House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sought Thursday to distance herself and her caucus from Jonathan Gruber, the economist who has caused a stir with comments that seemed to suggest the federal health-care law was created in a deceptive way.
"I don't know who he is. He didn't help write our bill," she told reporters at her weekly briefing.
Congressional Republicans have raised the possibility they could call Gruber to testify about his remarks. Gruber, who helped the Obama administration craft the Affordable Care Act, said last year the “stupidity of the American voter” and a “lack of transparency” over the way it is funded were advantages in the passage of the law. The comments only recently received widespread public attention.
Pelosi argued that Republicans are determined to attack the law regardless of what Gruber said and are simply using him to fuel their existing opposition to it.
"Mr. Gruber's comments were a year old and he has backtracked from most of them," she said.
On immigration, Pelosi gave President Obama the green light to use his executive powers to stem the deportation of some undocumented immigrants. Republicans mostly oppose Obama taking action on his own.
"Obama has the authority to act," she said.
The Democratic leader warned Republicans not to tie the process of funding the government to whatever Obama decides to do alter the nation's immigration system.
"They are saying to the president, 'Don't use your executive power.' Suppose he turned to us and said, 'Don't use your legislative authority,'" she said.
Pelosi declined to say Obama's decision to delay action on immigration until after the midterms may have hurt Democratic turnout in the election.
"I do think that with two-thirds of the electorate not voting, it is something other than the president's...timetable on immigration," she said.
Pelosi also defended her decision to pursue another term as Democratic leader, despite her party's loss of seats in the midterms. She suggested that if she were a man, she would not face so many questions about why she continues to want to lead the Democratic Caucus.
"It just is interesting, as a woman, to see how many times that question is asked of a woman and how many times that question is never asked of Mitch McConnell," she said.