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Transcript of Pelosi Interview on CNN’s State of the Union with Dana Bash

New York City – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Dana Bash on CNN’s State of the Union for an interview discussing the latest on gun violence, Roe v. Wade and the baby formula shortage.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:


Dana Bash.  Here with me now is the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.


Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining me.


On this shooting in Buffalo, the racist purported manifesto is based on the really repugnant white supremacist idea that people of color are replacing white people in the United States.  And as you know, this isn't just a fringe theory on the corner of the Internet.  It's being pushed by right-wing media personalities and some political figures.


What do you say to them?  And do they share any responsibility in this attack?


Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I do think that it's so horrible.


And it's a horrible way to wake up on Sunday for these families to face that reality and to have it be part of a philosophy in our country, as you described.


But I do think that some of the people of faith, as well as leaders and sense of community and the rest — not necessarily political people, because that might be dividing — that people have to come out and say that this has no place in our country.


We see it with our Asian Pacific American community.  We see it in terms of the people from all parts of the Latino community, which is very diverse.  And it's just not right.


And our Chairman Bennie Thompson for years has been pleading for there to be stronger attention to and objection to any domestic terrorism.  And that's what this is, domestic terrorism.


Dana Bash.  And yet we have been here so many times before.  You and other Democrats call for new gun restrictions year after year.


Democrats have united – unified control of the House and the Senate and the White House.  I know that, in the House, you have repeatedly passed gun measures and that your majorities in Congress are slim, but should you and the President and other Democrats – other Democratic leaders make this a bigger priority?


Speaker Pelosi.  It is a huge priority for us.  And it has been a huge priority for Joe Biden, for President Biden.


Time and time again, we have met with survivors, families of survivors.  I just did on – in terms of Mother's Day, because we had moms who had lost their children to gun violence.  We honored them at a luncheon in San Francisco.  My daughter helped put that together with Mattie Scott, who was – who lost her son to gun violence.  But we're doing it year in and year out.  And it's grown, sadly, a club no one wants to belong to.


But the fact is, the 60-vote majority in the Senate is an obstacle to doing any – many good things, unfortunately.  And again, we have – we are not going away until the job is done.  We have said it over and over again to the families of Newtown, the Florida families, the Pulse families, the – it's not just, though, the main of – you know, these mass murders, which are horrible.  They're high-profile.  It's what happens every single night across the country in our cities and other places in our country.


So there has to be, there has to be — and it's overwhelmingly popular.  And people of — members of the NRA, gun owners, hunters and all the rest — they have to have a background, a background, they have to have the background check.


Why shouldn't everyone who wants to have a gun have that?  And we will see.  Now, would it solve every challenge we have?  Maybe not.  But it would take us a long way.  And we know, when the Brady Bill first passed – and I was part of that – that millions of purchases were stopped and lives were saved.


So, this is – this is about safety. And safety is what – we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution.  The inference to be drawn is the safety also of the American people.


Dana Bash.  Let's turn to Roe v. Wade.


You protested for abortion rights this week on the Capitol steps.


Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.


Dana Bash.  But as you know, Roe is still likely to be overturned.


And the bill you passed in the House to legalize abortion is not going to become law anytime soon.  So what can you do to help women who will be seeking abortions, but live in states where it's banned?


For example, would you encourage private companies to provide travel for abortions as a health benefit?


Speaker Pelosi.  Well, of course, that — but the fact is we, as a country — this is — let's just put this in perspective.


What we want women and families and everyone to focus on is the nature of this decision.  This is – our country, the genius of our founders was to have a Constitution that enabled freedom to expand.  And it did with marriage equality, it did with Roe v. Wade, in many ways, defining freedom more fully.


This is the first time the Court has taken back a freedom that was defined by precedent and respect for privacy.  So let's stay focused on who we are as the country and not turn into something where we have to depend on the privacy – I think that's all good.  It's helpful to the women, and that's important.


But it's also important to know that this is not right.  This is not the path of freedom for our country.  So they're putting freedom on the ballot.  And our democracy has been on the ballot because of what they have – are doing to elections.


But this is a place where freedom and the kitchen table issues of America's families come together.  What are the decisions that a family makes?  What about contraception for young people?  It's just beyond a particular situation.  It's massive, in terms of contraception, in vitro fertilization, again, a woman's right to decide.


And it's okay – we want to mitigate for the damage, but we have to get rid of the damage.


Dana Bash.  Many Democrats are angry.  You're – I know you're one of them.


A lot of people in the grassroots are despondent over this draft ruling.  And one reason why they're upset is because conservatives have played the long game here.  You know this.  They have said over and over for decades that this was their goal, to overturn Roe v. Wade, and that Democratic leaders should have seen this coming.


I'm sure you have heard this, too.


Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I mean, no, I mean, the point is, is, who would have ever suspected that a creature like Donald Trump would become President of the United States, waving a list of judges that he would appoint, therefore, getting the support of the far right, and appointing those anti – just – freedom justices to the court?


So, this is not about long game.  We played a long game.  We won Roe v. Wade a long time ago.  We voted to protect it over time.  We have fought, have elected a Democratic House of Representatives that is pro-choice.


The – again, you have the 60-vote thing in the Senate and some lack of clarity on part of some of the Republicans who say they're pro-choice and then vote against a woman's right to choose.


But it isn't – let's not take our eye off the ball.  The ball is this Court, which is dangerous to the freedoms of our country.


Dana Bash.  So –


Speaker Pelosi.  Beware in terms of marriage equality.  Beware in terms of other aspects of it.


And so it is – let's not waste our time on that.  The fact is, this is a dangerous Court to families, to freedom in our country.  And that is why people have to mobilize.  And my saying is: we don't agonize, we organize.


Dana Bash.  And what – and on – what impact –


Speaker Pelosi.  We go out there and make sure people know that, if they – actually, elections have consequences.


The man that elected –


Dana Bash.  So what impact will this have on the midterms?


Speaker Pelosi.  – what's-his-name did.


Well, I would hope that we could have some resolution of it before.  We'd rather have it resolved, rather than an issue for a campaign, because we're talking about a woman's decision-making, her family, her God, her doctor, her own decision-making.


So we have to fight the fight on the issue now.  I think that it would have an impact on the elections.  But right now, I want everyone to just focus, just focus on what this does and what this means to you.


And I say this as a practicing, devout Catholic: five children in six years and one week.  I don't disrespect people's views and how they want to live their lives.  But I don't think that it's up to the Donald Trump appointees on the Court or any politicians to make that decision for women.


And I just do – I will just say what I have been saying for decades.  Understand this.  This is not just about terminating a pregnancy.  This is about contraception, family planning.  They have been against it.  They have told me, some of my Republican colleagues, ‘We're not for any family planning domestically or internationally,’ when we have tried to get rid of the gag rule and things like that.


Dana Bash.  Well, speaking –


Speaker Pelosi.  So this is as personal as it gets.  All politics is local.  Tip: this politics is very personal.


Dana Bash.  Yes, understandably.


And speaking of families, I want to ask about baby formula and the shortage in America.  And one manufacturer expects the shortages to last for the rest of the year.  There are American parents who can't feed their babies right now.


So when can parents who need help expect that?  For example, Madam Speaker, should the President use the Defense Production Act to manufacture more baby formula?


Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, I think so.


But the – as the law is now, it is not possible to do that.  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who had – she's the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, as you know.  She's been on this case for a while.  She was the Chair of the new – Ag Committee, Subcommittee on Appropriations, before.


And that's Ag, but it's also nutrition and everything that goes with that.  So we have been talking about that.  And she feels quite certain that we have to change the law in order for the Defense Production Act to be called into play.  And we certainly should.


But in the meantime, this week, we have two bills coming up.  Bobby Scott, Chair of Education and Labor Committee, has a bill to loosen some of the red tape associated with how people can buy formula and other aspects of that.  Fifty percent of the formula is purchased under the WIC program, and so to facilitate that, A.


B, we then have another bill that Rosa, Madam Chair, is putting together that will allocate resources for us to be able to purchase more.  And that is, there are four countries, Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands, who have supply that we may be able to acquire immediately.


Now, the President has rightfully said, rightfully said, we have to be as fast as possible, but as cautious as possible, so that we have safety.  In addition to all of this, we have to subject these companies to some scrutiny about the safety of this and how we got to a place where we have babies crying in our country because they're hungry –


Dana Bash.  Yes.


Speaker Pelosi. – and the shelves are bare.


We have to fill them immediately.


Dana Bash.  Real quick.  We're –


Speaker Pelosi.  I say that as a mother of five, yes, grandmother of nine.


Dana Bash.  Understandably.


Before I let you go, one more thing on the plate of Congress is the coronavirus relief package.  The Senate didn't pass it because Republicans want to attach immigration to it, keeping a pandemic border rule called Title 42.  Some Senate Democrats are now signaling, well, they're open to passing both of those together.


Real quick, yes or no, would you support that?


Speaker Pelosi.  Well, listen, we're observing in these days a million people who have died of COVID.


The sadness of this lingers on, causing all kinds of trauma for families, mental health issues, sadness for families.  You would think that the Republicans would take that into consideration.  They couldn't pass the Ukraine bill with the senators going over to Ukraine, empty-handed with a promise.  We passed the bill.


We wanted to put COVID on there.  They said no.  We said, ‘Okay, Ukraine, urgent, right this minute.  We will do that.  But we have to do the COVID package.’ There's no use holding it up to blackmail, as the Republicans are trying to do you.


We're working on it.  We will find a way.  It has to be done, because people – continuing to – hear every moment – all the time now, hopefully not as deadly as the previous COVID-19.   But nonetheless, we must pass the package.


Dana Bash.  Even if it means Title 42 is on it?


Speaker Pelosi.  And again, they should not connect it.


I don't even know why 42 would be on it.  It has nothing to do with it.


Dana Bash.  Okay.


Speaker Pelosi.  But nonetheless, I think of it – I think Title – Title 42, the President made the right decision.


The fact is now that we have to either substitute for it, but we must pass the COVID package.


Dana Bash.  Okay.


Madam Speaker, I have to let you go.  Thank you so much for joining me this morning.


Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you.


Dana Bash.  I appreciate it. 


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