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  Speaker Pelosi at Center for American Progress Ideas Conference  CSPAN  May 22, 2019 11:48pm-12:23am EDT

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>> house speaker nancy pelosi made more public comments later in the day saying she believes president trump is obstructing justice and engaged in a cover-up. she was interviewed at an event hosted by the center for american progress. [applause] >> it is my absolute privilege to welcome our very special guest, speaker of the house nancy pelosi. let's just do one more round. [cheers and applause] speaker pelosi is the highest-ranking woman to ever hold elected office in american history. [cheers and applause] and she is one of the smartest, toughest, and most effective public servants our country has ever known. this past weekend, speaker pelosi also received the john f. kennedy profile in courage award
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,or her incredible leadership and we are incredibly grateful to have her today. let me start out. some news happened today. the you this morning were supposed to meet with the president on infrastructure, but that meeting did not really it froms i understand twitter and the news and cable. could you tell us what happened and what your thoughts are on that meeting or lack thereof? speaker pelosi: i'm happy to convey my impression of what happened this morning, but not before i thank you for your and ideas.leadership it means so much. some of it, unfortunately, the difference be -- defense we have between the executive and legislative branch in our house is ideas based on fact, science, .ruth, evidence, data
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we have different interpretations of what happens, but here is the thing. let's salute cap. [applause] art -- aren't: you impressed with our freshmen members of congress? i know you heard from adam schiff earlier. we are so proud of his work. when the watergate babies came to the congress in 1976, it was class ofansformational members of congress. it was fantastic. fantastic. people have compared this class anderms of size and depth energy in entrepreneurship and all the rest -- diversity -- as a similar class. the reason i bring it up is in 1976 when they came, not one of
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those freshmen chaired a subcommittee and their first year. in this class, 18 freshmen chair subcommittees in the house. we view that is something spectacular. 10 women. thank you, stephanie for helping me make that happen. and eight men. this is remarkable to think that the woman who is one of the first senators this morning was wonderful and deb holland, one of the other two first native american women to come to the is nows -- deb holland the chair of the natural resources committee public lands subcommittee. that is a very big deal, and it's a very big deal in the native american community as well, so we are very, very proud of them, all of them.
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the beautiful diversity of it all. 106 women in the congress, 91 of them democrats. thank you, stephanie. [applause] speaker pelosi: isn't that remarkable? caucus, women, people of color, lgbtq. 60% of our caucus. we are very thrilled. we wish the other side would have some diversity, but having said that, we say and our caucus, our diversity is our strength. our unity is our power. and that power is recognized by this president of the united states. he knows that we will act together, whatever our differences are on one thing or another, when it comes to it, we build our consensus, and we make our plan and we go forward together. so this morning, we went to the
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hopeful -- hopeful that the president would participate in the conversation. as a follow-up to the previous conversation we had about infrastructure. we shared our priorities in a previous meeting. we came to some agreement, $2 trillion. we can to how it would be divided -- 80% federal, 20% local. in any event, today was the day he was supposed to tell us what he would be willing to support and pay for for all of that. in an orchestrated almost to an "oh, poor baby" point of view, he came into the inm -- i said he was engaged a cover-up and he could not possibly engage in a conversation on infrastructure as long as we are investigating him. we have been investigating him since we took over the majority,
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so this is nothing new. then he had a press conference in the rose garden with visuals that obviously were planned long most recently that he was engaged in a cover-up. here's the thing, and i told this to the room and he came in and made that statement and then walked out. the treasury, this, that, and the other, ,istinguished group of members said 200 years ago thomas jefferson tasks his secretary of an treasury to develop infrastructure initiative for america to build into the louisiana purchase, the lewis and clark expedition. he is a canal, the cumberland road, all those kinds of things. 100 years later, teddy roosevelt
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instituted his infrastructure initiative, the national park service. the green initiative -- the infrastructure initiative in america. so i said we want to give this president the opportunity to do something historic for our country. while there are those in our family who think -- why would you work with him? you know, and basically he is saying why would i work with you if you are investigating, but the fact is something happened there, so i pray for him and i pray for the united states of america. really he walked away. if he ever intended to honor what he said before remains to be seen, but democrats believe in building infrastructure of our country -- mass transit, roads, bridges, broadband into rural america, into underserved areas in our cities, wastewater, clean water infrastructure, the
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satellite so we can have precision farming -- there are so many needs and we thought we had some level of agreement, but you never know with this president of the united states, so that is what happened this morning. it was very, very, very strange. [laughter] pelosi: but the press says to me, were you surprised? and i say to you, surprised? .obody could ever be surprised >> as a follow-up, can i just ask you -- why do you think you seem to have so much leverage or ability to drive donald trump to this level of distraction, to run out of an infrastructure meeting -- he actually has not come up with a nickname. you whoou think it is
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have done what others have not been able to do, which is throw him so off-balance? speaker pelosi: i alluded to it earlier when i transitioned to your question. he recognizes the unity of our caucus, and that is a very big deal. he is not about that. you know, he's not about consent. also on his side of the aisle, he did not see that kind of unity, so i think he sees the fact that we are united as something that he has to, you know, contend with, to deal with. as the leader of a house democrats and speaker of the house, he has to deal with may officially, but also in terms of negotiating as leader of the party, that that unity gives me leverage. have had a busy day, and
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a lot of important meetings. obviously, the issue of the investigation and, what you said, that he is engaged in a cover-up is top of news. you have eloquently laid out the constitutional role of congress with a trump administration that is defying and trying to defy the subpoenas and every effort to hold it accountable, how does congress fulfill this oversight and do you forward believe this impeachment inquiry will give congress what it needs to hold him accountable? speaker pelosi: that is a bit long question. i know you heard from adam schiff this morning and he is one of the chairs who lead the way on what we're doing. first of all, let me say we take an oath of office to protect and defend the constitution of the
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united states. democrats take that oath seriously and are committed to honoring our oath of office. i'm not sure that our republican colleagues share that commitment, and i'm not sure that the president of the united states does, too. light of the fact that the beauty of the constitution is a system of checks and balances, three coequal branches of , a check and balance on each other. the constitution spells out the of congress, and one of them is oversight of the president of the united states. another is to impeach the president of the united states. as six andlet me be does possible in this regard. we have six chairman. you heard from adam schiff this morning who is having success with getting documents from the justice department by the
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actions the committee has taken. you have elijah cummings, chair of the government reform committee, who had a big success ,his week with one of his cases which clearly spells out that it is the other branches of government. he also, it is not a case but it falls in his domain, the second committee. the third committee is financial services committee. maxine waters is the chair and she has laid out an indictment, a series of questions back and forth with the administration where they kept telling her, we are not answering you because you are the minority and now she is the chair of the committee. today, as we sit here, we are in court in new york with the deutsche bank case that is insisting we get documents from deutsche bank and we think we
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will win the case. so we are on the investigation the investigation mr. cummings date, and more to come from those committees. and we have the jerry nadler, the chair of the judiciary committee which has the overarching impeachment responsibilities and what they are doing with the subpoenas, where we might go with contempt of congress, we are on the path. but in order to have an investigation of any kind, impeachment or whatever, you have to have the subpoena. you have to go to court. you have to develop your court -- your case. then we have richie neil, chair of the ways and means committee. the law could not be clearer. the irs shall turn over the document to the chairman of the
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ways and means can. that is the clearest possible case. affairs,re is foreign hours of testimony from secretary tillerson. i have been out this morning so i have not heard some of the results yet, but understanding that. intelligence, presenting documents. government reform with to court cases. financial services, we are in court right now and this is a very good case for us. all built on investigation. ways and means, the judiciary committee. we are very proud of the work our leadership on those committees, the work that they have done. they have taken us to a place where we will get more information to predicate the next series of actions.
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but this is why i think president was so steamed this morning. the fact is, in plain sight, in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and engaged in a cover-up. and that could be an impeachable offense. [applause] speaker pelosi: ignoring the subpoenas of congress, article three of the nixon impeachment, article three, he did not honor the subpoena of congress. so it is not just the subject we are after we want to have to give the truth to the american people. it is striving to get that, the , the obstruction that the administration is the -- as they say,
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the cover-up is frequently worse than the crime. neera: there is an interesting paradox, because there are a lot of people who talk in the press about some of the issues of impeaching or not impeaching, because in impeachment could cloud the agenda. i think the paradox of that is that some reporters do not cover the agenda. as it is actually happening. and these issues get much more coverage. i think when you look at the last several weeks of the new house, i think it is interesting to talk a little bit about what because it isfar, a reminder that actually the congress has been busy, these committees are very busy, and that is extremely important, issues of concern to voters
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every day in their lives are also issues that are coming up. so i would love for you to frame what you see as speaker in the legislative agenda on what has been accomplished so far. speaker pelosi: thank you for that question. when we ran, we promised an agenda for the people. lower health care cost by reducing the cost of prescription drugs and strengthening the benefit to protect people with pre-existing conditions. lower health care cost. bigger paychecks by building the instruct -- infrastructure of america in a greenway. and clean government, hr one, which was passed in the house. and pieces of it like the voting rights act will come separately, protecting the elections as the congress may discussed earlier. here is the thing. we have our top 10.
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the first 10 pieces of legislation are of the majority. one for the people, past the house. infrastructure bill, working on it today. prescript -- prescription drug bill, we passed last week. voting rights advancement act as part of hr one but it has its own place because we need to build the constitutional basis of strong report. equality act, past that last week. , marking promise act it up in committee today. paycheck fairness, equal pay, we passed that. background checks on guns, common sense gun violence prevention background checks past the house. climate action past the house -- passed the house may 2. the overarching issue of climate and ending the disparity of
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drivesin our country most of the rest of the agenda. join a club ito am starting called the too hot to handle club. mitch mcconnell says he is the grim reaper that kills every bill we send over there. we are saying to him, we have news for you. these bills are alive and well with the public. they are needed in their lives. and our hope is the outside globalization that many of you are engaged in, the outside mobilization to say to the senate, take up the bill, what are you afraid of? they are afraid they will pass and since they are handmaidens of the gun industry and fossil fuel industry and pharmaceutical industry, they do not want any of these to pass. but public sentiment is everything. abraham lincoln.
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with it you can accomplish anything. without it, practically nothing. we are making to heart to him -- too hot to handle with our advocacy. the grassroots advocacy helped us with the affordable care act. 10,000 events around the country. outside mobilization is essential. it is the strength of it all. too hot to handle. i am thinking of getting potholders, those mittens, to send to our supporters who are involved in making it too hot for them to handle. [applause] neera: we are running out of time. a few quirks questions. -- quick questions. people are losing sight
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throughout the country of how little the senate is doing. the house is passing bills and that senate has been doing mostly nominations, not legislation. to people who are paying attention, is there anything they can focus on doing what their senators, may be senators who have claimed to be moderate in the past? speaker pelosi: this list i read to you has broad bipartisan support in the country. when we came into office in the majority, we said we are going to do this in the most transparent way so people will know what legislation means to them and what to vote for or against means. so it will be transparent and bipartisan to the extent possible, which i define on common ground.
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where we can't, we stand our ground like a rock, that would be thomas jefferson. , we did not go picking a fight with the most contentious legislation. what we did was say, where do we have common ground to make the biggest difference in the lives of the american people? lower health care costs. lower cost of drugs. building infrastructure. cleaner infrastructure -- cleaner government. it is important to the american people. get these reduce, they will have better confidence that we will do something about gun safety or fossil fuel or lower prescription drug places. the list goes on. -- prescription drug prices. the list goes on.
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so that is as far as the senate is concerned and i believe and hope that some of the senators in states where we have good prospects to change their vote on this or at least to get them to vote to bring the bill up, i am very proud of chuck schumer and many women in the leadership over there. they are relentless and pounding away. but the press is totally obsessed with the impeachment part of it. not obsessed enough to write particulars about what we are doing in the committees and how important it is, but just to say, when are you going to do that? there, that take us is where we have to go. it has nothing to do with politics. it is not about politics. passion orbout
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prejudice against him. it is not personal. it is about patriotism. that will take us where we need to go. to your point, i am not sure that we get any more information by pursuing an impeachment inquiry, but if we would, that is a judgment we would have to make. so again, heading back to the senate -- getting back to the senate, i know this is not a .olitical event, not fully just civic observation. we fully intend to retain our majority in the house and we are on the path to do that. [applause] speaker pelosi: but it is absolutely essential that we and of democratic senate course, absolutely essential that we elect a democratic president of the united states, just from the standpoint of the
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air our children breathe, climate, jobs, all of the things about fairness and the rest. and existential threat to our democracy in terms of the constitution of the united states. it is about the constitution, this beautiful land we love and the constitution they are not honoring. the land we love from sea to shining sea is degraded. who we are as a nation, a nation of immigrants, denigrated. our values we put forth in a budget that is giving tax -- tax breaks , i thinkfit the top 1% we should have a bill on the floor that says we are for medicaid cuts for all, because that is the trump republican agenda. let's see where they vote on that.
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so. mischief. [laughter] questionhave one quick but i want to say, because i think this is an important moment for women. you are the highest ranking woman in the government today and in our history. last week, alabama passed the abortion ban and i would like to ask what you say to women who are feeling scared about that and feel shocked that in 2019 we this --ng\laws like seeing backlash laws like this that assault women. look downcast: i when someone introduces me as the highest-ranking woman because i wish that designation would go away and that we would have a woman president of the united states. [applause] speaker pelosi: really. so i know it is supposed to be a
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compliment, but to me it is just a reminder. [laughter] neera: sorry. [laughter] speaker pelosi: i thank you for the recognition, but it does not make me happy that i am not. i wish we had a female president. and the issue about a woman's right to choose. do not tell anybody i told you this, however, the reason the president is the president of the united states is because of the support he has in certain elements of our population for overturning roe v. wade. this is serious, dangerous, and real. primariess ago in the he said he would choose his judges for the court from a certain list. had a list of pro-life
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agenda. i do not like that title, pro-life, because we are all pro-life. but that title. just so they had their justices on the supreme court. means theyy have two are happy with him. so that is where we are. that is a very dangerous place, the supreme court, in my view. i am still hopeful that justice roberts might do the right thing , but i do not have, the answer to every question is the same. mobilize, mobilize, mobilize. our whole country changed when women decided to march. that was a transformative moment. women marched. they voted. won. women lead. [applause] me just endsi: let
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with us. for 30 years in congress i have been making this case and people did not really believe me for the first 25 years. this is about family planning. it is about birth control. this is not about, they like to argue the case in words that are not true, but are alarming to people about abortions that must take place in the late term for the health of the mother. but they describe it terribly and it has a market. that is why they do it. but what women should know is this is not just about that. it is about family planning, access to women's health, in vitro fertilization to have babies, which the church and some of these folks strenuously a jump to -- object to. so i think we cannot accept. really, alabama?
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but missouri is on its way to a heartbeat bill or has already. , this is a back -- this is about lack of respect for women and fear in our community and society about ability to have the size and timing of their families, working with their husbands, doctors, their god, whatever it is. but to see it as a choice issue is one piece of it. it is about lack of respect. they will not give equal pay for equal work or family medical leave that mostly benefits women and the rest. so i think that march and then the next year and the rest, it scared some of these people. good. good. but we do have to fight some of
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the consequences of their fear. i say that as someone, when i had this debate with my colleagues, when my husband and i brought our oldest -- our baby home from the hospital, our oldest was turning six that week. so i am with the program. i get the point. so i say to them, when you have five children in six years, we will have a conversation. otherwise, you have no standing whatsoever. [laughter] [applause] speaker pelosi: to the point that we had this debate, they sat on the floor of the house, , and i am a practicing catholic, but they said nancy pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope. [laughter]
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speaker pelosi: really? guys? [laughter] speaker pelosi: when you see them lined up on the floor of the house, guys. guys. white guys. guys. signing for their discharge petition in a way that does not represent the truth of what they are. we do not agonize, we organize. and we cannot let this happen to the families of america. [applause] neera: that is a great ending. thank you so much. madam speaker. [cheers and applause] announcer: the complete guide to
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