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 morning, everyone.
I just came from the Supreme Court, where all of us there witnessed a very historic occasion – Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s investiture as the first African‑American woman member of the Supreme Court. I think there’s something like 109 members of the Supreme Court in our country’s history. At long last, an African‑American woman. It was pretty exciting. The President was there. And, of course, it was his appointment. And the Attorney’s General role was to propose that. So, it was pretty thrilling.
At the same time though, we’re very sad and mourn the loss that Hurricane Ian is exacting in Florida. It is – we’re praying for those who have lost their lives. And it’s of unprecedented scale. The President said it’s probably the biggest hurricane ever to hit Florida. Congress’ pledge is to be there for those who were affected, now and in the future, including the billions more we have in this bill that is on the Floor now in the CR that we’re passing today, nearly $19 billion more for FEMA.
This has been a busy and historic week for those of us in the House. Yesterday, it was my honor to welcome sixteen heads of state of Pacific Island nations to the United States Capitol. We had a bipartisan, bicameral welcome for them. And we listened to how – to them on how we can work together.
This is part of the President’s Pacific Partnership Strategy. The President – the Administration – the President has had a two‑day – at least two‑day Summit, meeting with the heads of the Pacific Island countries. And part of it was our role at the Capitol.
It’s – and this initiative for the Pacific is one of the reasons why I took my Congressional delegation to the region. We went to Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Korea – to be part of the Indo‑Pacific Economic Framework is one part of it, and now this with the Pacific Islands. It was pretty exciting. We talk about security, economy and governance and how we can work together to have free, open and safe countries in the region in partnership with them.
Also yesterday – I say this with excitement, because it’s personally exciting to me to celebrate the legacy of our 33rd President, Harry Truman, where we had the unveiling of the statue with his family there. Pretty exciting, honoring his commitment to democracy. All of us who spoke – Democrats and Republicans – talked about President Truman’s commitment to democracy. The statue is there because Missouri has sent the statue to represent them. And again, a moral, visionary leader. I say personally because he came to – the President came to Baltimore to campaign for my father, who served in Congress when the President was Vice President and President, old friends. And I conveyed to them my personal story of meeting Harry Truman. It was so – it was very exciting. I’m sure many people in the room probably had met Harry Truman, but not many Members of Congress.
Okay. So now to our legislative agenda.
Today, we’re doing the Continuing Resolution. It, again, ensures that full government services will be – we’ll have full government funding through December 16th. And that gives our appropriators more time to come – for a funding agreement for next year. As I always say, ‘Left to their own devices, the appropriators can find a bipartisan way,’ having said that as an appropriator myself.
As we pass it, I just want to mention that it addresses key priorities. $12.3 billion for the fight for democracy in Ukraine. $4.5 billion for disaster relief for New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Florida and Alaska and other communities. An additional – as I said – 18.9, almost $19 billion, for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund – some of that needed right away for Iran – Ian, but more will be needed. And then a billion dollars to help working families pay higher energy bills. And $20 million to respond to the water needs in Mississippi, in Jackson, Mississippi.
Also, we’ll be passing today on the Floor – I think the debate is right now on it – the legislation to honor our promises to the families of those killed in the 9/11 terror attacks. There’s a shortfall of funding for the families and the children of – families – spouses and children of the families. It’s first up, before the CR – right, the family?
But in any event, in one order or another, the legislation, the Fairness for 9/11 Families ensures access to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund for spouses and children. We have some other needs to meet as the deadlines come for health benefits and the rest. And we’re fully committed to providing those – maybe even before the end of this year. We’ll see. But we certainly will meet the health needs of our first responders on 9/11.
We look back on this session with great pride as we come to this part of it. We’ll be back in a lame duck for more. But we put People Over Politics – lower costs, for example, lower health care costs as well as prescription drug costs. I’ll go more into that. Lower costs, bigger paychecks and safer communities.
This summer, we passed and the President signed into law, as you know, the Inflation Reduction Act. It slashes cost, including, as I say, extending the ACA subsidies, which lower costs for health care for families and lower prescription drug prices. It creates millions of good‑paying jobs by delivering the most significant climate change legislation in our country’s history – in any country’s history – to cut carbon pollution by 40 percent and lower energy costs, and dramatically lowers the deficit while fully being paid-for by taxing wealthy and corporate – that they pay their fair share, especially those who are cheating on their taxes.
Alongside the Inflation Reduction Act, we are very proud to have passed the American Rescue Plan, put millions to work rebuilding America, and delivering clean water and broadband across America. Well, that’s in the Infrastructure Law. But the American Rescue Plan powered record job creation and rescued our economy from the depths of the pandemic.
The PACT Act, providing life‑saving care and remedies to millions of our veterans who sacrificed for our freedom. This is historic. Hundreds of billions of dollars. I want to thank our Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Mark Takano, for what – his leadership on that role, and so many others – Raul Ruiz – so many others are part of the intellectual leadership on that.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, with a gun violence prevention law to prevent – background check – keep guns out of the hands of those – and the CHIPS and Science Act – you know that very well – lowers cost.
Now, all these became law. The CHIPS and Science lowers – ensures a diverse workforce with STEM. In California, we say STEAM: science, technology, engineering, the arts, mathematics. And ends dependence on foreign semiconductor manufacturers.
At the same time as that is happening, in contrast, the House Republicans are doubling down on their dangerous MAGA agenda: criminalizing women’s health care, attacking free and fair elections, and slashing Medicare and raising drug prices, consistent with their statement that Medicare should wither on the vine.
First, to criminalize women’s health care, including birth control in all 50 states. The extreme MAGA House GOP is already on record about their extreme plan for a nationwide abortion ban. The overwhelming majority of House Republicans have co-sponsored a bill to criminalize abortion in all 50 states before most women even know that they are pregnant, punishable with a five‑year prison term sentence for doctors – 166 House Republicans co-sponsored a “Life Begins At Conception” bill to criminalize all abortion after fertilization. So much for freedom in our country.
The second MAGA contrast is attack our democracy by making it harder to vote, purging voters from the rolls, nullifying elections and helping MAGA politicians invent a basis to overturn the results of an election they don’t like.
Change the rules after the election because they don’t like the result: 147 House Republicans – I remind you, on that night, when there was violence and an assault on the Capitol, an incitement of insurrection by the President of the United States, blood on the floor, shattered glass, assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our democracy – 147 House Republicans voted to overturn the result of the 2020 election; 203 House Republicans showed their support for the dangerous and extreme MAGA assault on free and fair elections by voting against the Presidential Election Reform Act, hoping to leave our elections vulnerable to the next MAGA effort to overturn them.
We talked about a woman’s right to choose, freedom of personal choice. We talked about assault on our elections. And then the third, which was part of their rollout, and previous to their rollout, to slash Medicare and Social Security and raise seniors’ drug prices.
We are so proud that, in the Inflation Reduction Act, an historic provision was in there – something we’ve been working on for a long time – to enable the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower drug prices, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, capping what seniors need to pay to $2,000 a year and, again, preventing pharmaceutical companies from exploiting the consumer by raising prices above the cost of inflation. This exploitation is something that the Republicans – Pharma has said we’ll pay for that, Democrats will pay for that. So they want to do that.
They’ve called for slashing and, again, somewhat privatizing of Social Security – we’ve been down that path before – and ending Medicare as we know it, as part of this year’s Republican Study Committee budget. They have this in writing.
Now House Republicans have promised to repeal, as I said, the lower prescription drug costs, raising costs for seniors in order to hand billions of dollars of profits to their friends, Big Pharma. As I said, Big Pharma said we’re going to pay for lowering seniors’ prescription drug prices.
The American people see the contrast in priorities. It’s clear. Democrats put people greater – I love the ‘greater than,’ mathematical – People > Politics. Lower cost. Bigger paychecks. Safer communities.
So this is a contrast. This is an election, as we come up on it now – not to talk politics but civics – this is an election about contrast. Nationwide abortion ban. Respecting freedom of choice for families. Again, a kitchen table issue like prescription drugs, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, the Republicans wanting to reverse that. The list goes on and on about where they are on these issues.
Q. Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Let’s see. Yes, sir.
Q. Madam Speaker, thank you. Yesterday, Kevin McCarthy told us he essentially feels that you are holding House Democrats hostage from speaking out about the border crisis because of the way you whip on the House Floor. How would you respond to that? And do you believe the border is secure?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I believe that we have to have a secure border, and I think that we are trying to address – the President has a plan to address that.
Securing our border is part of our security to protect and defend our country, let there be no doubt. I don’t respond to those kind of questions. I mean, with all due respect, all respect to your question at the end, but not to his comments, because I don’t even know what he’s talking about, and I don’t know if he does.
But the fact is, is that we have a responsibility to secure our border. We also have a responsibility to recognize the importance of newcomers to our nation. Right now, the best thing that we can do for our economy is to have comprehensive immigration reform. We have a shortage of workers in our country, and you see even in Florida some of the farmers and the growers saying, ‘Why are you shipping these immigrants up north? We need them to pick the crops down here.’
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize our moral responsibility as well. When the President – the former, well, occasional occupant of the White House who preceded President Biden – when he had the ban on Muslims, everybody came forward: our military, our diplomats, our faith community. And one part of the faith community – the evangelical community of America – they came forward and said the refugee resettlement program of the United States is the highlight of our humanitarianism in our country. It is.
We have a responsibility to accept some of these people, but we have to know that they qualify for that. And what the Administration is doing is increasing how we make sure that people who come into our country in a timely fashion are either here to stay or not. But protecting the border is our responsibility. We all know that. And that is something that we will work on. And, and, again, my suggestion has always been to have the adjudication of some of this at the Guatemalan border before people pay coyotes billions of dollars to risk their lives coming across Mexico and may be turned away at the border.
But to remember three things. One, we must secure our border. Two, we have a moral responsibility to accept refugees. And three, our nation is great because we are a nation of immigrants. But don’t take it from me. Listen to Ronald Reagan. When I quote Ronald Reagan to my Republican colleagues, he doesn’t get any applause. Can you imagine that? Not even Ronald Reagan, who has really said America is preeminent in the world because we have a constant flow of newcomers to our country, and when we close the door, we will be diminishing our preeminence in the world.
Don’t take it from me. Go to Google, look up President Reagan’s last speech as President of the United States – ‘This is the last speech I will make as President of the United States, and I want to communicate a message to a country that I love’ – and go from there.
Q. Madam Speaker, may I ask you about the ongoing protests in Iran? What started as a protest about the arrest of a woman two weeks ago, that was – she was killed in police custody – has grown far more than the capital, and now there’s an international outcry on it. Firstly, I want to ask you about women in Iran burning their mandatory hijab. What do you think about women in Iran protesting mandatory hijab? And secondly, with all the calls growing for the downfall of the Islamic Republic, do you think if, in fact, the regime falls in Iran, Washington, D.C., will be ready for that?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me just say that we’re all in awe of the courage of the women of Iran coming out in terms of their own personal freedom. The sadness of the death – the murder, as we have seen the description of her death – of this brave woman is heartbreaking, but it has provoked a response. That anguish has turned into action that can be helpful in terms of freedom for women and others in Iran.
I think everyone – I don’t know anyone who hasn’t spoken out about support for the women of Iran and the courage they have of going forth. If that leads to a change in government in Iran, we’ll see what happens there. Certainly, I don’t have to tell you, people thought when the Shah was overturned and this new government came in, it was going to be about democracy. And many of the same people who fought so hard against – for removing the Shah ended up in jail by these same leaders who are there now.
So we hear a great deal from people saying, ‘We had our hopes and prayers, and we fought for change, and that change turned on us into a very oppressive regime.’ So let’s see how the change will take place.
But again, we’re always talking about democracy. As I said: security, economy, governance. And governance about how you respect and treat your people is very important, and how democratic your government is.
Q. Good morning. Madam Speaker, we have a rather striking statement here from Abigail Spanberger criticizing the Democratic Leadership over not calling up the STOCK bill here. I know that that was just – you put out the new version just a couple of days ago.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah.
Q. She criticizes the process. She says it is time for new leadership. What do you say in response to her criticism? But generally going forward, as we get after the midterms –
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah.
Q. – and people start to wonder whether you’re going to be here and other leaders are going to be here in the new Congress?
Speaker Pelosi. Which question do you want me to answer? Choose one.
Q. Do you intend to be here in the new Congress as the Speaker, as the Minority Leader?
Speaker Pelosi. I’m strictly focused on winning the next election. Do you want to talk about that? Okay, is that your question? Who’s next?
And let me just say about Spanberger’s letter. First of all, her bill is contained in this bill. Other Members had ideas too, to improve upon the bill.
So I didn’t see – I mean, I don’t know what her statement is, but it is contrary to what the House Administration Committee – I said to them, ‘Whatever you – whatever the Members want to do, I fully support.’ And they took her bill, added others that made the bill stronger, as a matter a fact. So this is an interesting press release, but it’s more important to write a bill.
Q. Madam Speaker, what she’s saying is, she’s criticizing the failure to bring it up for a vote.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you have to have the votes to bring it up.
Q. And you don’t think you have votes?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we’ll see. We’ll work to have the votes. We don’t go from one day to the next. But I think we should have legislation. There are others who have spoken out against the bill. And, again, this is the legislative process.
But it is – what you – how you described her characterization is not accurate. Her bill is in the bill. Others had ideas, too. And that’s what the Committee put forth. But it’s good press, because you asked the question.
Q. Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, ma’am.
Q. The inequality ahead of the midterms. Are you doing enough to address inequality in American society? And also, are you running enough progressive candidates, do you think, in these midterms?
Speaker Pelosi. Absolutely, positively. And equality in America is what we are all about – is what we are all about. And I’m glad you asked that question, because I want to speak to our President of the United States. Of course, our purpose in Congress as the House Democrats is about fairness for America’s working families, and that means all of America’s working families.
But this President, in all these bills that I named, you take them one by one – when you talk about the American Rescue Plan, it was there to make sure that we put money in the pockets of America’s working families, and also about Child Tax Credit, and all the things that gave people more of a chance to rebound from COVID. And it was about fairness. It reduced poverty in America by 50 percent – reduced poverty in America by 50 percent.
The Infrastructure Law has a $60 billion provision in it for fairness, equity, inclusion in terms of decisions being made for infrastructure projects around the country to be fair. I was in a community in Georgia within this past month where we were looking at a highway that went through a neighborhood. It separated the neighborhood, changed property values on one side or another, divided community. That’s what this bill is exactly against: to not separate communities but unify them. And to do so in a way by having communities make the decision, by having so much more involvement of the communities in how these projects are developed. So the President, fantastic on that.
Of course, the PACT Act. That really addressed many people living in poverty in America in terms of, especially, the North Carolina provisions about unsafe water and what that meant to families.
Again, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was – and that’s about keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. But it doesn’t go far enough. We have to do much more in that regard.
CHIPS and Science. Now, this goes directly to your point. You may have seen people during this debate, and some of them very reputable and whom I respect, saying, ‘Let’s just do the CHIPS Act, let’s just do the CHIPS Act, let’s just do the CHIPS Act.’ And we said, ‘Well, that’s interesting, we need to do the CHIPS Act for the here and now. But as we go forward, we need to have the Science Act.’ The Science Act is about making sure that everybody – everybody – and this is the President again – everybody has the opportunity to participate in those jobs and is prepared by education, about being involved in the scientific research, about the science of it all, so we have the best thinking from maybe some of the newest intellectual resources, from kids in poorer neighborhoods, from communities that are not the traditional places that receive grants from the federal government. So it is – and it has Minority‑Serving Institutions and all the rest participating in a strong way.
We’re very, very, very proud of that because, again, this is what we have tried to do incrementally. These pieces of legislation are transformative because, again, we have a signature and an intellectual resource in the White House.
Yeah, we’re very proud of our – we’re very proud of our candidates, and we feel very strongly. They had the courage to run. See, you know, when Roe v. Wade – the decision, the Dobbs decision came down, it was like, well, we were ready.
You know, some people might – in other – it wasn’t – did I say this to you before? Bob Dole said after they won – the Republicans won in 1994 – he said, ‘If I knew we were going to win, we would have had better candidates.’ Well, we always believed that we were going to win, and we do have better candidates. And they have been campaigning – some of them – for almost two years, a year and a half. They believe they could win, and they’re a good match for their districts.
And we – generationally – we have young people. We have diversity. We have diversity of experience. And I’m very proud of the candidates, as well as the courage of our Members to seek re-election when all the powers that be in Washington, D.C. – whoever they may be, with their conventional, whatever that might be, wisdom, which I don’t trust – were saying that we couldn’t win.
Q. Madam Speaker? On Ukraine?
Speaker Pelosi. Unfortunately, I have to go to debate.
Q. On Ukraine? Do you have a response to President Zelenskyy moving to join NATO this morning in an expedited fashion?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I’m not – I can’t miss my time to speak on the Floor on this bill. But let me just say that we are very committed to democracy in Ukraine. And, of course, they have been a candidate for the EU, which we don’t really have a vote in deciding about that. But at some point – let’s win this war – but I would be for them being – having a security – a security guarantee.
But again, this is a – it’s a big project. I was there in 1997 for the expansion of NATO in Paris with all the countries of NATO speaking out in favor of NATO, with Yeltsin there recognizing the Partnership for Peace that was being instituted then to expand to Poland, to the Baltics, to other Central and Eastern European countries. It’s a big project. But that will be – but it’s a consensus project as well with NATO. But let’s just win the war now. And that’s why I’m so pleased we have additional resources.
I was in, last week, in Berlin for the NATO – G7 conference, which focused on NATO. I was very encouraged by how the other speakers of that meeting were so bullish on supporting the democracy until the war – victory was achieved.
Thank you all.