Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today. Below is a transcript of the press conference:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks
Leader Pelosi. Good morning.
Yesterday morning we all proudly stood on the steps of the Capitol with [former Congresswoman] Gabby Giffords, our former colleague and our national heroine, inspiration to us all, with [Congressman] John Lewis, the spiritual leader of the Congress, and especially on this issue that relates to protecting the American people, with [Congressman] Mike Thompson, who is the chair of our Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention, and with [Congresswoman] Robin Kelly, who spoke so passionately about what’s happening in her district in terms of gun violence.
All of us praised the first responders in Nevada, all of the speakers did, and all of the rest of us joined them as well.
What a terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy to befall our country, that community, those individuals especially.
Last night, I had the privilege of getting a question by a grieving husband and daughter on CNN: Bob, a husband, and then with [his] daughter, of a person who died in Las Vegas. And they asked the question: ‘There was Sandy Hook, there was Florida, there was San Bernardino,’ Bob said. ‘How many more lives have to be taken before something is done?’ He said he was a gun owner. He and his wife owned a gun for protection. He was asking this question.
Again, we take an oath to protect and defend the American people, our Constitution and the rest. We are not protecting them by not having the gun laws that are suitable to avoid gun violence.
So we are asking the Speaker [Paul Ryan] to withdraw their SHARE [Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement] Act, the silencer bill, and then also armor-piercing bullet bill, to pass the bipartisan King-Thompson bill on background checks, commonsense background checks, ban the bump stocks. This is something we all are learning a lot more [about].
Mike Thompson has been on this for a while, he being a gun owner and a Vietnam vet, a wounded Vietnam vet, so somebody with real standing on how to use guns. And he had called into question the use of this bump stock. And now everybody is aware of it.
And so hopefully we can bring that to the floor and at least pass a bill that bans something that enables a shooter to spray murderous automatic fire on innocent people.
There is a bill, the Cicilline-Thompson bill, [Congressman] David Cicilline of Rhode Island, [Congressman] Mike Thompson of California bill, [which] has nearly 150 cosponsors already. So hopefully it will be bipartisan, hopefully it will be brought to the Floor.
But in addition to that, we have to do much more. We have to. We have asked the Speaker for a Select Committee on Gun Violence. You don’t like these ideas, what ideas can we come together on?
This is a big issue in our country. It is overwhelmingly supported, background checks, by the American people, even by large numbers of members of the National Rifle Association. Even though their organization doesn’t support it, many of the members do. Many hunters, gun owners across the country have said, ‘We have had our background checks. We think other people should too.’
So we must act. It is really a daily tragedy. Do you know that four is the measure of a mass tragedy, and there are probably averages of one a day in our country where there is an episode where four or more people are [shot]? It is like 270-some already this year. And we have to act now.
And we’re not going away. We have told the families we have to pass something. And always this blossoms when something occurs, and then we have the flurry of comments from the other side of the aisle saying, ‘This is not the time, now is not the time. No, now is the time for a moment of silence, and no time for action.’
So the impatience of the American people is right on, and we have to do something about it.
Instead, here we are not taking up any of these bills, but the Republicans are spending this week on their budget, their miserable, deceptive, horrible budget.
A budget should be a statement of your national values. What is important to us as a country should be reflected in what we prioritize in our budget. Show me your budget, show me your values.
I don’t know that it’s a statement of values of the American people to have a budget that cuts a trillion dollars out of Medicaid, a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare, cuts other health initiatives, cuts education, harms veterans, abandons rural America in order to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.
The tax cuts in the bill, 80 percent of the tax cuts in the bill benefit the top 1 percent in our country. $2.6 trillion dollars in tax cuts go to corporate America; around $475 billion in tax increases go to Middle America. $2.6 trillion cut for corporate America; almost half a trillion dollars in increases for Middle America.
So, again, it raises taxes on the middle class, cuts taxes on the wealthiest and adds trillions to the deficit.
Now, this is really – I use this word from time to time, and it is so appropriate around here – pathetic. This budget that they are putting forth, combined with their tax proposal, will add around $2.4 trillion, nearly two and a half trillion dollars to the national debt, $2.4 trillion to the national debt, not counting debt service, interest on that. So it gets closer to $3 trillion.
They deceptively, misleadingly say to the American people, ‘Oh, the growth that’s going to occur by giving 80 percent of these tax cuts to the top 1 percent, and cutting the taxes of corporate America is going to produce such growth that it will eliminate that increase in the debt.’
Nonsense. Never has. Trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the wealthy, with the thought that there might be some job creation – no job creation, only increases the debt.
But don’t take my word for it. I’ve told some of you before, if you were at our hearing last week where Bruce Bartlett spoke, Bruce Bartlett being an advocate of supply-side economics, a partner with Jack Kemp in that regard, he said – let me see, I may have exactly what his words are. He basically said that – I don’t have his exact words here. But he used a little profanity. Maybe that’s why it’s not here.
He said, ‘this whole supply-side, dynamic scoring, pay for itself, it’s just not true, nonsense, BS,’ in his words, ‘complete and total nonsense.’ It just doesn’t happen. It never has. Supply-side has its own justification, but it doesn’t pay for itself.
So we will be fighting on the other side of that. We have A Better Deal. Our budget is A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future for America’s families, lowering the cost of living for America’s working families, equipping them with the tools so that they and their families have a place in the economy of the 21st century. And we are fighting for that Better Deal on the floor right now.
On another subject, yesterday the Speaker and I and Mr. Hoyer visited FEMA headquarters for a briefing on the status of relief efforts following Hurricane Maria. I want to thank our FEMA, the volunteers and the workers at FEMA. They have just been so lovely and generous with their time, efforts and concern. We owe them a great debt of gratitude, and our military as well, who are there.
However, the job is not done, as excellent as their service has been. We were not there soon enough. And a real lesson to all of us in terms of what can be done in preparation for an impending hurricane.
The people of Puerto Rico really were helping on Irma, were helping other islands with humanitarian assistance and the rest, because they didn’t get hit as hard. They got hit hard, but not as hard as they would when Maria came.
So the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, what’s happening there now is a challenge to the conscience of America. We have 50 states and our territories, two of them being Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, we really have to do more and better for them.
Congress must move swiftly for the [disaster] relief supplemental for all of the areas; Florida as well got hit. And also we have the Medicaid cliff that we have to address when it comes to Puerto Rico specifically. But for both islands, for both territories, we must make a long-term commitment to not only relief, recovery, but ongoing, long-term economic recovery.
Today, October 5, is the last day for enrollment for DACA recipients if their status expires between September 5 and March 5, 2018. The President’s declaration, which was given by the Attorney General – they only had 1 month to sign up, and so we urge eligible DREAMers to sign up.
We think the short period of time of four weeks is miserably short. We especially think special consideration should be given to them, but also those who live in Texas, Florida and places that have been incapacitated because of the storms. And when we do pass the DREAM Act, which I feel confident we will, we must make the re-enrollment period longer and retroactive for those who didn’t sign up by today.
So these and other things, starting again with the sad situation in Las Vegas, really, the cumulative effect of one after another, children, little children in school, people praying in church, young people dancing at Pulse, a nightclub, theaters, you know the litany of concern, what happened in Las Vegas just being the biggest of them all, but happening every day in our cities. The gun violence has to stop.
With that, I’ll be pleased to take any questions you have.
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Q: Leader Pelosi, you talked about the emerging bipartisan support for some kind of action on bump stocks. But there are going to be Republicans who resist this because they say, ‘Give the gun control people an inch and they will try to take a mile.’ So how do you plan to overcome that when the truth is that you would like to go a lot further?
Leader Pelosi. Well, we said where we’d like to go, and that’s in a bipartisan place, which is the bipartisan bill, King-Thompson, for background checks.
Now, there are background checks, but there are loopholes, whether they are online sales or gun show sales, but a lot can happen for people who shouldn’t be getting guns. And we have evidence that having the background checks has prevented hundreds of thousands, if not a couple million, sales from happening that could have caused deaths.
So as I said, many people who are serious gun owners say, ‘I have a background check. They should have a background check, too.’ So what? They’re going to say, ‘If you give them bump stock, it’s going to be a slippery slope.’ I certainly hope so. But I don’t think bump stocks should be a substitute for the background check.
And by the way, the background check is a compromise. There are many more things Members want to do. And we’re saying, ‘How do we save the most lives?’ We save the most lives with the background checks.
So we just have to have that fight. But the American people have to weigh in, as they did to fight the monstrosities of the health care bills that the Republicans were proposing.
But let’s just take this to a little bit of a different place, whether we’re talking about guns or we’re talking about immigration and DACA and the rest, let’s try to come together, as we asked the Speaker to put [together] a Select Committee, 60 days, short-term, to find our common ground. Are they just saying absolutely not?
The stranglehold that the National Rifle Association has on Congress is such that we cannot even consider anything? I certainly hope not.
But whatever we try to do as we weigh the equities, we have to try to see what brings us together, not separates us further.
Q: Madam Leader.
Leader Pelosi. Yes, Chad.
Q: To follow up on Nancy’s question about the bump stocks, [Congressman] Carlos Curbelo from Florida has a proposal that has some bipartisan support. We’ve heard from some Republicans that they’re interested in this issue. But as you say, often when we have these mass shootings they say, ‘Oh, this is not the time.’ But there seems to be interest in a potential bill from Curbelo, who is the on the Republican side of the aisle.
Do you think Republicans are trying to have this both ways by saying, ‘Oh, Democrats can’t talk about it because we associate them with what they perceive to be anti-Second Amendment efforts, but when Republicans come up with something that’s okay?’
Leader Pelosi. Well, let me just say this. There is the Cicilline-Thompson bill, which has about 150 cosponsors. We would hope that they would, Republicans would join in that and we could move through this quickly.
I don’t know that Mr. Curbelo has filed his bill. I don’t think it’s filed yet. I think it’s a press release, but it’s not a bill. Mr. Cicilline’s bill is signed, sealed, 150 cosponsors.
So, obviously, if we can find common ground in terms of the language and what it accomplishes, that’s what we want to do. But really it’s all up to the Speaker. Is he going to bring a bill to the floor?
We know we would pass comprehensive immigration reform if he would bring a bill to the floor. We know that we would pass DACA, the DREAM Act immediately if he would bring a bill to the floor.
Certainly the public pressure in terms of bump stock is such that we would pass that if he would bring it to the floor.
What is this vote on?
Staff. The Yarmuth amendment.
Leader Pelosi. Oh, Yarmuth. So I am going to have to excuse myself.
Thank you all very much. But I have to go vote for A Better Deal. Thank you.