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 held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here.
I have a special guest with us today, the distinguished Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Frank Pallone. I asked him to join us because of the discussions that we are engaged have been engaged in about how we go forward.
The simple fact is and has always been, that unless we crush the virus, we’re not going to be able to open our economy or our schools or our society safely.
Since March 4th, we had our first coronavirus bill. Testing, testing, testing has been a focal point of addressing, crushing the virus. It has been in the legislation, but it has not been a priority for this Administration.
And so in our bill that we put forth, our Heroes Act that honors our heroes, our state and local folks, health care workers, first responders, sanitation, transportation, food workers, who are on the front line, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. They’re on the front line.
They risk their lives to save other lives, and now they may lose their jobs. In order to protect them and our children and our country we have to do what we do in the Heroes Act, which is crush the virus.
And it’s not just about having the language as we have over and over, acting in good will that the Administration would listen to the scientists when it came to testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, separation, ventilation, sanitation. Did I say that?
Instead, this bill, Heroes, lays out the plan. And it is a plan that the Energy and Commerce Committee, under the leadership of Frank Pallone, put together based on science, science, science and what we have to do to crush the virus.
And while the Administration decides to ignore science, has contempt for science, the death toll rises. Since we passed our bill nearly 5 months ago, over 100,000 more people have died, millions more have been infected, because they want to ignore science and because they disdain governance. They don’t want to say, ‘Obey science,’ that would say, ‘Now you are required to do this or that.’ We’re on a path that we should never, never have been on at this point.
So, when the Administration – when the President did his strange tweet that said, ‘We’re walking away from the negotiations,’ it was, like, what? We’ve all been working very hard to find our common ground, to agree on language so that we have an understanding of what the legislation will do.
We still haven’t heard back on the score of the language for testing, tracing, treating. So, that means that they just want money for the President to spend on who knows what, who’s showing up at one of his golf clubs or something, that he’s going to go buy their stuff.
But this is a plan, a strategic plan, that Mr. Pallone will describe and that scientists have helped put together and support.
So, when the President did his tweet, the one that said that he was walking away, I think he surprised a lot of people. I don’t want to go into who they are right now, but it was a disservice to the discussion that we were having in good faith.
When he walked away from the discussion, he walked away from our children. He walked away from how we can open up our schools virtually, actually or in hybrid form, how we can educate our children. He walked away from poor children in our country in terms of the Child Tax Credit and the Child & Dependent [Care] Credit and other initiatives that help the poorest children in our country. He walked away from what we were trying to do, to put money in the pockets of the American people, food on the table, rent so they’re not evicted. All of it coronavirus centric, all of it coronavirus centric, not addressing any larger issue, coronavirus centric.
He walked away from our heroes. He said to those health care workers, police and fire, as I said before, teachers, teachers, teachers, transportation, sanitation, food workers and the rest, ‘We just don’t care. You just don’t matter.’
This is really appalling. The list goes on and on. And, of course, he walked away from safety in the workplace. He walked about the lives, the livelihoods and the life of our democracy in so many ways.
So, here we are, now planting, staking out the territory so that the people will know there is a plan. And the plan isn’t for the President to say that he’s a perfect physical specimen, did he say? Specimen, maybe I could agree with that. And young, he said he was young. His disassociation from reality would be funny if it weren’t so deadly.
And his people, these enablers around who are enabling death, the death toll to rise, we can – we have to shed a bright light on what has been possible for months that they chose to ignore because of their contempt for Congress and their disdain for governance.
And so that’s why, if there’s one thing that has to be in this bill that he has never made as a priority, it’s crushing the virus instead of the denial, delay, distortion, lack of reality that the President has all along brought to this. Let’s not let it be anecdotal. Let it be scientific.
In that regard, I’m very proud to be with Frank Pallone this morning. He has worked on this issue. He knows these health issues backward, forward, over the years. So, he can place this in the context of public health, of science, about reaching as many people as possible.
And let me just close by saying this. When the President did his tweet, he said, ‘I want the Senate to spend full time, fully focused on the nomination, so I’m not going to have them be doing anything on stopping the spread of the virus,’ is essentially what that is.
Full focus on the nomination, why? So that somebody can be in there on time for the oral arguments on November 10th to overturn the Affordable Care Act, to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
This, in the time of a pandemic, the President going to court and overturning the Affordable Care Act. Overturning the pre existing condition benefit that 150 million families in America depend upon. Overturning the fact that tens of millions more people have access to health care. Overturning the preventive and essential benefits package. Overturning so many aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including if you have a senior in your family who is on long term care, much of it paid for by Medicaid. And then to not – and to misrepresent the truth. He has a plan for that benefit? Well, we haven’t seen it in four years. We haven’t seen it in four years.
No family in America can afford unlimited expenses that would come with not having a pre existing condition benefit and the other provision in the bill that removes the insurance company caps of what they would spend on a person.
So, lives are at stake. Health is in the balance. This is deadly serious. So, let’s take a serious, not a skinny, not an emaciated, but a serious, appropriate approach to crushing the virus and then talk about some of the other good things that would flow from that.
With that, again, I’m proud to present the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a person who has spent decades on these issues, and we’re blessed that he – to have his leadership at this time to address this issue.
Chairman Pallone. Well, thank you. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Let me just thank you for your persistence in continuing to focus on crushing the virus, as you say repeatedly to me and to the Caucus and to the American people. And, you know, and what you said, what you just said, you constantly say, which is that this has to be the focus, because this is the key to everything. You’re not going to be able to open the economy, you’re not going to be able to recover the economy unless you crush the virus.
And, also, your emphasis that this is our responsibility, that this is the government’s responsibility, this is Washington’s responsibility to do something about this.
And the Speaker never hesitates. I mean, I haven’t been part of the negotiations, but whenever she talks to us, I know that when the President raises one issue, she says, ‘Well, what about the virus? What about the testing? What are you going to do about that?’
And so, I just want to thank you for really prioritizing and constantly bringing it up.
It’s hard for me to believe that it’s now October, and it’s ten months into this pandemic, and the Trump Administration still doesn’t have a national testing, tracing, surveillance, and containment plan in place. We’ve been asking for this from the very beginning.
Worse yet, they can’t even effectively test or trace or contain the COVID within the confines of the White House. I mean, I heard this morning that he’s back in the Oval Office, potentially spreading this to the people that work for him in the White House, as they may be spreading it to Washington and others.
In fact, one of the concerns that I have is in my home State of New Jersey, you probably know that New Jersey has done a very good job in the last few months of actually containing the virus, but the President came and had a fundraiser at Bedminster, at his golf course, you mentioned his golf course, and now the Governor is trying to contact trace the people that were there to see if they’re spreading it and actually raising the numbers in New Jersey.
I mean, it is just insane what he does. He refuses to acknowledge that we’re not going to be able to crush this virus unless we have some kind of a national plan to deal with this.
Speaker Pelosi. And the state is paying for this.
Chairman Pallone. Well, that’s the other thing. The state, you know, received – we did have money in the CARES Act, again, thanks to the Speaker and all of us in the Congress that voted for it, but that money is running out. We only had about half of what we need, and most of that has already been spent. So, the Speaker is right.
Look, now I’m going to talk a little bit about what’s in the Heroes Act, in the updated Heroes Act that we passed last week to address this, but I just have to emphasize again that the President, in cutting off the negotiations and refusing to talk about this, is making the possibility of this national plan less and less likely every day. He just doesn’t want to do it.
Now, what we – in terms of the testing and the contact tracing, I think you know that we have $75 billion in funding to support the testing, the contact tracing and the surveillance. But just as important as the money is the fact that we have – we state not only that we should have a national plan, but we have – we talk about clear benchmarks and timelines and a strategy to achieve the level of testing that is necessary.
Right now, there’s only about 900,000 tests being done per day around the country, and health experts that have testified before our committee say you need 4 million minimum per day. So, that’s less than 25 percent, if you will, of what’s absolutely necessary.
So, when anybody tells you we’re doing enough testing, or the President says anybody can be tested, it is simply not true. We are not doing enough testing.
And the bottom line is that it’s also a question of the national government setting guidelines. Why do you think the states, different states use different types of tests, and a lot of times the tests don’t work? They scramble for the things they use for the testing. Different states don’t know what to do about the schools and when they should open or what they need to open.
This should be all done on a national level, and this is done in a lot of other countries on the national level, and it’s not being done here because the President doesn’t want to have a national plan.
Now, we have also, as Democrats, stressed vaccines. The President only wanted – until recently, he only wanted to talk about vaccines. But we also in the updated Heroes Act address the vaccines very effectively. We create a national vaccine plan. We provide $28 billion in additional funds to develop, manufacture and promote access to vaccines and therapeutics.
Of those funds, $7 billion go to conducting activities to expand and improve vaccine distribution. A lot of that actually will go to the states, which we said need it for them to continue. And also a billion dollars goes to an evidence based public awareness campaign.
The states have been asked by October 16th, which I believe is next week, to put together individual plans for vaccine distribution, and we want it to be as equitable as possible. But just like they need the money for testing, they also need the money for the vaccines if they’re going to be able to have an effective plan.
And the Heroes Act has that, but if it’s not passed, and the President doesn’t address it and doesn’t go back to the negotiating table, it’s going to be very hard for the states to actually develop those vaccine plans that they have to put forward by next week.
Now, all we’ve heard from the President, until recently, was vaccine, vaccine, right, and it was obvious that he wanted to approve this vaccine by election day, whether or not it was going to be effective.
Thank God, and I mean that, thank God that the FDA went ahead and issued these new guidelines that make it clear that we have to have an additional two months from when the vaccine has been finally developed to actually test it and to make sure we don’t have adverse events – adverse effects.
I always say, you know, it’s like when you go to the hospital and they say, ‘Oh, the operation was successful, but the patient died.’ We don’t need a vaccine that may not be effective, but we also don’t need a vaccine that’s actually going to have so many adverse events that, you know, people die from the effect of the vaccine.
So, the bottom line now at least we have the FDA out there with the guidelines. But we’re still concerned that he may override the FDA and just go ahead and say, ‘Well, this is the vaccine anyway. It’s okay. You don’t need the FDA’s approval.’ And we want to stress that that should not happen.
Now, the final thing is, within the last 24 hours, Madam Speaker, with Regeneron. It’s almost as if, ‘Well, I tried the – you know, the silver bullet with the vaccine, but now I don’t have that anymore, so now I’ll move to Regeneron,’ which is the experimental drug that he was treated with. And now he issued a video, I guess in the last 24 hours, saying, ‘Well, I’m going to have this thing approved by the FDA under emergency use, and I’m going to have it distributed and manufactured, and everybody’s going to have it again.’
Well, again, language that’s saying, ‘I’m going to override the FDA. I’m going to override the science. I know what works.’ Needless to say, we don’t know if it works, and we have no reason to believe that it’s going to be available.
I think they said, the company that produces it, that they have 50,000 – the availability to treat 50,000 people. More than 50,000 people got the virus yesterday, right, and almost 1,000 died yesterday.
So, what are you talking about, Mr. President? Once again, you’re ignoring the science, you’re politicizing the issue. Stop. Stop this. Help us get the Heroes Act. The Heroes Act has the tools and the resources necessary to crush the virus.
We’re not going to wish this away. We have to rise to the challenge. The Speaker has risen to the challenge. The President has not.
Please, Mr. President, come back to the negotiating table. Let’s get these critical testing and vaccine provisions signed into law so we can crush the virus and do the responsible thing, as our Speaker said, for the American people.
And thank you, again, Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, on that score of the language, because, again, we have put resources for testing again and again and again, but left to their own devices, they did not have a plan except to use it almost in a political way, and this is a plan to do it in a scientific way.
I also want to make the point that is very important to our plan, is that we are recognizing that the communities of color have been disproportionately hit by this virus. And that’s why we need the testing, tracing, treatment, separation, et cetera, addressed into those communities, and that’s part of what this plan will do as well.
Just before we take questions, just say that every part of the bill, whether he’s talking about, ‘Let the states go bankrupt, I’m not doing any blue states or any of that,’ many of those employees are people of color. Many of them serve people of color. Their rejection of doing this right is harmful to people of color. And how they want to spend their money on the schools is harmful to children of color.
And so this – this is – people say to me, ‘You’re not going to be able to correct every ill in society in this bill.’ I said, ‘That’s true. This is coronavirus centric. But I’m not going to make matters worse and solidify the disparity that we see as this virus continues to spread.’
When I talked to the Administration most recently, last evening, I said, ‘You still haven’t given us a response to the language after all this time.’ They admitted that.
* * *
Questions on this subject?
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, Garrett?
Q: Madam Speaker, your office has indicated that you talked to the Secretary about a standalone bill to help the airlines. Could you update us on that progress? And to that end, with the entire economy hurting, why do the airlines deserve special treatment?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me stay just with this subject, and I’ll come back to you, Garrett.
Let me say this. This issue, and now the President we pray for his health, his recovery, his family, 34 people in the White House infected by this, and still, and still not an acceptance of what needs to be done?
I think that the public needs to know the health condition of the President. There’s one question that he refuses, they refuse to answer. When was – before he got the virus and admitted to it, when was his last negative test, when was his last negative test, to make a judgment about the actions that were taken after that?
Members of the press ask the question, it gets deflected. But it is a very important question for our country, because now the President is saying that he probably got this from the Gold Star families. Can you believe that he would say such a thing? He probably got this from the Gold Star families?
So, let us see a date, a time, when you last tested negative before you admitted to this virus.
On the subject of how we crush the virus and how we go forward, are there any questions for our Chairman?
Q: I just wanted to ask about the negotiations.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, now, about this subject, and it’s related. I will come back to it. Because this is central to the negotiations. It’s no use saying we’re going to give the Administration more money to do whatever they want with it unless we get to the heart of the matter and crush this.
Q: Madam Speaker, thank you. On this topic, it’s clear that the issue is as much about the President pulling away from the negotiations, but also the Republicans in the Senate who have shown some concern about spending more money. Yet, at the same time, we saw some Republican Senators coming out and saying they thought it was a mistake to walk away from the negotiations. Are you in any way talking to Leader McConnell, to any of these Republican Senators, who perhaps could weigh in on this in a way that would help bring some resolution here?
Speaker Pelosi. Okay. So, you’re not talking about this subject either.
Anybody want to talk about –
Q: We seem to be confused. We all seem to be confused, frankly.
Q: We’re talking about the COVID talks.
Q: What are we –
Q: Are these not the COVID talks?
Q: Do you want to talk about the bill, or do you want to talk –
Speaker Pelosi. What we want to talk about is the fact that we have not – and to your point about the Republican Senators, they’re accomplices to what the President is doing in terms of ignoring the science that could save lives. So that is the point of this, and it is central to the negotiations, and there’s no way that we can just say, ‘Let’s just write some checks and give it to the President so he can give it out any way he wants,’ when he’s not getting to the heart of the matter.
Now, you had the first question, that since there seems to be – I don’t know what, about how you don’t understand that this is – we are where we are because of that. Do you have any questions about what Mr. Pallone is proposing? If not, I’ll answer Garrett’s question.
Garrett, let me just be really clear. I have been very open to having a standalone bill for the airlines or part of a bigger bill. But there is no standalone bill without a bigger bill. There is no bill. Because you asked the second question: Why should we do one, not the other?
Speaker Pelosi. And so, the comment that I made to the Administration last night was we’re happy to review what that standalone bill would look like as part of a bigger bill if there is a bigger bill, but there is no standalone bill.
Q: You would not move forward at all on a standalone airline bill?
Speaker Pelosi. If we don’t have a guarantee that we’re going to be helping our state and local employees, that we’re not going to be able to crush the virus, that we’re not going to be able to have our children go to school safely, that we’re not going to have safety in the workplace, that we’re not going to address unemployment, that we’re not going to have the – and some of these issues we have come to some area of agreement, but some of them we have not.
But they have walked away from the whole package, and that includes 17 million children in the country food insecure, millions of their families on the verge of eviction, on the verge of eviction, and the President says, ‘Well, I’ll do these three things.’ No, that’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen.
And I take pride in the fact that when the workers and the unions, the unions and the companies did their press event last week, they said they advocated for a full bill.
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Let’s see. Who is next on that? You were. Yes?
Q: I just wanted – so last night Mnuchin said to you he’s interested in getting back to talking about a longer – a larger bill, but he would need the President’s buy in. So you’ve been involved in –
Speaker Pelosi. I don’t, I don’t – I would not put those exact words in his mouth, no.
Q: So, could you tell us what the exact words were?
Speaker Pelosi. No. No. There were no exact words like that. It was what we were talking about, a single bill, a standalone bill, and the particulars within a singular bill, because they have some objection to what we put – you know, we had a UC, a Unanimous Consent request last week that the Republicans rejected. And so – and the Senate had their own version, which they even rejected themselves, the Senate Republicans rejected themselves.
So, the question is, what – if there were to be a standalone bill, what does that look like?
Q: Got it.
Speaker Pelosi. And the only point about negotiations is: Ain’t gonna be no standalone bill unless there is a long term – a bigger bill, and it could be part of that, or it could be in addition to that.
Q: So, you’ve been involved in these negotiations now off and on since July over this package, and –
Speaker Pelosi. Actually, since May.
Q: Since May.
Speaker Pelosi. It’s almost five months. Excuse me.
Q: Even more so. So, could you just give us a sense? I mean, the President pulled away. Mnuchin seems eager to do something. I mean, give us your prospects here of where you think things are given your talks with Mnuchin and the President and McConnell’s, I guess, hesitancy to or disagreement about the larger package. Could you just give us what your prospects are at this moment?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don’t know what the prospects are when we hear people saying, ‘I’m young and I’m a perfect specimen,’ instead of addressing the fact that, what, 50,000 people were infected, reported to be infected yesterday, nearly a thousand people died. What are we talking about here?
Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow, we’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment, but not to take attention away from the subject we have now.
Okay. Here is the thing. We’ve been working very hard on language, because if you don’t have the language you’re just giving them a blank check to do what they have done, which is to ignore crushing the virus. And so what we’re saying is, with all the trust that we had before – and let me use the word ‘trust.’ Trust. Trust. With all the trust in the world that they – the argument would be so compelling to open up our economy and our schools and the rest that they would do something, but they didn’t.
And now, Frank, for five months, what will be five months in a few days, the 15th of May, 15th of October would be five months.
So, the point is, is that early on we had lots of negotiations. They wanted to know our justification for child care, and they wanted to know our justification for Earned Income Tax Credit, because ‘You know there’s fraud there, right?’ Okay, you want to talk about fraud for the poorest people in America getting an earned income tax credit while the President is paying – spending – paying $750 for his taxes in a year that he did pay taxes?
So, okay. So, but getting back to your question, we’ve been working on what the language would look like. We have our differences in numbers. But it’s no use having just a numbers discussion unless we know what that money is spent on. Otherwise, we’re just giving billions, hundreds of billions, more than a trillion, two trillion dollars to the President to spend any way he wants, but not to address the issues at hand.
So the – so that’s – and that’s why it was so disappointing. I said, I almost wondered if Mr. Mnuchin even knew the President was going to do that. I even wonder if Mitch McConnell and McCarthy knew that the President was going to do that. You might want to ask them.
But the fact is, is that in saying what he said: ‘Forget everything, we’re just focusing on the Supreme Court nomination to overturn the Affordable Care Act,’ was so undermining of all of the work. There’s a lot of work, a lot of staff work that goes into clarifying so we have an understanding of what the language means, making concessions here or there or clarifications or prioritizing in a different way.
It’s called legislating. It’s called legislating. It’s a foreign language to the White House in many respects. But it is what we have to do to save lives, and that’s what we intend to do. And I was optimistic, because why would you engage in all these conversations unless you were optimistic that something could come of it. And we did move in some areas. But everything is not – nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. That’s the way it always is.
Q: Still optimistic? Are you still optimistic or is that –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because it has to be done. If the President wants to wait until he wins the election, well, that might be an eternity. But if he wants to wait until after the election, then that would be unfortunate, because more people will die, more will be infected, more kids will have uncertainty about how they’re learning, more kids will go without food. Evictions will – you know, a moratorium is a nice thing, but somebody’s got to pay the rent at some point. And, again, more people will be fired from our state and local government, which meets the needs of the American people.
So, every day of delay is a problem. But, again, if they, if they – we’re not going to, again, ossify the injustices that have become part of this in terms of the communities of color and just people, just people who have a predisposition to catching such a virus.
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, Chad?
Q: Thank you. So, in your talks with Secretary Mnuchin –
Speaker Pelosi. Excuse me a second. Did you have anything you wanted to add to any of that, Frank?
Chairman Pallone. No, you go ahead.
Q: Thank you. In your talks with Secretary Mnuchin here, do you get the sense that he is on the same page with the President? I mean, you said it seemed like there might have been a situation that he didn’t know that the President was pulling out, that McConnell didn’t know –
Speaker Pelosi. I don’t know if he did.
Q: Some Republicans said they haven’t liked what we heard about some of the proposals he’s put forth.
Speaker Pelosi. I believe the President probably informed – I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. I asked him. He said he knew. I said, ‘You knew he was going to tweet? You knew he was going to tweet? That after you had engaged in months of negotiations with the Speaker of the House, Article I, the first branch of government, with all the work that we have done, respectful of your point of view, trying to find reconciliation and common ground, that the Congress of the United States would be treated with disrespect by a tweet by the President to say it’s off? Is that an appropriate notification? So, that he could focus full time on the nomination. On the nomination.’
So, this is not the way that happens. But, again, we embrace the – there’s a bad word for that. And, you know, again, it’s not about him. It’s about people in America who are susceptible.
Q: Look, what I’m getting at here is when he comes to your office or he’s on the phone –
Speaker Pelosi. He’s not coming to my office.
Q: Well, I know. I know that.
Speaker Pelosi. He came to the office last Wednesday. ‘Don’t worry about me. Don’t worry about me. I get tested all the time because I – I’m in conversation with the President.’ Really? I’ll see you on the phone.
Q: But when you’re on the horn with the Secretary, do you get the sense that the President, the Chief of Staff, they’re all on the same page, and they are, in fact, representing the position of the Administration, what their negotiating position is?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don’t know who you mean by ‘they all.’
Q: Well, I said the Chief of Staff, the Secretary of the Treasury.
Speaker Pelosi. I don’t know about the Chief of Staff. I mean, I don’t even do that. But the Secretary of the Treasury has been designated by the President to engage in these negotiations. I have to trust that, that – but why would he, why would he have these conversations if he’s not speaking for the President of the United States?
Q: Because I’ve heard from some Republicans that they’ve not liked some of the things that they were hearing.
Speaker Pelosi. This is not an academic discussion. If he’s not speaking for the President of the United States, there’s no reason to have the conversation. I trust that he is, and I trust that he wants to understand the differences so we can try to find common ground, and hopefully we will.
Now, let me just say another thing: Trust. Trust is a word that is so important in everything we do, and trust is important when we come to the vaccines. We all want to pray for a vaccine to come soon. We want to have it not one day sooner than it is safe and efficacious, but not one day later. God willing, it will come soon, and that will be an answer for us. And maybe that’s what makes the Administration act in this – the irresponsible way that they do about prevention, because they are placing so much on the vaccine.
Thank God for the scientists at the FDA who are scientists, who are working 24/7, who created Warp Speed, by the way, that the President latched onto, who created Warp Speed, and that they will – their work, their science, their genius will be rewarded by having the appropriate clinical trials so that what comes out of it is something that we can trust, not something politicized or a timetable that is hastened because of something else.
Now, Frank, do you want to speak to the vaccine piece again?
Chairman Pallone. Well, I think that what we have in the updated Heroes Act is trying to address a lot of the things that the Speaker mentioned. In other words, not only do we have more money for actual development of the vaccine, but also for the distribution. Because, as I mentioned, it actually states, by next week, I think it’s October 16th, is next week, are supposed to submit a plan.
But, again, they don’t have the money to do it, and they don’t – and, in my opinion, a lot of the guidance they’re getting isn’t necessarily helpful. And you could very easily have very wide disparities from one state to the next just like we did with the testing. For example, in New Jersey, we were going to test or the plan we submitted was a seven to eight percent of the population, whereas the White House said that two percent was enough. Actually, you know, two percent is totally insufficient.
And so, again, what we’re saying, that this has to be nationalized. Not only do we have to provide the funding, as the Speaker said, which is in the Heroes Act, in the updated version, for both the testing, the contact tracing, and the vaccine, but there has to be a national plan for doing all this. That plan has clearly failed as far as the testing and the contact tracing is concerned because they never developed a national plan. They left it up to the states.
Now, we’re worried the same thing may happen with the vaccine. In other words, are states going to be competing for the vaccine? They have no real guidelines, nationally, about how to distribute it. The Speaker constantly talks about equitable distribution, right? It’s not just a question of giving it out to a few select people. It’s a question of making sure everyone gets it equitably, and very concerned about minority communities and underserved communities and how they’re going to get it.
And the President just keeps saying, ‘Oh, don’t worry, you know. Everybody can have a test. Everybody can get the vaccine.’ Or now, you know, he moved on to everybody can get, you know, the treatment that he had with this experimental drug. And there’s no national plan, there’s no uniformity, and he is ignoring the science once again.
I mean, you know, he said that with this latest drug that the company, I guess within the last 24 hours, asked for emergency use authorization. But a lot of the scientists are, you know, in the media saying, ‘We don’t know whether this thing works.’ As Nancy said, we don’t even know whether it’s working on him. We don’t even know when he got – you know, they don’t give us the information about his own case. And it clearly is not available to any – in any widespread way even if it is approved and is effective.
So, you know, I feel – look, I can’t commend you enough, Madam Speaker, because you keep saying that the heart of what happens with this negotiations has to be a national plan for testing, contact tracing, equitable vaccine distribution. And that’s – and they’re ignoring that or they, you know, they act like, ‘Oh, well, that doesn’t matter because, you know, that’s not the main focus of what we’re trying to do to crush the virus.’ It has to be the main focus, and that’s what we’re stressing.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
And I come back to the word trust, because when this vaccine is put forth in a scientific way with the appropriate clinical trials and consent from the scientific advisory committee that passes on these things, that people will have trust in it and take the vaccine, because a vaccine is only as good as as many people who will actually do it. And you see the numbers are very split in our country so far as to whether they would avail themselves of it.
And that’s why this has to be embraced for the scientific basis that it has, not ignored because of the doubt as to the timing of it that had something to do with the election rather than scientific evidence that it is safe and effective.
Staff. Last question.
Q: Just to follow up on something you just said. Do you think it’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment?
Speaker Pelosi. I’ll talk to you about that tomorrow. I’ll talk to you about it tomorrow. I’m not talking about it today except to tell you, if you want to talk about that, we’ll see you tomorrow. But you take me back to my point.
Mr. President, when was the last time you had a negative test before you tested positive? Why is the White House not telling the country that important fact about how this spread and made a hotspot of the White House?
Thank you all very much.
Staff. Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.
Let me just say, we’ve told the White House we’re at the table. We’re at the table. We want to continue the conversation. We’ve made some progress. We’re exchanging language. And then – so, we’ll see how they come back.
Thank you. Thank you, Frank.
Chairman Pallone. Thank you.
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