Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi Representing the 12th District of California
Contact: Speaker’s Press Office,
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Brianna Keilar on CNN’s Newsroom to discuss the Congressional response to the killing of George Floyd, including Democrats’ transformational legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Brianna Keilar. And, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is joining me live, now, from Capitol Hill. Speaker, thank you so much for being with us.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. My pleasure to be with you, Brianna.
Brianna Keilar. You’ve seen the Republican plan now. What is your reaction to it?
Speaker Pelosi. My reaction is the same as the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which there are 55 in the House and Senate. Congresswoman Karen Bass is the Chair of the Caucus. She reacted to this plan, along with Jerry Nadler, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee and other Members today, by saying it was inadequate.
We don’t need a study about chokeholds. We don’t need a study about a warrant – no-knock warrants and the rest. We know what we need to do. She is determined that we will act in a bipartisan – she, Congresswoman Bass – is determined we will act as much as possible in a bipartisan way, but we don’t need a window dressing, toothless bill. We need to take action that is real.
And, as mentioned in our legislation, we have strong provisions that ban chokeholds, that ban racial profiling, that ban no-knock warrants, that have real data collection that is accessible and transparent from one department to the next. So, it isn’t about just recognizing – as she said, they have taken their lead from some of our pointers, but they have pulled their punch when it came to getting the job done.
But it’s a – again, we never have seen hundreds of thousands of people, day in and day out, on the streets of our country and spread throughout the world to say, we need justice in policing.
We want to recognize those who do their jobs well, but we cannot tolerate the brutality of some. And so this legislation is very important. And I would hope that rather than name-calling, as Senator – well, he calls himself, so I can reference it, ‘Grim Reaper’– Senator McConnell, who never really wants to get legislation done, but just wants to have a bill out there that recognizes the concern, but does not act upon it in a way that will make a difference.
Brianna Keilar. So suffice to say you really do not like the Senate Republican bill. But, I wonder – and I want to ask you a question about process, and the reason I’m asking it is because it may speak to whether something actually gets done here in terms of a compromise. Would you encourage Senate Democrats to start a debate on this Republican bill, even though you do not like it, just so that this process can get started and you can move towards a compromise with provisions that you do like?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, that’s up to the Senate Democrats, and Senator Booker and Senator Harris have been very much a part of putting together the legislation that we all stood behind under leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus, that’s House and Senate Black Caucus. So, I take my lead from them in the Senate.
In the House, we will be passing this bill very soon. It is being marked up today. It may go over until tomorrow. I’m not sure, that depends on the Committee work. We will go to Rules and then we will bring it to the Floor.
Really, how much study do you have to do about a chokehold or racial profiling or no-knock warrants in the case of drug cases and the rest? One, it’s great; I love what the President said about data collection. If you’re not sharing it, it’s not transparent from one department to the next or to the public, then it’s – what good is it, if it isn’t available for accountability?
Brianna Keilar. But with the aim of taking that, which obviously you do not like and so clearly laid out the reasons you don’t like it – and I know you don’t want to tell other Democrats, other Democrats in the other chamber, how to do their job, but the difference is moving forward on the Senate bill or not moving forward on the Senate bill, and essentially killing all chances to get a compromise. You know, how do you see that? Which way would you want to go?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don’t know what the compromise is. Is the compromise that you can have chokeholds, that you can have no-knock warrants, that you can do racial profiles, that you can collect data but can’t share it? I don’t see that as a compromise.
But I’ll leave it up to Karen Bass, the Chair of the Black Caucus. She has put together a package, she and the Caucus and the Judiciary Committee. And she also Chairs the Crime Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, so she knows of what she speaks and how she writes legislation. I’ll leave it up to them to go.
We always want to have bipartisanship on an issue of this magnitude, but it has to be – it has to be real. This is about injustice. And we have another injustice at the same time, which is the disparity in the impact of the coronavirus on communities of color in our country.
We see, also, a resistance to passing legislation that would address that disparity, which would record those differences, and, which would act upon it. Testing, tracing, treating, social distancing, to get the job done, but, again, to address the injustice of it all to communities of color.
Senator Mitch McConnell has said, ‘We don’t want any of that either. We don’t want any of this, and we don’t want any of that.’ Well, let’s see if we can’t work together to get the job done for the American people. It’s an important – there’s so many injustices, whether it’s health care, whether it’s the economy, whether it’s environmental injustice. The list goes on and on, but in terms of the coronavirus, we have to defeat that virus and one place to do so is in communities of color.
Brianna Keilar. You know, anyone who knows your legislative record knows you know how to negotiate. You know how to whip votes. You know how to compromise. We saw it most recently with the USMCA. And so, I want to go back to this, because there are people in your Caucus who don’t want to see a compromise. It’s only a few months here before the election. I know their thinking on this is why not allow – they do want – some of them do want an issue. They don’t want the compromise. Why would they give the President perhaps a victory when they could hope that a Democrat is in the White House, and this might be something the Democrats could champion? So, I will ask you, to Senator Tim –
Speaker Pelosi. That’s not true
Brianna Keilar. Okay. So, to Senator Tim Scott’s –
Speaker Pelosi. That’s not so. I don’t know if you have an example of one person or two, but that is not the case. We’re talking about life and death. We’re talking about, you know, there were people that said, ‘Why did you give them the Mexico-U.S. trade agreement? Why did you give him that victory?’ I said, well, it’s a victory for the American people. It’s a collateral benefit to him, but why would we, when it came to jobs and the environment and prescription drugs and other issues we dealt with there. We’d rather have legislation that creates jobs and is good for the American people than an issue with Republicans.
We’re talking about life and death. We’re talking about chokeholds. We’re talking about eight minutes and 46 seconds on a person’s neck. We’re talking about getting the job done. I completely disagree with the characterization that people would rather have other people die, so that we would have a political issue, and it simply is not true.
Brianna Keilar. I just want to be clear, Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. It’s certainly not true of Karen Bass, who’s been working her whole life. For 47 years she’s been working on criminal justice issues. We couldn’t be better served than by that. So, if somebody has said that to you, I grant to you, you may have heard that. I haven’t.
Brianna Keilar. Okay, I want to be clear that the characterization of what I was saying was not about – you mentioned people dying. I just want to be clear. That wasn’t my characterization, and I know I will say to you –
Speaker Pelosi. People will die.
Brianna Keilar. Democrats are not, certainly not saying this – people are not – Democrats are not saying that in public.
Speaker Pelosi. They’re not saying it at all.
Brianna Keilar. So, I want to talk to you about something else. Sorry, Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. No, I haven’t heard anybody say that at all.
Brianna Keilar. Okay.
Speaker Pelosi. They did say, as I say, about U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, but I have not heard them say it about this, no.
Brianna Keilar. I want – okay. I want to talk to you now about something else. The past few weeks of course we’ve seen renewed national debate over Confederate statues. I wonder – you were first Speaker back in 2006. I wonder now with hindsight, do you wish that you would have removed them from the Capitol then?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I removed Robert E. Lee. I put him down into the Crypt. Right now, the mood in the country is so completely different, and the desire to rid ourselves of any of these symbols of bigotry and hatred is much stronger.
There will be legislation that will come forward, and hopefully, it could pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President. But I have some announcements tomorrow about all of this as well. But, no I – Robert E. Lee was a big one.
There are, I think it’s eleven statues in the Capitol. Now, they’re sent there by their states. And so, their states determine who represents them in the Capitol, but I think now with the mood in the country, it is such that these states are going to have to rethink.
They can send them, but I don’t know that we have to display them. That’s the discussion we’ll be involved in. I decided we weren’t displaying Robert E. Lee when I was Speaker. And in fact, we put Rosa Parks, and we put many more women, Sojourner Truth. We tried to, shall we say, diversify the manifestations of the American people that are in the Capitol, just to name two.
Brianna Keilar. Let’s talk about masks now. If Republicans do refuse to wear them in committee meetings, if they go on the Floor, and they’re not wearing a mask, they’re refusing to wear one, will they be refused entry to those meetings and on the Floor?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the Floor and the meetings are two different things. The Floor is a place where we have regulations put forth by the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Capitol Physician’s Office of just a limited number of people on the Floor at any given time for a short period of time to come off in order to vote. In the committee meetings, we’re talking about meetings where you come and you stay and you discuss and the rest.
And that is the memo that this – Capitol Physician put out yesterday to say: In those meetings, Members must wear a mask. It went pretty well today. Because this is about stopping the spread of the virus. It’s also not only to protect yourself, it’s to protect others and people are very – Members are very concerned. I’ve heard from many Members who say, ‘How can I go into that room where other people are not wearing a mask and then go home to my home where my children are or my parents are, and have a risk to them because somebody didn’t want to wear a mask?’ I think it’s going well here.
What I am concerned about is the attitude of the President and the Vice President of the United States. For the President to have this ego trip that he wants to take to Tulsa, to have a mass rally of people coming together endangering their own health and the people that they go home to. For the Vice President of the United States to talk about – to go visiting places without a mask is a bad example to the public.
Today is June 17th. On March 17th, there were 100 known deaths from the coronavirus in the United States. Today, on June 17th, there are over 117,000 deaths from the coronavirus. A complete failure on the part of this Administration for calling it a hoax, ‘It’s going to go away magically,’ ‘There’s going to be a miracle.’ And for the Vice President to have an op-ed in the paper today saying what, the foundation that they laid is cause for celebration – 117,000 deaths, to over two million infections a cause for celebration? I don’t think so.
We have in our Heroes Act an initiative for massive testing, tracing, treatment and separation so that we can defeat this, defeat this virus. We don’t have a vaccine. We don’t have the a cure, hopefully we will soon, but we do have testing.
Brianna Keilar. Do you worry, with the President going to Tulsa, that people can die as a result of going to his rally?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I do worry that they can become infected, and we don’t know how it would go from there. But the, all of the science, almost universally, the scientists have spoken out, from the leading health institutions and academic institutions in our country, that people should be tested; that say they should wear masks; that we’re way behind testing in our country. And the number of people who – the rate of death in our country – we’re among the worst in the world because we didn’t pay serious attention to this.
I’m a mom and I’m a grandmother and I just can’t even tolerate the thought of – that the leadership in our country – where we’re putting important money, giving them important money for all of these things and they are ignoring the need that we have for increased testing, tracing, treatment and separation, wearing masks and the rest. It’s a danger to the President himself, and he’s our President. We don’t want him to be endangered, but we don’t want to be foolish about him.
Brianna Keilar. Well, I want to ask you about the President and his health. You have seen the video of him at West Point. He was walking unsteadily. He said that he wanted to make sure he didn’t slip down that ramp. There was an image of him trying to drink a cup of water, drinking a cup of water, where he needed sort of an extra hand to help. He was having a hard time doing that. Do you have any concerns about his health?
Speaker Pelosi. I have concerns about the health of the American people. I have concerns about the statements the President has made, minimizing the risk that the coronavirus has made to their good health. That’s what I’m concerned about.
Of course, we always are concerned about the health and safety of the President and Vice President of the United States and their families. What they should reciprocate, in kind, and have some concern about the health of the American people and not blame it on the press.
They’re blaming this concern about the virus on the press, that it’s something that you all have cooked up. But in terms of what they have done, it’s cause for celebration. I don’t think so. But we really have to – this – we have to get this under control. One hundred, three months ago, 117,000 now, cause for celebration? No, Mr. Vice President. You make me sad because you’re a person of faith. We’re prayerful about praying for a cure and praying for a vaccine and praying for the good health of the American people, not to minimize the risk they are taking because the President doesn’t want to wear a mask and he wants an ego trip in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Brianna Keilar. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for coming on CNN. We’re very grateful to speak with you.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Wish it were under different circumstances. But hopefully we’ll have bipartisanship and pass The Heroes Act, as well as the Justice in Policing Act, as well. Thank you.
Brianna Keilar. Alright. Speaker Pelosi, thanks again.
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