Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Following Vote on Trumpcare
Washington, D.C. – Today, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership held a press conference following the vote on Trumpcare. Below are the Leader’s opening and closing remarks, followed by the question and answer session:
Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks:
“Good afternoon, everyone. I’m honored to be here with the distinguished Members of the House Democratic Leadership, as well as some of our Members who are joining us. I was very interesting to see the debate today. I think there is no question that Democrats won the debate. Republicans have the majority – they won the vote. But, the American people now have to judge them by how they have acted – not by how we have characterized what they stand for. Now, they are on record.
“As I said, this vote will be tattooed to them. As I also said, they will glow in the dark. This is a great civics lesson for America because most people don’t know who their Member of Congress is. Well they do now. They know them as a Member of Congress who made their premiums and out-of-pocket go up, had a crushing age tax on those 50 to 64, have 24 million people fewer have access to health care, health insurance, and again, being very casual, undermining recklessly Medicare. It’s true to their philosophy that Medicare should ‘wither on the vine.’ Any moderate in the crowd who voted for this bill turned radical today, because this is a radical bill.
“And you know what it’s all about sadly? It’s not about families sitting down at the dinner table and saying, ‘How are we going to allocate resources so that our child with a pre-existing condition can have health care?’ Or ‘how are we going to deal with a person with a disability into older age?’ This is about giving a tax break to the richest people in our country and corporate America at the expense of those people at that dinner table – very sad. One of the biggest transfers of wealth in the history of our country. But, it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity because the public will now see what they gave their name to. They have put their name next to your paying more for less. And we’ll make sure that the public is aware of that.
“I think they walk the plank. They were – I don’t know – duped into walking the plank for a bill that will not become law. But I guess their desire to give a tax break for the rich just trumped everything. With that, I’m pleased to yield to our distinguished Whip, Mr. Hoyer.”
Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Scott. I thank our Ranking Members. I think what you have seen here listening to our leadership and two of our Ranking Members, Mr. Scott and Mr. Pallone, and I would compliment also Richie Neal, our Ranking Member on Ways and Means and Mr. Yarmuth from Budget for their superior knowledge on this subject as well.
“When you know the facts and care about people, you can’t possibly vote for the bill that they have voted for today. So what do they do? Either they don’t know or they don’t care – or both. Some of our Members think they really don’t care, so that’s why they don’t want to know the facts. But this is a very, very central debate for us, for our country, because it is about the health and well-being of our country, a measure of the strength of America – not just our military might, which is important, but the health, education, the well-being of American people. It is about our strength. It’s also about an allocation of our resources.
“So, right now, the Republicans are – I guess – in the Rose Garden having a beer party to celebrate one of the biggest transfers of wealth from working families to the richest people in our country. And that is what they have been about – the trickle down crowd is now having a beer party in the Rose Garden. But, we will continue to take the case to the American people. And by the way, they are taking the case to us. They know how this affects them.
“So, this is – you know – again, everything is an opportunity. Two people there – and it could be any two of their 216 or whatever it was – two people there have made a difference in the lives of the American people, and we will hold them accountable. Any questions? Yes, sir.”
Q: This bill now goes to the Senate and based on – you said this morning that this bill can’t pass.
Leader Pelosi. I quoted the Senators saying that it wasn’t going to pass.
Q: Based on what you’ve heard on the math over there, what changes are you anticipating and if they’re made, can they pass when they return to the House?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I really can’t speak to what – in other words – they just passed it here, and so we’ll see what the Senate does. But, again: this thing is intrinsically bad. And when our distinguished Mr. Scott talked about, for example, pre-existing conditions and the astronomical costs of allowing for pre-existing conditions – that is what existed before the Affordable Care Act. And that’s why people didn’t have it, because it was too expensive. It was endlessly expensive. And you know what else? Who decides what is a pre-existing condition? They were deciding that if you were a woman subjected to domestic violence, you had a pre-existing medical condition, and you had to pay more.
So, it’s about who decides what that is and that had been eliminated under the Affordable Care Act. Being a woman was no longer a pre-existing conditions and then the question of: sure, you can have coverage for pre-existing conditions, but you could never afford it. You could never afford it because it would be endless – especially as time went by and your condition worsened. As you heard, Congresswoman Sánchez say about that person who had a pre-existing condition and another one and another one. May I say: thank you for that – and Joe Crowley, who was with us, had to get a train, so he could not be with us to respond to that. Steny, did you want to speak to that?
Whip Hoyer. I just want to make a comment. I don’t think the Senate is going to pass this bill in its present form. They may add amendments – I don’t know, we’ll see. But I want to add something to what we’ve said, whether it passes the Senate or not. Since January they have been undermining the confidence in the marketplace. They’ve undermined the confidence of insurers, undermining the confidence of patients, undermining the confidence of providers. When you have confidence undermined it drives prices up. I talked to an insurer in Maryland, I won’t mention the insurer, who assessed that when Mulvaney said, “We may or may not pay,” the White House has said they were going to pay, talked both to the Leader and myself and said, “We’re going to pay,” for the cost subsidy on deductibles and the marketplace was threatened. And it had an impact. When they continued to offer this bill, every time they offered this bill, in whatever form it was, it undermined the confidence of the market. And when you undermine the confidence in the market you decrease availability and increase cost. And very frankly, one of the things I fear you’re going to see in the next few days, some very negative announcements by companies who have no confidence in the market because of the actions the Republicans have taken over the last four months.
Leader Pelosi. And I just want to add that nobody is with them. If you look in the record and some of what I talked about this morning every organization, every delivery of service, delivery of insurance, faith-based group, nobody is with them. American Cancer Society, you name the diagnosis. They’re not with them. The AMA, they’re not with them. March of Dimes, they’re not with them. They have no one with them! So you would think they might say, ‘What judgement did I make that nobody has a respect for what I am doing?’ I just want to say how pleased I am to be here with Congressman Green of Texas, Congressman Barbara Lee just walked out, a member of our leadership of California, Don McEachin of Virginia, a freshman member, Brenda Lawrence from Michigan, and some other Members have been with us, I want to recognize them as being here. But the wonderful thing to see is if the Senate said, ‘Ok, let’s take the Affordable Care Act and let us see what we can do working together.’ Because as Steny said, since March they’ve been, excuse me since January they’ve been undermining it. But for a long time in the majority they have refused to implement some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act with funding for, that would head off some of the concerns that have arisen.
So they, and just by contrast, when they did Medicare part D which we all opposed, but it passed, we, they had the majority, it passed, we immediately enabled it to be implemented. Our offices were resources to the community, to seniors who were taking advantage of it even though we thought it was not a good bill because it gave away the store to the pharmaceutical industry and increased the deficit by so much. But nonetheless, it was the law and we implemented it. They come in and they’re saying, “We don’t want to fund navigators to do outreach so that people can take advantage of this,” undermining the good health of the American people. But you know what? They’ve been whining for seven years about the Affordable Care Act. Now let them defend what they did today. We welcome that discussion. Any other comments from my colleagues? Okay, thank you, oh yes sir.
Q: Just a quick question. You touched on it briefly but would you mind responding to the Members going to the White House now, the President tweeted about, you know, victorious…
Leader Pelosi. Yeah. The reason I, remember I said about the Republican Members either not knowing or not caring about it. Whatever they don’t know is only matched by the President of the United States. Some of his statements about the Affordable Care Act you’re like, ‘What are you talking about? Do you have a staff that can at least have you make an informed statement, even if it’s negative, you don’t like it, but know what you’re talking about.’
As recently as today, or yesterday but reported today about the pre-existing medical conditions. Eight billion dollars, that’s more money than we need! No. It’s a pittance according to the Republican, the conservative think tank. It’s a pittance, and over five years it’s a fifth of a pittance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation it will cover one percent of those in the individual market, and, then somebody else said, “Well, it can maybe five percent, a hundred thousand people.” So, the president, you know it’s really sad because it shows, we respect, we grant people their position. But at least know what you’re talking about so that we can respect the debate back and forth. But when you think about decisions that are made by people who do not know what they’re talking about, or perhaps know and don’t care about the American people, that’s a problem for us. But we are, we’re steamed. We’re ready to go and to bring on that debate and listen to the American people because all along they have spoken out on this since the election.
Whip Hoyer. Just, if I can add, they are going down to celebrate something that comes way, way, way short of what the President looked the American public in the eye and said he was going to deliver. Insurance for everybody at less cost and higher quality. This bill come nowhere close to that promise so they are celebrating a broken promise.
Leader Pelosi. And a tax break for the rich.
Congressman Luján. Leader if I could just add something there too. So think of the signal that Republicans are sending to the American people. They just voted to increase your premiums, increase deductibles, bring back pre-existing conditions, arguably bring back annual lifetime caps, and they’re out in the sun, in the Rose Garden, toasting champagne and cracking cold ones. That’s what they just told the American people! The American people will reject that entirely and so I’m glad you asked that question. It’s an important one to capture.
Ranking Member Scott. And I think you have to identify who is celebrating, who benefits from the bill. As Steny just mentioned, higher costs, fewer people insured, policies cover less, children in neo-natal intensive care units that run up almost a lifetime benefit before they, before their first birthday. They don’t benefit. Seniors, people 50 to 64 under Medicare will see their rates go up significantly. Those with pre-existing conditions will see their rates skyrocket. Who benefits? The tax cuts.
Leader Pelosi. The tax cuts. I must say that one of the Members, or more than one, this threat came from some of the moderate Members, it doesn’t really matter because the Senate is not going to let this pass. They have put their name next to some of the worst provisions in this bill. So, again, if we look, we should be sadder because this bill has passed, we are. The uncertainly it injects into people’s lives. But maybe we had to hit rock bottom, and that’s what’s happening in the Rose Garden right now. Rock bottom. One last question?
Q: Yes. We’re reporting over at the Washington Examiner that the Senate won’t take up this version of the bill. This is breaking, they’re going to write their own. Any comments based on that?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I did hear, I have heard that.
Whip Hoyer. Let ‘em!
Q: Just a real quick question. Who’s idea was the singing on the floor from your side?
Leader Pelosi. Oh, I think that was spontaneous. I have no idea, I have no idea. I don’t know, it just, they all seemed to just burst into song. Thank you.