Source: United States Senator for Wisconsin Paul Ryan
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and mixed-status families on a press call to discuss the importance of ensuring that all American households in financial need, including those with family members of mixed immigration status, receive COVID-19 stimulus aid. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for bringing us together as you always do to make America more American by giving respect to every person in our country with viable, beautiful solutions to do just that.
Listening to Anastasia and to Christina is just – I wish everybody in our country could hear them. The beauty of it all and the injustice of it all, the beauty of their family and the injustice of how they have been treated. And Andrea, thank you for all the leadership in this important case to make sure that people are not treated differently in our country.
And what I want to say is that I think this issue of mixed-status families is one that we must deal with, but we also must use it as a bridge. I think if the American people understood clearly the injustice of it all, they would see clearly the injustice of other kinds of lack of access, whether it’s in health care and the rest. And why it’s in all of Americans’ interest for us all to be in this together.
Hearing your story – so eloquent. We can talk about numbers and people who aren’t included and the rest, and the statistics are staggering, but the individual stories are the most eloquent and convincing. I would say this is a monumental injustice. Right now, there are millions of American citizens like Anastasia and Christina, and their children are being denied the CARES Act relief check because they are part of a mixed-status family. That’s what brings us together this morning, for us today. They pay taxes; contribute to our economy; in many cases, are fighting on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis, many of these same people. Millions of essential workers: health care workers, first responders, farm workers, teachers, the list goes on – teachers, I said but so many others are postal workers – are immigrants or part of an immigrant family.
It is particularly unconscionable that five million American children are being affected. Their parents need their relief check to buy groceries, pay rent and keep them healthy. We cannot allow children and families to be let down, be left behind during this crisis. So, I do believe that we can use this as an opportunity to cure other injustices, as has been referenced. It’s unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that children, undocumented children should have a right to education in our country. Why not then should citizens’ children, children in taxpayers’ families, not have the opportunity to the checks that they need?
The Democrats, House and Senate, stand united with immigrant communities in this priority. That’s why I am so honored to be here with Chairman – Leader Schumer, who is, on all of this, vital. When we didn’t get it in the Senate, it wasn’t because he hadn’t fought very hard for it. But, remember, we have to get a signature. And that’s – it’s, more than the House, it’s his signature.
And that’s why the public awareness of this is so important. Chuck and I can maneuver and our Members and our Chairs and our Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, our entire Hispanic Caucus are educating Members as to how this is important, and we are united Democrats. However, we want the American people – ‘public sentiment is everything.’ Abraham Lincoln. ‘With it, we can accomplish almost anything, without it, practically nothing.’ And when the public really is aware of this, it will, I think, undermine any friendly version of this story that the President may want to put out there.
But let’s stay as united as possible about this to protect our families, our community, our economy and our ability to combat the coronavirus crisis.
And with that, I am ready to answer any questions later, but I yield back to our distinguished Chairman. Unless he wants me to yield back to our distinguished Leader in the Senate, who has been really a fighter for this with great enthusiasm, making it a big priority. I yield back to you, Mr. Castro for any remarks you may want to make about Mr. Schumer.
Chairman Castro. Thank you, Leader Schumer. We appreciate it very much. And with that, Brad, we’d like to open it up to any questions.
Operator. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, please press one on your telephone keypad. You can withdraw your question at any time. And we will go to the line of Rafael Bernal with The Hill. Please go ahead.
Q: Thank you for taking my question and having the call. Current legislation draws the line for economic relief at Americans not married to foreign nationals without social security numbers. So that’s the line. Where do you as leaders of the Democratic party draw that line – American citizens, American taxpayers, workers in America, people in America? And a corollary to that, if I may ask a two-parter, where is the breaking point in negotiations, given that American citizens are not receiving part of this economic relief? At what point are you just forced to get off the table and tell Republicans you’re not negotiating this anymore? Thank you.
Chairman Castro. This is Joaquin. Let me take a stab at it, and then if Leader Schumer or Speaker Pelosi want to address it. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has been clear that we advocated for using individual tax identification numbers for distributing financial assistance to people in American society, because you have a lot of workers who are using ITIN numbers, some of whom may be undocumented, who are still out there on the frontlines working. Many of them are in dangerous jobs, a lot of them in those meatpacking plants that now have hundreds of coronavirus infections. They are out in fields picking fruit and crops to make sure that the grocery stores are still stocked during this pandemic so that Americans can eat.
So, we believe that they should be – that they should receive financial assistance. So, that’s been our advocacy. Of course, an even graver injustice, as we’re talking about today mainly, is for American citizens who are married to the undocumented or other foreign nationals, who because of who they love – they’re married to – or the children, the same thing – because of who one of their parents is, they receive nothing at all.
So, we have been pushing very hard to make sure that’s the standard. Obviously we haven’t – the Congress has not gotten there yet, but that’s a big part of the reason that we’re highlighting this today. And I’ll allow the Speaker and Leader to speak.
Speaker Pelosi. May I just say, as we look at how we go forward with this legislation – does the progress that we have made with bills go far? It is really important for us to look at all of this from an ethical standpoint. Is it ethical for our country to cut out people? As the Leader said earlier, it’s in everybody’s interest for everybody to have access to help on the health crisis. So that more people who are involved in that, who have access to the advantages that might be in there to help, and here we all are.
So, from an ethical standpoint, as Americans, as a sense of community, we want to be all together on this. So, it’s from an ethical standpoint, from a health standpoint, from a science standpoint, all of this – us working together, respecting each other is very important.
From a practical standpoint, this is, to me, one of the easiest things that we can do. These are taxpaying American citizens. The fact that they file as a family is just – we’re about putting Families First.
So, I’m not going to negotiate on this call with the Republicans, but I am going to appeal to the American people to join us in saying we need to respect Families First. We need to respect the fact that these are citizens and taxpayers.
And by the way, you don’t want to subject everybody in the country to the same scrutiny that they subject some of our new people who are in our country. But I don’t know how many people could pass the test they are subjecting these families to – taxpaying citizens in our country, being cut out. It’s just totally unacceptable.
It’s a fight we have to make, but not just inside maneuvering, outside mobilization, as well, as I said earlier.
Chairman Castro. Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. Leader Schumer did you have anything to add?
Leader Schumer. Well, no. It’s just cruel. It’s just cruel, and particularly when you think of kids, who need food, who need medicine and not giving them the help they need. These are American citizens; these are our future.
Speaker Pelosi. There’s one more thing I want to say.
Leader Schumer. I remain hopeful that our Republican colleagues will see the light here. This is just a nasty policy on their behalf.
Chairman Castro. Thank you. Next question?
Anastasia Campo. Is there any way that we may be able to speak on that?
Chairman Castro. Sure, yeah. Do you have a remark?
Anastasia Campo. Thank you so much. I just wanted to clarify that, and I said it earlier in the call that not all ITIN holders are even in the country. And I think that we’re thinking that, and that’s really where the disconnect may be. Is that – we keep saying undocumented. We keep saying that, and we have individuals that are not in this country, that are waiting in their country for their papers to go through. They have not ever entered illegally, and those individuals were included as with a ITIN number on their taxes because this is something that immigration wants to see. They want to see documentation of the spouses filing together. They want to be able to see that there is continuity in regards to the house’s unit, even though they are living overseas.
And so, I really would like to ask the Speaker and the Senate Leader to be able to take that into account when we’re looking at these things. I think that that’s where we have that disconnect. And with all due respect – the most – the utmost respect, I really think we would be able to see things moving forward if we focused maybe a little bit more the fact that not all ITIN holders are undocumented, and by excluding the citizens out of that, that is where we’re having the biggest disconnect between both parties. Thank you so much.
Chairman Castro. Yeah, you’re right. People are in a variety of situations. Absolutely.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah, we made that point. We made that point when we were fighting for it in the other bill. You’re completely right. But one other aspect of it is also that there’s this impression – and again, not to make any distinctions on the terms of one thing is better than another – but many people came here and for one reason or another their visa expired or whatever. And they’re in a situation now where none of these offices are open for anybody to follow through with some of that.
So, there are all kinds of reasons why everything might not be fully – or where some people want to see it in order to get this money. But the ITIN number, the tax number, that was so simple. We thought that was the easiest, because as you said, there are many kinds of people who fall into that category who are not subject – we have to have clarity as we make this case. We have to have clarity with the American people as well.
Chairman Castro. Okay, our next question?
Operator. And that’ll come from the line of Nick Wu with USA Today. Please go ahead sir.
Q: Hi, thank you so much for hosting this call. I had a question for the lawmakers here. And so, while we’re on the topic of individuals that might need stimulus payments, but aren’t deemed initially eligible, like say dependents, elderly, disabled people. Are there any discussions within the Democratic Caucus about expanding eligibility? And then, on the second question, is there any reaction by lawmakers on this call to former Vice President Joe Biden’s comments this morning on the sexual assault allegation from Tara Reade? Thank you.
Chairman Castro. On the first part, I’ll have Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer talk about the conversations within the larger Democratic Caucuses in the House and the Senate.
As to this morning, I didn’t see the Vice President. I’ve been on teleconference after teleconference this morning, so.
Speaker Pelosi. You know, given the amount of time, I’d like to stay focused on the subject at hand.
I have said that I am very proud to endorse Vice President Biden. I thought that he dealt with it, a complete denial, support for women. He has been a champion, Violence Against Women [Act].
But that’s not the purpose of this call. And I said that in my press conference yesterday. We will have plenty of time to ask many of those kinds of questions. Right now, we have a – over 60,000 people who have died, 30 million who are unemployed – unemployment rate. And, we have a particular place where we can help what might be five million people – five million people, put food on the table in a better way, and not be penalized because they are acting as a family, as citizens and as taxpayers.
The issue of – one of the fights that Chuck and I have been making is for states and local counties and municipalities to get much more money so that they can deal with every aspect of our communities. And, in terms of people with disabilities, a very strong focus for us in our Caucus as well. And that applies to access to everything that we are providing, but it also applies to how people can vote, and we will be addressing voting in the bill and how we can accommodate people with disabilities as we vote as well.
It’s about saving lives. It’s about saving livelihoods. And it’s about saving our democracy. And saving our democracy is about respecting who we are as a people and that’s what brings us together here, to address this issue of families in our country.
Chuck, did you want to say anything on that question?
Leader Schumer. Well, the only thing I would add is – look, this is COVID-19. It’s been a very strong blow to America and we need to pick ourselves up in every way we can. We need to do it with health care. We need to do it with testing.
We also have got to make sure people have enough money to live and to get back up on their feet, which, if they couldn’t, it would prolong this crisis. And so, the kinds of things we’re talking about on this call, which is making sure that people have the vital resources that they need, is vital. It’s crucial.
And we’re going to try to do it in the way we’re talking about today and in many other ways as well. Because this is sort of – we’ve never seen – we haven’t seen unemployment be this high since the Great Depression. And that means a very strong and multifaceted approach. But, it also means you can’t leave people out. And that’s what we’re talking about here.
Chairman Castro. Thank you.
Let’s take one more. Because of time constraints, we will take one more question.
Operator. Thank you. Give me one moment. It will come from Nick Balliti with JCN News. Go ahead.
Q: Thank you so much. Madam Speaker, I have a question for you about what you were talking about in the past. Pretty recently you said that Congress should consider adding some form of guaranteed monthly income into the next coronavirus relief package. So I was wondering if you would extend that form of guaranteed income to undocumented immigrants and non-citizens who file taxes with tax ID numbers, ITINs, instead of Social Security numbers?
Speaker Pelosi. What I did say was that I thought that was a subject that needed consideration and that I’d talk to some of my committee chairs, starting with Ways and Means, to see if, in fact, that is genuinely an appropriate way to go forward and we would do so, when we do so.
Right now, today, we are talking about the bill that we have before us and I think that the tax ID number is an entrée for us in such an important way. It seems so simple for them to understand. It seems so universal in how it has worked and it should be something that is – that would apply. Any way we go down the path that should apply, whether it’s direct payments, whether it’s participation in PPP.
But, they can participate in PPP, is my understanding. I don’t know if they have. I have asked for the names of – as the chairman – the Leader in the Senate – the conversation with the – Secretary Mnuchin, about, show us the evidence of how these other – what these businesses are that are, shall we say, not the ones usually first in line.
But, again, moving that to a place where we’ve come to an agreement that we would go down this path, I said it should be considered. And, why it should be considered, in my view, is because there is a lot of money, federal taxpayer dollars, going out the door. Whether it’s PPP, whether it’s Unemployment Insurance, whether it’s direct payments. And, again, recognizing that we are at the mercy of the length of this crisis. So, let’s look to subject everything, every dollar that goes out the door, to the scrutiny of it. Is it meeting the needs of those who need it most? Is it meeting the standard, as with PPP, of this is for those – this money, if you ask for this PPP loan, Paycheck Protection Program loan, if it will – is necessary for the sustainability of your business? There is a standard that has to be met. It isn’t just, ‘I have a business, therefore I’m going to get a loan and it’s going to be forgiven because I’m not firing anybody anyway.’
Now, again, that’s a Congressional, bipartisan, bicameral decision that has to be made as to, is this the best way to continue to go about it or is there a shorter cut and a more direct way to help more people. We think that, what I described: PPP, loans, grants, all the rest of it, and also a very major commitment to state and local.
And, in making a commitment a state and local, it goes across a lot of the questions that have come here: how do we deal with the – in education; and first responders; and the security and safety of our people; the health care, health care, health care of those on the front lines; our teachers, as I’ve said; all of the transit workers and the rest.
And many of those dollars would be helpful across the board, whatever the challenge people face. Again, I’m not prepared at this time to say that we would be doing it. I just said that it’s worthy of consideration, let’s take up the hearing process to review it and what is the best way to do it.
But, whatever we do, I think the tax number is an easy entrée to many more people who deserve it, who should get this, but are being cut out now, in whatever it is that we are putting out there.
Chairman Castro. Alright. Thank you, Speaker and thank you, Leader Schumer, and to all our other guests on the call for everything you are doing on this issue.
Thank you to the press who’s covering this very important issue for folks.
That wraps up our call. We appreciate it very much.
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, if I could just thank Christina, Anastasia and Andrea, again. Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Chairman, too.
Leader Schumer. Thank you too. Bye bye.
Andrea Senteno. Thank you.
Anastasia Campo. Thank you very much for your time.
Christina Segundo-Hernandez. Thank you for your time.