“What has happened? You all turned into shouters! Calm, calm,” a surprised Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said when reporters began screaming confrontational questions after House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced they were working well with President Donald Trump on the issue of infrastructure funding.
“This was a very, very good start,” Sen. Schumer told reporters after he and Pelosi concluded a meeting with Trump on infrastructure spending:
Schumer: “Certainly, in the Senate, if we don't have him on board, it would be very hard to get the Senate to go along. And, we said we would meet in three weeks, and he would present to us some of his ideas on funding. So, this was a very, very good start and we will see -- we hope it will go to a constructive conclusion.”
Reporters immediately began shouting questions challenging the Democrat leaders for working with Trump while they are in the midst of investigating him:
Reporter: “How hard is it to work with this president on infrastructure when he’s stonewalling you on investigation?”
Pelosi: “Obviously, we are here to do something for the American people. We have said all along in our ‘For the People’ agenda that we ran on that we were there to lower the cost of health care for the American people by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and we hope to work with the president on that. We said we were there to lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, by building the infrastructure of America and in a green and futuristic way. And, we talked about cleaner government. For the first two, we think we can work with the president on, while we may have difficulties in other areas. But, we cannot ignore the needs of the American people as we go forward.”
[Reporters shouting questions]
Reporter: “Did that issue come up in this conversation?”
Pelosi: “No, it didn’t.
“You can ask the same question of the Senate leadership, as well.”
One reporter even questioned the priorities of Pelosi and Schumer, given their willingness to work with Pres. Trump on infrastructure – to which, Pelosi responded that Democrats’ priority is to meet the needs of the American people:
Reporter: “To both of you: right after the midterms, the president suggested he wouldn't be able to work with you if you were simultaneously investigating him. Do you get the sense that that has passed?
“Can I ask you, what is a bigger priority for Democrats: investigating the president or trying to work with him?”
Pelosi: “Our priority is to honor our responsibilities under the Constitution of the United States, and to meet the needs of the American people, and to honor our oath of office. I am going to yield.
“Let me just say one more – let me - in previous meetings, the president has said, ‘If these investigations continue, I can’t work with you.’ He didn't bring it up.”
Sen. Schumer said he believes Democrats can both investigate Trump and work with him on common priorities:
Schumer: “And so, we’re going -- I believe we can do both at once.
“We can come up with some good ideas on infrastructure, and we want to hear his ideas on funding. That's going to be the crucial point, in my opinion. And the House and the Senate can proceed in its oversight responsibilities. The two are not mutually exclusive and we are glad he didn't make it that way.
“We will take one more.”
When reporters continued shouting, Pelosi expressed surprise - and urged them to calm down:
Pelosi: “What has happened? You all turned into shouters! Calm, calm.”
“Last question. I will take one from a woman!”
Reporter: “Did you choose a leader among you to guide the infrastructure and spending going forward?
“We have our leadership there. And, I have a rule, when I go to a meeting with many members, and that rule is: the purpose of the meeting is not to criticize the president of the United States.
“And, secondly, that every person has a chance to say what he or she came to say. This is a collaborative effort and we hope it will be very bipartisan. But, we will be meeting next about how it's paid for, and that will engage, of course, the secretary of the treasury, among others, and our leadership, in terms of the ways and means in the Finance Committee.
Schumer: “But, we agreed [Reporters shouting] - Wait! Wait! Wait!”
Pelosi: “Some of it will spring from the committee of jurisdiction, for example, the Transportation Infrastructure Committee, which has its own funding. This is a technical question you're asking, but everybody who is appropriate to the solution will be involved.”