Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and other House and Senate leaders for a media stakeout following a meeting with President Trump on infrastructure at the White House. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. I guess it is afternoon – good afternoon, everyone. We just had a very productive meeting with the President of the United States. We came to this meeting with an understanding that there is great need in our country for building our infrastructure, for the recognition that we stand in a pivotal place in terms of building infrastructure for the future.
It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs. It’s about promoting commerce. It’s about clean air, clean water, so therefore a public health issue. It’s a quality of life issue, getting people out of their cars not being on the road so much. And in every way, it is a safety issue.
We are very excited about the conversation we had with the President to advance an agenda of that kind. We did come to one agreement that the agreement would be big and bold. Our distinguished Leader from the Senate will announce how big and how bold.
Leader Schumer. Thanks.
Speaker Pelosi. And what remains to be seen – we agreed that we would meet again to talk about how it would be paid for. We were very pleased with the positive attitude toward recognizing the trillions of dollars of need according to the American Society of Civil Engineers – a deficit we have in our infrastructure. Now, we have an opportunity to work together in a bipartisan way.
Building the infrastructure of America has never been a partisan issue and we hope to go forward in a very nonpartisan way for the future. With that, I am pleased to yield to the distinguished Leader from the Senate.
Leader Schumer. Thank you. It was a very constructive meeting. It’s clear that the White House and all of us want to get something done on infrastructure in a big and bold way. And there was good will in this meeting and that was different than some of the other meetings that we have had, and that is a very good thing.
First, we agreed that infrastructure is crucial to the future of America. We agreed it creates jobs, we agreed it keeps us competitive. We agreed that for 25 years, this kind of – a big, bold bill that we could pass would make America a better place. This is not just a one year or two year.
We agreed on a number, which was very, very good. Two trillion for infrastructure. Originally, we had started a little lower. Even the President was eager to push it up to $2 trillion and that is a very good thing.
We talked about a number of things we would do. Obviously, the roads and the bridges and the highways. Obviously, water, but also a big emphasis on broadband, that every American home, we believe, needs broadband. An emphasis on the power grid so that we can bring clean energy from one end of the county to the other, and several other issues.
We told the President that we needed his ideas on funding, that the last bill that he proposed, which a) was smaller, but b) took as much money away – and the Speaker emphasized this – took as much money away as it put in, wasn’t going to work.
So, where does he propose that we can fund this? Because certainly in the Senate, if we don’t have him on board, it’ll be hard to get the Senate to go along.
And we said that we would meet in three weeks and he would present to us some of his ideas on funding.
So, this was a very, very good start. And we’ll see – we hope that it will go to a constructive conclusion.
Q: Madam Speaker, how hard is it to work with this President on infrastructure when he is stonewalling you on investigations?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we can – obviously, we are here to do something for the American people. We have said all along in our For The People agenda that we ran on, that we were there to lower the cost of health care for the American people by lowing the cost of prescription drugs, and we hope to work with the President on that.
We said we are there to lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, by building the infrastructure of America in green and futuristic way. And we talked about cleaner government.
So, the first two we think we can work with the President on. While we may have our difficulties in other areas, we cannot, we cannot, we cannot ignore the needs of the American people as we go forward.
Q: Congressional investigations – did that issue come up in this conversation?
Speaker Pelosi. No, it didn’t. But you can ask the same question of the Senate Leadership as well.
Q: Nancy Pelosi, and to both of you, right after the midterms the President said, suggested, that he wouldn’t be able to work with you if you were simultaneously investigating him. Do you get the sense that that has passed and can I ask you, what is a bigger priority for Democrats – investigating the President or trying to work with him?
Speaker Pelosi. Our priority is to honor our responsibilities under the Constitution of the United States to meet the needs of the American people and to honor our oath of office. I’m going to yield to the Leader.
Leader Schumer. Yeah, I’m just going to say one more – let him – in previous meetings the President has said, ‘If these investigations continue I can’t work with you.’ He didn’t bring it up. And so, we’re going – I believe we can do both at once.
Chairman Neal. He was enthusiastic.
Leader Schumer. We can come up with some good ideas on infrastructure and we want to hear his ideas on funding. That’s going to be the crucial point in my opinion and the House and the Senate can proceed in its oversight responsibilities. The two are not mutually exclusive and we were glad he didn’t make it that way.
We will take one more.
Speaker Pelosi. What has happened? You’ve all turned into shouters. Calm, calm.
Leader Schumer. Last question.
Speaker Pelosi. I’ll take one from a woman.
Q: Did you choose a leader among you to guide the infrastructure project and spending going forward?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we have our – some of our Members – we have our leadership there. I have a rule when I go to a meeting with multi – with many Members and that rule is, the purpose of the meeting is not to criticize the President of the United States and secondly, that every person has the chance to say what he or she came to say.
So, this is a collaborative effort and we hope it will be very bipartisan, but we will be meeting next about how it is paid for and that will engage, of course, the Secretary of the Treasury among others and our leadership in terms of the Ways and Means and the Finance Committees.
Leader Schumer. What we agreed – wait, wait, wait –
Speaker Pelosi. But, some of it also sprang from the committee of jurisdiction, for example the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has its own funding mechanism – this is a technical question you are asking, but everybody who is appropriate to the solution will be involved.
Leader Schumer. This is the last thing we’re going to say! We agreed that the same group would meet in about three weeks and the President would present his view on funding and we would take it from there, and if we had to break up in smaller groups after that, so we would.
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say, I want you to take this home with you because one important advance that we made in the meeting was the President’s real acceptance, or maybe just agreement, I don’t want to say acceptance because maybe he was thinking of this all along. And that is that infrastructure should include broadband.
It’s important to health care, it’s important to education, it’s important to commerce, and his embrace of that, in addition to transportation and water issues, was very important.
Leader Schumer. Thank you very much.