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’s Opening Remarks

Good morning.  Good morning.  Here we are with our friends, who I’ll refer to momentarily.

But sadly, I begin by saying once again we’re heartbroken by the images of wildfires in California.  It’s so sad.  Having just experienced this in northern California, it’s easier to understand how quickly – a football field in a second, the fire travels that quickly.

And so we’re praying for, again, all of those who are affected, but praying also for our first responders.  They are truly nobility.  They just are so courageous out there.

Okay.  So yesterday, can you imagine, just two months after the sickening attacks in Las Vegas and in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the GOP has decided to bring a gun bill to the floor.  It does further damage to gun safety in our country.  It’s stunningly dangerous and opens the floodgates to guns – an early Christmas present to the NRA, the radical Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill.

Against the warnings of law enforcement groups, Republicans are throwing open the door to violent criminals, domestic abusers – this is very important in terms of harassment and domestic abuse and the rest – and convicted stalkers to carry concealed weapons wherever they please.

Understand this: you’re from a state that has concealed carry opportunities, you get your ability to do that in that state and you carry it with you to other states.  You don’t even have to live in the first state.  Just go there or go online and get a concealed carry license, if that’s the term of art.  You can go any place in the country: concealed carry.

This is their response to the tragedy in Texas in that church, to the tragedy of Las Vegas, to the tragedies over and over.  In fact, it happens every day in our country.

While Republicans fight efforts to protect communities, Democrats will continue to fight for urgent action on commonsense gun violence protection.  We’re not going away on this.

But isn’t it appalling, this violence?  And they pass – oh, they don’t have the votes to do commonsense background checks, which have bipartisan support in the Congress – the Peter King-Mike Thompson legislation.  But they have the time to do concealed carry and make it even easier.

So here we are, the GOP tax scam.  It has the consequences for Americans in every stage of life.

Yesterday, some of you were with us when we had the little children and what it meant to them, later in the day to seniors, what it means to them, and everyone in between.

As they try to represent it is as a tax break for the middle class, it raises taxes – the Senate bill now – raises taxes on 78 million middle class families, 78 million middle class families.  Sixty two percent of the benefit in the Senate bill goes to the wealthiest 1 percent.  And the sneaky ACA repeal, 13 million more Americans may be uninsured under this legislation.  It’s just appalling.

And you have to give them credit for their gall.  This is an absolute assault to plunder and pillage the middle class.

Why?  To give tax breaks to the wealthiest people and to corporate America, to the tune of nearly a trillion and a half dollars to corporate America.

And who pays the price?  Well, the Republicans have made no secret of it.  They’re saying, the Speaker said, once the GOP adds trillions of dollars to the national debt, they openly admit that they plan to begin, start their crusade by destroying Medicare and Medicaid for everyone else.

That’s been their goal all along, because they don’t believe in Medicare and Medicaid.  And now they’re engineering the budget to say this is justifying getting rid of this, because we gave tax cuts to the high-end.

I think it’s once again important to note that 11 Republicans in California voted to do violence to the economy of our state, hurt the prospects of California’s working families and families across our country.

Kevin McCarthy, Doug LaMalfa, Paul Cook, Jeff Denham, David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Steve Knight, Ed Royce, Ken Calvert, Mimi Walters, Duncan Hunter, 11, the exact number that if they had voted correctly would have stopped the bill.

In addition to that, though, Mr. [Darrell] Issa, Mr. [Tom] McClintock, and Mr. [Dana] Rohrabacher have voted before for a bill, the budget bill that takes us to this place.  And guess what that does on this day of fires in California and how they voted against the interest of our state and of the American people?

If you had damage to your home or whatever in the hurricanes, you can have a tax deduction for your losses, some of your losses, but not if those losses came from fire.  They actually voted for that bill.

[Kevin] McCarthy, [Doug] LaMalfa, [Paul] Cook, [Jeff] Denham, [David] Valadao, [Devin] Nunes, [Steve] Knight, [Ed] Royce, [Ken] Calvert, [Mimi] Walters, [Duncan] Hunter, [Tom] Issa, [Tom] McClintock, [Dana] Rohrabacher voted to discriminate against victims of fire.

We certainly want to have the deduction for those who are victims of the hurricanes and the rest.  But why are they doing this to our state?

The GOP tax scam, I’m sure you may have some questions about that.

Okay.  So you know later today we’re going to go to the White House this afternoon.  We’ll meet with the President.  And we’re hopeful the President will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open.  Democrats have never supported shutting down government and we don’t do so now.

In the interest of the meeting, we’ve had this conversation preliminarily before – we want, as we raise the caps and that’s the subject now – what are the caps?  As we raise the caps, we are calling for parity.  We need resources for a strong national defense, but we also need a strong domestic budget.

I remind you, as I have before, that in our domestic budget it includes Homeland Security, antiterrorism activities of the Justice Department, Veterans Affairs and State Department.  That’s a third of the domestic budget, but is a security function.

So when they’re saying, ‘We’re keeping a lid on the increase on that side,’ we’re hurting our national security while preaching that we’re raising the cap for defense.  And, again, that’s not our fight.  Our fight is to bring up the domestic agenda to parity.

And what are some of the things we’d like to come to agreement with the President?  All bipartisan, any of which if on the floor would pass with a strong bipartisan majority.

Fighting the opioid epidemic: this is a priority for the President, for all of us.  It affects every district in the country.  But there’s no money.  We need part of that increase in the domestic budget to fight the opioid epidemic.

Veterans funding: we need more money for veterans.

Then, in addition to that, CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] and Community Health Centers.  Because they’re spending so much time on this, they’re ignoring this – CHIP, children and Community Health Centers.

Passing the DREAM Act.  All of this has bipartisan support, would pass with a strong bipartisan majority.

Emergency disaster funding, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands.  Now the disasters in California.

And saving some endangered pensions, to name a few.

There are other areas of bipartisan agreement that need to be addressed, can be addressed by making it 54/54 rather than 54/37 and calling it parity.

So that’s the fight that we’re in right now.  Democrats are advocating, again, for priorities that have broad support.  And that’s what we would have brought to the President last week; we called for that meeting to bring, in a non-confrontational way, finding areas of agreement, working together.  He’s asked for this meeting today.  Hopefully, this will be on his agenda as well.

Any questions?  Yes.

* * *

Q:  On the issue of sexual misconduct –

Leader Pelosi.  I’m happy to get to that.  I’m not happy to get to it, but I will get to that.  But we have a big focus here on a fork in the road that our country is at that will either be about a country that is creative and letting people thrive and reach their success or a road that is only about power and money at the exploitation of those.

This is a moment of truth for America.  And the decisions made in the tax bill have an impact on the budget because of the resources that will be reduced under that plan.  On these subjects first.

Yes, ma’am?

Q:  Do Democrats insist on an agreement on the DREAM Act in order to support funding bills this year? 

Leader Pelosi.  Democrats are not willing to shut government down, no.  Well, as I said, that is part of our priorities that are listed here, and there may be some more.  We have student loans.  There are other subjects too that need attention.  But these need immediate attention and those are our priorities.

Yes?

Q:  Two questions.  First on the White House meeting.  Besides time, what has changed between November 28 and today?  And then in terms of substance, I don’t see on your list the stabilization of the health care markets, which the tax bill would most likely repeal the individual mandate.  Is it your expectation that that would already be baked in? 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, I would hope, but we have to defeat this.  There are many issues that could be on this list and that could be one of them.  However, what we have to do is defeat this tax scam first.

And, as you know, they have a consideration in there that repeals the individual mandate.  I don’t know if that survives the conference.  There are Members on the Republican side who would like to see the cost sharing funds in the bill.  That’s all in the negotiation.  A lot of that is over here and could be over here.

What’s the second part?

Q:  What has changed, in terms of your discussions with the White House, between November 28 and today besides time and besides who called for the meeting? 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, that’s a big difference.  We called for the meeting last week to go.  And we said, ‘We’re not here to fight your defense number.  We think it should be subjected to scrutiny, what is the mission and the rest, but if that’s what you think it should be then that may be a place we can go to.’  So it wasn’t about you should have less and we should have more, it was about parity.

We were concerned when the President started mocking the meeting and saying there would be no deal and all that.  And we thought, ‘Well, if you’re not ready to talk then we’re not ready to come.’

Now he has made the overture for us to go.  Hopefully, that means he’s more receptive to finding a solution.  But the time is important because, again, the clock is ticking on the year end, and that’s when we have to have a bill.

Yes, ma’am?

Q:  Madam Leader, thank you so much.  Will Democrats support the CR on the floor, and why haven’t they been more outspoken about it?  And on larger budget negotiations, how do you respond to Republicans saying fiscal 2017 broke parity? 

Leader Pelosi.  That isn’t even true.  That isn’t even true.  That’s how I respond to it.  But you know what, I think this is fairly a non-event.  They either have the votes or they don’t have the votes today.  But we have been outspoken about what our priorities are.  And this is a fight that is, as I say, a fight for our country and for our future.

Q:  But on today’s CR, will Democrats support the CR? 

Leader Pelosi.  No, no, no.  And the reason why, because it has nothing about opioid epidemic.  It has nothing about veterans funding.  Nothing about CHIP.  CHIP, Children’s Health Insurance, Community Health Centers.  Nothing about the DREAM Act, among other things.

But in terms of just funding, emergency disaster funding, saving some of the pensions.  Maybe you don’t know as much about that, but those who do support that.  As you mentioned, the cost sharing and the rest.

No, this is a waste of time.  There could be some good things that could be advanced.  And because it doesn’t have things in it doesn’t mean that makes it okay.

Yes, ma’am?

Q:  Madam Leader, to follow up on your answer to a DREAMer question earlier, are you backing off your stance from last month where you said, ‘We will not leave here in December without a DACA fix’? 

Leader Pelosi.  No.  I stand by that statement.  We will not leave here without a DACA fix.

Yes, ma’am?

Q:  Two questions.  Back on DACA. 

Leader Pelosi.  Yes, ma’am.

Q:  Have you changed your mind at all about being willing to accept some border wall funding or immigration crackdown funding within a DREAM Act fix? 

Leader Pelosi.  I don’t know, when you say, ‘Have you changed your mind?’  We said to the President the night he agreed to the DACA legislation we have a responsibility to protect our border and we think there are many things we can do working together to do that.  And Members have been working in a bipartisan way to address that.

So we’re not backing off anything, including meeting the needs of protecting our border.  We are not going to turn this country into a reign of terror of domestic enforcement and have the DACA, the DREAMers, pay that price.

But I’m optimistic.  I always have been.  God is with us on this.  Our country is great.  We know our greatness springs from the vitality that newcomers bring to our country.  Eighty percent at least of the American people support the DREAMers.

And some Members at the President’s holiday event the other night – he called it a holiday event, by the way.  It wasn’t a Christmas party, it was a holiday event – At that, the Republican Members were saying to me, ‘This is 80 percent in my district, people support the DREAMers.’  And I’ve had some of their spouses say to me, ‘We have to get the DREAM Act.’

So this has, again, bipartisan support.  We can find our common ground.

Q:  And my second question.  What do you think was the straw that broke the camel’s back when calling for Franken’s resignation? 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, it’s a different subject.  I’m sorry, I’m not going there.  I said I wasn’t going there.  We’re talking about what we’re doing now, and I’ll come to that at the end.

Q:  You’re not going to answer any questions about it?

Leader Pelosi.  Yeah, I said I’d come to it.  But I’m prioritizing because I want to make sure we have time to do this first.

Any other questions on the tax?

Yes, ma’am?

Q:  Well, on the spending, Republicans are talking about after this 2 week CR a spending package that would fully fund defense through the end of this fiscal year and CR the rest of the remaining agencies into January.  Is that a nonstarter? 

Leader Pelosi.  Yes.

Yes, sir?

Q:  Can I ask you, in your critique of the GOP tax bill, you don’t mention ANWR.  Does that mean that Democrats have given up hopes of – 

Leader Pelosi.  No.  ANWR is a very important issue.  I could have, start at the ceiling, wrap it around the floor and around the corner.

Do you know what it doesn’t mention?  It doesn’t mention that if you’re a student and you have student loan debt and you have a tax deduction for $2,500, it’s now gone.

It doesn’t mention that since 1944, when President Roosevelt was President in the New Deal, you got a medical deduction for extraordinary medical expenses.  So if you have a child with disabilities, a senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia or whatever, you now cannot deduct those medical expenses in the House bill.

It has tax breaks for people with private jets at the expense of America’s working families.  Do you want more?  Because we could have a very long list.

And what it doesn’t say also – robs from the future by heaping mountains of debt onto the future.  A trillion and a half that they admit to, that doesn’t count interest which takes it over $2 trillion, taking us down a path very hard to return from unless you decide one day to raise taxes.  But there’s a very long list here.

But I thank you for bringing up ANWR, because it’s really sad.  But I see that Senator Murkowski is on the conference, so I guess that they’re making a serious commitment to that.

That no more belongs on a tax bill, no more belongs on a tax bill.  It’s really tragic.  But it is who they are.  It is who they are.

Okay.  Anything else on our meeting today with the President or would you rather hear after?

Well, we’ll see.  We’ll see how it goes.

But I assume since he invited us, he will have an offer to make.  We have made it clear that this is what he supports.  This is what he supports.  This is what he supports.

You know, it isn’t as if there’s anything that we’re going there and say, “This is an agenda item, like ANWR, that is specific and separate from what we’re dealing with that we’re asking you to come our way.  We’re coming your way.  We’re there together.”

And on this, we should go there together.  You can’t really have legitimate long lasting tax reform unless you do it in a bipartisan way.

Put growth in the middle of the table.  What creates growth, generates good paying jobs and reduces the deficit.

When people say, ‘”Where’s your tax plan?’ we’re saying, ‘We want to do it working together.’  But we have A Better Deal on a tax plan that will produce Better Jobs, Better Wages, a Better Future, a Better Future for our country and all of the American people.

So, again, this could be a very long list.  You want me to?  Next time we’ll have it long.  Hopefully, we’ll defeat it before then.

Now, we’ll go back to you.

Q:  Thank you.  How much of a valid issue do you think this is for how each party handles those facing allegations?  And for Congressman Kihuen, if he remains defiant, would you urge a primary challenger to unseat him? 

Leader Pelosi.  I don’t see this as a political issue.  This is something remarkable that has happened in our country.  And I’m so glad that at long last Time magazine has placed some women as Women of the Year.  It’s the first time I think they’ve ever had a Woman of the Year.  It’s multiple, but nonetheless it’s great.

Our country, because of the courage of these women, has crossed the Rubicon.  Alea iacta est, the die is cast.  We’re in a whole new place on all of this, and it’s pretty exciting.

And so, so many of the women have come forward, some of them currently with complaints, others telling us about what happened to them when they were young, when they were ignored or they were afraid to come forward and the rest, and they are fighting for justice for women today and as we go into the future.

So this is a new day, something to be excited about.  Sad in many respects.

But, yes, we are pleased with the way we expeditiously dealt with our issue.  I don’t see it as a political issue, though.  I see it as a community, I hope that people will all come together on it.  We have, on our side, have had a series of meetings with a working task force of Members of the House Administration Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction in certain respects, women who have introduced legislation, Members who have been leaders on the Ethics Committee—not currently because they couldn’t be, to listen to outside lawyers and experts as to how we address the compliance here.

The two subjects are transparency, how open should this be and how does that affect the victim, and finances, how does a victim get compensated.

So you’ll see more about that.  But that’s really what part of the debate is about.

Q:  For Congressman Kihuen, though, would you urge someone to unseat him? 

Leader Pelosi.  This is not about politics.  It’s the last thing it’s about.  In fact, this isn’t about politics, this is about America, and that’s about our country as well.  So it is not about politics.  You had the second part?

Staff.  Last question.

Q:  Isn’t it an unsustainable political standard?  If the standard is sexual harassment claims, then are you going to call for the resignation of any man or, for that matter, woman who has a claim of sexual harassment against them?  Is that the standard? 

Leader Pelosi.  What we’re talking about is for the past three weeks we have had – its like two and a half weeks I guess now – we have had these meetings listening to how you deal with this in a transparent, fair way to the victim.

We have a responsibility to uphold the dignity of the House of Representatives.  We want to protect the rights of the accused.  But we want to make sure that the victims have the opportunity they need to come forward, so if they need the financial settlement, because they may lose their jobs, they may need counseling, they may need other things.

So we’re studying it very carefully, and there are differences of opinion about how much transparency and how does that impact the victim.

So we’re listening to victims.  We’re listening to lawyers.  We’re listening to experts.  And we will be making a presentation to our Caucus because people have views there as well on this subject.

Are you on the same subject?

Time?  We have to give the Speaker the room.

Thank you all very much.