Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference Today

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center.  Below is a transcript of the press conference:      

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning.  Last weekend, I had the privilege to lead a bipartisan women’s Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan to visit our troops, to thank them on Mother’s Day – It is our annual Mother’s Day visit to the troops – to thank them for protecting America’s families, to celebrate their service and sacrifice and that of their families, to pay special tribute to our women in the military.  There are many moms and, believe it or not, grandmoms, grandmothers, serving in Afghanistan.

We were honored to visit the Marines.  We had a Mother’s Day celebration at Camp Leatherneck with the Marines, and then on to Kandahar with the Army.  A couple days before we saw our troops in Qatar, which is one of the platforms into Afghanistan.  We had a chance to listen to our troops at every level of service and, again, to thank them and to hear their views.

While we were in Afghanistan, we had the opportunity to meet with President Karzai about the Strategic Partnership [Agreement] that was signed by President Obama and President Karzai and the progress of it.  I think we are magnificently well served by General Allen and by Ambassador Crocker in Afghanistan, and one of the points that we made, in conclusion on this part of my statement, but once again we renewed our suggestion, strong suggestion, to President Karzai that women be part of the upcoming meetings on Afghanistan, the international meetings on Afghanistan.  How we go forward there and how that affects women is important to Afghanistan, and it is important to our country.

Yesterday, we talked a bit at our press conference on the Violence Against Women Act, about that bill, and, as you see, the House was the odd party out again.  The House Republicans passed a bill that takes us backward in terms of protections for women.  We would hope that they would have accepted our proposal, which was the Senate bill, which enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate.  Every woman in the Senate, Democratic and Republican alike, voted for the bill.  House Democrats support the Senate bipartisan bill.  Republicans in the House, again, odd person out.

Again, the subject, topic A, I am sure, is the battle of the budget that we go through.  We all know that we must reduce the deficit, but not on backs of the middle class.  Democrats want a balanced approach.  The Republicans are, once again, going over the edge.  Speaker Boehner and the Republicans will risk the full faith and credit of the United States of America in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest in our country and to special interests.  They did it before.  Here we go again.

Any questions?

Q:  During your time as Speaker of the House – lately there has been some reports, currently, about some burglaries in the House offices, Congressman Dowdy, Congressman Runyan, Congressman Jerry Lewis.  I am just wondering if this has ever been a problem while you were Speaker?

Leader Pelosi.  I know of no situation of that kind, and I am not that informed.  I just heard before I came here, since I was speaking to the Machinists and Aerospace workers.  So when I arrived, they told me about the robberies.  But I don’t know anything more than you just said.

Q:  And during your entire time in Congress, you have never had any problems in your own personal offices or anything with any theft or anything being taken out where you have had to report it?  

Leader Pelosi.  I don’t think so.  Not that I am aware of.  But I have been here 25 years.  I don’t know if anything happened way back when, but nothing of any consequence.

Q:  Leader Pelosi, you just said: ‘here we go again,’ and I know it came up in the meeting at the White House.  But I wanted to get your take on Speaker Boehner drawing the line in the sand once again this week on the debt ceiling.  Should the American people be preparing for another showdown, standoff, on the debt ceiling?  

Leader Pelosi.  Well, I believe that the American people want us to work together to find a balanced approach similar to what the President and he agreed to last year before he walked away from it, and that is that you have – you know, we have to balance the budget, we have to establish our priorities and make the cuts accordingly, we have to have revenue on the table, and we have to invest in growth, because the creation of jobs is what will bring revenue to the Treasury and continue our economic recovery, which is important to the American people.  So, to toss this into the mix right now, saying we have to have cuts that exceed even the lifting – the extent to which we lift the debt ceiling is really immature, irresponsible.  Let’s get serious.

Q:  When you talk about balanced approach, I mean, you know I follow the debt ceiling so closely.  It sounds like we are in the same position where we were last summer leading up to that August deadline.  

Leader Pelosi.  Let’s put an end to it, because, as you know, that even eventually with the Budget Control Act, which now the Republicans are walking away from – even with the Budget Control Act, our credit rating was lowered because the debate ever even took place, and it lowered the confidence that we would address the deficit.  So this is not a wholesome debate.  It already can be damaging, just the fact that it’s brought up.  I think we should snuff it out immediately.

Q:  Madam Leader, Representative Camp said today he did not personally believe that they need to offset the cost of extending the tax cuts when they take that vote later this year.  Does that position, in your mind, undermine their sincerity on deficit reduction?  

Leader Pelosi.  You would have to go a long way for me to undermine their sincerity on deficit reduction.  I have been there a long time.  The very fact that they would say tax cuts for the wealthy don’t have to be offset, but investments in the education of our children, Medicare for our seniors, any other subject that has to be offset, is really a statement of their values.

You have got to give them credit.  They stick with the guy what brung them to the dance, and the guy that brung them to the dance is the special interests, wealthiest people in our country, and they are willing to deepen the deficit, make us further in debt to China and other countries in order to give a tax break to the wealthiest people in the country, and it is not creating jobs.

So, it is not even a question of sincerity, it is a question of what is their value statement.  And if we all agree that we have to reduce the deficit, how do we do that?  But we don’t start by saying, let’s give a tax break to the wealthiest people in our country, let’s not pay for it.  Now we are deeper in debt.  Another day older and deeper in debt.  You are too young to know what that means.

Q:  The New York Times this morning published a story board on a possible attack on President Obama on Reverend Wright.  I am wondering if you got a chance to look at that and if you have a comment?  

Leader Pelosi.  What was interesting to me is that this is all going to be funded by the owner of the Chicago Cubs.  Well, I hope they are as successful with this campaign as the Cubs are on the baseball field.  They ain’t got no chance of going to any World Series, and hopefully just by exposing this it will – I guess when I spoke to the Machinists this morning, some people said to me: ‘I am changing from being a Cubs fan after hearing that.’

Q:  Leader Pelosi, the White House issued a statement this week saying it strongly objects to section 536 of the Defense Authorization bill, which protects military chaplains from being ordered to act against their conscience or religiously.  Do you support that provision that prohibits the military from ordering chaplains to act against their faith?

Leader Pelosi.  I do not support that provision in the bill, that part of the bill.  I agree with the Administration.  And there is nothing that says chaplains act against their faith.  I don’t agree to that stipulation, in-fact, unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying.

Q:  But by ordering the chaplains that don’t believe in performing same sex marriages – by ordering them to do that, do you think that is violating their conscience?

Leader Pelosi.  Nobody is ordering them to do that.  I have never seen any suggestion that we are ordering chaplains to perform same sex marriage.  Where is that?  I haven’t seen that.  And I have been around this issue for a long time.  I think that they can rest assured that if they don’t believe in that, they don’t have to perform those.

Q:  So, why would you not support the provision that protects them? 

Leader Pelosi.  Because it’s a fraud.  Welcome to the world of manufactured crises.  Here is one.  Nobody is suggesting that, so why would you have a provision in the bill that says such a thing?  Manufacture a crisis.

Let’s go to the bigger issue of our statement of values with the budget.  Let’s just get together, sit down and come to a balanced approach on how we do this, rather than manufacturing a crisis, on the full faith and credit of the our country.

So, I think that this bill, it’s a very serious bill, the Defense Authorization bill.  It is about the protection of our country.  And to sprinkle it with almost scare tactics that somebody is proposing something that we have to prevent is really a frivolous exploitation of a very serious piece of legislation.

Q:  Leader Pelosi, Congressman Trent Franks is holding a hearing today to discuss restrictions on abortions for D.C.   Eleanor Holmes Norton requested that she be part of that hearing and was denied that request.  Do you believe that Eleanor Holmes Norton should have been able to participate in that hearing and – I guess that is the question.

Leader Pelosi.  Yes, I do believe that she should be, and it isn’t even a close call.  We have a Member of Congress who wants to come in to talk about her district.  I can’t even imagine a situation where someone else would be denied that opportunity, and I think it is wrong.  And I think it’s not civil.  And if we don’t raise the level of civility around here, it just further alienates the public.

What are they afraid of, the facts?  The impact on the District of Columbia?  The persuasiveness of the Congresswoman to represent her people?  They have prevented her from having a vote on the floor.  Now they don’t want her to have a voice in a committee on a subject of concern to her district.  I think it’s wrong.  I don’t even know whose idea that was.  That really is over the edge club.

Q:  Madam Leader, Jake has a story today about House Republicans creating…

Leader Pelosi.  Who does?  Who has a story?

Q:  That guy. [Points to a Reporter] Jake.

Leader Pelosi.  Oh, Jake.  I thought he was talking about a new news service with an acronym.  We are just getting personal here on a first name basis.

Okay, Jake, do you mind that he is characterizing your story?

Reporter:  I’ll wait until I hear the characterization. 

Q:  They say that if part, or all of the law is struck down, or Jake claims if part or all of the law is struck down, they will introduce measures, the popular consumer protection measures, banning discrimination based on preexisting conditions, allowing children up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance.

What is your response to that, and would Democrats in theory support stand alone bills? 

Leader Pelosi.  Six-three.  That is my prediction.  Six-three.  This is on solid constitutional grounds.  I have full faith in the review, the judicial review, that the Court has, and I am still hoping for a six-three.  Now, you can speculate all day.  They want to take the easy part without paying any price.  You know, it’s all about the guys that brung them to the dance.  It is about the health insurance industry, and that’s the agenda that they will probably roll out, taking some of the least – the most popular, least transformative parts of the bill.  But I am not going with Jake down that path just yet because I believe that we will be upheld.

Q:  They are preparing for various contingencies.  Are Democrats also gaming out scenarios?  

Leader Pelosi.  Six-three.

Q:  Is that the score of the Cubs game? 

Leader Pelosi.  My daughter Christine, I don’t know if you know Christine, but she goes on [channel] 106 or 107, the Current TV channel way up there, and a couple weeks ago she was on, and every week she is on with a former chair of the California Republican Party, and they have their back and forth banter, with Governor Granholm.

So, this is just a coincidence, but at that time they were talking about something happening in the Republican Party, and his team is the Cubs, even though he is in California.  So, she said to him, your guy has much chance of succeeding as the Cubs winning the World Series.  That hurt him more than anything she said about the Republicans.  So, I was just quoting my daughter, referencing my daughter, when I said that about the Cubs.

Thank you all very much.