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Transcript: Nancy Pelosi on “Face the Nation”

▶ Watch Video: Pelosi says “the door is open” for bipartisan cooperation on infrastructure

The following is a transcript of an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that aired Sunday, April 11, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She joins us from Capitol Hill. Good morning, Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI: Good morning to you and congratulations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you- thank you very much. As our viewers can see, baby, on the way here. I wanted to ask you about that rosy assessment from the Federal Reserve chairman, because six trillion dollars has already been spent to get us to this point. Isn’t the momentum that he’s talking about a reason that we don’t need to spend trillions more like President Biden is asking you to figure out how to do?

SPEAKER PELOSI: No, it isn’t at all. In fact, if you listen very closely to what he said, we’re at a place where we will “begin to see,” we will “begin to see.” And then he also cautions against a- a surge in the virus. If we’re going to grow the economy with confidence, we’ve got to crush the virus. They are definitely related. So “begin to see” a recovery in our economy is quite different from what Mitch McConnell is saying. The economy has taken off like a rocket. No, begin to see. Again related to the econ- the- and as I watched your report, you know, it’s exciting to see people thinking we’re out and this or that, but crowded venues and no mask-wearing and the rest are not a- a positive sign about how we crush the virus. So I think that we have to, again, listen to the science, the science and the governance of how we get this done. And then, of course, it will open the doors–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SPEAKER PELOSI: –for our economy to grow.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, on the specifics of how the president wants to see the economy grow with this two and a quarter trillion dollar package, he’s asking, you have a Democratic majority. It’s a slim one here. You can only really afford to lose about two Democrats. What are you going to do? What concrete proposals can you offer to get Republicans on board with this jobs and infrastructure package?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, you’ve heard me say again and again, public sentiment is everything. Lincoln said that. The public understands that the worst and most expensive maintenance is no maintenance. And we have to maintain our roads, our bridges, our mass transit. We have to upgrade our water systems. We have to build out our- our broadband for distance learning and telemedicine and the rest of that. So we have a big responsibility. We have a big need to the tune of trillions of dollars, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. This is a very important piece of–

MARGARET BRENNAN:  Well, what you just is what you just laid out there does have Republican support. It’s the rest of the package that Republicans are largely objecting to. Can you trim this down to focus on just the portions–

SPEAKER PELOSI: No.

MARGARET BRENNAN: –you outlined there, the roads, the bridges, the waterways?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, no, because infrastructure is- it’s about education, about getting children healthily in school with separation, sanitation, ventilation. It’s about investments in housing as well. Overwhelmingly, this bill is about infrastructure in the traditional sense of the word. We also think that infrastructure- there’s a need for workforce development in order to have the workforce fully participate in how we go forward and childcare so that women can be involved in that as well. So it’s physical infrastructure. It’s also human infrastructure that is involved. And the figure that they use is a ridiculous one to say that it’s just a small percentage of the bill. It is overwhelmingly what the legislation is about. And some newer versions of why- how we build the infrastructure in a way that takes building back better means we’re all going down the path together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as we talked about there, you have a slim majority. So to keep the progressives in your party happy, they are pushing you to actually make it bigger, not to slim it down. They’re pushing you as well on paid family and medical leave. I know you continue to say you are committed to making those things permanent,–

SPEAKER PELOSI: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: –but that’s not in these White House proposals.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well no. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: When do you plan to put those things in a bill to make those permanent?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, the president has talked about additional legislation, our families bill, that would come next and have issues that relate to lowering the cost of prescription drugs by having a- a negotiation for lower prices about family and medical leave being made permanent. And of course, I want to make the child tax credit permanent as well.–

MARGARET BRENNAN: When?

SPEAKER PELOSI: But those in a matter of conversation as we go forward, I have no doubt that we will have a great bill in the House. I hope that it will be bipartisan. I’ve been in Congress long enough to remember when bipartisanship was not unusual and that actually growing- building infrastructure has never been a partisan issue. They would only make it- they made it partisan under President Obama by shrinking the bill. Hopefully the need is so obvious now that Republicans will vote for it. We’ll see. I’m not I- I- I- the door is open. Our hand is extended. Let’s find out where we can find our common ground. We always have a responsibility to strive for bipartisanship.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, so no date on that. Let me ask about infrastructure at the Capitol. It has been three months since that January 6th siege. How much longer can you wait before putting forth this supplemental bill to do all the things you say are necessary to protect the capital?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, we’ll put- put it forth when it is ready and it’s just about ready now. There was a great deal of review, of request of organization- entities that had spent money on that day, January 6th, the day of the insurrection incited by the president of the United States, who would ever suspect such a thing. And so there were costs associated then, but now cost associated with building, hardening the windows, the doors, the Capitol put forth by the architect of the Capitol- of security issues put forth. I had General Honore–   

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you do that? 

SPEAKER PELOSI: –make a recommendation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And I read that report. I mean, it was just incredibly detailed and scathing, frankly. So can you really wait? 

SPEAKER PELOSI: No, we’re not waiting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, are you going to wait until the committees finish their investigation or can you do something now?

SPEAKER PELOSI: No, no. We’re ready to go forward.  The- there’s different reports. I’m talking about General Honore’s suggestions– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SPEAKER PELOSI: –about what are needed. Then there’s been a report about shortcomings in the Capitol Police that must be addressed and that was addressed in General Honore’s. No, I think we’re right now at a good place. But you, again, we’re talking about money and we want to make sure that it is the appropriate amount, nothing less than we need, but nothing more than we need and appropriately prioritized to again open up the Capitol so that it is the temple of democracy, that it is that people can come and be there with adequate protection so that they can do so safely. And the Appropriations Committee had that responsibility in addition to the committees of jurisdiction, the House administration, etc.. So we’re in a good place and we feel, how can I say it, we think that it is the appropriate prioritizing that we’re putting forward, but it’s always- in legislation–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SPEAKER PELOSI: –it’s always a conversation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’ll stay tuned for that. The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into Congressman Matt Gaetz, as you know, for a long laundry list of allegations. Are you going to wait for the committee report or do you think it’s time for him to resign right now?

SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, it’s up to the Republicans to take responsibility for that. We in the Congress, in the House, have ruled 23, which says that in the conduct of our duties, we are not to bring dishonor to the House of Representatives. I think there’s been a clear violation of that. But it’s up to the Ethics Committee to investigate that. And it’s up to the Republican leader, Mr. McCarthy, to act upon that behavior.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

SPEAKER PELOSI: But we’re hopeful about other things in the Congress rather than that we’re optimistic about what can happen to our economy if we crush the virus. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SPEAKER PELOSI: What the president has put forth is quite transformative for our country so that we can, as he says, help is on the way. Help us here. We will build back better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Speaker Pelosi, thank you for your time this morning.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: FACE THE NATION will be back in a minute with the top Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

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