Q&A

Pelosi: I Don’t Want to Be Speaker Again

“No, that’s not my thing. I did that.”

Former Speaker, Current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
©2012 Richard A. Bloom
Ben Terris
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Ben Terris
Aug. 29, 2013, 11:09 a.m.

D.C. is a wait-and-then-hurry-up kind of town. After more than a month away, Con­gress re­turns to a full plate. Le­gis­lat­ors need to find a way — and quickly — to pass some kind of short-term budget and deal with the debt ceil­ing. That’s on top of a heated de­bate on im­mig­ra­tion (and don’t even start on the farm bill). House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi spent the sum­mer jet-set­ting around the coun­try, rais­ing money for Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates and in­cum­bents, and par­ti­cip­at­ing in con­fer­ence calls with mem­bers about what they’ve heard from their con­stitu­ents. She read­ily ad­mits that not everything is go­ing the way she would have drawn it up her­self, but she re­mains op­tim­ist­ic that Con­gress will be able to do more than the pub­lic gives it cred­it for. Ed­ited ex­cerpts of her in­ter­view with Na­tion­al Journ­al fol­low.

NJ Be hon­est: Are you kind of dread­ing head­ing back to Con­gress, just to go through the same debt-ceil­ing fights and budget battles?

PELOSI I nev­er dread go­ing back to Con­gress. There’s no great­er priv­ilege than rep­res­ent­ing the people of my dis­trict, on the floor of the Con­gress. So, no, not dread. I do wish it could be dif­fer­ent. There’s no reas­on we can’t be com­ing to some agree­ments. It just keeps hap­pen­ing over and over again.

NJ For a journ­al­ist cov­er­ing Con­gress, it’s start­ing to feel pretty re­pet­it­ive. Does it feel that way on your end?

PELOSI Oh, it’s Ground­hog Day Cent­ral. There’s no ques­tion about that. It’s not pro­duct­ive. It’s a waste of the tax­pay­ers’ dol­lar. It’s a waste of our time. And it’s time that’s not work­ing [for] the Amer­ic­an people. [The Re­pub­lic­ans’] agenda is noth­ing, and their timetable is nev­er. But hav­ing said that, hope­fully there are some among them that real­ize we have a re­spons­ib­il­ity to gov­ern.

NJ Do you think it’s a case of 20 or so Re­pub­lic­ans dom­in­at­ing the con­ver­sa­tion from the right?

PELOSI I think it’s more than 20. Here’s what I have to say to my Re­pub­lic­an friends out there: Take back your party. This isn’t the Grand Old Party that used to have such great lead­er­ship. The name “Re­pub­lic­an” in some ways has been hi­jacked by ob­struc­tion­ists. They are nowhere on the spec­trum of try­ing to get the job done, and they claim the name without bring­ing to it the great­ness, the lead­er­ship of the past.

NJ Do you feel that a dis­join­ted Re­pub­lic­an Party gives you some lever­age when it comes to their need­ing votes?

PELOSI I only have lever­age if the oth­er side is will­ing to gov­ern. If they are will­ing to gov­ern, we can find com­prom­ise. Not if they are just go­ing to hold their ideo­lo­gic­al po­s­i­tion and say, “We can be ir­re­spons­ible be­cause the Demo­crats are go­ing to be re­spons­ible.”

NJ It’s be­come something of a pas­time in D.C. for people to feel bad for Speak­er John Boehner for hav­ing an un­wieldy caucus. Do you feel for him?

PELOSI I don’t com­ment on their caucus, their lead­er­ship, or the rest of it. He’s the speak­er of the House. I re­spect the job. The po­s­i­tion that he holds is a very ex­al­ted one. I wish his mem­bers would re­spect his po­s­i­tion as much as I do. But if the pur­pose of your call is for me to get in snip­ing at the Re­pub­lic­ans on how they do their busi­ness, I will talk about how it af­fects the Amer­ic­an people.

NJ Do you want to be speak­er again?

PELOSI No, that’s not my thing. I did that.

NJ Demo­crats hoped that this Au­gust would be like 2009, where pres­sure could be put on law­makers in town halls. Did the sum­mer go ac­cord­ing to plan?

PELOSI We were very strong in those town meet­ings in 2009. We saved the Af­ford­able Care Act. If you re­call, they made a fuss, but Demo­crats saved an ini­ti­at­ive that we can now take pride in. It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of a year this year. It’s a calmer de­bate, and the heat is really more on im­mig­ra­tion.

NJ Be­fore the re­cess, the com­mon wis­dom was that im­mig­ra­tion re­form may be dead for the year. What are your thoughts?

PELOSI The House will work its will. If the speak­er wants to do it in pieces, that’s OK with us. But we’re not go­ing away. There’s a con­fid­ence about the in­ev­it­ab­il­ity of it on our side that is up against the in­con­ceiv­ab­il­ity of it to them. And we’re al­ways try­ing to shorten the time between the in­con­ceiv­ab­il­ity and the in­ev­it­able. And we think that’s hap­pen­ing. As Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln said, pub­lic sen­ti­ment is everything — and the pub­lic is speak­ing out on this one.

UP­DATE: 1:10 p.m., Fri­day, Au­gust 30

Speak­er Pelosi’s of­fice blas­ted a press re­lease this af­ter­noon con­test­ing the word­ing of NJ’s ques­tion and ask­ing for a cor­rec­tion. In fact, the re­cor­ded au­dio file sup­ports the ed­ited tran­script above. Here is the ques­tion and an­swer, from the tape:

Na­tion­al Journ­al: Do you wish for the chance for the speak­er po­s­i­tion again?

Pelosi: No, that’s not my thing. I did that.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP’S THREAT REJECTED BY CONGRESS
House Republicans Pour Cold Water On 35 Percent Tariff
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump went on a Twitter rampage Sunday morning, promising a 35 percent tariff on goods imported by businesses that leave America. Not so fast, say Republican leaders in Congress. "I don’t want to get into some kind of trade war," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a comment later reiterated by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who instead called for overhaul of corporate taxes instead of a punitive tax.

Source:
DISCUSSED CLIMATE CHANGE
Al Gore Meets with Ivanka and Donald Trump
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Vice President Al Gore found himself in a room with Donald Trump Monday just after meeting with Trump's daughter, Ivanka. Gore discussed the topic of climate change with both Trumps and called his discussion with Donald Trump "extremely interesting." It remains to be seen if Donald Trump will deal with the topic of climate change during his presidency.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Mayor Bowser to Sit Down with Trump
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is making the pilgrimage to Trump Tower tomorrow, where she and Chief of Staff John Falchiccio and Senior Adviser Beverly Perry will meet with President-elect Donald Trump. In a statement, she said she'd be discussing "DC’s growth and common areas of interest."

Source:
IT’S OFFICIAL
Trump to Nominate Carson to Lead HUD
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login