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Pelosi On What To Expect After The Election


This morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited a public art installation at the D.C. Armory here in Washington. The piece is called "In America, How Could This Happen..." It's a sea of white flags representing more than 230,000 people in the U.S. who have died of COVID-19.


NANCY PELOSI: We cry together. We mourn together. We're inspired together.

KELLY: Later in the day, Speaker Pelosi spoke with our co-host Ari Shapiro about the pandemic and the election and what comes next.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Speaker Pelosi, welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

PELOSI: My pleasure to be with you, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Did visiting the art installation this morning give you a different perspective on the death toll of this awful disease?

PELOSI: It was stunning because when you see the flags in that magnitude, that number, and you realize it's about that person, that family also and about that community, it's so overpowering. And it just makes you wonder why there's so many people in charge in the United States and the executive branch who do not want to recognize the science that is necessary to correct this and the governance and public policy role that is needed to follow the science.

SHAPIRO: Let's talk about Congress' unsuccessful efforts to pass another coronavirus relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is saying a new COVID relief bill won't happen before the end of the year, and Congress doesn't generally have success getting big things done after an election. Are Americans going to have to wait until there is a new Congress to see a new round of COVID relief?

PELOSI: Well, I certainly hope not because American people need us to act now. In our bill, the Heroes Act, we are insisting that the administration have a strategic plan to crush the virus - testing, tracing, treatment, sanitation, mask-wearing and the rest. That was what was suggested with the thought that, of course, it would be done, but the administration has refused to follow the science. They have contempt for science, and they have 220,000 people with flags waving in their honor this morning. A hundred and fifty thousand of those probably would not have had to die if they had acted when we passed the bill. Instead, Mitch McConnell said, I want to pause. Now he wants to pause two, three months longer. The virus is not taking a pause, Mitch McConnell. We must act upon it. We owe it to the American people.

SHAPIRO: Let's talk about what might happen in the election tomorrow because there are a lot of dire scenarios if the vote does not produce a decisive result. Some of those scenarios involve you as the speaker of the House. Are you confident in the resilience of American democratic systems to handle a contested election if it comes to that?

PELOSI: Our country is a great country. We're even great enough to survive one term of Donald Trump. Two terms would be such a serious setback that I worry for our country.

SHAPIRO: But what if the outcome is disputed? What if this is being fought in the courts or there is a constitutional crisis? I mean, there are all kinds of scenarios, and in some of them, the speaker of the House plays a prominent role.

PELOSI: And the speaker of the House is ready for that prominent role. But let's not worry about that right now. What we want to be ready for is a big vote tomorrow to dispel any thought other than that, on January 20, Joe Biden will be inaugurated president of the United States, that we will have a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.

SHAPIRO: So if you do control the House, the Senate and the White House, I know there's a lot you would like to get done. What is at the top of your list?

PELOSI: What is at the top of our list when we win - we will lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, saving the preexisting condition benefit, et cetera. We will increase paychecks by building infrastructure of America in a green way. And we will have cleaner government by passing H.R. 1 legislation to reduce the role of big, dark special interest money. The list goes on and on, but the overarching will be the first three. Of course, we will be impacted by the coronavirus, and that will be part of our early agenda as well.

SHAPIRO: And if the election (inaudible) go your way and President Trump does win a second term, which I know you don't want to see - but will you be able to rebuild a relationship with him? I understand the two of you haven't spoken for more than a year.

PELOSI: We've spoken - yeah, it's about a year. I mean, I spoke to him at the joint session of Congress, the State of the Union address. I have a really very difficult time speaking with the president. I'm doing everything in my power - not want to waste any energy talking about him right now - to make sure he does not get elected president of the United States again. And his lack of patriotism to question the outcome of the election is further evidence as to why he should not be elected.

SHAPIRO: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for speaking with us once again.

PELOSI: Stay safe. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.