‘to-do list’ for which you are familiar.  All issues that are non-partisan in nature, that has support across the board in our economy.  He also asked us to, Congress to pass the transportation bill, which has passed in the Senate in a bipartisan way.  And we would hope that the House could agree to that Senate bill – from Barbara Boxer to Senator Inhofe, I don’t know, you’d have to be some kind of gymnast to get a further distance in philosophy, but they came together on this bill, but the Republicans in the House say ‘no,’ and we say ‘yes’ on the House Democratic side.

The other bills that the President asked us to finalize are the college loans, the interest on student loans, because that’s important to students, to their families, and to our economy.  The President asked us to pass a paycheck fairness act so that women can be treated fairly in the workplace.  That’s sort of the agenda that he put forth.

In terms of – we all know that we had a Budget Control Act that was passed, we all know that we must reduce the deficit.  It’s wrong that the characterization that you pose, I have no idea what the Speaker said, but as you represented, is that he’s saying they say we want cuts more than the lifting of the debt ceiling and the President said ‘no.’  No, the President has said all along, ‘we have a Budget Control Act, let’s honor it with balance.  We both have to make compromises.  We need revenue.  We cannot continue just with cuts.’  But it wasn’t that the President said, as is characterized there, that he won’t have any cuts.  No, we know there have to be cuts, there has to be revenue.  In fact, if you go on the path that the Speaker is suggesting, that any lifting of the debt ceiling has to have more cuts than the lifting of the debt ceiling, we will soon have no government.  But that might be the plan.  That might be the agenda of the right-wing, ideological, anti-government Members in his Caucus.

I’m just informed that the President issued a veto threat on the Violence Against Women Act.  So, he feels very strongly about that.

Q:  At the White House meeting, do you think though that the Speaker would be coming out, and is talking about the raising of the debt ceiling later this year, that his audience is really his Republican Conference?  Because, as you know, there are many on that side of aisle who have said no way at all and that he is trying to prep and ready them saying ‘look we’re going to have to do this’ and that he has to, you know, call in some political chits with some and say we have to have requisite number of cuts in order to pull across a significant number of votes to pass that, if it comes up later this year?

Leader Pelosi.  You’re just going to have to ask him that question.  I would hope that would be the case.  But as you know, last summer, the Speaker walked away from the balanced package that the President had agreed to that had deep cuts, had revenue that assumed that the expiration of the tax cuts, the Bush tax cuts at the high-end, the Speaker walked away from that agreement.  I hope he doesn’t do the same again.

But, in terms of his ploy with his Caucus, you’ll have to ask him.  But the fact is we must reduce the deficit.  For nearly 30 years, the Democrats have been advocating ‘pay as you go.’  We know that paying interest on the national debt is not the way that we would like to spend the tax payers’ dollar.  We’d rather invest it in education and job creation and into the future.  So, we all understand that.  But, we also understand that when you move to reduce the deficit, you have to have more revenue.  When you have revenue, revenue in our country is 15 percent of GDP.  Far too low, there’s not balance there.  So, we’re not saying – they’re saying we want cuts, we’re saying we want tax cuts, no.  We want revenue on the table to reduce the deficit.  We know there have to be cuts and therefore there has to be balance.  So, what the Democrats and the President are saying let’s have a balanced approach, let’s get to work to do that.  Because we cannot, ever again, let there be any doubt that we honor the full faith and credit of the United States of America, and threaten default of that full faith and credit because of an ideological view.

Q:  On your last point, are you confident the President can prevent the Republicans from taking this to the brink again?  And how is he going to do that?  What leverage is he going to use to prevent the Republicans from repeating what happened?

Leader Pelosi.  Well you’re just going to have to go to the White House press conference for that one because, as you know, we do not speak for the President here.  But, we do speak for the values that we know he wants to see in a budget, and that is balance.  I think that in a campaign season all of the awareness of these issues is very heightened.  And again, the American people – I don’t think that the American people say go this path, or go that path, they say come together, get the job done.  But you can’t say: unless I have more savings than are even in the increase, that will draw a line in the sand, and we will not lift the debt limit.  It’s irresponsible.  It’s immature.  It’s not honoring the full faith and credit of the United States of America.  And the President will be his own effective spokesperson on that score.  So, I know he’s looking forward to seeing you at the next press conference to ask him that question.

Q:  On that line, if you could just give me some sense of – like was there give and take in the meeting?  And how contentious the meeting was?

Leader Pelosi.  I want to apologize to my colleagues for taking so much time away from the subject we gathered for.

But, you know, the meeting was, I think it was very cordial.  It was straightforward, but it was very cordial.  We had hoagies, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies…

Q:  So you sang kumbaya in there?

Leader Pelosi.  I haven’t heard kumbaya in so long I wouldn’t even recognize it around here.

Q:  The Speaker’s office said the sandwiches were very good.  Do you agree with that characterization?

Leader Pelosi.  Well, let’s put it this way: the hospitality at the White House is always excellent.  Whether it was sandwiches brought in, or whatever.  What was important is that I’m glad that the Speaker enjoyed the sandwiches – it was a frank but cordial conversation.  The President has always – what you should know in these meetings, and I take the liberty of saying this about the President: he is the most respectful person of other people’s views.  He listens.  He respects what he hears.  He understands where people are coming from, maybe not the same place he is, but any meeting with him is always a cordial one.  So, I gave you a rundown of his to-do list, adding to that transportation, VAWA, paycheck fairness for women.

Q:  How did the Speaker accept that?

Leader Pelosi.  I think that it was – in other words, the to-do list – well, first of all VAWA and transportation bill have already passed in a bipartisan way in the Senate.  So, that was, the Senators have already passed that.  So, that wasn’t particularly contentious, it just has to get done.  On the student loans, they said ‘well I have to find a pay for,’ you know that kind of thing.  And on the five to do’s, they had been bipartisan all along – jobs for our Veterans, credits for our small businesses to create jobs, the clean energy – enjoys support on both sides of the aisle, and the American jobs, to create jobs to give an incentive for businesses to create jobs here rather than overseas.  These were not contentious issues.  So, in that vein, the spirit was let’s find a way to get these things done.  I don’t see any commitments were made on the part of those who could advance, or obstruct on this score.  But you asked about the atmospherics, the atmospherics were good.  No kumbaya, but hoagie-like could we say?

It was a good meeting.  It was productive.  We didn’t waste each-others time.  We had candor.  We had friendship.  We had an understanding of where we need to go for our country.  And as always with meetings like that, on all sides, a great love for our country.

Thank you all very much.

Newsletter Signup