House Speaker Pelosi Holds Press Briefing CSPAN January 21, 2021 12:33pm-12:58pm EST
at 6:30 p.m. eastern on "the communicators" on c-span. >> house speaker nancy pelosi and republican leader kevin mccarthy held their first briefing since president biden was inaugurated. both speakers talk about their party's agenda under democratic control of the government. we begin with speaker pelosi. speaker pelosi: good morning, everyone. what a difference a day makes. wasn't that just the most beautiful inauguration with the theme america united?
it was so perfect, in my view. not only for the, shall we say, peaceful transfer of power, but the manner in which it happened. america united. you know, i said again and again that the arts will bring us together. when we laugh together, we cry together, we inspire together. we find our common ground more easily. and that was certainly given proof yesterday when amanda gorman presented her beautiful poem about unity and about coming together, optimism. and it was, of course, the complete theme of the inauguration but also of the vice president -- excuse me -- the now president. and he was want approximate when he made his -- and he was president when he made his beautiful inaugural address about unity.
the day began, the inauguration began. at the end of the day, i loved what was on tv at the end of one of the celebrations. you know, the president always loves to quote the irish poets. seamus being one of his favorites. citing seamus haney's poem and joe biden and seamus coming together saying the long before a tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history can rhyme. it's about trust. it's about hope. it's about optimism. that's what the inauguration was about.
when the president said today is america's day, today is democracy's day, that was really true. that inauguration was a breath of fresh air for our country. the inauguration of joe biden as president, kamala harris as vice president of the united states with all of the newness that that presented. first woman, first african-american woman, first asian american woman, the best. not just about democracy but about quality of leadership. so exciting. so now with the biden-harris administration in place, democratic majority that occurred later in the day yesterday when chuck schumer became the majority leader of the senate with the swearing in of three new members.
we were very proud of senator padilla of california. just overwhelmed with joy about the two senators from georgia, jon ossoff and raphael warnock. three new senators. a new democratic majority. now we can recover from the pandemic and get to work to build back better. today, our nation marks a passing of the 400,000 people -- that was yesterday -- 400,000 people died. but today marks one year since our first knowledge of this pandemic. and what did we learn this morning? we learned this morning that the trump administration had no real plan for the production and distribution of the vaccine. just another in a series of their terrible, ineffective
approach to it from the start, in denial, delay, distortion, calling it a hoax, and now we find that they don't -- they didn't even have a plan. as we go forward, though, we see immediately that joe biden, president biden has put forth a plan to crush the coronavirus. you know what that is. yesterday he talked about it in his executive actions when he talked about wearing masks, distancing, science-based approaches. today, he'll sign further orders. my understanding is to use the defense production act to speed up p.p.e. delivery, to expand testing, treatment, and public health workforce that we need and launch a vaccination
campaign, all of it to open up safely schools and businesses and to improve health equity. something that the republicans would erase from any bill addressing the disparity and treatment and testing and, therefore, the disparity and incidents of covid-19 in communities of color. as we salute the actions, we're getting ready for covid relief package. we'll be working on that. as you probably have seen, mr. hoyer announced that as we work on these issues, we won't be back in session until the beginning of february. another week, february 1 or 2, but we will be doing our -- we will be doing our committee work all next week so that we are completely ready to go to the floor when we come back. and then, again, the covid proposals from the
administration build on many of the initiatives that were in our packages all along. it's what the people need. what the country needs to crush the virus, put money in the pockets of the american people and honor our heroes. we are talking largely about executive actions but i just mentioned that one bill, the covid package. we also were pleased to see the president come forward -- the administration come forward with an immigration proposal. very pleased in the house linda sanchez will be taking the lead. senator menendez in the senate. that has the basic principles that we talked about all along and we'll see what the timetable is on that. today, we are in session to vote on the austin waiver. it is a waiver so that general lloyd austin can serve as secretary of defense.
as i said, general austin is a highly qualified and well-respected leader with over 40 years of decorated service. he brings a great understanding of the challenges facing our nation's defenses and the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their families. once the waiver is approved, i feel confident that the senate will confirm the general as secretary of defense. civilian control of the military is not an issue for us. it's a value, it's a principle, and we are so pleased that unlike the trump administration, the biden administration not only allow but encourage the general to come and present his views, which is happening right now in armed services committee. so, again, a very happy time. i'm very proud of our members.
before i came here, i was in a session that was made available for members and staff about the trauma of what happened on january 6. talk about physical trauma, psychological trauma, vicarious trauma and the rest. when the press saw my office and asked about things that were stolen, stuff broken, just violation of the property there, i really said, that's important. i respect the speak's office and history that's there. i'm more concerned about the damage that they did to our staff, to our colleagues, and the congress, to the custodial staff in the capitol of the united states. that is damage, that is damage
that must be addressed. the resilience that we want to convey, we try to do that night by coming right back, opening up the session of congress, proceeding with the business at hand. the counting of the electoral college votes to ascertain that joe biden and kamala harris were president and vice president of the united states. but that was one aspect of resilience. so many members felt their lives threatened. the uncertainty of it all contributed to the trauma. this is something that everyone in the country should take a measure of how they reacted to this. but let us all pray for the resilience that our country is famous for and that our people need to have as we go forward. and one other part of that is that we will be in a few days, i
will be talking with the managers as to when the senate will be ready for the trial of the then-president of the united states for his role in instigating an insurrection on the capitol of the united states, on our democracy, to undermine the will of the people. very clear he's been on this path for a while. just that day, he roused the troops, he urged them on to fight like hell. he sent them on their way to the capitol. he called upon lawlessness. he showed a path to the capitol, and the lawlessness took place. a direct connection in one day over and above all of the other
statements he had made before. so in any event -- i'm not going to be telling you when it is going. we had to wait for the senate to be in session. they've now informed us they're ready to receive. the question is -- questions of how a trial will proceed. but we are -- we are ready. with that, pleased to take any questions. reporter: madam speaker, talking about security at the capitol. do you have any evidence, or were you briefed in any capacity about, do you have any evidence or were you briefed in any capacity about the allegations of reconnaissance tours and if there is not proof of that and some of your members -- some of the republicans who were alleged to have given these have denied they did. speaker pelosi: it's all of those things, as you indicate. you have to have evidence of
what has happened. there is no question that there were members in this body who gave aid and comfort to those with the idea that they were embracing a lie, a lie perpetrated by the president of the united states that the election did not have legitimacy. these people believed it. they believed the president. the president of the united states, his words have weight. they weigh a ton, in fact. so that's one thing. in terms of what you suggest, everything has to be based on evidence, and that remains to be seen. in that regard, i'm very pleased that we will have an after-action review that will review many aspects of what happened. if people did aid and abet, there will be more than just comments from their colleagues here. there will be prosecution if they aided and abetted an
insurrection which people died. but, again, chad, as you rightfully ask, that is something that you have to collect the evidence for as you proceed, a. b, i'm very excited because you asked about security here that general russell honory has agreed to take a big view of the security here. we will have an after-action review. but immediately, before the weekend, he agreed to take a look at the security infrastructure. the interagency relationships. the fact that he's so familiar with the capitol regional security aspects of it. we feel -- we believe that we are in very good hands with his taking a look that he has and inviting experts in the field to give their views as well. so that's where we are.
yes, ma'am. reporter: thank you, madam speaker. two things. if you can put a finer-month on -- finer point on the timing of the articles of impeachment? speaker pelosi: no. as soon as we know you will be the first to know. reporter: and you talked about senator schumer being majority. you have worked with both leader schumer and leader mcconnell. what is your advice for leader schumer now that he's in the majority as he confronts leader mcconnell, who let us know yesterday he still sees, even though democrats have a sweep of government now with the house, senate, and white house, leader mcconnell still sees an important role for republicans as -- speaker pelosi: you're asking what advice i would give to leader schumer? reporter: yes, ma'am. speaker pelosi: you know him. i wouldn't think of giving him any advice on how to deal with
the senate. not at all. nor does he give me advice on how to run the house. reporter: and in dealing with leader mcconnell? speaker pelosi: again, that's a dynamic that's very different from the house. i would say, though, for both of us, we have a responsibility to find bipartisan where we can, to find our common ground where we can. we have that not only as a goal but a responsibility. when we can't, we must stand our ground. that's thomas jefferson, standing the ground with that. but it is -- if we're talking about what the country needs, the country needs to crush the virus. it hasn't happened yet. the country needs to end the economic crisis that we're in. we need to do more to do that, and one way to do both is to help our heroes, our health care workers, our police and fire, our first responders, our
sanitation, transportation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. they are on the front line risking their lives to save cases, in some cases, and on the verge of losing their jobs. it's a case of what we make for what the country needs that hopefully we can have bipartisan agreement. yes. reporter: you mentioned unity, the message of unity yesterday. are you at all concerned about moving forward with an impeachment trial could undercut that message and alienate the public support of the president? speaker pelosi: no. i'm not worried about that. the fact is the president of the united states committed an act of incitement of insurrection. i don't think it's very unifying to say, oh, let's just forget it and move on. that's not how you unify. joe biden said it beautifully, if we unite, you must remember,
and we must, we must. look, that's our responsibility, to uphold the integrity of the congress of the united states. that's our responsibility, to protect and defend the constitution of the united states. and that is what we will do. and just because he's now gone -- thank god -- that we -- you don't say to a president, do whatever you want in the last month of your administration. you're going to get a get out of jail card free because people think we should make nice-nice and forget that people died here on january 6, that the attempt to undermine our election, to undermine our democracy, to dishonor our constitution, no, i don't see that at all. i think that would be harmful to
unity. reporter: speaker pelosi, in context of the last impeachment trial you said you cannot have a trial without documents and witnesses. i'm wondering what kind of trial you'd like to see your impeachment managers put forward and is that part of what you're waiting for, some guidance from the senate of how they'll conduct themselves before you send that article over? speaker pelosi: well, let me just say this, we were talking about two different things. we're talking about a phone call that the president had as one part of it. that people could say, i need evidence. this year, the whole world bore witness to the president's incitement, the call to action, the violence that was used. believe it or not, i don't take part in the deliberations of
delivering -- preparing for the trial. that's up to the managers. but i do see a big difference between something that we all witnessed versus what information you might need to substantiate an article of impeachment based on -- large part on what the call that the president made. this was different. again, it's up to them to decide how we go forward, when we go forward. it will be soon. i don't think it will be long. but it -- we must do it. reporter: speaker pelosi, what's the status of h.r. 1 right now? speaker pelosi: h.r. 1, the sense of h.r. 1 is that it is in an exalted position. it is a priority for us. the senate has -- s. 6, i think
it is. thank you for asking about it. this is really central to the integrity of our government to reduce the role of big, dark, special interest money in politics. to give more leverage to small donors and grassroots activists. to implement what john lewis put forward in ending voter suppression. that is what january 6 was about as well. voter suppression. and the list goes on. we have pulled out h.r. 4, which was part of h.r. 1, the voting rights act. that's very much a part of the spirit of that. the reason we're doing them separately, h.r. 6 needs to have, and we have provided it, with hearings all over the
country. marcia fudge, now soon to be madam secretary. terri sewell, john lewis -- bless his heart when he was here -- all were part of establishing that record for h.r. 4, voting rights act, for now. so we're optimistic we'll pass both of them. it will give confidence to the american people that their voice is as important as anyone, that big money, which suffocates the airwaves, will no longer be the order of the day. and i thank john sarbanes for his tremendous leadership over long period of time. john larson was doing it earlier. now john sarbanes. both of them. and what's important about it is, it gives people the hope that, yes, we can have clean air and clean water and address climate crisis because big, dark money won't dominate the policy.
yes, we can have gun violence prevention because big, dark, special interests gun lobbyist money will not dominate the process. we in the democratic party have advanced these. they have been stopped, as you know, on the other side. but we hope now the more the public knows, the better we will be in terms of policy. and that just -- i'll conclude by saying something you heard me say again and again. public sentiment is everything. with it you can accomplish almost everything. without it practically nothing. abraham lincoln. abraham lincoln. and now we have the bully pulpit and the president can explain to public more clearly, because a president has a bigger audience, that the public will know what is at stake, how they can weigh in. and it won't be a question of
the press saying, oh, they're bickering. no, we're not. we're not bickering. we have a very major difference of opinion as to what -- how we honor the constitution. we hope that we can find common ground on it because it's very important. again, i'll further close -- wasn't it beautiful when president biden quoted what lincoln -- president lincoln said when he signed the emancipation proclamation on new year's day, 1865? it was within his soul, it was within his being. and biden, of course, said what he's setting out to do is in his soul and in his very being. thank you all very much. what a difference a day makes. thank you.