Nancy Pelosi on Daily Show: Congress Is Unproductive Because of Tea Partiers With 'No Agenda'

Nancy Pelosi blamed Congress's lack of productivity on its most conservative lawmakers during a Thursday night interview with Jon Stewart. But she avoided giving specifics on what went wrong with Obamacare.

National Journal

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If it seems like Congress has a hard time getting anything done, Nancy Pelosi has an explanation: tea-party Republicans.

The House Minority Leader told The Daily Show's Jon Stewart Thursday night the "antigovernment, antiscience, anti-Obama" faction of conservatives are to blame for the lack of progress on a wide range of issues, while largely avoiding responsibility when pressed for answers on the botched Obamacare website rollout.

In a general sense, Pelosi said, Congress was historically unproductive last year because of conservatives who simply want to impede progress.

"If you're dealing with people who have no agenda — 'Nothing is our agenda, and never is our timetable' — it's very hard to negotiate with them," Pelosi said.

Some of those more conservative members even seemed determined not to stand and applaud for any issues during President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday, she said.

But when Stewart focused on the specifics of President Obama's health care law, Pelosi avoided the details and focused on the fact that the policy was "solid" and that the website would continue to work better.

When asked directly what went wrong and whether there were any systemic issues that needed to be addressed, Pelosi responded, "I don't know."

Inefficiencies in the federal procurement process could be to blame, Pelosi said, but she emphasized that she felt good about the policy. The ins-and-outs of the rollout were out of her hands.

"It's not my responsibility," she said.

Pelosi said she did not want to make excuses for the rollout. Systemic problems or not, she said, it should have gone better.

"What matters is, it should have been prepared for," she said. "There is no excuse."