House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins Judy Woodruff to discuss President Biden's ambitious plans for American infrastructure and families, the price tag associated with them, the fate of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the Senate, and the investigation into, and fallout from, the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
President Biden's plans to create jobs, confront climate change, and help strengthen American families are ambitious.
To achieve his goals, his plans need to make it through Congress. Key to that success, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. We spoke earlier today.
Thank you for being with us. Let me start, Madam Speaker, with President Biden's ambitious jobs and infrastructure plan, combined with his aid for Americans Families Plan, between the two of them, $4 trillion in new spending.
This is an amount that has even some of your fellow Democrats, moderate Democrats, unnerved. What are you hearing?
Rep. Nancy Pelosi:
Well, I'm hearing that people are very excited by the president's agenda, and we all want to know how we're going to meet the needs of the American people, and he has given us a blueprint.
When we talk about infrastructure, it has, for the most part, always been bipartisan. Hopefully, it will continue to be, but really meeting the needs of the American people. And infrastructure has grown. It's no longer roads, and mass transit. It's also high-speed rail. It's water systems. It's issues that relate to broadband and how we reach into rural America, as well as urban deserts, in terms of broadband.
So there are many more things.
Well, as we were saying, the price tag, $4 trillion, unnerving even some Democrats.
And the other issue here is taxes. There are now a group of, again, even Democrats who are saying that they are not going to be able to go along with what is — looks like the price tag is going to be. You're hearing analysts say President Biden is going to be lucky to get half of his proposed increases on wealthy Americans, on capital gains, estate taxes, corporations.
And you have members saying that they're not going to be able to support this unless it removes the cap on state and local tax deductions, which we know would mainly benefit wealthy Americans.
Do you see a compromise here?
Well, let me just say, with all the respect in the world for your — the glories that have been bestowed to you in journalism, I do not subscribe to all — to stipulate to any — most of what you have said about where the Democrats are.
The Democrats will support — I'm talking about the House of Representatives — what the president is proposing. The American people, in a bipartisan way, support what the president is proposing.
And the fact is, the president has said — and I fully support it and my members do, too — that nobody making under $400,000 a year will be — have their taxes increased. And that includes average Joes.
Now, I myself am strongly for removing what the Republicans did on the SALT. And I not only sympathize. I support what they are saying. But, again, I don't want people drawing lines. I think one person has said to me he's not — he wouldn't vote for the bill. We will see.
Madam Speaker, another of the many important issues before the Congress right now, as you know, is police reform. The George Floyd Act did pass the House. It is now in the Senate.
There are negotiations under way involving Republican senators, Democrat senators, and Congresswoman Karen Bass, whom you appointed to work on this. What we're hearing is they may be on a verge of some kind of an agreement that would involve keeping a kind of legal protection for individual police officers, a so-called immunity, but allowing lawsuits against police departments.
If that is what Congresswoman Bass comes back with, is that something the Democratic Caucus can accept?
Karen Bass has my authority and the authority of our caucus to negotiate for this legislation.
When — May 25, when the assassination, which was clear to all of us, happened before our very eyes, it was only about two weeks later that Karen, Congresswoman Bass, introduced the legislation.
You know why? Because the Black Caucus has been working on this for years, and they were ready. And her leadership, as chair of the Crime Subcommittee then of the Judiciary Committee, that put forth this legislation after like the 8th or 10th of June.
By the one-month anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, the bill passed the House of Representatives.
Madam Speaker, as I said, several important things, so many important things to ask you about.
One has to do with investigating what happened on January 6, when there was a mob that overran the United States Capitol. Here we are, four months later. Still, there has been no commission appointed. I know you have made proposals. So far, nothing has been agreed to.
Is it time, as many are suggesting, to have President Biden appoint a bipartisan commission, equal number of members on both sides, to investigate what happened?
I think this is something that the Congress has to do, similar to the 9/11 Commission, and this even more so, because the assault was made on the Congress, on the Capitol of the United States, on our democracy. This is about January 6.
But it's really important for people to understand this. There is still strong, very strong denial among the Republicans — at least I can speak from the House standpoint — of what actually happened. You see what they're doing with one of their own leaders for speaking truth, or because she won't lie.
And so, when we talk about even how we pass our bill, our supplemental, to repair the Capitol, they're, like, why do we have to fix the windows and doors? Like, what happened on January 6?
So there's denial of what happened then, and then there's denial as to how this has to be the focus of it.
Well, you alluded to what the Republicans in the House are — appear to be on the verge of doing, which is removing Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her role as the conference chair in the House, replacing her with New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.
What is your take on what the other — and it is their caucus, so they have the right to do this. What's your take on it?
Well, I don't get involved in their caucus, and they don't get involved in mine.
But when — I do speak to the fact that Liz Cheney has been very courageous in speaking truth about what happened on January 6. And I salute her for that.
But what they're doing there is indicative — Liz Cheney is doing — is indicative what they're doing to her is indicative of what they're doing about the entire event that happened on January 6. They're, again, in denial.
When we talk about what the architect of the Capitol wants to do to strengthen the physical structure of the Capitol, when, why would we do that?
Why would we do that? All they want to do is compensate for what was spent on the day of. It's really — I don't want to be a fearmonger about this, but nothing less is at stake than our democracy.
Any comment on Elise Stefanik?
That's really up to them. Maybe she's more, shall we say, compliant. I don't — it's not my business. I don't really know her, and I don't — as I say, they don't get involved.
Let me — well, speaking of elections, Democrats are facing a tough landscape in next year's midterms.
You have Republicans controlling the redrawing of congressional districts…
… in a number of states, in Texas, in Florida, in North Carolina, in addition to Georgia, the first three all gaining House seats.
Isn't that going to make it exceedingly uphill for your party to hold onto the majority in the House?
Well, just the elections are about campaigns, and we are ready.
We are ready with our M's, mobilization to own the ground, to get out the vote with our message of unity for the people, again, so proud of what the Biden-Harris administration is putting forth, and then, of course, with the resources, the money that is needed to do this.
But we would be better if we can pay the H.R.1 and S.1. in order to remove obstacles to participation for people to vote. But I would just say this. I think you have heard me say this before, but for the benefit of our audience, people talk about, well, in the past, the president's party has lost seats in the off-year.
Any assumptions about past elections are obsolete.
just a few more things to ask you about, Madam Speaker.
One is, back in 2018, it was reported that you, in essence, agreed as part of a deal with a group of Democrats that you would serve as speaker for four more years. That means — that would mean stepping down at the end of this term.
But my question is, if Democrats are able to hold onto a majority, even a narrow majority in the House, would you consider extending your time as speaker?
Well, let's take it one step at a time.
I myself had thought I was leaving in 2016, when Hillary Clinton would be the president of the United States. But I don't have any intention of declaring myself a lame duck.
But, nonetheless, if my husband and my children and my grandchildren are listening, I fully intend — we want to do some great things in this election. And many of our — some of our members are running for higher office, so confident are they that the Democrats will prevail, and we are recruiting great candidates to run.
And I will tell you in about, like, November, a year before the election, where I think we are. As you have heard me say before, a year before, if you're ready, if you have the candidates, who you have attracted, who they haven't.
Madam Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, thank you very much for joining us.
It's always an honor to be on the "NewsHour." Thank you for the opportunity.
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