Live from Washington: Nancy Pelosi on Democratic Legislative Priorities & 2018 Midterm Campaigns By Luke Perry
Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post interviewed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday at Washington Post Live’s State of the Union preview.
When asked about immigration, Leader Pelosi said “there has to be a deal to be had” and “an agreement to be reached.” The current focus is on dreamers and border security, while more comprehensive work can be done later. Pelosi stated that immigration is highly beneficial and “makes America more American.”
All member of Congress also have a responsibility to protect America’s borders, which they recognize. Pelosi was critical of building a 2,000 mile wall that costs $25 billion, suggesting this was “immoral,” but “if some money goes to it, so be it.”
In shifting to infrastructure, Pelosi believes that this issue has been a “moving target” in working with President Trump, similar to immigration. Pelosi described the president's most recent proposal as a “mini plan” compared to his $1 trillion campaign pledge.
The funding formula requires states to pay a larger share of infrastructure funding, which is a “slap in the face” to states already dealing with new limits on state and local tax deductions. Pelosi contends that “infrastructure has never been a source of partisan disagreement” and characterizes the President’s plan as “a little teaser” insufficient to meet the country’s needs.
When asked about the controversial memo House Republicans voted last night to declassify, Pelosi expressed concern about the “massive politicization of intelligence” and believes it is necessary to “protect the intelligence community.” Pelosi criticized Speaker Paul Ryan for appointing a chair of the House intelligence committee who is “totally irresponsible” and described Devin Nunes as “a stooge for the White House.”
In regards to the midterm elections, Pelosi stated “I have never seen in all my years in politics more enthusiasm at the grass roots level.” She believes these campaigns are primarily about authenticity, more than running against Donald Trump. Candidates are presenting themselves, displaying what they know and their judgement, and how they think strategically about getting things done.
Pelosi opposes any party litmus tests as potential 2020 presidential candidates begin to position themselves. The Democratic Party has “vitality” and “diversity.” The unifying core of Democrats in Congress is the economic security of working families.
“I think my responsibility as the Leader is to be unifying,” Pelosi explained, “not just in my caucus, but in the country.” Issues of impeachment “will take its course,” but going down that path now would “not be a unifying thing for the country.” If Pelosi were to become the next Speaker, she would seek to lift up Americans in terms of financial security by focusing on healthcare, a fair tax agenda, and better jobs.
When asked about her advice to women candidates, Pelosi referenced the best advice she received in first running for public office. “Be yourself,” know your power, your subject, and your show your vision, because “sincerity matters.”
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry), Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College, on site from Washington DC.