Pelosi 'totally disagrees' with Republicans criticizing COVID relief plan

The House speaker also stopped short of calling for Gov. Cuomo's resignation.

March 14, 2021, 4:33 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she "totally disagrees" with Republican lawmakers' criticism of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, which they claim is too expensive.

However, Pelosi fired back on Sunday saying Sunday on ABC's "This Week", "The fact is that it's strongly bipartisan across the country."

"It's only in the Congress of the United States, where the Republicans refuse to meet the needs of the American people," Pelosi told "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.

With direct payments already hitting some bank accounts and the rest of the newly passed American Rescue Plan quickly going into effect, President Joe Biden and other top administration officials like Vice President Kamala Harris are traveling across the country this week to tout the benefits included in the law he signed on Thursday.

Now Pelosi has turned her sights to building new legislation around infrastructure.

"Let's talk about what comes next," Stephanopoulos said Sunday. "You signaled Friday that major infrastructure legislation is coming next. That's going to require new taxes. Can you keep Democrats united behind a proposal like that and attract any Republican support?"

"Well, we will see," Pelosi responded.

"Building roads and bridges and water supply systems and the rest has always been bipartisan -- always been bipartisan -- except when they oppose it with a Democratic president, as they did under President Obama, and we had to shrink the package," Pelosi said.

She also said that she called on the committee chairs to reach out to the Republicans to see what can be done "in a bipartisan way."

Stephanopoulos pressed if the infrastructure bill meant new taxes.

"Well, we'll see," Pelosi said again before adding that she wants to be fiscally sound moving forward. "We'll look at everything. We'll look at the tax code. We'll look at the appropriations process."

Later in the interview, Pelosi addressed the allegations of sexual harassment levied against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined a growing number of lawmakers in calling for the resignation of the governor.

On "This Week," Pelosi continued to call for an investigation saying, "what these women have said must be treated with respect. They are credible and serious charges."

The House speaker added, "there's zero tolerance for sexual harassment."

Although Pelosi said Sunday that she has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, she stopped short of calling for his resignation. Instead, she continued to call for an investigation saying, "what these women have said must be treated with respect. They are credible and serious charges."

Stephanopoulos pressed her on whether Cuomo could be an effective leader.

"The governor should look inside his heart -- he loves New York -- to see if he can govern effectively," Pelosi said.

Stephanopoulos also asked Pelosi about the situation at the southern border, where a record surge in migrants is bringing increased scrutiny to Biden's immigration policies and the administration's decision to ease some restrictions.

Pelosi described the situation as a "humanitarian challenge to all of us."

"What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children's interest. I'm so pleased that the president, as a temporary measure, has sent FEMA to the border in order to help," she told Stephanopoulos. "This is a transition (from) what was wrong before to what is right. Of course, we have to also look to Central America, Mexico and the rest. The corruption, the violence, all of that's so bad."

Following her interview on "This Week," Pelosi was asked by reporters about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's plan to visit the southern border with a dozen Republicans on Monday.

"I don't know what his purpose is, but I do know that the Biden administration is trying to fix the broken system that was left to them by the Trump administration. The Biden administration will have a system based on doing the best possible job understanding this is a humanitarian crisis," she said.

On "This Week," Stephanopoulos also asked about security on Capitol Hill, following the deadly assault on Jan. 6 that left 140 police officers injured and five people dead.

"An increasing number of Democrats and Republicans are saying the National Guard presence has to be reduced, fencing should start to come down. Are you prepared to move in that direction?" Stephanopoulos asked.

Pelosi said, it should "be a professional security decision," but added that she thinks "we're all on the same page in terms of wanting to make changes necessary."

It's "unfortunate that it had to happen, but if you have an insurrection incited by the president of the United States, based on misrepresentations, you have to make sure you're safe enough so those who are motivated by those misrepresentations do not think that they have open season at the United States Capitol," Pelosi said.

Stephanopoulos also asked about the House's current investigation into one of the closest contested races in the country. Democrat Rita Hart has continued to challenge the 2020 general election results in Iowa, where Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks was named winner of the race by only six votes.

"The votes were counted, recounted, certified by the state, but the House Administration Committee began a process this week that could lead to unseating the congresswoman," Stephanopoulos said. "That has Republicans accusing you of hypocrisy. ... Why investigate an election that was certified by the state?"

Pelosi defended the House's investigation, noting that it "was six votes," and said that Hart asked for the process.

"Even Justice Scalia agreed that the House has the authority to seat members, and therefore we can count the votes," she said.

And in response to the Republican criticism of the investigation, she said, "For them to call anybody hypocritical about elections when two-thirds of them in the House voted against accepting the presidency of Joe Biden is -- well, it's just who they are."