TRANSCRIPT: HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER REP NANCY PELOSI ON GUN CONTROL AND BOEHNER’S PLAN B
NEW YORK, NY--December 18, 2012--House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shared her reaction to the mass shooting in Newtown and discussed the future of gun control legislation in Washington, D.C. in an interview that aired today on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." Additionally, Pelosi talked about the latest in the fiscal cliff negotiations, adding that "Boehner’s ‘Plan B’ should be called Plan Befuddled."
Segment 1 - Clip: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/mitchell-reports/50238404
Segment 2 - Clip: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/mitchell-reports/50238695
The transcript of the interview is below. If used, kindly credit MSNBC.
ANDREA MITCHELL, HOST: So joining me here to talk about the mass shooting in Newtown and the chances of gun control legislation finally possessing, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Leader, thank you very much for joining us.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you.
MITCHELL: The pain is horrendous. You spoke on the House floor last night.
What is your reaction?
You're a mother, you're a grandmother, the -- this is so -- so overwhelmingly sad because of the age of the children involved.
PELOSI: Well, because of the age of the children, of course, and the number of them and their teacher and their counselor and their principal...
MITCHELL: All of the above.
PELOSI: All of the above. And that the other children would be exposed to this, as well. It's -- we carry them in our hearts, which are very heavy. It's just almost unfathomable to capture what the grief is to their families.
But we have to make sure, do everything in our power -- and I use that term not as a figure of speech, but as an actual fact -- everything in our power to try to prevent it from happening again.
MITCHELL: The president has said he will use everything in his power. Words matter, though, and we have seen that this was not discussed during the election campaign. No commitments were made, no promises were made. It just wasn't an issue.
And it seems as though we go from cycle to cycle. And there's an immediate response and then it fades.
How do we know this time that the momentum won't be permitted to fade?
PELOSI: Well, I think the fact is, there's been so many events in close proximity, time-wise, to each other, that this is almost a turning point. Little children, 20 little children and -- and the adults, also, that it -- what it -- how do you explain to the children why something like this happened?
How does something like this happen?
It happens because somebody is mentally ill, in this case, obviously. But how does it happen because he had a -- a person with impaired judgment has access to firepower that should be outlawed. There's no reason why these assault magazines -- and that's what they are. We've got to call them what they are, assault magazines. You aren't even allowed to have that on a hunting gun. You -- in California, anyway, you can have three shots. And here in -- and there's, in a kindergarten, you can have endless shots.
MITCHELL: We thought after Tucson, Gabby Giffords, your colleague and the -- the raw emotion there...
MITCHELL: -- among all of you and her friends, what you experienced on the House floor when she came back, that should have been enough...
PELOSI: You would think...
MITCHELL: -- to push this forward. Then after Oak Creek -- let me just quote back to you, after Oak Creek, Wisconsin, what you said. "The votes aren't there for gun control. We certainly aren't going to be able to do it in this Congress and I don't know that we would be able to do it in a Democratic Congress, because it takes a lot of votes to go down that path."
The Republicans are in control, but there are a lot of Democrats, also, who come from states, red states, where these gun issues are absolutely binding.
PELOSI: Well, we have heard something quite different from some of our members. Our caucus this morning mem -- met and met some of the members who are members of the NRA or -- or in -- supported by the NRA came forth and said that hungers and their districts have said this isn't what hunters are about. We do need -- right away, we could pass, right away, today, this week, we could pass the ban on the assault magazine. That means the -- the attachment to a gun. And it makes every gun that it's compatible with an assault weapon.
And in a larger sense, let's go down the path of banning the assault weapon. I think there's a better chance to do that now than ever, uh, not that one child's life is more important than another person's life, but the volume, the impact of this, that -- that every child can feel vulnerable.
How do we say to children, sleep well at night, my dear, go to school in safety, because you are protected when we don't really know that?
MITCHELL: Mayor Bloomberg, Mike Bloomberg, who's been such an advocate, was on "Morning Joe" today. And his frustration is also at the White House and things that could be done by executive action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: And somebody said to me, well, it's a Republican issue. Let me tell you, it's not a Republican issue. If I remember my history, the first two years of the last Obama administration, Congress, the -- and the Senate and the White House were all in the hands of the Democrats and they did nothing. So spare me that it's only the -- the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Well, perhaps the mayor is forgetting that you need 60 votes in the Senate to get anything done. But be that as it may, his point is well taken. We all have a responsibility now to go forward to get something done. And it could -- should be bipartisan. And I think it can be.
Whatever the president can do by executive or administrative direction, I hope that he will do.
But I also think we all have a responsibility to tell the children that we did everything in our power to protect them. And I think this is different.
For some reason, it's different. Children die all the time in inner cities and the rest. It's always tragic. Somehow or other, this has pushed it all over the top. And I think that people will not be satisfied until this is accomplished. And I'm very encouraged by what I'm hearing from the -- those who have not necessarily been leaders on the gun safety issue before.
MITCHELL: And one of the issues is, perhaps, the issue of privacy for those who returned from the military and others who -- whose medical records need to be shared. I mean this has been discussed in the last couple of days.
But what about the cutbacks in money for mental health programs...
MITCHELL: -- and for care?
What about these parents who may have a child who is a loner, who is spending all his time -- and most these are young men of a certain age -- deeply engaged in video games, not engaged in the outside world. Perhaps they've been noticed by teachers, but not followed up. And then at home, they're hidden?
PELOSI: Well, two points.
One -- first, I'll start with the second point. When Patrick Kennedy was in the Congress and when his dad was in the Senate, we passed, in a bipartisan way, the Mental Health Parity Act, which, for the first time, treated mental health just the way every other illness is (INAUDIBLE). And in the Affordable Care Act, we extended that in terms of -- of the coverage.
So we have made advances in that regard, certainly not enough. And as you say, people have to be vigilant in their own circle and in their own family as to who needs help.
On an -- and that's a very important part of this. The violence in our society is a very important discussion. Bobby Scott, who's our senior Democrat on the subcommittee on Judiciary, has been taking the lead on this a long time. Mike Thompson, who's a -- a veteran of the Vietnam War won -- wounded there -- and hunter and all the rest, has told us that as a -- as a veteran, as a hunter and as a person who represented a hunting district, he's saying his people are saying, get rid of assault weapons.
So some of these folks can be our strongest advocates.
In terms of the privacy of our returning vets, obviously, that has to be respected. But the -- the balance between security and freedom, privacy and -- and protection is something that we have to accomplish.
MITCHELL: And if not now, when?
PELOSI: No, now. It has to come now. Actually, just to ban the magazine, the assault magazine, we could do it right now. And then take on Dianne Feinstein -- Senator Feinstein's initiative, and others, to move to a side -- a ban...
MITCHELL: The weapons (INAUDIBLE)...
PELOSI: -- the assault weapons and the rest, yes. And then address mental health issues, violence in our society, in our inner cities, and -- and beyond.
MITCHELL: Important points all.
And we'll be right back.
Our exclusive conversation with Nancy Pelosi continuing next with those cliff talks, including her reaction to John Boehner's Plan B.
This is ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a difficult time for Americans. That's why, while we continue to have conversations with the White House, I've continued to have hope that we can reach an agreement. It's -- it's not a time to put Americans through more stress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: The speaker today, even though this latest tragedy has -- even through the latest tragedy, I should say, there has been slow movement on negotiations between the speaker and the president.
But any major budget deal between the two leaders still is going to need support from both sides of the aisle. The speaker today indicating that the latest White House offer is a non-starter and he doesn't think it's balanced.
I just want to point out that Jay Carney, during the briefing, has just said that the president does support Dianne Feinstein's assault weapon ban, the rewritten ban that had expired, of course. She was the -- one of the -- the original sponsor...
MITCHELL: -- of that amendment back in '94. So there does seem to be some movement coming from the White House now to breathe support to that.
MITCHELL: Speaking about the budget deals and all of the negotiations back and forth, the president has put on the table a -- a new plan...
MITCHELL: -- which would raise the level of those exempted from $250,000 to $400,000. The speaker says that that is not good enough. The president has also put on the table several other items, which includes changing the way the cost of living increase is calculated, the so-called chain CPI, already knocked down by an -- a whole number of more progressive or liberal groups sending out e-mails just in the last couple of hours.
So the cost of living adjustment, also, the payroll tax cut extension, is not in this offer. There would be a two year debt ceiling increase, an extension to give them a two year window on that. And the extension of unemployment benefits.
What about this latest White House proposal, because already we hear from a lot of Democrats that it's a non-starter?
Do you think you could sell it to your caucus?
PELOSI: Yes, I do. I congratulate...
MITCHELL: You had a caucus meeting today with the White House.
PELOSI: I believe that the president has demonstrated great leadership in what he put forth. He has responded to the need that we must have to inspire confidence with consumers, with the markets, that we need to prevent going over the cliff, that we need to eliminate any thought that we would be downgraded, in terms of our credit rating. We need to reduce the deficit. We need to create jobs.
A -- Speaker Boehner's Plan B does none of the above. Plan B, I would call it plan befuddled. It's really hard to imagine why they even came up with it, unless they just wanted to prove to their members that unless 218 of them were ready to raise rates, it's not going to pass. The Democrats are not going to give them that success, you can be sure of that.
So it -- it's a -- it's a tactic, but it's not a serious proposal.
What the president has to do to -- what the president has done is to say let's get something accomplished. We're not, each of us, going to have it all our own way, but let's move toward an agreement so that we can do the above, again, avoid the cliff, inspire confidence, a -- avoid the downgrading of our -- our -- our credit rating and the rest, and reduce the deficit as we invest in jobs to grow our economy.
It's an -- the president really deserves a lot of credit for what he put forth. And even that, even though criticized by some Democrats, is not enough, even though it moves toward a place of compromises. The Republicans, hopefully, they'll come after they see what their plan -- how their plan will fail, will come to the table again.
MITCHELL: Well, Speaker Boehner says that you, in fact, suggested something similar to his Plan B back in your letter of May 23rd, whudd suggest that the tax cut apply to everyone below $1 million.
PELOSI: Yes, well, I'm glad he's taking up some of my suggestions. And my next suggestion would be to put something on the table, as we were suggesting then, to smoke out the Republicans -- at what level would you raise the rates on the wealthiest people in our country?
Not -- would you raise them at a million dollars?
That was the point of that exercise. But all as a part of an -- a proposal that had deficit reduction, with revenues coming in, with cuts being made, with investments in jobs to grow the economy, to inject demand into the economy and to bring us to the deficit reduction we need. Again, give confidence to the markets, to the consumers, avoid the cliff and the rest.
But they take a piece of it in isolation. But they have proven one thing, and it's a victory for the president, they're willing to raise rates.
Now, the question is, are 218 Republicans -- that's what it takes to pass a bill in the House -- are 218 Republicans ready to raise rates?
We'll find out soon.
MITCHELL: Can you deliver enough Democrats -- obviously, Boehner is not going to come up with a majority of his caucus.
But are you willing, if...
MITCHELL: -- if -- well, if the deal is -- if the deal does involve some measure of what the president is proposing on cuts in health care and this CPI change in the way the cost of living increases and the rates are somewhere between what John Boehner is suggesting and what the president is suggesting, if it is a compromise that the president endorses, do you think that you could deliver enough Democrats to help pass it, if John Boehner can't come up with a majority of Republicans?
PELOSI: Well, it depends on how many he has. He -- it's (INAUDIBLE). But, yes, the Democrats will stick with the president. And maybe not every single one of them.
But on the CPI, since you bring it up, this changed CPI, the president -- the -- the details of this are not all ironed out. But they all mitigate for helping the poorest and neediest in our society, whether they're SSI recipients, whether they're 80 and older or whether they're truly needy in between.
And -- and I think some of our members are -- their statements relate to, unless it did something like that, they would not want to support it.
But I think overall, everybody talks about what happens if we go over the cliff, what happens if we don't?
If we don't go over the cliff, what that means to our economy and the boost of morale it does, again, to the economy, to consumers, to the markets and the rest, it's -- it -- it's really worth making a compromise to accomplish. I think we have to do it. And I think the Democratic votes would be there to support the president. I know they would be there to support the president. We're very proud of his leadership.
MITCHELL: What are your red lines in terms of what you think could not be supported, that -- things that are on the table in these negotiations, as...
PELOSI: Any raising of the age...
PELOSI: I made that really clear.
MITCHELL: From 65 to 67?
PELOSI: From 65 to 67, because it affects people in such different ways, depending on the line of work they're in, depending on their ethnic background, in terms of their access to nutrition and health care early on in life. It -- it relates to many different things that are very subjective. We need it to have an objective line of 65 for that. And that is, as far as I know, off the table. It is for the -- for the Democrats and for the president. And I hope it is for the Republicans, as well.
MITCHELL: You've been so proud of the women, and the role that women play...
MITCHELL: -- in the Democratic Caucus, in contrast to, as you've pointed out, the House Republican Caucus.
What about women in the cabinet?
We have the exit of Hillary Clinton that we're expecting and she is going to, most likely, be replaced, assuming he is confirmed, by John Kerry. We expect that nomination.
MITCHELL: And there's a possibility of Chuck Hagel at Defense. We don't know who is going to go to Treasury, but it could be Jack Lew.
What do you think about the -- the whole diversity in the cabinet?
Should there be a real focus on having women in strong positions, especially these key cabinet positions of Treasury, Defense, the State Department?
PELOSI: Well, I think the president has demonstrated that -- that his cabinet has very, very effective and influential women in it and it will continue to. But I can only speak for my own situation. We're very proud that our caucus now, for the first time, women, minorities, LGBT community people, make up a majority of our caucus.
Half of our chair -- our ranking members, that would mean those who would be chair if we were in the majority, are women or minorities.
So our diversity and the thinking that springs from that energizes our caucus.
MITCHELL: And speaking of women, Hillary in 2016?
PELOSI: Yes, wouldn't that be exciting?
I hope she goes.
I -- why wouldn't she?
She could be president of the United States and she would be great. And if she decided to run -- and I think she would win -- she would go into the White House as well prepared, or better prepared, than almost anybody who has served in that office, in a very long time. I won't include Washington, Jefferson, Adams or something...
MITCHELL: But right up there?
PELOSI: But maybe. But maybe. She'd be great. Women will have a -- I think that -- and since you've mentioned women, I think women will have a strong role to play in this gun safety issue. It hits home -- I'm sure it hits home very strongly with men, as well. But I think the face of women in the Congress on these issues as mothers, as grandmothers, is something that will make a tremendous difference.
And who is there -- you know, who -- what their experience is in their communities, in their families, I think makes a difference in what the policy is. And it will be better policy with our new, our new caucus, in relationship to gun safety.
MITCHELL: Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a great pleasure.
Thank you so much for joining us today.
PELOSI: My pleasure.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
"Andrea Mitchell Reports" airs weekdays at 1pm ET on MSNBC. Subrata De is Executive Producer.