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Pelosi: “The President Is Not King”

April 19, 2007 by  


Courtesy Jamie Holly

On the Today Show, Nancy Pelosi sat down with Campbell Brown to discuss her trip to Syria, as well as the stand-off between the White House and Congress over the war funding.

NP: The president is not king, the president is the president of the United States. America is a democracy. We have to make decisions based on our judgment. Thus far, the president’s judgment hasn’t been good, in terms of say for example the war on Iraq. So with all due respect to the president and the role he has, we want respect for the role we have. And members of Congress have gone on fact finding trips since our country began. We’re not going to stop because the president wants to avoid the facts and doesn’t want to engage in dialogue. We had a bipartisan trip, interesting that the administration chose to ignore the trips of the Republicans who had been there in the week that we were there.

NP: Everyone has a right to be critical of it [Syria trip]. The point is that we had a very high level visit, … very well received. The president wants a blank check on all of his foreign policy, including the war. We’re simply not going to give that to him.

CB: But traditionally that has been the power of the presidency. There are some who would argue that legally it is the president’s responsibility to conduct foreign policy and it wasn’t just the Washington Post, the New York Times’ editorial page said that your job is to spur the administration to pursue active diplomatic policy, not to attempt to conduct the diplomacy yourself.

NP: We weren’t conducting diplomacy. This may be a mission for the administration that has very little to offer to the American people. As far as we were concerned, I am Speaker of the House, we oversee the budget of the US, much of that budget is that of our national defense. Fight that war on terror is a very big priority for us. We had a bipartisan delegation, we had the support of the Iraq Study Group, which said that we should engage in dialogue, that’s what we were doing.

CB: But the president rejected the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. We’re not going to engage Syria. So you don’t think you’re conducting an alternative foreign policy if you’re following those recommendations, even though the president said we’re not going to do that.

NP: The president is not king, the president is the president of the US. America is a democracy. We have to make decisions based on our judgment. Thus far, the president’s judgment hasn’t been good, in terms of say for example the war on Iraq. So with all due respect to the president and the role he has, we want respect for the role we have. And members of Congress have gone on fact finding trips since our country began. We’re not going to stop because the president wants to avoid the facts and doesn’t want to engage in dialogue. We had a bipartisan trip, interesting that the administration chose to ignore the trips of the Republicans who had been there in the week that we were there.

CB: But the Republicans don’t have your megaphone. They’re not speaker of the House. You speak, the world listens.

NP: That’s right, and that’s because I have power, and that’s why I have – in other words – the president wants to have it both ways. She shouldn’t go because what difference does it make? She shouldn’t go because she makes a big difference. They have to make a decision. But the fact is that we will never stop finding the facts to honor our responsibility to provide for the common defense to fight terrorism and to deliver the president’s message.

CB: Let’s talk about Iraq. You are locked in a standoff with President Bush right now over funding for the war. You say any bill has to have a timetable for withdrawal, with troops out in 2008. The president, he’s adamant, that he will veto any bill that includes a timetable. Do you see any hope for resolution?

NP: I hope so. I think that we owe it to the American people to sit down with each other.

CB: He’s invited you to the White House to talk next week.

NP: No, he hasn’t. He said he’d invite us to the White House if we agreed to give him a blank check, but there are no more blank checks. This is about a Congress that is accountable to the American people and we will hold the president’s policy accountable as well.

CB: He says that you, that Democrats, are using this bill to make a political statement at the expense of…

NP: Well I’m sad that he’s saying that, because our members, as he would say, are all patriotic on both sides of the aisle. We all care about our troops, we all are committed to our national security. So he can say what he will say, but it simply isn’t true just because the president says it. It doesn’t make it a fact.

CB: But right now you don’t have the votes to override a veto.

NP: Well we would hope that the president will make a reflection of the majority view in our country. And I would hope that the president would understand that that’s where the Congress is coming from on this.

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