January 25, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for a media availability following President Trump agreeing to end the government shutdown. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Leader, and thank you for your leadership in bringing us to this important resolution now, where shortly the Senate will send over to the House the paper. I came over to see the original paper, and we’ll get it probably in a half an hour.
Two resolutions. One to open up government for all of the agencies of government, and one to proceed to conference on the Homeland Security Bill.
We’re pleased that we reached an agreement to reopen government now so that we can have a discussion on how to secure our borders. It is very clear that we all understand the importance of securing our borders and we have some very good ideas on how to do that. And that will be part of the discussion as we go forward.
House Democrats look forward to working in a bipartisan, bicameral way to pass all of the bills to open government, as we proceed into the conference discussion.
Now, I’m an appropriator and I was forged in that culture and I know that left to their own devices, the appropriators, bicamerally and bipartisanly, can come to conclusion. Again, sometimes it comes to the principals of the Leaders of the House and Senate to weigh in, and I think that we will have a very productive time in a short period of time to come to some conclusion.
But, I am grateful and inspired by the courage and the determination of America’s workers. They have shown during this crisis something so – such strong character. But, nonetheless they have to pay the bills when they come due. Whether it’s a rent check, paying their mortgage, their credit card bills, their car payment, the list goes on. Some of them didn’t even have gas money because they didn’t have cash, or any more line of, credit card ability to put gas in the car to go to work.
It’s really hard for some in the Administration to understand how people live paycheck to paycheck and how marginal some of their existences are – makes a difference in how they educate their children, how they put food on the table, again, how they pay their rent, etc.
So, we thank them and are so glad that, as the President said earlier, as soon as possible or immediately – so, I don’t know which is faster, but the quickest of the two – they will receive their backpay and the pay that is due today.
We’re grateful to Democrats on both sides of the Capitol for their unity. That was very, very important in these discussions. It’s sad, though, that it’s taken this long to come to an obvious conclusion. Talked about missed bills and financial security being shaken, sometimes questioning – putting in question the credit – how people’s credit is viewed.
And that’s particularly problematic for our veterans, many of whom are in their jobs with security clearances, and a security clearance is affected if your credit rating is diminished. So, we are grateful to our veterans who have donned the uniform of our country, to protect us and then moved on to civilian side – to continue their public service. And we want them to have all the respect they deserve. As well as our other public employees, federal employees, who are working so hard to meet the needs of the American people.
We value their purpose. We appreciate their diligence in performing their jobs. Whether it’s, as the Leader said, keeping us safe in terms of civilian aviation, whether it’s the F.B.I. or other areas of public safety. But, also just in so many ways, whether it’s food safety and the rest. So – but we don’t want in any way, any shutdown of government to diminish the respect that we have for the purpose of our public employees and the excellence of their service.
Disagreement in policy should never be a reason to shut down government, really shouldn’t. Especially, again, for a period of time that has an impact on the paychecks. And I’m sad it’s taken this long. I’m glad that we’ve come to a conclusion today as to how we go forward in the next three weeks.
And again, I salute the Minority Leader, the Democratic Leader in the Senate, for the work that he did to bring this – because in the House we passed – 10 times we passed a bill, working with our Leadership, Mr. Hoyer, ten times we brought bills to the Floor to open up government – to open up government.
And the most recent one that was presented on the Senate Floor yesterday was so simple. $12 billion, $12 billion for disaster assistance and open up government for two weeks. The Republicans said no.
I think the public weighed in. I quote Lincoln all the time. ‘Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything.’ We thank the public for weighing in so strongly, for paying attention.
And I think that will be the success of this conference. Again, as an Appropriator, I’ve participated in many conferences when we used to have them. This conference, that the public awareness is so increased and the public interest in it is so sharpened that they will see what the decisions are that we have to make and how those decisions. I thank you again, Mr. Leader.
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Leader Schumer. Ok, wait, wait, one at a time, one at a time, please. Come on.
Q: Madam Speaker, the President has wanted this wall funding for a long time but it wasn’t until Democrats won the House that he really went to the mat for it. How much of all of this do you think is about the new power dynamic and his desire to show you who’s really in charge?
Speaker Pelosi. I don’t get your question. The point is today we have come to a way to go forward, to debate the best ways to protect our border. I don’t see this as any power play.
Q: I’m referring to the past 36 days and the fact that he held out over wall funding.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, if you’re saying that the President held out over wall funding to show who was in charge, I think that’s quite a bad statement to make about any leader in our country. But what I do say is, let’s go forward, get this done. The Leader mentioned lessons learned and hope that the people know that we cannot hold our public employees hostage because we have a disagreement.
How many? 34 days is it now, over one month, having an impact on their lives? So I don’t want to make any characterizations of the President’s motivation. You’ll have to ask him.
Leader Schumer. Go ahead.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, did the President underestimate you politically, and can you assure the public that there won’t be another impasse in three weeks?
Speaker Pelosi. I can’t assure the public on anything that the President will do but I do have to say, I’m optimistic. I see every challenge or every crisis as an opportunity: an opportunity to do the right thing for the American people and at the same time make people aware of what the decisions are that we have here and hopefully that will make everybody come together in a way that is unifying for our country. I can’t characterize the President’s evaluation of me.
Leader Schumer. I’ll just say one more thing in reference to that. I suggested to Leader McConnell that we use a conference committee format. That conference committee has Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, sitting at a table, has worked very successfully on Homeland Security and everything and all the other bills that haven’t been signed over the last several years. Even when the Republicans were in charge. And so I’m very optimistic that the conference committee can come to a good conclusion and we can avoid another shutdown.
Q: Will the State of the Union go on as planned now?
Speaker Pelosi. The State of the Union is not planned now.
What I said to the President is, when the government is open, we will discuss a mutually agreeable date and I’ll look forward to doing that and welcoming the President to the House of Representatives for the State of the Union when we agree on that mutual date.
Q: You were planning to announce the border security vision of Democrats, what you want. What is the state of that proposal, and also, can you accept any sort of physical barrier from a border security plan?
Speaker Pelosi. The work of the conference committee will draw out everyone’s view of what is the best way to protect our borders. Our Chair of our Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, knows this issue very well. She will go to the table with our best ideas on how to protect our border. The Leader referenced some in terms of infrastructure that relates to our ports of entry. The President talked about drugs coming into our country. 90 percent of the drugs come through the ports of entry. Come one way or another, as he was describing, coming through our ports of entry.
Let us increase the infrastructure where the drugs are coming in, let us increase, as the Leader said, the technology to scan for that, for drugs, guns, contraband and the rest, let us talk about some of the things we have in common with the President in terms of humanitarian assistance for those coming over.
But we’re not having a conference committee right now. We’ll leave it up to our Appropriators to come to that. Some of the things we were going to discuss, where we think, where we have evidence-based knowledge about how we best secure our border.
Q: As someone who was these negotiations, do you think the President underestimated the Speaker and do you think that he thought he could get what he wanted?
Leader Schumer. I think he thought – no one should ever underestimate the Speaker, as Donald Trump has learned. But I also think – in addition to that, and I think Nancy would be the first – our Democrats stayed totally unified. Certainly in the Senate they made huge noise, many attempts to take some of our Democrats and get them to side with them.
And the unity of our two Caucuses really worked. Because I believe the President himself believed and was told by a couple of his advisors, you’ve written about them, that, ‘Oh, just hold out and we’ll get the Democrats to crack and join us.’
In the Senate more relevant than the House because they have the Majority. He was unable to do that.
And I think after three weeks, as the toll mounted, and it became clear, we helped make it clear to the President, to the public, that the President was the one in charge of the shutdown, that he just, he knew that it was a lost cause.
You want to go?
Q: Are you no longer ruling out any money for the wall?
Speaker Pelosi. Have I not been clear on a wall? Ok. No, I’ve been very clear on the wall. Been very clear. Let me just go to the previous question and say this, and associate myself with the remarks of the Leader.
In our caucus, the beauty of it is the mix. And I always say, when people say to me, ‘Oh, you’re so good at organizing your caucus.’ No, I don’t unify our caucus. Our values unify us.
I’m sure it’s the same in the Senate. And the fact is that our diversity is our strength. The differences of – in so many different ways, including differences of opinion. That’s our strength. But our unity is our power. And that is what maybe the President under-estimated.
Leader Schumer. Thank you, everybody.