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Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC’s Politics Nation with Reverend Al Sharpton

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Reverend Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s Politics Nation to discuss the urgent need for the Senate to take up the House-passed Heroes Act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic response and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Reverend Al Sharpton.  We begin with the Speaker of the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.  Earlier, I spoke with her about the President’s erratic and illogical response to the coronavirus crisis. 

I’m pleased to be joined by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who in my judgment has led a gallant fight in these very troubled times.  Madam Speaker, first of all, thank you for being with us on ‘Politics Nation.’

Let me start by asking, I certainly want to get to the George Floyd Act and the Patriot Act, but I want to start by asking you how do you react to the President’s handling of COVID-19, talking about reopening the schools and other things that clearly seems to be in many ways contrary to what his own health experts are talking about and advising?

Speaker Pelosi.  Reverend Sharpton, always an honor to be with you. 

Thank you for your question about our children.  We don’t want our children taking any risks.  We want them to go to school, we all do, but we want them to do so safely.  And in order to do that, we want to have the criteria, the guidance, the requirements of the Centers [for] Disease Control to be very clear.  Localities will make up their mind as to if they think it’s safe for children to go to school.  Teachers overwhelmingly want to go back to teaching and to being in school, but safely, but safely.  So the statements made by the President had been reckless and have not been serious, but let us hope that each of the localities will make their own safe decisions. 

Let me just say when the President says that he’s going to hold back federal funds, there’s very little federal funding that comes nationally, maybe six percent, much of it for children in economically disadvantaged areas, Title I.  Much of it for children with disabilities, the IDEA, children with special needs, some of it for children who are homeless.  So, he’s hitting right at those who need it the most and that’s why these specific initiatives were put into place anyway.  It’s cruel. 

Reverend Al Sharpton.  It’s cruel.  I certainly agree with that.  Let me, before I get into the other issues, and I think I said Patriot Act, but I meant Heroes Act, though I think the front line essential workers are patriots, but the patriot bill was another issue. 

But let me ask you, the Supreme Court this week came back with a decision on the President’s taxes.  He has gone with every reaction you can think, from saying it’s a witch hunt to saying he won.  What do you say?  You clearly are in the middle of this and it clearly was a precedent-setting decision by the Supreme Court.  What did – what do these two decisions mean?

Speaker Pelosi.  As I go into that, I will say that the President also said that the action by the Supreme Court was based on a hoax.  He says the coronavirus is a hoax. 

He says the charge that Russia might be up to some bad stuff regarding our troops in Afghanistan is a hoax.  He’s really the hoax in all of this.  

Now, as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, it was a good day for the rule of law in our country.  It was a good day for the Constitution.  It may put off receiving some of his financial records, but the fact of what was larger at stake was our system of checks and balances, and the Court clearly said the President does not have immunity, that no one, not even the President is above the law.

Now, actually the tax case, Reverend Sharpton, is in a lower district court now, the actual tax case, and that is waiting to be decided.  It has taken too long but nonetheless, that’s a different case.  This case people described as being about taxes, and it may be.  We don’t know what the financial documents will reveal, but there still is another tax case put forth by the Ways and Means Committee waiting in the wings for a decision by the District Court of the District of Columbia.

But I’m very pleased with the decision.  Again, we wish that it could have been – from this Court, this is as good a decision as we can possibly get, and seven to two was a real rebuke to Donald Trump.

Reverend Sharpton.  Yeah, it was.  Seven to two was a surprise to many.  

The George Floyd Act, you worked hard along with the Black Caucus and leaders to really put legislation to the demonstrations many of us have been engaged in and will continue throughout the summer to really have a legislative answer to this point in history.  Yet, the Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, seems bent on not bringing any substantive, real legislation with teeth around policing.  And this is, the George Floyd Act as I read it, is not anti-police.  It’s about creating accountability, and it’s best for all.  

Where are we with the George Floyd Act?  Where should we go and what do you hope ultimately we can achieve as a society at this time where there’s so much interest?  Even polls are saying that they support the movement that many of us have been in for decades, and I might add, for the record, that you’ve been supportive of even when it was not as popular as it is now.

Speaker Pelosi.  I thank you, Reverend Sharpton, for that.  Before I answer your question, thank you for the beautiful friendship and courtesy you extended to George Floyd’s family.  I know from meeting them that it was a great comfort to them, and it was a wonderful entree for the rest of us to see your interaction and your beautiful sermons.  

May I just say I’m very proud of the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass is Chair, for putting forth the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.  

When George’s brother came to the Capitol to testify in his beautiful testimony, he said to me, ‘Is there a chance that you can name the bill for George Floyd, because I want it to be there for his daughter?’  And I said, ‘Only if you think the legislation is worthy of George Floyd.  He said, ‘It was.’

We’re very proud of it.  It’s very disciplined and to the point of justice in policing.  We hope that the Senate would pass a bill that we could then reconcile with or accept our bill because it does the job and it’s thoughtful.  

Many of the provisions have been introduced by the Black Caucus over time, so this is a culmination of many years of dedicated knowledge on the subject that you so much are a part of.

Reverend Sharpton.  Now, let me ask you, before we run out of time, about The Heroes Act.  I want to say very publicly on this show, no one worked harder in trying to get some relief for our workers, our essential workers and our small businesses.  

I marveled at how late into the midnight hours we were on the phone with you and businessmen and Republicans and Democrats.  You were calling me after hours, I  would go to sleep and early in the morning because we were trying to get small businesses protected and essential workers.

Where are we now, Madam Speaker, because people have run out of funds and you’ve been the gallant fighter on their behalf?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I accept your compliment on behalf of the House Democrats as well as Maxine Waters and Nydia Velázquez, two of our distinguished Chairs who are in there fighting for America’s families as well as small businesses.  

Where we are is we are at a time – our time is running out.  By the end of this month, there will be no more Unemployment Insurance checks going out.  In another couple of weeks, there will be no more eviction moratorium.  So, there are many things that happen in the lives of the American people that are on a timetable that is running out.  

So in our bill, the Heroes bill, we want to have state and local government supported; our teachers, our transportation, our first responders, our health care workers who are risking their lives to save lives and now they may lose their jobs.  Secondly, we have testing, testing, testing, testing, tracing, treatment, separation.  We want to address the disparity and the impact of the coronavirus on people of color and that is in this bill.  And, then, third, money in the pockets of the American people: Unemployment Insurance, direct payments.  

It’s hard for some people here to understand that people need these checks coming in, and so that’s kind of the fight that we have right now.  But I’m optimistic because at first they weren’t going to do anything and now they’re saying a trillion dollars.  We need more.  And, in addition to needing more, we need it sooner than they may have thought.

So again, across the country, mayors, governors, county executives, select people, labor unions, people of faith, everyone is calling in to say, ‘Pass The Heroes Act.’  It’s named for our heroes and we lose all authority to praise our heroes and to thank them, unless we are willing to support them.

So, I know it will happen, I just hope it’s soon and big.

Reverend Sharpton.  Alright.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.  And this is her second term as Speaker.  As we would say in Brooklyn, she did it so nice, we had to do it twice. 

[Laughter]

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you.  Thank you, Reverend.  Thank you, Al.

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