Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon.
We’ve had many visitors today. I’m sorry to put this off. Thank you very much for being here. It’s a very busy time.
As many of you may know, I just returned from the G7 meeting in Berlin over the weekend – a trip to Europe that included a visit to Armenia. The visit to the G7 meeting of heads of parliament was one that was focused on the situation in Ukraine and on democracy – in our countries.
What was exciting about it was that the Speaker of the Ukraine Parliament joined us with a report and a list of requests. But the members of the G7 were very, very enthusiastic, strongly supporting – ongoing support – for the fight for democracy in Ukraine.
One point that I wanted to bring up with you that I found interesting is when I was there – over the course of this weekend, I met with three heads of state. And one of the – all three of them had spoken to Putin in the last few days within this past – this week. All of them said, ‘He’s in it for the long haul.’ But what was interesting – see if you think so – is that they said, ‘You know, he’s running out of people.’ And for – up until now, he had been sending people to Ukraine from the poor southern parts of Russia. So, there was not a lot of public opinion, in Moscow or St. Petersburg or among the educated class in Russia, in opposition. His disinformation was keeping – maybe they believed it – but they were not objecting to it. And what they said is, ‘He’s running out of people from southern Russia, poor – poorer people, less educated people.’ And the people that he’s going to call on now, their families will have an objection to body bags coming home.
I always had confidence in the moms – wherever it is – to put an end to war because they don’t want to see their children risking their lives, unless it was for the right reason, a good cause – freedom, democracy. And sure enough, he does this 300,000 call. And you see the reaction in the more sophisticated areas of Russia. People leaving the country. People protesting. And some of the protesters being sent to jail. And that’s where Putin was going next for some of his call ups – to jail. And now they’re going to jail. That’s the rumor.
But it was interesting that these leaders there had that perception that the minute it went north, it was going to be a different situation. So public opinion in Russia is an important element of how long this lasts. Public opinion in Europe, too. Public opinion in terms of needing energy sources, so that they don’t have a cold winter or high costs that are unsustainable for their families. And the Europeans were strongly, firmly, quickly acting to reduce that impact on their populations.
And then many of the countries are also having a severe ban on visas for Russians coming to Europe. And that’s one place where the – shall we say – more middle-class people in Russia are feeling the pain that they were having to pay a price for this, and that Russia’s reputation – and theirs – was being affected by it so much for them.
Then we went to Armenia. And we were greeted with thousands of people on the street for America. It was very sad to be at the memorial – the Armenian genocide. But we went with our heads held high because we had finally gotten it to be recognized as a genocide.
And then – just coincidentally before we went – the Azeris invaded Armenia. And that caused quite a discussion about, where were the Russians to help the Armenians in their relationship with that? So, it was an interesting time.
But whether you’re talking about Ukraine or you’re talking about Armenia or you’re talking about Taiwan – you’re talking about democracy, you’re talking about integrity of borders and you’re talking about America’s role in the world being very, very respected. And we’re very proud of our President for the role that he played in bringing people together, listening to them, having collaboration, not condescension. Thank you, President Biden.
When we’re speaking of democracy, we were very proud that yesterday the Congress passed – the House passed the Presidential Election Reform Act in bipartisan fashion. It ensures that the Vice President cannot reject official slates of electors or delay the count. That is a fact. But it removes all doubt and ensures that – limits the type of objections raised during the certification to those outlined in the Constitution. Not just anything you can think of, but what are the legitimate concerns that somebody might raise. And requires a majority of each Chamber to sustain an objection. What it also does though is to say: if somebody has an objection, it takes a third of the Members to – to bring it forth and then a majority for each Chamber to sustain. And then, on the state level, it requires governors to submit election results to Congress in a timely fashion and makes clear that states cannot change the rules after the election – change the rules governing an election after it has occurred, preventing these radical state legislators from altering outcomes.
With this bill, Democrats are defending America’s freedom, our democracy and, again, to enjoy the vision of our [Founding] Fathers with the destiny for democracy. We hope for Senate action soon so that we can get together and come forth with a bill – bipartisan – the law of the land.
Now we get to People Over Politics – the legislation that we have passed in terms of lowering cost, prescription drug prices, for one, and health care. Secondly, increasing wages. The CHIPS Act and other legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act, to create good‑paying jobs. And, again, the issues that relate to our safety of our communities – one bill that we have on the Floor right now – oops, I didn’t put my watch back on.
Again, we want to break the cycle of violence. So we have legislation about – Mental Health Justice, Breaking the Cycle of Violence, VICTIM Act. That is Val Demings’ bill. These bills will be voted on separately on the Floor, but they’re coming up under a rule right now.
Again, build on the funding that we secured in the Rescue Plan, the bipartisan legislation to build the infrastructure of our country in a green way. And we, again, are very proud of the work that our Members have done – Joyce Beatty, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Josh Gottheimer and many others who have worked together to bring this legislation to the Floor.
So, what’s interesting about this is the Republicans just keep revealing themselves. Democrats want women to be – we respect women and women’s right to choose and make decisions about family and the rest, and the Republicans – they want to criminalize women’s health care.
We are strongly – and in our legislation support – not our legislation, our agenda supporting Medicare in part of our bill. The Inflation Reduction Act was to enable the Secretary of HHS to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices and have a $2,000 cap on the – what seniors would have to pay out of pocket. I think you see on TV ads from AARP and others who were so helpful in the outside mobilization to get this done. The Republicans say – they threaten to repeal the lower cost of prescription drugs in their agenda, criminalize health care, threaten to repeal lower drug prices for seniors, and also, as one of their former Speakers has said, ‘Medicare should wither on the vine.’
So these are our kitchen table issues: cost of drugs, Medicare for seniors and the rest. And, again, they’re endless in their assaults on democracy. And that’s a big difference between us – and not to talk politics, but that’s one of the things that’s at stake in the election.
I can talk more specifically about what they have said and what they have done on that if you wish, but I do want to talk again about democracy, and that is respecting the right to vote and not undermining or jeopardizing the integrity of our elections, which are fundamental to our democracy. So their extreme agenda that they’ll be putting out makes it harder for Americans to vote, would purge eligible voters from the rolls, give extreme MAGA state legislatures absolute power to change the rules of elections at whim, including after the election – and on that same election, and insert extreme MAGA allies to disrupt polling places and vote counting. This has a chilling effect on whether someone will go to the polls if they fear for their safety. They know what they’re doing.
And just, you know, we harken back to January 6th. It was so sad in so many ways, and I’ll never forgive them for the trauma they caused for the young people in the Capitol – the staff, press, others – the trauma that they caused for them and our Members and the rest. But I will never get over the fact that, after all was said and done and what they saw as an insurrection incited by their President, that still 147 Republicans voted to overturn the results of the election on January 6th. Well, it was into the morning now of the 7th. The extreme MAGA agenda is dangerous for families and for the – for all of the American people.
And, again, any questions?
Q. Madam Speaker, have you been briefed on Puerto Rico and the hurricane damage there? And what vehicle might be the vehicle for getting aid to the island?
Speaker Pelosi. The Puerto Rico issue is very close to the hearts of many of us. And when the former President was in office, he stood in the way of help, aid going to them after Maria, now almost five years ago. And so now they have another natural disaster. And the way the process works is that FEMA, in order to spend the funds, has to assess the damage, and that’s the process that they’re going through now. We know that they’re well‑funded, FEMA is, but if they need more, we want them to have more. We think that there are opportunities in Community Block Grant disaster relief that’s a separate – special category, that could be used for Puerto Rico once the determination is made, assessment of the damage. That’s just what the process is.
There are other challenges in terms of the PROMESA and all of that that we really have to address. And it’s heartbreaking to see the entire island shut down in terms of electricity, many people, water and the rest. But this is close to the heart of many of us and certainly on the minds of all of us.
Q. Are you concerned at all that the funding from Hurricane Maria that was – a lot of the money that was allocated for infrastructure rebuilding after Hurricane Maria went unspent?
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. But that was during the Trump years. We’ll see how we can free that up, but we have to. And when we do, the laws that we have passed with the infrastructure bill and the rescue package and all the rest will serve to enable – and CHIPS – the training that is necessary for the rebuilding.
It just doesn’t happen like that. You need human resources to rebuild and you need training for that to happen. So we’re looking at that across the board.
Q. Madam Speaker, after Maria, there was some assistance regarding Medicaid and additional assistance to Puerto Rico, additional food. After the assessment of FEMA regarding the damage in Puerto Rico, there were some measures regarding Medicaid and additional assistance.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. We have plenty we need to do.
Q. That kind of assistance will not be included in this year?
Speaker Pelosi. Excuse me?
Q. That kind of assistance will not be included in this year?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, that’s one of the challenges we have in resolving the CR. So you might want to talk to your Republican friends about that.
Q. Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. What do you got?
Q. Wider question on the CR. We’re about a week from the shutdown.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah.
Q. What is the plan here?
Speaker Pelosi. Okay.
Q. How will you respond to requests for 12 billion in Ukraine aid and for COVID funding? And when will the House act on it?
Speaker Pelosi. Right now – again, you know more about the Senate machinations than I do. But my understanding is the process will begin today, and they will – because of Rosh Hashanah Monday and Tuesday, they can’t take it up until after sundown on Tuesday. That will start the further process. The notice is now, but the process starts then.
We would hope that as quickly as possible they would come to agreement, send it to us. We are prepared to take it up. We have same‑day authority already built in, so we don’t have to delay it in any way for procedural purposes. And hopefully that will happen on Tuesday night, and we’ll have an idea of how long they will take.
If they don’t, we will have to start it over here. That’s really what it is.
Q. President Joe Biden had an interview on “60 Minutes” where he didn’t commit to running for reelection. And I’m wondering if you think he should run in 2024 or do you think the party should put someone else forward who might be better?
Speaker Pelosi. President Biden is the President of the United States. He did a great service to our country: he defeated Donald Trump. Let’s not forget that, if you care about the air we breathe, the water we drink, the education of our children, jobs for our – their families, pensions for their seniors, any subject you can name. I’m not going into politics about whether the President should run or not.
Q. Madam Speaker, on the CR –
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q. Following up. The Senate is wrestling with permitting reform and the proposal by Senator Joe Manchin –
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Q. Do you think there is any version of permitting reform that you or your Caucus here could support? And, in particular, could a bill that contains a fast track for the Mountain Valley Pipeline – could that pass in the House?
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say that, as I say to you and I say to my Members: let’s see what happens in the Senate, and then we will deal with what we have to do in the House. But I’m not speculating on what we don’t know that they will send over.
My understanding is that the legislation was made known today, was it?
Last night. Okay. I haven’t read it myself yet, because we’ve been busy on what we’re doing here, but I will.
And I just want to recall to mind that we passed historic legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which helps to reduce inflation, helps reduce the deficit because of how the bill is written, reduces the cost of prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare.
This is historic. We have been trying for decades to do this. ‘Six for ’06’ when I was Leader and we were running to win the House, and we did – ‘Six for ’06’ was one of our – Six. Six was prescription drugs. We said, ‘We promise we’ll pass these six bills if we win.’ We passed – five of them became law. One of them did not, because it could not achieve the 60 votes in the Senate. So since then and for a long time, we’ve been trying to get that done.
This is historic, and it makes a big difference at the kitchen table of America’s working families. And we extended the subsidies for three more years for lower costs for the Affordable Care Act.
And we saved the planet. We’re saving the planet with record $360 billion to save the planet, generating jobs and cleaner air and cleaner water and jobs and security for our country.
As part of that, this agreement, which I think was – I’m willing to support, yes, but we’ll have to see how it comes back from the Senate, and there may be room for negotiation.
But I’m not walking away from $360 billion in support for saving the planet for our children and, again, lower prescription drug prices for our families.
I think that’s it.
Q. Do you support the agreement that Senator Manchin made with Senator Schumer – that’s the agreement you’re saying you support?
Speaker Pelosi. I said I supported it, yes. I’ve said that right from the start. Yeah. There are no question.
Q. Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, Jake.
Q. I wonder what you think – John Gibbs, who is running for House in Michigan, said that women don’t possess the characteristics necessary to govern.
Speaker Pelosi. Wait a minute. I want everybody to hear what you’re saying. Please speak up. What did he say?
Q. And men were smarter. I’m not adopting this position.
Speaker Pelosi. I just want them to know what that candidate said.
Q. Women don’t ‘think logically about broad and abstract ideas in order to deduce a suitable conclusion without relying upon emotional reasoning.’
Speaker Pelosi. Is that what he said?
Speaker Pelosi. I thought he said that passage of the –
Q. He also said that –
Speaker Pelosi. – Nineteenth Amendment made us a totalitarian state when women had the right to vote. Didn’t he say something like that, too?
Q. I was trying to keep it short.
Speaker Pelosi. And didn’t he – and didn’t he also – be part of a movement to repeal the Nineteenth Amendment for women to have the right to vote?
What do I think of that? I think I hear something like that every day around here when people say that women shouldn’t be able to make their choices about contraception or their own reproductive health.
That’s a sign of disrespect for women. What he’s saying is outrageous. I don’t think many Members up here would subscribe to that. But the insult to women’s intelligence is one that exists in many forms around here.
Thank you all very much. We’re going to go up for our vote now.
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