Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today
Washington, D.C. – Today, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Co-Chair Hakeem Jeffries, House Budget Committee Ranking Democrat John Yarmuth, Senator Chris Van Hollen, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee to discuss President Trump’s broken promises on the budget. Below is a transcript of the press conference.
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks
Leader Pelosi. Good morning everyone. I’m very honored to welcome back to the House side the distinguished leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer served here for many years with great distinction, and Chris Van Hollen. Welcome back, Chris, and Chris served as chair and ranking member of the budget committee when he was here. Today our focus is on the budget and I’m very proud of our members of the budget committee who are here. Our ranking member, John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Barbara Lee of California, and Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Tomorrow marks the one hundredth day of the Trump administration. One hundred days of broken promises to working people. One hundred days of handouts to the richest people in our country.
All this week, Democrats in Congress and across the country have been highlighting the stark reality of President Trump’s conduct. Monday, the Leader and I and the chairman of the DNC outlined the President’s broken promises to the American people. We went more specifically on Tuesday, broken promises on jobs, trade, outsourcing, etc. Wednesday broken promises on America’s health care. Thursday broken promises to drain the swamp. And today, we come to the President’s miserable budget blueprint, what’s he call it, skinny budget? Loaded with broken promises to working families and promises kept to wealthy few. On the subject of infrastructure, the President promised, quotes, we’re going to start spending on infrastructure big. Not like we have a choice, he said. Instead, his budget slashes billions from job creating infrastructure investments in the transportation department. Medicine. The President promised he would free the Earth from the miseries of disease. Instead, in addition to the devastation of Trumpcare, he wants to chop six billion dollars from the National Institutes of Health, one fifth of its total budget. We should be adding that much more on rather than going backward, he’s taking us backward in so many ways. Clean air and clean water. The President promised to make sure, in his quotes, we have clean air and clean water. Instead he is ransacking the EPA and slashing funding for cleaning up hazardous substances and for enforcing clean air and clean water laws. In terms of hardworking family the President promised, quote, to fix our inner cities. Instead he’s trying to slash initiatives, including job training and affordable housing, and his budget has especially cruel impact for rural communities as well. We believe that the national budget should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us should be how we allocate our resources. President Trump has shown that he does not value the future of our children, our seniors, working families in our country. The grades are coming true for President Trump after a starkly dismal first one hundred days. Budget? F. Creating jobs? F. Draining the swamp? F. Health care? F minus.
Leader Schumer. Tough grader Nancy.
Leader Pelosi. [Laughter] He got eight hundred on his SATs.
In every decision, in every policy President Trump breaks his promises to hardworking families and rushes to stack the deck for billionaires and special interests in our country. The American people will hold President Trump and Republican Congress accountable for their broken promises and failure.
I want to go into specifics but it’s a broken promise in leadership as well. Leadership is supposed be about having a vision, knowing what you’re talking about, bringing judgement to the decisions you have to make, having a plan, thinking strategically to get things done, and being able to attract support.
The President has also failed in the question of leadership as well. With that I am very pleased to yield to the distinguished Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
* * *
Q: Is there anything you can point to in the first 100 days that the President has done a good job or is improving on?
Senator Schumer. Well I don’t think he’s improving or learning in the job, you know there are occasional small things but when you look at how he has performed – as my colleague said, “it’s an F.”
He has not kept his promises, he has not accomplished much, and then he compares it to Franklin D. Roosevelt, it’s astounding.
Leader Pelosi. Yesterday, after you asked this question, I was thinking about it and I thought – he has succeeded in one way. He has succeeded in mobilizing the American people against what he’s about.
He has proven to be one of the best organizers the Democratic Party has ever had.
Q: Will Senate Democrats agree to a one week CR to fund the government?
Leader Schumer. Look our people on the Appropriations Committee stayed up until 1:30 am last night, they made a good deal of progress. But we still have some progress to go. Not all the poison pill riders have been eliminated, some have, a good number have.
So, we’re willing to extend things for a little bit more time in hopes that the same kind of progress can continue to be made. We still have a little bit of a ways to go and we still have some poison pill riders that they haven’t dropped yet.
Q: It sounds like you won’t lock into the CR…
Leader Schumer. I said what I said.
Q: Speaker Pelosi on the cost sharing direct payments for health care, are you satisfied with the President’s verbal promise to keep those payments, do you think there’s more assurance that’s necessary on that?
Leader Pelosi. We have heard from more than one manifestation of the Trump Administration that they would be going forward with the cautionary funding. But, I don’t know for how long.
Q: And is that a problem to not know for how long?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I think, as President Lincoln said, ‘Public sentiment is everything.’ They understand that the public knows that if they renege on this commitment, that premiums will go up. It’s going to cost the federal government more. It’s not a good idea. I think we’re in a good place with them on this.
Leader Schumer. The same forces that forced them to say ‘yes’ the first time are still going to be in effect for quite a while.
Q: But insurers are saying that there is a lot of uncertainty…
Leader Pelosi. The business community needs certainty to go forward, and that’s one of our arguments with them – that, you know, obviously, we’d like to put it in the law, but protecting the health care of American people one way or another. It’s also up to the insurance companies to make their case to the Administration, as well.
Q: After the Republicans have repeatedly tried to repeal and replace Obamacare, it seems like they keep coming up short. How confident are you that they won’t be able to carry out this campaign promise? And at what point do you think the Democrats might be willing to work with them?
Leader Pelosi. Well, we have always said that if they take repeal off the table, we are ready to talk to them. I like what the Leader said, when he said that their bill is coming back from the dead this week. And I thought maybe we could call it the ‘zombie’ because this thing just keeps coming back worse, more scary to the American people. And that’s, again – public sentiment has weighed in, as Congresswoman Lee has mentioned, public sentiment has made all the difference in all of this.
We’re very proud of the unity that we have among Democrats in the Congress, our mobilization – excuse me, our inside maneuvering, etc. has kept us together. But, the outside mobilization has made all the difference. As President Lincoln said, ‘Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything, without it, almost nothing.’ Hopefully, the President will listen to the American people. I yield to [Leader Schumer].
Leader Schumer. Well, I simply say: how many more times do they have to fail before they realize our path is the right path, the best path, and probably, the only path. We of course want to work with our Republican colleagues. We don’t think ACA is perfect. We’re willing to make changes. But they first have to do two things: get off repeal and stop undermining the ACA – hurting people, so they can achieve a political point. That makes no sense from a point of view of the health of the American people.
Leader Pelosi. When you hear our colleagues talk about the budget – and each of them, Mr. Van Hollen, Leader Schumer, our Ranking Member, Mr. Yarmuth, Congresswoman Lee and Mr. Jeffries – you wonder: does the President know that this is what his budget does? Does he not? Does he know? Does he care what his budget says? It sounds like he doesn’t know – or if he knows, he doesn’t care. And that’s a very big problem. That’s why I give him an ‘F’ for leadership. Missed opportunities to do great things to take our country forward. We’re not going back. Thank you all very much.