Chris Wallace vs. Pelosi on Coronavirus Bill: "Didn't You Mess This One Up?" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Chris Wallace vs. Pelosi on Coronavirus Bill: "Didn't You Mess This One Up?"

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is leading negotiations over the next coronavirus relief bill with the White House and Republicans and is pressed by 'FOX News Sunday' host Chris Wallace' on her approach.


CHRIS WALLACE, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST: Madam Speaker, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI: My pleasure to be with you. Good morning, Chris.

WALLACE: President Trump says while you and congressional Democrats were pushing your agenda, he acted yesterday to help people in need.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have chosen to hold this vital assistance hostage on behalf of very extreme partisan demands and the radical left, Democrats, and we just can't do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: However it came about, and I know you don't like the executive action, won't millions of Americans now get some extended federal unemployment relief and some protection from evictions, get that now, rather than getting nothing at all?

PELOSI: No, in fact, what the president did is, I agree what the Republican senator said, it was unconstitutional slop. While it has the illusion of saying, we're going to have a moratorium on evictions, it says, I'm going to ask the folks in charge to study if that's feasible. When he says he's going to do the payroll tax, what he's doing is undermining Social Security and Medicare.

So these are illusions, and they really do not -- what he calls in our bill unnecessary, let's just review the difference. First of all, millions of children in our country are food insecure. Our bill addresses that with tens of billions of dollars, to feed the children.

The Republican bill has $250,000. Well, our bill addresses those who are on the brink of eviction, we use the numbers from the Princeton Eviction Lab and the Low Income Housing Coalition to show how many people will be evicted and what their needs are and that comes to -- it could come to tens of billions of dollars. The Republican bill has nothing.

This being a Sunday morning, I just recall a prayer that says: Pray for those who are hungry, pray harder for those who will not feed them. Pray for those who are homeless, pray harder for those who will not give them shelter. Pray for those who are sick and lonely, pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.

WALLACE: But --

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: What the president did does not address schools, all of the issues that are contained in the legislation. We can go through that, but you said give short answers.

WALLACE: But, Speaker, I understand that the president's executive action doesn't do all the things that you want but having no bill at all, not coming to any agreement wasn't going to provide any of the things that you want either.

You're known as a master negotiator, but didn't you mess this one up? Because you talk about all the things that the president -- let me just finish, if I may, Speaker. Now, because there's no deal at all, cities and states won't get any money, there's no money for the Post Office, there's no money for hospitals, there's no money for state boards of election.

You knew that the president was threatening to take this executive action. I understand that you weren't going to get everything you wanted and didn't get everything you wanted, but should you have cut a deal? And are you ready to go back into talks to try to come up with a fuller package?

PELOSI: Well, clearly, you don't have an understanding of what is happening here both in the weakness of the president's executive order, which don't give the money, enhanced benefit, but with the complicated formula there will take a while if at all to accomplish, to put money in the pockets of the American people.

What we have said, we're going to honor our heroes -- state and local, health care workers, et cetera, first responders, teachers and the rest. And as part of our argument, how much are they willing to do?

Secondly, we are going to stop the --

WALLACE: But, Speaker --

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: I allowed you to finish, you allow me to finish. They're going to -- let's open our economy by addressing -- addressing the virus, which the president has ignored for months now, to do the right thing, scientifically-based.

And third, let's put money in the pockets of the American people.

So what the president did doesn't even accomplish what he sets out to do in the categories he did.

But we said to them, we'll come down a trillion, you go up a trillion. Meet us halfway and we'll be able to have an agreement that meets the needs of the American people.

Excuse me.

WALLACE: I understand, Speaker, but the point I'm trying to -- I'm trying to make is, you -- they were offering $150 billion for cities and states. You wanted $900 billion. The result of no deal is that the states and cities, which we all agree do need some money, are going to get nothing.

I guess the question is -- and I'm not saying it's all your fault anymore than it's all the Republicans' fault, but the failure to make a deal is going to result in a lot of people and a lot of entities that were in need ending up with nothing.

PELOSI: Well, how do you -- how do you justify, tens of billions of dollars to feed the hungry to $250,000, to understand how far apart we are? Just by that example.

Let's bring all of that together. You contend that they're putting up money for elections. No, no. You contend they're helping with the Post Office. None of that is in their bill.

So, when you look at the amounts that are in their bill, it doesn't have any of that. Our bill does. But let's put it this way. We have to reach an agreement.

Children are food insecure, families at the risk of being evicted. The virus is moving like a freight train even though the president once has ignored and delayed and distorted what that is. Something is wrong.

When you look at those executive orders, either the kindest thing I could say is he doesn't know what he's talking about or something is wrong there, something is very, very wrong there. So to characterize them as even accomplishing what they set out to do as something that is -- that would take the place of an agreement is just not so.

WALLACE: You suggested that President Trump does not have the legal authority to do what he did yesterday. Are you talking about going to court? Because if you do, you must know that a practical effect of that would be, if you're successful, that you would be blocking -- I know you think that they should be $600 rather than $400, but you would be blocking, if you were successful, the millions of unemployed workers from getting any federal benefit.

PELOSI: But, two things, first of all, your last point. What the president put forth was a complicated formula which said that the states should put up 25 percent of the money. States don't have the money to do that. They have expenses from the coronavirus. They have lost revenue from shelter in place and the fact that people are not being able to go out and spend money, inject demand into the economy, as they would normally.

But apart from that, the constitutionality of that is a different question. Right now, we need to come to agreement. We got to meet halfway. We've got to make it -- do the best we can for the American people. But what they are putting forth does not meet that standard. It could. It could.

And we care so much about the fact that people are in need. Our children want to go to school. Our parents want them to go.

As a grandmother and a mom, I understand the angst that is with that, but what -- the president didn't do anything about that.

So the president's meager, weak, and unconstitutional actions further demand that we have an agreement. And any constitutional question is a separate issue.

WALLACE: Separate -- Speaker, I wanted to do -- get two questions in. If you do resume talks, and you say you want to -- and I'm not saying that this is all on you as opposed to the Republicans, but why should we expect the talks will be any more successful than the last two weeks that went nowhere? Would the Democrats be willing to be more flexible?

PELOSI: Well, we said we would -- we would come down a trillion. Now, it doesn't mean that we have things in there that would cut out. It means that we could talk about how long our provisions would be in effect. So we can take things down, instead of the end of September of next year, a shorter period of time and we'll revisit all of it next year anyway.

So, by changing some of the timing, we can come down.

WALLACE: Right.

PELOSI: But, by and large, what we have in the bill addresses the needs of the American people and we have just -- and part of the time it has taken for us to go back and forth is to demonstrate to Republican negotiators the justification, the documentation of what it means in terms of what we need for feeding the hungry, what we need for helping people who are going to be evicted.

WALLACE: Speaker --

PELOSI: What we need for schools.

WALLACE: Speaker, I -- I understand all that. I've got one last question I'd like to get in in the time on a completely different subject.

The intelligence community came out with a report this week that says that the Russians are taking, their words, a range of measures to undercut Joe Biden and to help President Trump get reelected. But they also said that China and Iran very much want to see the president defeated.

Are you worried about foreign interference from both sides?

PELOSI: No. In fact, what I'm concerned about in the intelligence report, and we have Leader Schumer -- excuse me, Schumer and I, Chairman Schiff and vice chairman, whatever they call it in the Senate, Warner, have written to say you have to release the information. Not sources and methods, but the American people need to know what the Russians are doing in this case and the American people believe that they should decide who the next president is, not Vladimir Putin.

They try to blanket it with -- the Chinese, they said, prefer Biden -- we don't know that, but that's what they're saying, but they're not really getting involved in the presidential election. I've been a critic of China for over 30 years. I take no second place to no one on my criticism of China.

WALLACE: Right.

PELOSI: But they -- for them to give some equivalence is not right. It doesn't really tell the story.

But as long as they tell the whole story about Russia, then they can hide it any way they want, but the American people need to know.

This is our sacred right, this is our elections, and in every way, we must make sure the American people have -- remove obstacles of participation and obstacles in terms of intelligence to make sure they know what's at stake.

WALLACE: Speaker -- Speaker, in the hopes of negotiations, I'm going to take you off the stage and put Secretary Mnuchin on so he gets to talk as well.

Thank you so much. Thank you for your time.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Always a pleasure.

WALLACE: Always good to talk with you.
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