Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is tired of reacting to President Donald Trump’s mischaracterizations and that she has too much else on her plate to weigh in on the political mess in Virginia. Put simply, the California Democrat is ready to get down to legislative business.
Opening her weekly press conference Thursday, Pelosi spent several minutes talking about the various committee hearings House Democrats have begun holding on a range of priority issues like health care costs, infrastructure, campaign finance and climate change.
The speaker only made passing mention of Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday, reiterating her disappointment that he did not mention the gun violence epidemic in the speech.
Pelosi quickly moved on to note that on Wednesday she appointed members to a select committee on climate change. Although that panel will be studying the matter, any legislative effort “would be a Congress-wide initiative,” she said.
The speaker also briefly mentioned the ongoing House-Senate conference negotiations on border security, touting her “noninterventionist” strategy.
“I have confidence in the appropriators not because I know what they’re doing but because I have confidence in the appropriations process being an appropriator myself,” Pelosi said, reiterating her view that left to their own devices, the appropriators can reach a bipartisan agreement.
“I have asked the administration to be as noninterventionist as I am,” she said.
As Pelosi spoke, however, the lead Republican conferee, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby was meeting with Trump at the White House to discuss the ongoing negotiations.
When it came time for Pelosi to answer questions, the second one she was asked was about Trump claiming that House committees conducting oversight of his administration were engaging in “presidential harassment.”
Pelosi, who ripped Trump Wednesday for his “all-out threat” during the State of the Union suggesting he wouldn’t work with Congress on legislation if they didn’t drop their investigations, was done feeding into the president’s rants.
“I want to make it a rule — and you don’t have to come if you don’t want to — but I am not commenting on what the president has to say about our work,” she said. “I always think that whatever the president says about us, he’s projecting his own unruliness. He’s a projector.”
Pelosi reiterated that House Democrats would “not surrender” their oversight responsibility as outlined in the Constitution.
“That would make us delinquent in our duties. So I’m not going to respond to any characterization or mischaracterization of the president, who — I’m just not going there,” she said. “But I do think if he’s using the word ‘unruly,’ it’s a projection of his own administration.”
Pelosi also didn’t want to weigh in on the escalating political controversy in Virginia where the Democratic governor and attorney general have both admitted to dressing up in blackface in the past and the lieutenant governor is facing a sexual harassment claim.
“It’s sad because they have some very talented leaders there, but they have to have the confidence of the electorate and they have to the confidence of the electorate that they work with,“ the speaker said. “But I’ll leave that up to them. I have enough to do here without getting involved in the affairs of Virginia.”
One subject that Pelosi was more than happy to talk about, however, was climate change.
“I thank you for the question because many of you don’t know, but when I was speaker, my flagship issue under President [George W. Bush] was climate,” she said when asked about her approach to the issue in light of a Green New Deal resolution some progressive Democrats, including New York freshmen Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced Thursday.
Pelosi harped for several minutes on the efforts that occurred under her speakership from 2007 through 2010 until the reporter asking the question had to remind her he was also seeking her thoughts on the Green New Deal resolution.
“Quite frankly, I haven’t seen it but I do know it’s enthusiastic, and I welcome all the enthusiasm out there,” she said.
Lawmakers will be taking an “evidence-based, well-defined approach to how we go forward,” Pelosi added, noting that public sentiment will help Congress pass bold initiatives.