Pelosi tells Harvard students she read every page of healthcare bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told students at Harvard University on Friday that she had indeed done her reading.
Taking questions during the 90-minute event, Pelosi assured one skeptical undergraduate that she, and many other House members, had read “every page” of the roughly 1,900-page healthcare bill passed by the House.
Participating in the healthcare debate, so long a signature issue of the late Massachusetts political titan Ted Kennedy, was “humbling,” she said.
Pelosi said she would have had a hard time cobbling together enough votes for a healthcare bill without a public option to balance the influence of insurance companies.
And she sympathized with women’s groups fearful of the Stupak-Pitts anti-abortion amendment contained in the House bill.
But of all the heavy legislative lifting in Congress this year, passing supplemental funding for the war in Afghanistan was the hardest, Pelosi said.
Looking forward, she said, “it would be very hard to get many Democratic votes to support a big increase of troops to Afghanistan.”
The first female speaker of the House — who said having more women in Congress had a big impact on pushing healthcare legislation forward — added that compromise and an ability to negotiate were critical tools.
“You have to be passionate about what you believe in, but dispassionate when you’re at the table … we all have our theology of what we believe in, but you have to be agnostic when you go to the table.”
Pelosi’s biggest applause line came in her unabashed support of her liberal positions.
“I take it as a compliment” to uphold so-called “San Francisco values,” she said. “Tolerance is a condescending word. It’s about respect, it’s about taking pride in the beautiful diversity of our community.”
CORRECTS: Healthcare bill is about 1,900 pages.
Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Pelosi unveils healthcare plan on Capitol Hill)