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TMCNet:  Transcript of Today's Speaker Pelosi Press Conference -- June 24

[June 25, 2010]

Transcript of Today's Speaker Pelosi Press Conference -- June 24

Jun 25, 2010 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI News From Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday, June 24, 2010 Contact: Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616 Transcript of Today's Speaker Pelosi Press Conference Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference in her office in the Capitol this afternoon. Below is a transcript of the press conference: On Not Going Back to Republican Policies That Caused the Recession: "...The Republican policies took us to a financial crisis, it took us to a deep recession, it took us to deep indebtedness, and we are not going back. As the President said the other day, we are not going back, when he talked about health care. We are not going back to any of these situations.
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"But in order to move forward, we need to have job creation. In order for that to happen, we need the Republican Senators to understand the plight of the American people. That is the choice that we have before us. You are either for Wall Street, or you are for Main Street." Thursday, June 24, 2010 2:10 p.m.

Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon. Thank you again for accommodating a change of schedule.

We had a wonderful celebration today honoring the men and women who served in the Korean War, recognizing an important friendship between our two countries, the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, and, of course, remembering those who are lost there -- there are MIAs we don't know about yet, still hoping to find out -- and also to take every occasion we can to praise our men and women in uniform who serve us today.

Some of you were with us a little later in the day when we had a press conference with the women Democratic Members of Congress. The purpose of that meeting was to send a message to the Republican Senators: "Show us the jobs. Where are the jobs?" We keep sending jobs bills over to the Senate, and they will not give a glimmer of hope to America's working families.

As I have said to you before, and as the President says, we will measure our success by the progress being made by America's working families. They cannot work, make that progress without jobs.

So I was very proud of the leadership of many of our women Members, all of them, but some who spoke. Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Joint Economic Committee, talked about the job numbers, that this year we are on a path to have more jobs created this year under President Obama than in the eight years of the Bush Administration. Then in April, Americans paid lower taxes, paid taxes at a lower rate than since the 1950s.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee talked about the need for summer jobs that is in the jobs bill that we sent over to the Senate, and the Republican Senators said no.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, chair of the Small Business Committee, talked about a small business credit bill, the lending bill that we sent over to the Senate last week, and we hope that the Senate will take it up, but, so far, the Republican Senators have said no.

Congresswoman Schwartz of Pennsylvania talked about the private sector and the Build America Bonds to generate jobs in the private sector. That is part of our jobs bill. The Republicans said no. Susan Davis, chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee of Armed Services, talked about jobs and veterans and what this jobs bill does for veterans. The Republican Senators said no.

Congresswoman Judy Chu talked about Jobs Now, an initiative that was in the Recovery Act, created over 150,000 jobs nationwide and is in this bill to be continued, and the Republican Senators said no. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro talked about what this means to America's working families, especially single moms, about the job initiatives in the bill that the Republicans have said no on.

Here we are at a place where, again, Americans are looking for a glimmer of hope for themselves, even if they have a job -- they might -- but they could aspire to a better job, that they do not lose their jobs, that their family members can get jobs, that some people are underemployed, some people are chronically unemployed.

We have to do something very important to our economy. Chairwoman Velazquez has talked about energy jobs, clean energy jobs for the future, as a new way to have a new prosperity for our country.

All of this is obviously falling on deaf ears. Our Republican Senators seem to have a tin ear when it comes to the appeals of the American people for job creation.

Our bill is an important one not only because it creates jobs, but those jobs initiatives are paid for, and they are paid for by repealing a tax provision that rewards corporations for sending jobs overseas. Imagine.

Again, our interest is in creating private sector jobs, and I would remind you that President Bush, for the eight years he was in office, when he left office, there were 670,000 fewer private sector jobs than there were when he took office.

So this is about -- this is about that four-letter word, I use it all the time: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. And 8.5 million people lost their jobs because of recklessness on Wall Street caused joblessness on Main Street. The Republican policies took us to a financial crisis, it took us to a deep recession, it took us to deep indebtedness, and we are not going back. As the President said the other day, we are not going back, when he talked about health care. We are not going back to any of these situations.

But in order to move forward, we need to have job creation. In order for that to happen, we need the Republican Senators to understand the plight of the American people. That is the choice that we have before us. You are either for Wall Street, or you are for Main Street. We are fighting the financial institutions who are reckless -- not to paint them all with the same brush -- the financial institutions that were reckless. The Republicans said no. We are fighting Big Oil. The Republicans said no. We are fighting big health insurance companies. The Republicans said no.

I think the choice is a clear one. We have to make it every day in our legislation here.

We are very, very disappointed that the Republican Senators continue to say no, whether it is summer jobs, Build America jobs, R&D tax credit jobs, or innovation in our country, the list goes on.

With that, I would be pleased to take any questions.

Q: On the Afghanistan supplemental, do you expect that you will stay in town until that is passed? Speaker Pelosi. No. You mean this weekend? Q: I mean before the Fourth of July recess, but also will you stay in town, and how are you planning to get the votes actually to pass it? Speaker Pelosi. We will continue to meet on that subject, but I believe it would be important to pass it before we leave for the Fourth of July break. I thought you meant this weekend.

Q: Do you expect it to be -- what's the strategy that is emerging, passing the Senate bill" Are you still committed to the teacher funding" Is it looking like the teacher funding will stay? Speaker Pelosi. All of these are possibilities. Some of it depends on what could pass in the Senate.

Q: On financial regulation, Democrats seem to be at a bit of an impasse on derivatives and Volcker rule language. I am wondering if you support the House position on derivatives, and also if you have been reaching out...

Speaker Pelosi. And what might that be" I mean, what particular version are we talking about? Q: Whether or not -- there are certain people within the House who support the Senate version and Blanche Lincoln...

Speaker Pelosi. Right. They certainly do that, yes.

Q: But there are a lot of Members who have expressed deep concerns about that. And so I am wondering where you...

Speaker Pelosi. And so which one would you describe as a House position? Q: A House position would be the not Senate position.

Speaker Pelosi. Okay.

Q: And also I want to know what you feel...

Speaker Pelosi. Well, just to say the not Senate position covers a lot of territory around here.

Let me say this on the subject. First of all, I am very proud of the work of Chairman Barney Frank, who is chairing this conference. He and Chairman Dodd have done a great job, I think, of narrowing the issues and having real reform to address the recklessness that took us to such a bad situation in terms of joblessness in our country, jeopardizing our financial institutions and diminishing credit for small businesses and, again, job loss with regard to a number of items on the agenda, and they have worked to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate.

Today they are working on the Volcker rule and Merkley-Levin addition to the Volcker rule. I don't know if they have passed that yet today. I just don't know. During the last vote they were still working on that.

So that is a position that has general support in the Caucus, and that is -- the House original position was to allow the Volcker rule to be enforced. The Senate position was to require the Volcker rule to be enforced. This initiative that they have today requires the Volcker rule and adds to it Merkley-Levin, more on the subject than some of you may want to know, but that is where that is.

When that is finished, they will go to the issue of derivatives, and there are people at work trying to find common ground there. But the fact is what will have to happen at the end of the day in the bill is a situation where whatever the outcome for derivatives in this bill, that it is clear that the taxpayer has no exposure to whatever risk taking people want to take.

I think they are down to -- we are close.

Q: Have you reached out to Senator Lincoln? Speaker Pelosi. I met with Senator Lincoln yesterday, yes.

Q: If the swaps desk spin off provision stays in the bill, though, can you get the votes to pass it? Speaker Pelosi. You know what, there is not one issue. You have got the clearinghouse, you have the swaps desks. We will see what the oneness of it is when it comes back, because all of these issues relate to each other. It is pretty exciting, though, because there is going to be real change. It is just a question of where it comes down.

But already, taking it to Merkley-Levin on Volcker rule -- on the Volcker rule has made giant progress. Part of that is because we passed our bill pay while back. The Volcker rule has ripened since then and had a much bigger reception once people knew more about it.

Q: Madam Speaker, following up on the supplemental question here.

Speaker Pelosi. Yes.

Q: Does the change in commanders in Afghanistan affect the calculus to get the votes for the supplemental because of some of the concerns that some on the left in your Caucus have, and then potential things that you might try to put into the bill, such as teachers, to sweeten it or something? Speaker Pelosi. No, I don't think so. We will find out, but so far I haven't seen any indication that that has any impact on the vote. There is unease in our Caucus, as you well know, about the situation in Afghanistan. I don't think that the change in command affects that.

The President is the Commander in Chief. We all stand by him and his decision that he made in terms of who would be in command in Afghanistan. So we trusted him before, we trust him now, and it is just a question of where people stand on our involvement in Afghanistan.

Q: Do you think you will have to bifurcate the vote in any way like you have done in the past on the supplemental? Speaker Pelosi. It is possible.

Q: Madam Speaker, the Senate seems to be having trouble passing these extenders on unemployment and COBRA, and then there is also the SGR issue hanging out there. What do you see as the path ahead on UI, on COBRA, as well as on SGR? Speaker Pelosi. Well, on SGR we had hoped, when they sent this very, very slim reed of a piece of legislation over to us, which wasn't even really that well written -- this was, I think, the Republican initiative, and they just did it without objection, or whatever the term of art is on the Senate side -- that this was totally inadequate. Members said, no, we have to send something back that is bigger, but let's see what they can do on unemployment. Well, it is clear they are not able to do anything this week anyway.

What we are looking at now is looking at perhaps taking up SGR this evening, this small package, so that we can clear the way for discussing a bigger package for SGR and unemployment insurance and the rest.

Q: Are you talking about taking up short term SGR this evening? Speaker Pelosi. We may. That is a possibility. We are talking about just taking up the Senate bill.

Q: Are you going to call up the Senate bill? Speaker Pelosi. We might. I am just telling you that is something we are considering, and we may do that this evening, because what we had hoped to do was send it back to them with unemployment insurance and the rest, but it is clear that at this time they can't pass that.

I mean, I think they are taking their cloture vote now. Perhaps they will surprise us with something. But we don't have any reason to think, today, that we could stay around tomorrow and accept whatever they are doing.

Q: And the path ahead on UI and COBRA? Speaker Pelosi. The COBRA path will be harder. You know, COBRA, paid for COBRA, subsidized COBRA, was new in the Recovery Act. Now we want to extend that.

Since there is a real interest in paying for as much as possible -- you have got FMAP, you have got unemployment insurance, which I don't think should be paid for because it is an emergency, and it does stimulate the economy, inject demand into the economy and that. That is the debate that is going on.

Again, I am hard put to pass any more initiatives here unless there is some reasonable prospect of success on the Senate side. Having said that, unemployment insurance is an emergency, FMAP is an emergency, and we will have to see how we can come together to pass that legislation.

But I would say, as important as COBRA is and the high value that I place on it, I see a clearer path for unemployment insurance and FMAP before COBRA. I don't like saying that really, but you asked me.

Q: Earlier today, Majority Leader Hoyer chose his words very carefully and suggested that as part of a broader budget agreement, perhaps the middle-class tax cuts could only be extended temporarily, and perhaps the Social Security retirement age could be raised. Do you agree, number one, and is there support in the Caucus for that? Speaker Pelosi. Well, first of all, I think, as you correctly said, Mr. Hoyer chose his words very carefully. So I would not want to exercise less care than he did. He did not say that he was going to change the middle-income tax cut. He didn't say that.

Q: Trial balloon; there is still a trial balloon? Speaker Pelosi. Well, you know what" That is between you and Mr. Hoyer.

Q: Do you agree, though, with his...

Speaker Pelosi. I think that he made a very important statement about putting everything on the table, subjecting everything to scrutiny when it comes time to figuring out how we lower the deficit in a very transformational way.

I think middle-income tax cuts can take any competition that any other initiative might put there because they do inject demand into the economy, and they do grow the economy, and they end up reducing the deficit.

So I put my money on middle-income tax cuts, but that doesn't mean that everything shouldn't be subject to review, and I salute Mr. Hoyer for his statement.

Thank you all.

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