Politics & Government

Nancy Pelosi, Doris Matsui talk up Democrats' agenda in Sacramento

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that her Republican colleagues in Congress either “didn’t know ... or didn’t care” that partially shutting the federal government down for more than two weeks would injure the nation’s economy.

“We lost $25 billion in our economy,” Pelosi said while talking to members of the media following an appearance at a forum held at California State University, Sacramento.

“Either they didn’t know that or they didn’t care about it,” she added. “I think they probably care about it. Now they know about it, and hopefully they will make different decisions.”

The San Francisco Democrat was in Sacramento as part of a nationwide tour promoting congressional Democrats’ agenda to raise the national minimum wage, support the expansion of subsidized preschool and increase the availability of paid medical leave for workers. She appeared alongside Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento.

The pair framed those policies as “an economic agenda for women and children” and congratulated California leaders for raising the state’s minimum wage this year. The event included a handful of Sacramento women who shared their stories about the difficulty of finding affordable, high-quality child care that allowed them to work or run a business.

In response to a question from Sacramento lobbyist Jennifer Capitolo, Pelosi encouraged women in the audience to consider a career in public service and said she thinks many women are turned off from politics because of the emphasis on fundraising.

“If you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the role of civility in politics, you will elect more women,” Pelosi said.

The congresswomen used their appearance to promote President Barack Obama’s health care law, comparing the Affordable Care Act to Social Security and Medicare as crucial domestic programs.

They spoke briefly about this month’s partial government shutdown, saying it has raised awareness across the country about the decisions Congress faces.

“The high visibility that the budget debate received this week will serve us well,” Pelosi said. “The more the public knows what the choices are, the better the policy will be that comes out.”

Matsui said her bill to authorize improvements to the levees in Natomas was scheduled for a floor vote in Congress next week, and she called its approval “critical for Sacramento.”