ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who was in Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association’s annual winter meeting, shared a stage with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Sunday to discuss the political sphere, national infrastructure and the working relationship between state and federal leaders.
Cuomo moderated a brief discussion with Pelosi, asking about her political background and whether she would support her children entering the “so tough and so toxic” world of elected office. He then led governors in questioning the California congresswoman on transportation and the 2020 census, among other topics.
Cuomo, who is also the vice chairman of the NGA, strayed from discussing President Donald Trump, impeachment or other recent political events in his conversation with Pelosi. Still, he hinted at the division seemingly ever-present in the nation’s capital: “We’re in this hyperpartisan, hyperpolitical time, and I think sometimes, people lose the humanity of what we do in public service. We focus on labels and titles and positions, and we forget that we’re all people trying to do good things,” he said, segueing into a question about Pelosi’s political family.
Pelosi spoke of “the politics in which I was raised,” alluding to what she views was a more amicable time in government, when she said politicians worked together to arrive at the common goal of making a better world for their children. She referenced Cuomo’s most beloved phrase as of late — “e pluribus unum,” a Latin term meaning “out of many, one,” that is also the motto for the United States.
“‘E pluribus unum’ really does say it all,” Cuomo said. “It’s one of the great expressions, it’s on the country’s seal from the very beginning. I just proposed adding it to the seal of the State of New York this year, changing the seal to add ‘e pluribus unum,’ because it really does sum up our overall philosophy.”
Cuomo asked Pelosi how state leaders can spearhead national investments in infrastructure, something he also touched on in an address to governors at the meeting on Saturday. He had urged his colleagues to take the lead on infrastructure projects: “While we all hope for an active federal partner, the reality is, after such a long delay, I think the best course forward is for the states to hope for the best and plan for the worst.”
Pelosi noted that infrastructure growth has never been a partisan issue, but Democrats and Republicans in D.C. are often split on how to pay for new roads, broadband access, bridges and other items that contribute to the all-encompassing “infrastructure” term.
“I am optimistic, because we must do it, and it is one thing the public appreciates and wants,” she said.