Transcript of Pelosi, Reid, and Hoyer Remarks Following Meeting at White House

Jun 10, 2010, 15:27 ET from Office of the Speaker of the House

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer held a press availability this afternoon following a bipartisan meeting at the White House with President Obama to discuss the oil spill in the Gulf,  jobs legislation, financial services reform, and energy legislation.  Below is a transcript of the press availability:

Senate Majority Leader Reid. [inaudible]…I felt that we talked about the things that we needed to talk about.  We, of course, are looking at the economy — the economy is doing okay, it needs to do a lot better.  The President talked about BP and how they had to be held responsible for what they have done to our country.

We're concerned about getting to small business.  We have a job creating bill there we've been waiting to get to, but we have to get to this extenders bill first.  And we're working very hard to get that done.  

The President also talked about energy and, of course, the House has already done their job on energy, we have to do ours in the Senate.  I explained there that I am having my Chairmen in this afternoon to talk them about energy.  Next week, we're going to do a caucus.  And that's all moving toward having an energy bill so we can match it up with what was done in the House.

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Leader. I join you in appreciating the meeting that we just had with President Obama.  The focus was, of course, on the oil spill.  It was on jobs and it was on deficit reduction.  Mr. Leader Hoyer will talk about some of the — how we calendar some of the legislation that was referenced by Leader Reid.  But I want to focus on the oil spill.  

It is clear that there was a lack of integrity on the part of British — of BP — when it came to what it told us about the adequacy of their technology, the sufficiency of blowout prevention, and the capacity to clean up.  I'm very pleased that the President has sent the Attorney General to the region to see what the culpability is there, in that respect, to integrity.  In terms of safety of the workers who were on the rigs and safety of those who were involved in cleanup, this is an important part of legislation we will have as we move forward.  

When the subject is about leasing, we have to reform it.  I commend the Administration for moving forward already in breaking up MMS, Mineral Management [Service] — so that we can go forward in a way that is a good match for the challenge that we have — whether it's how leases are granted, what the appropriateness is of the royalties,  and eliminating royalty holidays that are now.  

There are many issues that relate to additional research that is needed to get the technology in order to extract if that's where we want to go, issues that relate to private sector preparedness, to work — with whoever is taking the lead on it — be it BP or relating to public efforts in this regard.  

So it's about leasing, it's about liability, it's about worker protections, it's about going forward in a way that holds the perpetrator accountable — accountable to the U.S. taxpayer.  We will hold BP accountable to the U.S. taxpayer.  We will hold them accountable to the businesses in the region — whether they are fishermen, or have tourism as their trade, or whatever it is.  The quality of life in the region has been drastically affected.  Before British Petroleum continues to spend money on its public relations campaign and its advertising and continues to give dividends — it really should honor the commitment that it has to these small businesses.  They can either wait it out with BP, which they can ill afford to do, take out loans, which they can ill afford to do, or we must insist that British Petroleum honor its commitment, do what it is required by law to do.  

This is a jobs issue.  The energy issue is a jobs issue and calls out in a very eloquent way for a different energy policy in our country.  The farther down we have to go to extract a commodity, the more dangerous and risky it is.  As the President has said in his Inaugural Address: We will look to the wind, and the sun, and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  We have to do this.  And that is what a new energy climate change piece of legislation must do.  

We passed our bill in the House, we look forward to the bill being passed in the Senate and to go to conference to resolve our differences.  But in the meantime, legislation is needed on leasing, liability, worker protection — those kinds of issues that address the challenge that we face in the Gulf.  We have to do all of this in a way that is fiscally sound, so that we're not adding to the debt of our country, but in fact, decreasing it.

Q: Senator McConnell said cap and trade is dead.  Can you want to comment on that?  He said it will never pass.

Speaker Pelosi.  That's not the bill that they have in the Senate.  They don't have a cap and trade bill.  That's not the bill they have in the Senate.

House Majority Leader Hoyer.  And that was not discussed in the meeting.  We had a very productive meeting.  I agree with the Speaker and Mr. Reid. Cap and trade per-se was not discussed.

Speaker Pelosi.  Cap and trade was never mentioned.  That term was never mentioned.

House Majority Leader Hoyer.  That's the political rhetoric, not the energy rhetoric.  

But let me make my comments from my perspective.  The President was very interested in the agenda.  Clearly, the tragedy that has occurred in the Gulf, which is the result of obviously — not only mistakes, but negligence on the part of British Petroleum and perhaps others who either owned or constructed that facility.  The President is giving, clearly, full-time attention to this issue.  Carol Browner was there as well — as were other members of the Administration.  We are all very concerned about this.  We need to get it stopped, but we also need to make sure that British Petroleum is held responsible and makes quick payment to those who have been so damaged by this oil spill.  

In addition to that, the jobs bill and tax loophole bill, and the stopping offshoring of jobs bill is now being considered in the Senate.  We hope they deal with it quickly.  We passed that before we took the Memorial Day break.  We expect that to come back soon.  We expect to pass that soon.  We just started the conference on the regulatory reform, making sure that banks, financial institutions do not, again, perpetrate the kind of negligence and activity, which has led to this deep recession and so much pain for so many people.  

Next week, we are going to consider a bill which will try to get lending flowing to small businesses so they can create jobs.  We think that is critically important.  The Speaker and I and others who travel around the country here and every part of the country — small businesses that are successful small businesses, but can't get capital.  So we will be dealing with that as well.  Those are some of the major items on our agenda.  We expect to accomplish those.  

And yes, there was significant discussion on making sure that in the long term, Nancy's grandchildren, my grandchildren, and my great-granddaughter are not deeply in debt when we turn over the management of our society and our country to them.  Everybody agreed that is a significant and most important responsibility that all of us in that room had and indeed, that all Americans have.  And I heard some hopeful comments in there.  The President, of course, has sent down a budget which exercises fiscal discipline.  He has appointed a commission to try to get us to long term fiscal stability.  And under the Speaker's leadership, we first adopted a rule three years ago on statutory, on PAYGO — making sure we pay for what we buy and then we put that in statute.  And so we are moving for long-term fiscal stability and short-term creating jobs and getting this economy moving.  

Q:  Just to be clear, even if they didn't use the words cap and trade, did the Republicans make it clear that they opposed the energy legislation as it stands?  

House Majority Leader Hoyer.  Senator McConnell indicated he was against the energy tax.  He didn't say he was opposed to the energy legislation per se.  I may speculate that he is but I don't think that…

Speaker Pelosi.  Whatever it is, the fact is, as the President has said, countries recognize that the country that is ahead in the green economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.  He then said that we want our country — America — to be that nation.  

And so, you can't ignore the fact that we have an environmental challenge.  But this is national security issue.  It is a jobs issue.  And it is something that we have a responsibility to do.  How it works out is a matter — is the legislative process.  But to say we do not want to be the leader in the green economy and therefore have global economic leadership — to say that we do not want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels, which degrade our environment, is a debate that we welcome.  

And this event in the Gulf shows so eloquently the need for us to have a new energy policy.  The deeper we dig and go all the way into the earth to extract, the more dangerous and risky it is.  The wind, the sun, the soil — that's where we should be looking for renewables.

In the meantime, we have to transition, and that's what we have to have a national debate about, before calling such initiative dead, recognize that is on the wrong side of the future.  If you have a better idea — put it on the table.   Put it on the table.

SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House