Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.

Good morning, everyone.

Once again, we come together very sadly.  Our hearts have been broken by the tragedy of gun violence, this time Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.  Seventeen pronounced dead, more wounded.  Innocent children sending terrified texts and goodbyes to their parents.  We thank God for the heroism of the teachers, the school leaders, and our first responders running into harm’s way to save lives.

Once again, we see the urgency for Congress to take true common-sense action to prevent gun violence.  Everyone is saying we need more information, and we do.  And that is why I am very pleased to be joined here this morning by Congressman Mike Thompson.  He is the chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  He has served in the military, knows how to use guns.  He is a hunter.  He is a believer in the Second [Amendment] – well, he will speak to his own credentials.

I just want to say how proud we are of him for taking the lead over the years on this issue.  And he has, recognizing that we have to have the facts and the data, has legislation calling for a Select Committee on Gun Violence.  His bipartisan legislation to pass the Thompson‑King bill to strengthen background checks, it is bipartisan.

And, of course, how can you get the information if we do not allow the research to prevent gun violence?  Children are dying in our schools, in our communities, on our street.  All this Congress has to say is, let’s have a moment of silence.

So I sadly yield, with great gratitude, to Mr. Thompson and thank him for his leadership on this very important issue.

Mr. Thompson?

Congressman Thompson.  Well, Leader Pelosi, thank you very much.

It is sad to be here once again after yet another tragedy involving guns.

The Leader pointed to three priority issues.  And I want to just point out that, ever since Sandy Hook, when we first started trying to figure out what Congress could do to help prevent gun violence, the top priority was passing legislation to expand background checks.

And, as the Leader said, it is a bipartisan bill.  I think in the last Congress we had 192, 195‑something coauthors, Democrats and Republicans.  This year, in this Congress, again, it is bipartisan.  Sadly, the number of Republicans on the bill have dropped.  There are only three because there were some retirements.  There has been some interest expressed by others to come on.

But for the last 5 years, this has been the number‑one issue – the number‑one issue.  Now, today, the number‑one issue is create a select committee on gun violence, which I think is important.

But it is important to note for all of you that I introduced this bill out of utter frustration that the Republican leadership wouldn’t give us a hearing on the expanded background check bill.  Every time we went to them, they had some excuse, some cockamamie excuse, to be specific.

And so, out of frustration, I said, ‘Well, great, you don’t like our ideas.  Let’s do a Select Committee made up of Democrats and Republicans to address this issue and see if we can come to some suggestion, some ideas, some legislation that you do like, that you will allow a hearing on, you will allow us to take a vote on.’

So, sadly, since those little children were mowed down and murdered in Sandy Hook, the progress that we have seen is — we changed the priority.  Now expanded background check is third on the list, and the select committee is first on the list.  I think it is appalling.  If I was a Republican Member, I would be embarrassed that my Leadership wouldn’t address this issue.

Thirty people every day are killed by someone using a gun, and the best we can do is say we need more information?  Well, as the Leader said, I agree, we need all the information that we can get.  So what do we do with it?  Are we going to put it with all the information we got after the last shooting?  Or maybe all the information we got after the shooting before that?

Because it seems to me you can’t turn around without there being a mass shooting.  There have been 80 school shootings since this President was inaugurated.  This is a crisis.  There is not a parent or a grandparent in the United States of America who doesn’t feel concerned about the safety of their children or their grandchildren.

And we were elected to deal with tough issues.  And this is no different than any other tough issue.  Somebody has to screw up the courage to be able to look at this issue and figure out what can Congress do.

And, certainly, the expanded background check is a modest step in that direction.  It has to be the first line of defense.  If everybody says they don’t believe that criminals or the dangerously mentally ill should get guns, I certainly agree with that.  Well, how do you prevent it from happening if you don’t do background checks?

And why would you impose background checks if you buy a gun through a federally licensed gun dealer but exclude people from going through a background check if they buy a gun at a gun show or online or, you know, down the street from the neighbor?  It makes no sense at all.

And the idea that all of these shootings are mental health issues?  I am sure that mental health factors in, but you can’t deflect by saying, ‘Oh, it is a mental health issue,’ and then turn around and work overtime trying to repeal the mental health programs that we have in place or put out a budget that cuts the mental health budget that we so desperately need across our United States of America.

And we know that background checks work.  What is this President doing?  He is proposing we cut $20 billion from the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] system, the electronic background check system – 20 percent cut in funding.  And that is the only –

Leader Pelosi.  Million, right?

Congressman Thompson.  Twenty million.

And that is the only progress we have made.  It was my amendment on the floor to add money to the NICS system, and now they want to take it away.  They want to remove $20 million.

And we know there are huge problems with the NICS system.  We saw that from the terrible shooting in Texas where the former Air Force man shot and killed a bunch of people in a church in Texas.  We found out that he had problems that should have prohibited him from being a gun owner but his information wasn’t passed on to NICS.

And we saw in the last few days where the Air Force has stepped it up.  They have added, I think, 4,000 entries into the NICS system of servicemembers who should be prohibited.

So there is a big void in there.  So you are going to deal with it by taking $20 million away?  It makes no sense.  Congress needs to step up and do its job.

Leader Pelosi.  I thank you for your leadership.

We will be continuing to meet on this subject to try to respond.  But we shouldn’t be responding; we should be preventing, we should be anticipating and have common-sense approaches to prevent gun violence.

Ninety‑five percent, a poll I saw this morning on TV – you tell me if that is a reliable source – 95 percent said that they support background checks.  And I happened to be here in the ’90s when we passed the Brady bill, part of the current bill in 1994.  That was a fight.  It was always a fight.  And thank God for the Bradys.  They were such an inspiration.  And it was a very – made it a bipartisan effort.

And the background checks, that bill saved lives.  And now technology has moved forward, so we have to make sure that guns purchased on the internet are subjected to the same scrutiny, those sales are subjected to the same scrutiny, as well as, as you mentioned, Congressman Thompson, at the gun shows.

This, it is so very, very sad.  When we had the sit‑in in the Capitol, you may recall, a year and a half ago, the action taken by our Republican colleagues and leadership was to investigate who on the floor Periscoped, Facebooked, whatever technology they used, what was happening on the Floor to the public.  That was their response to gun violence at the time.

So we will be meeting and hoping that the public will weigh in in a serious way.  Because, again, the number of school – 80 this past year, in the year since – well, in the past year, let me just put it that way.  But every day of the week, our country suffers from gun violence.

Do you have any questions on this?

Yes?

***

 

Q:  Madam Leader, it is nice to hear from both of you on this, so thank you. 

So the assault weapons ban repeal sunset in ’04‑’05.  You mentioned, Madam Leader, about the purchasing weapons on the Internet.  Do you think that those two factors, the fact that, you know, they didn’t renew the assault weapons ban in ’04‑’05 and the emergence of the ability to purchase weapons online, that that is changing because there is just a sheer gigantic number of weapons out there and, no matter how good your systems are to track them, that somebody can get them, mental health or not? 

Congressman Thompson.  Well, there are certainly going to be situations where, no matter what you do, something is going to fall through the cracks.  That is always the case, no matter what the issue is, no matter how good the law is that you write.

But I believe that Congress has a responsibility to do all that we can to minimize those and to do as much as we can to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns:  criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

We know that background checks will accomplish that, but we also know that there are ways to get guns, to buy guns, legally, where you can avoid the background check.  In some States, you can go to a gun show and you can buy a gun without going through a background check.

And some of the research that has been done shows that everybody’s very familiar with this, to the point where the people selling guns at gun shows – and those of you who know, if you go to a gun show, there will be a bunch of tables set up of people selling guns.  Some of them are licensed dealers, and if you buy a gun from them, you have to get a background check.  Some of them are just individual citizens selling guns.  And in some states, those people don’t have to require a background check with a purchase.

And there will be situations where the licensed dealer has a gun for sale at one price and the individual has the same gun at a higher price.  So, this is not a secret.  People know that this happens and this goes on.

You can also, in some areas, buy a gun on the internet.  You can go – and this happened.  A couple of years ago, my guest at the State of the Union was a man who lost his sister to gun violence.  And there was a restraining order against her husband.  He went to a gun store and tried to buy a certain type of pistol, and because there was a restraining order, it came up on the computer that he was prohibited from buying that pistol.  He walked out the door, got on a computer, went to one of the Guns ‘R’ Us websites and said he wanted to buy that same gun.  It gave him a list of people who were selling the exact same gun.  And he just went down the list until he found someone who wasn’t a dealer, someone who was an individual.  He contacted that person, they met someplace down the street, he bought the gun, took that gun into a beauty salon, killed his wife and a couple of employees.

So we know that there is a loophole there, and we know that we should close it.

In regard to the assault weapons, you know, there is a gazillion of them on the street, and we know that.  We also know that those assault weapons were designed for one thing, and hence the name.  We know it makes it easier to deliver tragedy and evil.  They are light.  They are made to be able to move freely.

They are made to, even in a semiautomatic position, to be able to shoot rapidly and to be able to change the magazines quickly so you can continue to load and continue to spray bullets out there.  We know that.

And, certainly, people use them for legitimate purposes as well.  I think that the argument that there are legitimate purposes is far overshadowed by the fact that these things are not only dangerous weapons but they are weapons that were designed for and used to kill people.

Q:  But, to be clear, do you think the failure of renewing that in ’04‑’05 contributes to this increase we have seen? 

Congressman Thompson.  I think that we have to focus on what will do the most good in the short run, and that is the background check bill.

The issue of assault weapons is an issue that is much thornier to deal with.  It is a harder hurdle.  We can’t even get a hearing on the background check bill, so the idea that we would be able to do something on assault weapons is – it goes beyond a heavy lift.

And as the Leader said, I am a gun owner.  I support the Second Amendment.  I also carried an assault weapon for a tour of duty in Vietnam.  I know what they are used for.  I know what they are capable of.

And, personally, I believe there is no place in a civilized society to have these things.  We don’t need them.  We know the damage that they have done.

And if you go back – if you go to Sandy Hook, if you go now to Florida, if you go to any of the mass shootings that we have seen – Las Vegas – it is, in fact, the weapon of choice.  And it is the weapon of choice because it was designed to be able to bring pure hell and fury to anyone it is used against.

Q:  Is this a top priority for you guys if you take back the House in November?  And if so, what specific action could you see Democrats taking in the new Congress in January? 

Congressman Thompson.  Well, I think, first, we would address this issue.  That is the thing that is most glaringly missed in all of this.  We would have a hearing.  We would convene both Democrats and Republicans.  We’d bring experts to the table.

That is something that has been missing in this Congress if you haven’t noticed.  You know, we just passed the biggest tax bill in 30 years without a single hearing in the House of Representatives, without hearing from one single expert in the House of Representatives.  We just bring this stuff to the Floor.

We just passed a concealed‑carry bill in the House with very little discussion about this.  And we can’t even get a hearing on background checks.

So that would be – I would recommend to the leader – if, as you point out, we win in November, the Speaker – that we should start with that.  We should bring in experts.  We should have hearings.  We should figure out the best way forward to keep our communities safe.

Leader Pelosi.  I just may say also I don’t want to have to wait that long.  We could have a select committee right now.  Mr. Thompson has had legislation calling for such a select committee.  And in putting it forth, he referenced that they’ve had select committees on, what, Benghazi, they’ve had select –

Congressman Thompson.  Planned Parenthood.

Leader Pelosi. – Planned Parenthood.  Any excuse will do, except a serious reason like studying the gun violence prevention issue.

We could write on this appropriations bill that is due toward the end of March, we could list a prohibition on actions taken by the Centers for Disease Control to talk about prevention in terms of gun safety.  And we could bring up the background check legislation, which is bipartisan and overwhelmingly supported by the American people.  We could expand it to include gun shows, as well as online purchases, but also some other technicalities that we think would tighten it.

So there’s a lot we can do right now.  Because many people will die.  And while you’re talking about assault weapons and some of the mass murderers that we have seen so cruelly do violence to not only these children and their families and their classmates but to the character of America, who we are as a country, tolerating such a thing and not preventing it, we could have some serious work done to save lives.  Because, as I say, since you mentioned assault weapons, that is one thing, but every day on our streets people are killed by gun violence, by pistols, other means of violence in terms of guns.  So it’s an issue that includes assault weapons but is much broader than that.

Any other questions on this subject?

I just want to add – yes, sir.  On this?

Q:  Yes, ma’am.  When you were Speaker, there were Democrats who were clamoring for hearings in Judiciary on this topic, and they did not get them.  Was there any specific reason for that at the time?  And do you regret not doing more when you did have the gavel? 

Leader Pelosi.  Well, let me say what we did do.  Because I don’t remember people clamoring.  We all were addressing the issue, but part of the problem was, as was the case with the Dreamers, if I might add, you need 60 votes in the Senate.  And so Members were like, well, how can we get 60 votes in the Senate?  That was more the question, because that was more the hurdle.  It’s just a majority in the House.

But what we did do, which I was very proud of, when we had the majority was to pass our mental health parity legislation.  Because much is being said about mental health, and it is a factor.  It isn’t dispositive of the issue.  We have to do much more.

But when we did, the Republican Members came to me – and I won’t name their names; they’re not in the Congress now.  But they said to me, we could never get a hearing from our own leadership over these past years on mental health parity.  We did have the hearing.  We did pass the law.  We did have it be part of the Affordable Care Act, which now they are trying to unravel.

So that was one of the fundamentals of how do we prevent gun violence, was this mental health piece.  Very important.  And as the distinguished Representative from California mentioned, this is part of what they are undoing with some of their legislation now.

So, again, this is something where we have to have the public really demand, because we need a majority to get it done, apparently.  I wish that weren’t the case.  And I have said over and over, I would rather pass gun safety legislation than win the election, because people die from this.  So that as a priority for me is one that I have always had.  And now, of course, as a mother and a grandmother and seeing these children at risk at a place they should feel very safe is just unthinkable, something that should never happen in our country, and other people wonder.

But it is something that is going to require 60 votes in the Senate.  And even I know and I think    I will yield to Mr. Thompson, if this background check were brought up in the House, it would win.  Under a Republican Congress, with bipartisan support for it, it would win.  And so we are saying, just give us a vote.  Just give us a vote.

Now, with the much higher visibility of this issue than it was 10 years ago or so, I think that there might be a chance to prevail in the Senate, but I can’t speak for the Senate.

Congressman Thompson.  I think that’s an important point.  One thing that is different between now and 6 years ago was all the – it started with Sandy Hook, which was just, that shook everybody in this country to the bone.  And now we’ve had repeat performances, the last of which was yesterday, but not the last one to happen.  There’s going to be more tragedy; we know that.  So things have changed across the country, not just in Congress.

And, you know, just looking out, you know, a lot of young people here today.  You know, some of you have kids.  Some of you have kids.  This was a school yesterday, where kids went to learn, and kids didn’t come home from school.  I am the father of a cop.  I don’t want my kid on the street protecting his community when people who shouldn’t have guns have guns.  I don’t want my grandkids going off to school or to work with a situation like this.

Leader Pelosi.  Did you want to talk about California for a moment?

Congressman Thompson.  In regard to?

Leader Pelosi.  What the law is there, that even if you wanted to

Congressman Thompson.  In California, it’s a little bit stricter.  So, in California, if you buy a gun, you have to have a background check.  So, well, if I bought a gun from my son, who is the cop, if he owned a gun, legally owned a gun – and he, like me, owns a bunch of them – but if he wanted to sell me a gun or transfer me a gun, he said, ‘Dad, I want to give you this gun,’ we have to go to a licensed dealer and I would have to get a background check.

Leader Pelosi.  Even within the family.

Congressman Thompson.  And then in California there’s also a 10 day waiting period.

So for those of you who covered the tragedy in Mr. [Congressman James] Clyburn’s district, when the guy went into the church and killed the people who were in a prayer group there, if you remember, that person should not have been able to buy a gun.  But it was an overlapping jurisdiction city or county or something, and when they went to do the background check on him, there was a delay.  And they came back – they didn’t clear him, but they couldn’t positively say he was prohibited.  And the base law, the Federal law under which they were operating said that if you can’t identify someone who is prohibited within three days, you have to give them the gun.  So that guy never got a complete background check.  They knew there was a problem, but they couldn’t identify it.  He got the gun, and he went into that church and murdered those people.

California has a 10 day waiting period, so you have more time to figure out if somebody should or shouldn’t have guns.

Leader Pelosi.  I want to commend Mr. [Congressman Mike] Thompson for the work he did when we did have the majority, too, in terms of expanding the NICS background check systems.  Are you familiar with NICS?

Q:  Yeah.

Leader Pelosi.  Okay.  So the NICS Improvement Act requires Federal agencies to submit mental health records.  We passed this in 2007 when President Bush was President and was signed into law.  Now, what Mr. [Congressman Mike] Thompson was talking about earlier was that the administration wants to take $20 million out of that initiative.  And that was really bipartisan.  President Bush signed that.  We had bipartisan support for it –

Congressman Thompson.  And the amendment where we augmented that –

Leader Pelosi.  Yeah, more recently.

Congresswoman Thompson.  My amendment on the floor, we augmented that by, I believe it was around that same amount, around $20 million.  That was bipartisan also.  I think we got 70 Republicans to vote for that.

Leader Pelosi.  And that was recent.  That was recent.

But what we do have to do is go to this place:  Mr. Speaker, you have a select committee for almost anything.  Why not for this really important priority for the American people?

We have bipartisan support for legislation now that 95 percent of the American people support, including background check legislation, expanding that.

And, also, what is it that – we have this legislation put forth by my former but, also deceased colleague, Mr. Dickey from Arkansas, that put a chilling effect on what the CDC could do in terms of gun violence prevention.  You have the letter.  We can show you the letter that he sent saying, ‘That’s not what I intended.’

Did you want to speak to that?

Congresswoman Thompson.  I served with Jay Dickey.  And when this became an issue, I telephoned him in retirement.  And he said, ‘That’s not what I intended.  I did not want my legislative action to prohibit or get in the way of the CDC doing any of this work.  This is important work.  We should do it.’  As a matter of fact, I think the example he used, he said we study situations with automobile deaths as well, that doesn’t mean we want to do away with automobiles.

And Ihave his letter.  I’ve probably passed it out to some of you many times over the last 5 years.  But it’s something that should be – it should be dealt with.  What is the harm in collecting data to try and figure out why people do the things that they do?  It’s the prudent way to do business.

Leader Pelosi.  Yes, ma’am.  On this subject?

Q:  A different subject.

Leader Pelosi.  Let me just close on this to say that we hope that we will have more than a moment of silence.  Certainly we pray for the families.  Again, America’s heart is broken.

Ironic it was Ash Wednesday.  Some of the victims there had ashes.  It was Valentine’s Day.  The kids had gone in a different spirit than what that day would be about.  Little did they know that they’d be victims of such useless, preventable violence in our country.  And the large number of people who are deceased and who are seriously injured, we pray for their recovery.

But, again, it’s an assault on our whole country, and they are paying the price for our inaction.  As I’ve said on the floor many times, whose political survival in this body is more important than the survival of our children, for example, most recently yesterday, Sandy Hook for example, or on the streets of our cities?  Who of us in here is more important?  Whose political survival is more important than that?  Nobody’s.  Nobody’s.

So we have to be bold, we have to go forward, and we cannot let the National Rifle Association and its many however they get their money – and that’s another subject – to decide what the character of America is.

And speaking of the character of America, as you know, the President put forth his budget this week.  A budget is supposed to be our Federal budget is supposed to be a statement of our national values.  What is important to us as a country is supposed to be reflected in how we allocate our resources, to make our future brighter for our children, to keep our people safe both globally and locally and personally, how we create jobs for the 21st century, reduce the deficit, lower taxes, really lower taxes for the middle class.

So, again, as I’ve said to you before, there’s a dark cloud hanging over this Congress, and that’s called the GOP tax scam, a tax bill that gives 83 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent, where 86 million middle class families will  – 86 million middle class families will be paying more in taxes, that increases the deficit.

 

Now, [Mick] Mulvaney has even admitted yesterday that it’s going to cost the taxpayer more, that we’re going to go deeper into debt.  He’s saying now $1.8 trillion.  With interest, that’s over $2 trillion, which is the number Richard Neal has been using all along, admitting that.

 

And so we have mortgaged our children’s future, and we’re going to give a big tax break to corporate America.  And now what was so obvious and what the Republicans did not keep a secret – I have to give them credit, they were very open about it:  We’re going to have a deficit, and we’re going to have to compensate for that by cutting Medicare, which they do in their budget by $500 billion, and Medicaid, which they do by $1.4 trillion.

 

And the list goes on.  Social Security Disability Insurance cut back.  The list goes on and on.  And it’s not a statement of values of the American people.  It repeals the Affordable Care Act, raising health costs and taking health coverage away from millions.  Education – we were talking about jobs for the 21st century.  $200 billion in cuts from student loan initiatives; freezes Pell Grants.  Farmers in rural America, cuts 15 percent from the USDA, the United States Department of Agriculture, and its key rural water and energy initiatives.  Hungry families – hungry families, cuts it.  $214 billion from food stamps.  The President is going to give them a box of processed food.  A box of processed food?

 

Congressman Thompson.  Just like Blue Apron.

Leader Pelosi.  Yeah.  Just like that.  And infrastructure, again, at the same time, the black cloud predicated    their predicate is this tax cut, which is everything to them.  It’s in their DNA that they will have trickle down tax cuts at the high end.  A banquet for everyone up here, crumbs for people down here.

 

I’ll repeat that.  The Speaker brags about somebody getting $1.50 a [week] and in a year she’ll get $60 and she can pay her Costco entry fee or something.  Really?  Really?  While others get tens of thousands of dollars in tax cuts in the top 1 percent, and corporate America, of course, billions of dollars.

 

So then he [President Trump] comes up with an infrastructure proposal, which is something that we’ve all been waiting for that was supposed to be due a year ago.  $1 trillion?  $1.5 trillion?  No, it’s $200 billion over 10 years.  So we’re talking about $20 billion over 10 years.  And when we’re talking about infrastructure, we’re talking about the greatness of America.  We’re talking about think big, plan grandly, not let’s just see how little I can do, and then on the other hand say to cities, certain communities, you have to pay 80 percent of the share, we’ll pay 20, meaning that, and on top of taking away their State and local tax deduction.  They’re having a debilitating impact on infrastructure.

 

Democrats, again, have a Better Deal – their plan would force Americans to pay higher tolls and fees, sell off critical public infrastructure to the whims of Wall Street, increase the burden of States and cities, end environmental protections.

 

We have a Better Deal.  We have a Better Deal to rebuild America.  Rebuilding our roads and bridges, modernizing our rail systems, ports, waterways.  Build our schools.  You were here, some of you, when we made the presentation last week with our committees of jurisdiction under the leadership of Ranking Member DeFazio.  Creates more than 16 million jobs, good paying American jobs; lowers costs for consumers; unlocks the economic potential of rural communities and small businesses; and turbocharges the economy, bringing money into the Treasury.  We are trying to revive the economy with a transformational plan that is five times larger than what President Trump is putting forth.

 

So here we have the trifecta.  They always like to go in threes.  Increase the deficit by giving tax cuts to the high end and corporate America.  And then say, oh, my gosh, we created a deficit, we have to have a budget that addresses that.  Let’s cut Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance, food stamps, all the rest.  And now what’s our big initiative for jobs for the 21st century?  Well, let’s think very small, and let’s do so in a way that’s similar to the tax bill that is trickle down.  It is the taxpayer subsidizing initiatives, where the profit goes to the private sector and the tolls are paid by the commuter and the consumer, and the whole bill is paid by the taxpayer.  It’s just not right.

 

So this is what we’ll be talking about over the break as we go around the country.  I have to give the Republicans credit, though.  They are totally consistent.  It’s all about the high end, and they make no mistake about it.

 

And then they had the audacity to say, well, it’s going to pay for itself, when the very architects of that trickle down supply side have said anybody who tells you it’s going to pay for itself, it’s not true, it’s nonsense, it’s B.S., spelled out.

 

Any questions?

 

Q:  Leader Pelosi, on immigration, what do you think about the King proposal over in the Senate?  And, also, do you have any reaction to DHS’s statement that they put out this morning about that proposal?

 

Leader Pelosi.  I didn’t see their statement.  We’ve been really practically in mourning all morning on the subject of guns.  I didn’t see what they had to say.  But if it’s anything like what the President is saying, it’s not useful.  But I can’t speak to it, because I don’t know what they said.

 

I think this is all still in the works now.  Let me comment when I see what the Senate puts forth.  But I’m glad that Mitch McConnell is at least honoring his statement that he would bring a bill to the floor.  We hope that the Speaker would respect the dignity of the House of Representatives and give us a chance to vote on bipartisan legislation to protect the DREAMers.  I know they’ll be protected.  They have to be protected.  We just have to do it in a shorter period of time.

 

Yes, sir?

 

Q:  Just to follow up on that, where do you think the deadline is to deal with the DACA issue?  It sounds like the Speaker is giving the House really until the end of March to debate immigration.  That’s kind of what his timeline was, as far as what he said yesterday.

Leader Pelosi.  Well, anyone who says that we have until the end of March doesn’t really understand the gravity of the situation or ignores what is – I feel like the Music Man.  Do you know that song?  The pool table in your community.  Anyway, yeah, trouble in River City.  Well, the trouble in River City is they think – you go look that up.  You’ll see it’s perfect for this.  They are ignoring –

Mr. Thompson.  Do you know what that is? 

Q:  Yeah, I have heard of it.

Leader Pelosi.  Because in one of the press meetings, I said to somebody, you know, when I first came to Congress, there were only three networks, and the young man said to me, you mean like CBS and ABC, and I said, yeah, that would be considered a network.  Anyway, we did have CNN at that time too, so four.

Okay.  Here’s the thing.  The President, let’s just give him the benefit of the doubt.  In September, on September 5th, he put forth a proposal to say he was rescinding the executive order on DACA that President Obama had put forth.

I’m going to do this fast, because the Speaker is going to come in here in a minute and need the room.

He put that forth.  And he said, we’ll give it till March 5th for Congress to correct the situation.  Either he did not know the gravity of the situation as to what this meant in the lives of the DACA recipients – let’s say he didn’t.  But it removed protections for them, to the tune of over 100 of them losing their status, their protections, every day, now over 15,000 losing protections.  Even if you talk about to March 5th, which is the date that he gave Congress until 6 months.

When he rescinded DACA, I was very proud that the National Catholic Conference of Bishops who called his action reprehensible, because that’s exactly what it was:  reprehensible.  But let me give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t understand the situation.

For the Speaker to say this could go to March 5th, the end of March, means he doesn’t know the fear that they have instilled into the families and into the hearts of these children.  And that’s why we will continue to make this fight, and we have – what is it that they’re waiting for?  What is it that they have against young people who are making such a beautiful contribution to our country?

As I read some of my Members’ letters from their from DREAMers, their own testimony about how much they love America, how much they give back to America, how they serve in our armed services, how they’re a resource to us in providing healthcare in our community.  The list goes on.

So, in any event, I don’t think the end of March has viability to it.  Let’s just get on with it.  What are you afraid of?

Did you want to speak to that?

Congressman Thompson.  Yeah, I just want to add one thing.  I have constituents of mine who were born in the United States of America, U.S. citizens, who will not leave their house without their passport because of this situation.  I have kids that are as afraid as anybody else’s kids.  I have an increasing number of phone calls to my district offices, every day, people reporting suspicious cars parked down street, suspicious car across from the daycare center, worried, is that ICE?  I get calls constantly.  And in meetings in my district with law enforcement, who tell me that this is destroying a strong trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement and making our entire communities unsafe.

Deadline?  This is long past due.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you all very much.

 

 

 

Newsletter Signup