Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and furloughed federal workers for a media availability discussing the Trump Shutdown and its negative impact on American families. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Behind us and in front of us here are the VIPs, the people who make America work, the working people of our country who are the backbone of our middle class, the backbone of our democracy. And unfortunately, we meet during a dark time for America’s workers as government is shut down. It’s a dark time.
Last night, the President spouted more malice and misinformation, appealing to fear instead of facts. The reality is that the President could end the Trump Shutdown and re-open government today, and he should. Instead, he is holding the American people hostage to his ineffective, expensive wall and withholding paychecks from hard-working Americans.
To some, he is saying, ‘Work without a paycheck.’ To others, he is saying, ‘Just stay home.’ In all of those cases, he is being unfair, not only to the workers but also to the American people whose services he is depriving, and also to our economy.
The President’s manufactured crisis reaches into the lives of millions of Americans. It threatens services and benefits they need to stay healthy and secure. It robs hard-working Americans of their paychecks. Some we will hear from, like Steve Reaves, and the 3,200 workers of the AFGE National Local 4060. Holly Salamido and the 5,000 workers of the AFGE Council 222. Eric Young and the 3,200 men and women of the AFGE Council 33.
These numbers are numbers to you, but they are people, they are families, they are resources in our community and we will hear from them. And, of course, we are very, very honored to welcome J. David Cox who represents the 700,000 Americans, the American Federation of Government Employees.
Later today, Congressional Democrats will go to the White House. We will have given the President a Republican path forward. We have said to them, ‘We are willing to accept what the Senate Republicans have passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. We will take your path forward. Take yes for an answer.’
Instead, he has chosen a wall over workers. The President needs to end his senseless shutdown and re-open the government. And a champion in making that distinction for the President – you want to negotiate on the wall, let’s proceed in a way that is respectful of our security and respectful to our values – I am pleased to yield to the distinguished Democratic Leader in the Senate, Senator Schumer.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Steve. Pleased to answer any questions, before we do though just want to answer any questions on a couple of things that we heard here. We’ve heard here that many of our public employees are veterans. Our veterans are very adversely effected by this. If we want to support our veterans, we will not hurt their credit rating. And that’s what’s missing – a mortgage, a rental payment, a car payment and the rest does to everyone’s credit rating.
As far as credit ratings are concerned, the credit rating of the United States of America will be affected if this goes on – as the President says he’s willing to let it go on for ‘months or years.’ How irresponsible in that regard. If you’re going to negotiate, it’s really important to stipulate to a set of facts. What the President said last night was not factual. It was not factual. We all want to evaluate what the threat is at the border. We all are committed to strong border security. We all have suggested ways to do that, whether it’s technology of scanning of cars, other technology, whether it’s roads and infrastructure at our points of entry and the rest.
There’s a path here, but it’s not the one that Administration wants to take. They seem to have a disrespect for the role of governance in our country, and therefore for the people who have a role of influence in our country to make these services available to people.
So, this is a problem. If the President is just going to go on and on about a mischaracterization – now we don’t want to underestimate any challenge to our border security – don’t get me wrong, we’re all committed to border security. But if he’s going to misrepresent the nature of that challenge, then we have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, the evidence does not support the threat that you are describing.’ With that, any questions?
Q: If this goes on and continues to go on with no end in sight, will it ever get to the point where you have to negotiate middle ground on funding for the border wall and border security?
Speaker Pelosi. We have been negotiating. The White House seems to move the goal posts. Every time they come with a proposal, they walk away from it. Pretty soon these goal posts won’t even be in the stadium.
So, we want to say to them, if we can come to some agreement, we want it in writing so the public can see it, so it doesn’t change.
Leader Schumer. But it’s much harder to achieve a good negotiation while the government is shut down.
The first order of business, we’ll continue to negotiate, the first order of business, open up the government. You heard these people. Right?
Attendees. Right. Open up the government. Open it up.
Leader Schumer. Next question.
Q: Madam Speaker, we are seeing a growing number of Republicans saying that they do support your plan to re-open the government. Do you think you can get enough Members from the other side of the aisle to force the Republicans’ hand into action?
Leader Schumer. Well –
Speaker Pelosi. The President obviously. I thank you for that question because really, some of the responsibility of course is on the President who just has an obsession with this wall, but it’s on the Republicans in Congress as well.
They know full well that we have to open up government and we have to do so as soon as possible. And yet, they’re walking away from their own legislation. This is legislation that passed in the Senate, 92 to nothing on the Floor and unanimously in committee.
So, we didn’t just – we didn’t come up with our own idea in terms of negotiating. We took their idea and said, again, take yes, take yes for an answer.
Leader Schumer. And let me say this, every Republican voted in the Senate to keep the government open when Leader McConnell put the, I guess, 30-day extension, it’s been a little more than 30 days, but the extension on the floor.
So, as Leader Pelosi said, we’ve tried to make it easy for them. Of the six bills that Leader Pelosi and the House passed, four passed the Floor 92 to 6. So, a vast majority of Republicans voted for them. The two that didn’t pass committee unanimously, Leader McConnell voted for all of them.
So, we’re not – we are trying to make it as easy as possible for our Republican friends to join us in opening up the government.
Q: The President has said thinks federal workers are on his side – so if I was wondering if I could see by a show of hands – how many of you want to see the government re-opened and also see the wall built? Nobody.
Speaker Pelosi. This is another example of the President being almost delusionary about what it is.
He says that to us, ‘Oh, the workers are calling me saying I’ll stay out without a paycheck as long as it takes.’ And it’s like, well who? Give us names. Name names. And the fact is that it’s not right.
Leader Schumer. The federal workers are as much for President Trump’s position on shutdown and the wall as the four past Presidents were.