San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Mayor London Breed and local transportation and community leaders for a press conference at the new Central Subway Muni Metro line. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Rudy, for your very generous remarks, which I accept on behalf of all of the House Democrats who courageously have voted for so many of these initiatives. It’s an honor to be here in Chinatown. I join the Mayor in wishing condolences upon the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. We’re flying the flags at half-staff at the Capitol, and we’ll do some more bereavement in her honor.
But here we are today to look to the future and to celebrate. As Jeff pointed out, the path that took us here – Malcolm talked about the community involvement of it all, the Mayor on how leadership in our City weighed in time and time again to make this happen. The distinguished Secretary of Transportation talking about how it fits in with other pieces of legislation that this President has put forth, most recently, the Inflation Reduction Act, which has many – with the priority of protecting the environment – many public transportation initiatives as well.
And then I just want to then say that Rudy has been a champion. If it isn’t about good-paying Davis-Bacon jobs, we are not interested in advancing it. We say to our colleagues in the Congress, if you want to talk to us about advancing legislation, we are not going backward, we are going forward. And that means that we are going to have good-paying union jobs.
And not only that, let me just say a few things. First, let me say how happy I am to be in Chinatown. And I see Florence Fang is here. When I ran for Congress 35 years ago, the very first event that was held for me was in Chinatown with Florence Fang. Thank you, Florence, for your leadership, for your leadership in the community. And to see David Chiu here who represents our community so well in the state legislature, before that in the state – in the Board of Supervisors as was mentioned. Thank you for your leadership.
I want to mention another person, because we talked about community, community, community, as Malcolm did so beautifully. The fact is that it’s not only Chinatown, and all other communities that are served by this – it was the community that really sacrificed so much. And that was Union Square. And Karin Flood is here, who helped orchestrate peace there, in terms of getting us through when everything was shut down. Mr. Secretary, as you know, many businesses suffered. But here we are, opened up. Thank you, Karin Flood, for your leadership.
This President has been about protecting the environment. These transportation issues do that. He’s about justice in our economy and in our infrastructure – $60 billion in the infrastructure bill for justice, for fairness, for equity. As the Secretary has frequently said: ‘Transportation to bring us together, not to separate us.’ And that is what this President is about. It’s about justice. And that can only happen if we are listening to the communities and opening opportunities for work to previously underrepresented people – whether it’s women, people of color, whatever it is – with apprenticeship programs, which are in that bill, but also in our CHIPS and Science bill, which weds with this in a very important justice way – which are in our Inflation Reduction Act, which interacts with this in a very important way. So we have to be grateful to the President for his leadership, his value system that has impacted so many of the initiatives in these laws.
And then I want to say about community: I’ve been here a long time as the Mayor indicated. We’ve been through a lot of projects, starting with Art Agnos – and Art Agnos was really instrumental in the transition from the earthquake to where we are today, as well as Willie and Gavin Newsom. And Mayor Lee. And now our very dazzling mayor, Mayor London Breed. Thank you, Mayor Breed, for your tremendous, tremendous leadership, for putting it all in perspective for people to – always showing what comes next.
But when we’re talking about this in the Congress, I’ll just tell you this coming in closer. When we allocate resources, we want to see it happen. There’s competition for all of it. We want to see dirt fly. We want to see it happen. And so when the community comes together in advance, or in the course of all of this, we know that dirt will fly, because people have come to agreement. We won’t be in court the whole time. We’ll be underground or opening up beautiful, beautiful – you get my point, Malcolm?
We’ve been there, right Mayor and some of you in all of this? So in any case, this is cause for celebration. I was telling them when we were doing the groundbreaking a number of years ago – we were sitting there. I think by then it was Willie there on stage. And all of a sudden, we started jumping up and down with joy. Of course, we were excited about the project. But we found out that the Giants have made it to the World Series, that they had won the pennant. So we all have our, shall we say, sense of community. And this project will connect us to the Warriors, right Mayor? If you have a ticket to the game, you get a free ride on this. The Mayor promises that.
On behalf of the Golden State Warriors.
But in any event, to all of you, to so many here – Kim [Tavaglione], thank you for your leadership as well. But I want to get back to the person who introduced me, Rudy Gonzales. When you’re talking to Rudy, and the other leaders of the Building Trades, their big interests are their workers. Are they going to have jobs, are they going to have good-paying jobs? Are we going to be able to lift people up in a way that has justice, fairness and opportunity, and not just jobs – jobs that can lead to ownership, equity, of all that is going on.
For saving the planet, for safety in our community in this system. For just moving kids, as the Mayor said, to school, parents to work, families to community involvement, shopping and the rest. It’s so perfect that we have this celebration here in Chinatown. Thank you all for making it possible. And again, I said to the Secretary, our hopes are riding on you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Oh, and then I’m supposed to open it up to questions. Any questions? Did we anticipate any questions that you may have?
Q. Speaker Pelosi, off topic but a little bit more – elaborate on the Queen of England and specifically any interactions that you may have shared with her and how – what impact did that have?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, if I may, I’d be happy to answer that – I’m sure the Mayor as well. But to stay on topic for a moment, anything that relates to what we’re doing here for the moment?
Okay, well, I was telling somebody earlier today that, when I was Speaker and Her Majesty came to Washington, it was when President Bush was President. She had been there before in the 90s, but she came in 2007. And they had a garden party for her outside of the residence, the residence of the Ambassador. And when she came to me, I said to her – well you have to be – you don’t even know if you were supposed to initiate a conversation with Her Majesty, but I did. Anyway, as Speaker.
‘Your Majesty, my father was at your coronation.’ Mr. Mayor, Mr. Secretary, Madam Mayor, he was there as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He was Mayor of Baltimore, and they were guests at the coronation. So I say, ‘My father –,’ and she was very interested in that. So this is what I was told. I’m just telling you what I was told. After that lovely session with her, later I saw the Ambassador. And he said ‘Madam Speaker, when Her Majesty came in from seeing everyone at the garden party, she only said one thing: ‘The Speaker’s father was at my coronation.’
I haven’t shared that story publicly. But since we had two mayors here and the Queen leaving us today – it was – it was lovely. It was lovely. We will we be – we have been flying flags at half-staff at the Capitol – the moment we heard. We will have a bereavement resolution, moment of silence, all that at the Capitol. And thank you, Mayor, for having the book of condolences for San Franciscans to express their concern. Not that we always agreed on everything with U.K. and that – but nonetheless, a great leader from any generation. Any questions on what we’re doing here today?
Q. For the next generation of jobs, how will this impact the future?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, thank you for asking that, because I mentioned the – and I’m going to yield to the Secretary as well. I mentioned the CHIPS and Science Act. We’ve been negotiating this bill for a long time. There were people who said, ‘Just do the CHIPS, let’s just get it over with the CHIPS.’ And we said, ‘That’s fine, for now. But for the future, we need the science piece.’
The science piece is about education. It’s about research. It’s about involving many people in the community [who] had previously not been able to participate – people of color, women, etc. So that part of that bill directly relates to what we’re talking about here today, as well as what we did in the infrastructure bill. And this – this project precedes all of that legislation. But it still needs the people to make it happen. And our Building Trades and women in drywall, women of steel, women at the IBEW. We’ve seen so many unions now. And – do we have one here? She waved to us earlier. Thank you again.
At the school, which I had visited – and it’s remarkable how it trains young people. So your question is very perfect because we have to have a direct relationship with how we train the current and next generation on how to bring their ideas, the sense of their communities into the future.
Mr. Secretary, did you want to speak to that?
Secretary Buttigieg. Sure, thank you, Speaker. Just very briefly, we’re thinking a lot about generational wealth. And when I say generational wealth, I don’t mean the wealthy. I mean, the family household wealth that is built through middle-class jobs, that good-paying construction work union jobs can create. And we know that we’re going to create so many of those directly through this infrastructure. We’re extending them also to workers, including women and workers of color, who historically did not always have the opportunity to get those jobs. And even for those who don’t work anywhere near the infrastructure field directly, their opportunities will expand to access school to access jobs, to access the places they need to be, thanks to being better linked up to opportunity, as this subway will provide.
I also don’t want to be remiss and in adding to the other leaders who’ve spoken, my expression of my sympathy for the British people on the passing of Queen Elizabeth and her extraordinary reign.
Q. Respectfully, for a lot of people, Central Subway has been a complete pain. It speaks to the delay these large-scale projects that are years and years behind schedule. And we also know we need more of them. So what do you say to folks that you need to get on board for the next big project, but the next big project will be years behind schedule and over budget. How do we solve that?
Speaker Pelosi. Well the fact is that what is happening here today should give people great hope, hope that it can happen. When there is cooperation, when there’s community involvement, where there is recognition about how needed this is. And that is really what the President’s initiatives have been all about. So therefore, I’m going to yield to the Secretary, because we cannot – when we were passing the infrastructure bill, people said, ‘Oh, nobody’s going to see it, it’s going to take forever, it’s going to be like the other projects. They build rail – they build freeways right through our neighborhood.’ It’s not going to be like that. This is – we’re celebrating what we’re doing here today. But what we’re – in celebrating in that, we are recognizing that things will be done differently. And most – and because of the leadership of the President insisting on justice and fairness and safety and the rest, it will be done, again, with community involvement, which frequently can speed up the process. Right, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Buttigieg. Indeed. We feel the expectation and the pressure to deliver everything we’re funding on time, on budget and on task. And that’s not an easy thing. But one of my favorite things about transportation projects is that good ones make skeptics into believers. Seeing is believing. And when you get that benefit, it is something that everybody is glad for.
But the tendency of large projects to take longer and cost more than expected, is one that goes back through human history to the ancient Romans, and it’s one that we are up against and fiercely working to combat, because we know we’ve got to get every ounce of value out of this $1.2 trillion – about half of it for transportation – that the Speaker and the Congress and the President have entrusted us with delivering.
Mayor Breed. I would like to add something to that because – thank you, both to our Speaker and our Secretary for putting it into perspective. I mean, I haven’t heard one complaint about the BRT on Van Ness since it opened. And it was definitely not on time and not on budget. And I understand the challenges that exist. You got to remember, San Francisco is a very dense city. There are complications, underground, pipes and other infrastructure that hasn’t been looked at are opened for decades. And so I’d rather be delayed in the project and do it right and make sure it’s safe and make sure it’s secure, than to rush through to try and meet a deadline.
These are some of the things that we have to deal with as a result of making San Francisco a better place for the future. Making San Francisco a more transportation friendly network for the entire region. We can’t just be concerned with what happens with us today. We have to be concerned about what happens with us tomorrow and the next generation as we try and deal with the challenges of making this transportation system work.
I often say to people, like, ‘I wish people who came before me would have thought about putting everything underground, so that our entire transportation network functioned that way. But that didn’t happen. So we’re trying to make up for some things that did not happen. And this is just going to be, sadly, the price you pay. But what we appreciate is that we have the resources and the support from our federal leaders like never before. And that means more opportunity to make things a reality.
Many of us never thought the possibility of even going to Fisherman’s Wharf underground would even be seen in our lifetime. And the reality is, it could be. So I’m looking at being optimistic and hopeful about the future. And we’re going to be just inconvenienced a little bit in the process.
Speaker Pelosi. If I just may say. Earlier, and I don’t know if she’s still here, we were joined by the Lieutenant Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis. Then she had to go – could have but, she was with us earlier. So we have our shared values at the state level. Thank you, David, for being here at the federal, state and local level.
Q. Local transit agencies, including MUNI are becoming increasingly reliant on federal funds due to COVID and other factors. So what would you, Secretary Pete or anyone else, say about the increased role that the federal government should play in helping fund local agencies?
Secretary Pete. Well, what I’d say is that transit is important not only for those who ride it, but it’s also in the national interest. The more people choose transit, the more people have excellent access to transit, the stronger our overall economy. And it is no less a part of our fight against climate change than EVs or anything else we’re doing, to make sure that we prevent the worst climate outcomes.
So in addition to wanting to support local communities, in addition to being so proud and so thankful for the action that the Speaker and Congress and the President and others took just to keep transit going during the worst days of COVID. We also know that we need to invest in a future that may look different. We don’t have a crystal ball to say exactly how commuting patterns will look five or ten years from now. But what we do know is that it will never cease to be important for people to have safe, clean, affordable, convenient, dignified ways to get to where they need to be, and transit is at the absolute core of how to make that happen.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you all very much.
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Mayor London Breed and local transportation and community leaders for a
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom:
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