Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss COVID relief talks and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Jake Tapper. Joining me now, one of the chief negotiators of a potential deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi, I’ll get to the relief bill in a second. But I just want to get your reaction to — you’re, you just heard from White House Chief of Staff Meadows about the outbreak among Vice President Pence’s inner circle.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I join you in wishing them well and safety. And pay attention to the reality of how this spreads. I’m very sorry that it has reached so close to the Vice President, and I hope that he will keep – he and his wife Karen will keep their distance from those who are infected. It’s really sad.
Now, look. They have all of the protections in the world, all of the anticipation of how this could spread, all of the prevention from it and the rest, and yet, they are susceptible. Just think of America’s working families, especially America’s essential workers, how susceptible they are to this virus and that is really part of our discussion on the coronavirus negotiations.
Jake Tapper. And let’s talk about that. You said a few days ago that, ‘We have to have our legislation all written by the end of the week to get it passed by Election Day,’ and that was last week. You still have not reached a deal. Is it fair to say that a coronavirus relief package is not going to be signed into law before Election Day? There just isn’t the time to do it?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you know I never give up hope. I’m optimistic. We put pen to paper and have been writing the bill based on what we hope will be the outcome of what they said they would get back to us on.
Here is the thing. For us to do anything – I want to just take our friends out there who are suffering and the country is suffering, working families are suffering, millions more into poverty. In the month of September nearly 900,000 women left the workforce, so we have to act. To do anything, though, that does not crush the virus is really official malfeasance, and to crush the virus, we have to follow the science, testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, ventilation separation, and the rest.
Jake Tapper. Right.
Speaker Pelosi. And that is what Vice President Biden has put forth. We have it in our bill. They said they are going to get back – last week, you remember they said, ‘We will support the testing language with minor touch.’ Well, that was 55 percent of the language. We are still waiting for the final okay, and that is a central issue in all of this. We cannot just say, ‘Mr. President, here is trillions of dollars. Spend it any way you want.’ We have a plan, a strategic plan.
Jake Tapper. Speaker Pelosi, when is the drop-dead deadline when a deal cannot happen before Election Day? Because as you note, millions of Americans are suffering.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Jake Tapper. There are 8 million more in poverty.
Speaker Pelosi. That’s right.
Jake Tapper. All of those women that dropped out of the workforce. Presumably, I would think a lot of them probably dropped out because their kids are doing remote education and they have to be home with their children. Thus, they’re giving up paychecks. They need help. When is the drop-dead deadline for them to get this help?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I do think, you know, as I say, we’re ready. We can change some words in the bill should they come back with some modifications.
But you mentioned schools. Schools are – children should be safe in schools. We can make that happen. Across the country, it only takes more money, and that is for separation, for ventilation, for technology, for more teachers and the rest. Children learning, parents earning.
So, it is related to the separation that we say in our health piece, but the education piece is another policy piece where we have some disagreement. Otherwise, we can negotiate the rest of it.
Jake Tapper. So, we know that the White House has moved closer to your position on lots of issues. Coronavirus testing, contact tracing strategy, unemployment benefits, local government.
Speaker Pelosi. No, no, excuse me. They haven’t yet.
Jake Tapper. They haven’t?
Speaker Pelosi. That’s what we are waiting for. We are waiting for the final yes.
Jake Tapper. Well, so, they said they would. And you’re waiting to see it on paper?
Speaker Pelosi. They haven’t yet. They haven’t yet. Also, same thing, they keep moving the goalposts. Every time they say we move the goalposts, that means they’re projecting what they did. But let’s just, let’s be hopeful. We are nine days before an election.
Jake Tapper. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. We are trying to unify the country. And one way to do it is to come together to crush the virus, so that we can open our economy, open our schools, feed our people, 17 million children food insecure in our country. But again, the answer is: crush the virus.
Jake Tapper. So, I get that, but it seems like they keep moving closer and closer.
Speaker Pelosi. They don’t.
Jake Tapper. I get that you’re waiting for it on paper, but it just seems like you’re winning. I mean that’s what it seems like to me. I’m looking at all the things that the White House is moving towards your position on, and it seems like you could take yes for an answer.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, as soon as they say, ‘This is it.’ In our negotiations, yes, that is the case. But then they take it back and when they come back, it isn’t what we anticipated. So, I’m hoping tomorrow, Monday, the Secretary – I sent over on Friday the list of the concerns that we still had about what is the answer, what is the answer, what is the answer. And my understanding is he will be reviewing that over the weekend and we will have some answers on Monday.
Jake Tapper. So, more than 23 million Americans are on unemployment benefits right now as you know. One study shows the poverty rate is higher now than in the whole pandemic. Three Democratic governors in the Midwest, Whitmer of Michigan, Evers of Wisconsin and Waltz of Minnesota, three Democratic governors wrote to you, President Trump and other Congressional leaders saying, among other things, ‘We implore you to put differences aside and agree to another much-needed COVID-19 relief bill.’
Speaker Pelosi. Right.
Jake Tapper. In addition, one of your own Members, Congressman Max Rose said this week that the Democratic party needs to learn to a certain extent how to declare victory and go home. You’re getting a lot of messages from Democrats saying this is good enough, we need to say yes.
Speaker Pelosi. Welcome to my world. That is not a lot of messages, although I respect each and every one of them.
The fact is, if we don’t agree to the science to crush the virus, if they did what is in our bill that science dictates that we do, then if we do that we can lower the incidence of the virus in certain areas, open schools, open businesses and the rest.
If we don’t, we are just giving money to the President to spend any way he wants and that has not been in furtherance of crushing the virus. So, again, in terms of, we all want an agreement. Nobody wants it more than the House Democrats. We represent these people. We have been fighting for food for the hungry, rent assistance for those who may be evicted.
But most importantly, we really have to stop the spread of the virus, and it’s what, nine months later and they still have refused to honor science with the solutions. And then of course, we are praying for the vaccine and hopefully that will be soon, but many more people will die in the meantime.
Jake Tapper. If the Democrats win the White House and the Senate and keep the House, are you going to hold out until Democrats have control of everything and you can get a bill more to your liking or you still are going to go ahead with working with the President and Mitch McConnell, et cetera?
Speaker Pelosi. The latter, for sure. People need help right away. What I say to them, though, what we are doing right now is to make the bill bigger, better and safer for you and the benefits will be retroactive. But no, we want it, the sooner, the better. And that’s why we are making concessions. We’re making concessions too, you know? And so, no, no, the sooner, the better.
And Mitch has even – and Leader has even said keep working, and he doesn’t want to do it before the election. We want to do it as soon as possible. I thought the President did too, and that was part of the leverage that each side had that we both wanted an agreement. Why talk to each other if we didn’t believe we could reach an agreement? So, again, it could happen this week in the House, but that’s up to Mitch as to whether it would happen in the Senate and go to the President’s desk which is our hope and prayer.
Jake Tapper. So, take a listen to a prediction from President Trump about the House of Representatives. This was in the final presidential debate Thursday.
President Trump. I think we are going to win the House. You’ll see, but I think we are going to win the House.
Jake Tapper. What is your response?
Speaker Pelosi. You keep thinking that, Mr. President. You just keep on thinking that. Just another example of the delusional statements he made there. He said that we are on the decline with the virus, that –
Jake Tapper. Right.
Speaker Pelosi. – cleanest air, cleanest water.
Jake Tapper. If Democrats keep the House – if Democrats keep the House, are you going to run for another term as Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, I am, but let me also say, we have to win the Senate. So, all of this discussion of the virus takes us to the importance of this election. Vote your health.
You see this – we have a nominee for the Supreme Court who would not say when Dianne Feinstein – Senator Feinstein asked her, ‘Do you believe that Medicare is constitutional,’ she said she could not say. What do you think about climate change? ‘Well, I’m not a scientist, and there is some disagreement there.’
So, this is a very important election. This nomination makes the election even more important for people’s health, for clean air, clean – the health of our planet and health of our people most importantly. And you see people voting their well-being.
And, again, we are in this bill. We are trying to get money to help protect the physical – the critical infrastructure of our elections as you see threatened from abroad, as well as to honor people by not making them stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote. Republicans say no to that.
Jake Tapper. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for coming today. We really appreciate it.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure. Be safe.
Jake Tapper. I will. I have my mask right here.
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