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Pelosi Speaks as Dems Remain Divided on Biden Agenda; Framework Deal Reached to Pay for "Any Negotiated Agreement". Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 23, 2021 - 11:00   ET



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Only 3 percent of the debts -- of the costs that we're dealing -- only 3 percent have occurred under the Biden administration. This is largely under the Trump administration. And, again, Democratic, Republican president, we have to lift the debt ceiling.

So, Trump -- when Trump was president, he increased the debt by $7.8 trillion. We take participation in the COVID expenses but not the tax scam that added at least $2 trillion to the national debt.

So again, we've worked in a bipartisan way. It's always been bipartisan. And that's how we want to keep it. Again, it could -- it would cost 6 million jobs, wipe out $15 trillion in household wealth, nearly doubling the unemployment rate to 9 percent and increase borrowing costs for all Americans. It would be a catastrophe, and that's -- don't take it from me.

Let me just quote Mitch McConnell when this came up during the Trump years. Mitch McConnell said the following. He said -- Mitch McConnell stated that not supporting a debt limit suspension -- okay, and this is what he said -- assures that Congress will not throw this kind of unnecessary wrench into the gear of our job growth and thriving economy.

When Trump was president, they didn't want to throw a wrench, a wrench, unnecessary wrench into the fear of our job growth. Today he's threatening to do just that. We urge him to stop holding the debt and the economy hostage.

Again, also on the floor today, we'll be doing -- on the floor we're, on the floor, we're doing NDAA, strengthening our security, honoring our service members, upholding our values, and today we'll have legislation on the security interests that we have by putting additional funding for the Iron Dome as a defensive system. It's part of the memorandum of understanding and negotiated in 2016. And it will strengthen that support.

So, again, we stand united on a bipartisan, bicameral basis for Israel security, which is vital for American security, again, we pray for every innocent life that is lost in the conflict on any side of these arguments.

Tomorrow led by Congresswoman Chu, we're passing the Women's Health Protection Act. It's a very exciting day for some of us in the Congress of the United States. We've long been supporters of Roe v. Wade. We haven't been able to codify it because we never had a Democratic pro-choice majority with a Democratic president. And now we do. And now we do.

Every woman everywhere has a constitutional right to basic reproductive health, yet for years that has been questioned by some.

And so you know about the Texas law and the rest of that. I don't have to go into the reason why we have to do this. But the Texas law goes beyond a discussion of a woman's right to choose. It's about vigilantes and bounty hunters and something that is so un-American. And it has evoked a response, okay. It's unconstitutional and unjust.

Yesterday, this is probably why you're all here today, leader Schumer and I met with the president about Build Back Better legislation. And it is such -- so exciting. It's going to do so much for our country. One of the biggest middle-class tax cuts for families ever creating millions of good-paying jobs, unleashing the full power of women in the workplace.

Again, when women succeed, America succeeds. That's what we say. And that's with -- now, if you're a woman in the workplace, this bill is for you. Even for some dads. Child care, child tax credit to help pay the bill. Universal pre-K. Home health care. Not necessary for a child, could be for someone with disabilities or a senior in a home who needs personal attention.

Family and medical leave, paid family and medical leave. It's just, again, unleashing the power of women in the workplace in a way that has never been done before in our country. It's historic. It's transformative.

And when COVID struck over -- more than 4 million women had to withdraw from the workplace because they didn't have child care or they couldn't afford child care or the -- they had to stay home.


And some dads, too. So, it's not just about women but overwhelmingly it is. So, it is -- it is addressing some of that. We knew this problem existed but COVID made it even more apparent.

Hence we will be going down a path that enables women to do what they're doing. You've heard me say before, do what you're doing. At work, they can give their full attention, without worrying. We always think of our families and children, but worrying minute by minute as to whether the children are safely cared for.

What I'm excited about in the bill that is coming up is what it does for the environment. This is transformational. I use that word that women in the workplace, it's transformational. The president has established some goals for protecting the environment and saving the planet and this legislation does just that in a way as we were honored by the secretary of the treasury and leader of the Senate earlier, that was paid for. It's pretty exciting.

We just -- we have plans that are not punitive to those -- we don't -- we want everyone to pay their fair share and in doing so help build our economy better with women in the workplace. So that's pretty exciting for us.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of welcoming two heads of state, Boris Johnson, maybe some of you were at that presentation with Boris Johnson, Prime Minister Johnson, and then later in the day -- in the morning, same morning with Scott -- Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia. Why I bring it up in association with climate because they were so exuberant about the urgency of addressing the climate issues.

Of course, we thanked the prime minister of U.K. for hosting COP-26. I just had the privilege of doing that at 10 Downing the weekend that I was at the G-7 heads of parliament. And to see what was happening there in preparation for the COP-26. But then he made a presentation to our bipartisan leadership of his priorities and strongly, strongly, strongly talking about what the U.K. was doing in terms of climate.

And the prime minister of Australia, Morrison, he was saying we're not only addressing the Paris accords, we are -- our slogan is we meet it and we beat it. So they're leading the way. That's what we all have to do is meet our emissions responsibility and our financial responsibility to other countries so that when we leave COP-26 having fulfilled our obligations to the Paris accords, and then to go further.

It's a health issue for our children. Clean air, clean water. It's a jobs issue for your country, green technologies, being pre-eminent in the world on those. It's a security issue because security experts tell us that migrations and the rest, rising sea levels, management of the planet, drawing up of rivers, encroachment of deserts, the list goes on. You know what they are, I think, that is cause for competition and conflict over habitat and sources. So it's a security issue.

Health, jobs, security, and of course, a moral issue if you believe as I do this is God's creation and we have a moral obligation to be good stewards. Even if you don't share that view, we all agree that we have a responsibility to our children, grandchildren, future generations to hand off the plan net a very responsible way. So a lot going on from a woman's right to choose to preserving the planet and central focus now on getting the job done that we're on a path to do.

The president has given us a path for a better future for our country, a fairness and justice. Whether it's economic or environmental justice or whatever, we have -- I'm so proud of our members working this, working it, working it, writing the bill, having their own discussions about it all. Now the president put us on a course. We intend to stay the course and pass both of these bills as soon as possible.

Any questions? I probably should reward people who come here most and then we'll go to others.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you elaborate on what senator Schumer just said? He said you have mission agreement on a framework --

PELOSI: Framework, uh-huh.

RAJU: Does that mean House Democrats and moderates -- progressives and moderates have agreed on tax rates? How much this bill will cost, and price tag and --

PELOSI: No. What he said was the House, the Senate, and the White House came to an agreement on how we can go forward in a way to pay for this. I don't know how you define some of the terms you used loosely there, but overwhelmingly, new dam coalition, a segment of those who represented us at the meeting yesterday, had been very strong on child tax credit, extending the Affordable Care Act subsidies and the rest. The list goes on. Though we have consensus and overwhelmingly, maybe 10-1, 20-1, in our caucus as to these priorities, a higher percentage in the Senate.

But we wanted to make sure that it feels paid for. I'm a pay-go person, pay-as-you-go. Sometimes I have a little disagreement with my caucus with some who just don't necessarily think we should do that. But I do. And we came to terms as to a framework of an array of agreements that we have, depending on what the need is. Now, at the same time, we're finalizing on the outlay side, so if we need more, we need less, that will impact the choice we make there. But this was great progress not in terms of -- it's just that it's writing bills, and it takes time, and you have to make decisions, and that's what we did.


RAJU: -- price tag?

PELOSI: No, we didn't talk about that. This is not about price tag. This is about what it's in the bill, what's in the bill. For children, what's in bill. Universal pre-K, child care, child tax credit, family medical leave for their families, protecting the planet for them.

It's about specific legislation, how much does that cost, how do we pay for it? It's about the climate issues, as I ended on that, on the climate issues in terms of using the tax code to stimulate the business aspects of this to meet the emissions goals. And that's part of how we make some decisions. Does this use of the tax cut help meet the president's emission goals that we have as a nation? So it's not about a price tag. It's about values, not dollars. And

when we come to agreement on what people are for or what they would cut, if they want to do this. What would you cut?

Our goal is to have a very specific priority or priorities clearly presented with as close as possible results -- as possible. And I'm very, very proud of the work of our members on that score. Yes.

REPORTER: You had the secretary here talking about the debt ceiling and expressed concern there. It seems as though every time we get so close to the debt ceiling we have all these horror stories about --

PELOSI: It is that, yeah.

REPORTER: Why would we think that wouldn't happen this time? I know the position of the Republicans. Why would we not think that this is going to be different this time?

PELOSI: Well, because, again, public sentiment is everything. The Republicans yesterday, they voted to shut down government and not honor the full faith and credit of the United States of America. Shutting down the government at the same time as rejecting assistance for their own constituents who were affected by hurricane Ida. Again, we'll keep government open. We'll have the votes to do that, and then we'll go to the Senate again.

But the full faith and credit is a national debate. It's a national debate. Why should it be that we as Democrats always come to the rescue when it's a Republican president?

And we're not coming to the rescue of the president. We're coming to the rescue of our economy, families, interest they pay on their loans and job security and the rest of that. That's the debate we have to have. And we must succeed. And so, again, hopefully with your messaging this on Fox News, you'll get a lot of people writing in and saying let's not shut -- let's not renege on the national debt.


It's about paying -- you know, the former president was famous for not paying his bills, and they want to do that again. But we cannot let them do that and jeopardize our economy.

REPORTER: How do you guarantee that there won't be a shutdown, especially --

PELOSI: Excuse me?

REPORTER: How do you guarantee there won't be a shutdown especially if Republicans end up blocking this bill in its current form?

PELOSI: Well, we put this bill together in a very bipartisan way. When we added the debt ceiling is when they said -- you know, because Rosa DeLauro, our chairwoman, rosa, she respects them, the appropriator. So we have a certain culture of bipartisanship of finding solutions there. It's a very bipartisan bill underneath the debt ceiling. So we don't think it will really be any problem to pass the legislation.

REPORTER: Thank you, Madam Speaker. With the announcement of this framework, are you confident you have enough subpoena port within your own party to move ahead with a vote on Monday?

PELOSI: We take it one day at a time, but I'm confident we will pass both bills. Yes, sir.

REPORTER: I wanted to ask you about the Women's Health Care Protection Act. The archdiocese of San Francisco and the archbishop of San Francisco warns that the bill is nothing more than a child sacrifice and calls on Catholics to fast and pray to beat this bill.

You're Catholic. Your reaction?

PELOSI: Yeah, I'm Catholic. I come from a pro-life family, not active in that regard, different in their view of a woman's right to choose than I am.

In my right to choose, I have five children, six years and one week, and I kept saying -- people say things like that, when you have five children in six years and one day, we can talk about what business is any of us to tell anyone else to do.

For us, it was a complete and total blessing, which we enjoy every day of our lives. But it's none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families. My -- the -- my -- the archbishop of the city of that area of San Francisco and I have a disagreement about who should decide this.

I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities. Yes, ma'am.

REPORTER: Are you saying with this new framework that the bill will not be $3.5 trillion?

PELOSI: No, I'm not saying that at all. No.

REPORTER: Are you guaranteeing that the bill will be done on Monday?

PELOSI: I'm not saying that. I'm saying we'll bring your legislation forward as it's ready. We didn't say anything about what the framework was -- the price tag but talking about the values contained therein.

We are for the $3.5 trillion number because that's the number that the president and the Senate sent us. We marked up to that. And now we'll go to the next step. But I think we're in a very good place.

I've always been very calm about this because it's like it always happens the same way, all this bluster and this and that and who's there and who's there. But at the end of the day, we will be unified for the American people and we couldn't be better led than by Joe Biden and his vision, his vision for America's working families so that we have fairness in our economy and justice in our environment as well as in our economy and every other way and that we open the door for women to succeed in the workplace. So one day at a time. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it's all good is the message she's trying to project today when it comes to the fighting going on, infighting amongst her own party over the massive spending bill and President Biden's priorities with a reconciliation process that we've been seeing play out in public. The fight continues.

Let me bring in right now, CNN's chief political correspondent, co- anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION", Dana Bash, and CNN's congressional correspondent Lauren Fox.

We have an agreement on the taxes and how to pay for the reconciliation bill moving forward between Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the White House. Do you have any details on what the taxes are that will pay for this price tag?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Reporters caught him in the hallway outside that room and he sort of clarified he believed there were a menu of options they could use to fully pay for that bill.

I want to break down what I think leadership is doing here. They know that the narrative that is emerging is Democrats are in disarray.


That they don't agree on how much this bill should cost, what to include, or how to pay for it. So, what they're trying to make sure they are showing some unity, some strength at the top, and that's between House leaders as well as Senate leaders and the White House.

What they do not have at this current moment is unity among their members, right? What exactly are you going to do to pay for this bill? What is the appropriate tax rate going to be? Who is going to be affected by tax increases?

Those are still details that likely will need to be worked out. We may get more details over the next couple of days, but remember, we don't have paper in hand right now saying exactly what every rate is going to be and we don't have any guarantee that every single Democrat is going to be for whatever the White House, the Senate, and house leadership has actually agreed to at this point. I think that's an important thing to clarify that, yes, Schumer says the White House and the speaker as well as himself, they've all agreed that this bill needs to be paid for. A lot of Democrats, a lot of moderates, also think this bill needs to be paid for but exactly how you do it, not just putting on the table a menu of options, will be really key and more important to get more details on in the forthcoming days.

BOLDUAN: Dana, can you -- that was great and perfectly laid out by Lauren. Can you give me a gut-check on is this real progress?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't know the answer to that because Lauren nailed it as always in trying to, you know, explain what you just saw in layman's terms, and that is the Democratic leadership clearly trying to calm everybody down and trying to say don't talk about this robust discussion, debate, and real disagreements over what we're going to do for this large spending package. But look at this, that we've agreed how to pay for it.

What we don't know, let's just say that is true, they've agreed to some specific tax increases and other revenue raisers so to speak, to pay for what? What are they paying for? What in that --

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

BASH: And it's important to talk about the specifics here because we talk a lot about the -- what we say here in Washington is the top-line number, $3.5 trillion. That's what the White House wants and what progressives have agreed to.

But what is that spending on? The speaker talked about family and medical leave, universal health care, pre-K, never find changes to climate policy. All of those add up to more than the $3.5 trillion. If Joe Manchin, for example, prime example, doesn't want that $3.5 trillion, what of those policies does he want to jettison?

I talked to him on "STATE OF THE UNION" a couple weeks ago and he doesn't like the way the climate and energy policies are written. Is that going to go away? Is that part of a negotiation? Those are really important questions not only because it adds up to the broader package but because each of these policy initiatives are campaign promises that many of the Democrats, including the one in the White House, said that they were going to make into law if they got the majority in the White House. We don't know yet how they've agreed to any of that yet, because they haven't.

BOLDUAN: Right. I think the fact of the matter is both things can be done at the same time. Speaker Pelosi is working the process as she does, and also the fighting amongst Democrats is also very real and not going away with this assurance that there is a way to pay for all of this whatever they land on as their priorities.

BASH: That is no small thing. You know, one of the big problems that someone like Joe Manchin or other moderates, Kyrsten Sinema, have had with this price tag, is they are not convinced it won't add to the deficit, that it won't increase inflation. So that is another part of what you just heard from the Democratic leaders, which is we will make sure that that won't happen. The price tag is irrelevant if we make sure that it's paid for and doesn't add to the debt.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Dana. Great to see you, Lauren. Thank you very much.

Let's get some reaction to this. Joining me right now with Democratic Congressman Ed Case. He sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

Congressman, thank you very much.

I'm sure you heard some or all of what Speaker said. She says they have a framework and agreement on how to pay for all of this, a framework of taxes to raise the revenue to cover the cost of this. Does that get you closer to being supportive and being a yes on reconciliation?


REP. ED CASE (D-HI): First of all, I want to say we're completely focused on passing the bipartisan infrastructure package on Monday. That is staring us in the face. That will be the largest infrastructure investment in our country's history.

It will be a landmark achievement for any president. It is central to President Biden's agenda, and it would be proof that Congress can actually work.

And so, you know, the bipartisan infrastructure package, we'll have a quote on that on Monday, and that's where our focus needs to remain and that's what we need to get done on Monday. I think that opens up tremendous amounts of possibilities. I think if that does not succeed, I think it would be counterproductive to the reconciliation process. We've got to get the first piece of business done.

To your question on reconciliation, I think it is progress, what I heard today, on a couple of fronts. I think first of all, I think we should focus on the fact that that's the first time that our leadership has said that the White House, the Senate, and the House are all talking on the same page. That should have been true for, you know, quite a while now. I assume it was true at some level. But take them and say it, I take encouragement from them, number one.

Number two, as you've already talked about here, the fact that all three of them are saying that this does, in fact, need to be paid for, it cannot worsen our crashing deficit and our booming debt, is very positive. That needs to be a boundary around the discussion.

And then finally, they have some form of framework in terms of how they propose to do that I think is valuable because, you know, it's one thing to talk about the programs you want. I want every single program too. But at the end of the day, if you accept as I do, that you have to find a way to pay for them, that imposes some limitations that you've got to deal with as a practical matter and the frustration that I and others have had in this debate is that we didn't get that straight from the get-go and therefore raised expectations to a level we should not have done.

If we're now into the relative boundaries of paying for it, that's good news, and I think the other question I have which you've raised is when majority leader Schumer is referred to the house and the Senate, does that refer to all of the senators, does that refer to all of the house members because I think every one of us has some sense of sensitivities in terms of pay-fors.

BOLDUAN: So on Monday, you have said and you just said that you are going to have a vote on Monday. Speaker Pelosi was asked specifically about the vote on Monday on the infrastructure vote and she says -- her answer was we take it one day at a time. That's not a guarantee.

Do you have a guarantee of a vote on Monday on infrastructure?

CASE: A couple of weeks ago every Democrat in the House voted for a rule, which required a vote on Monday.

BOLDUAN: But a lot has changed since then.

CASE: Pardon?

BOLDUAN: A lot has changed since then. Yes, you were promised a vote on Monday, no question, and that's why speaker Pelosi has been asked about it at every turn.

CASE: Correct.

BOLDUAN: But she is not guaranteeing a vote on Monday.

CASE: Our expectation is that there will be a vote. Majority Leader Hoyer has said there will be a vote and I'm expecting a vote. And, again, I would say to you that every Democratic said that was going to occur. And I think it should occur. I think we should take that win.

BOLDAUN: If it doesn't, congressman, what do you say?

CASE: Well, if it -- you know, certainly as I said earlier, I think if there was any delay in that vote or any attempt to go back on really the commitment that was made by my leadership as reflected in a rule, I think that would influence the number of us going forward on reconciliation.

BOLDUAN: Would you vote no on reconciliation if --

CASE: I'm not saying I would or wouldn't. I personally want reconciliation to succeed.

BOLDUAN: Right. Okay.

CASE: I'm looking for an avenue that has both bills, but from my perspective the priority right now is the bipartisan infrastructure package, and I believe that that opens up the avenue to actually achieve reconciliation.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for your time. I appreciate you. Important, important role in this. Thanks for coming on.

CASE: Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, CDC vaccine advisers could decide as soon as today who will get a Pfizer booster shot and when they will get it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me next.