Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to call on House Republicans to take ‘yes’ for an answer and bring up the Senate passed $986 billion continuing resolution, a funding level demanded by House Republicans, for a vote to end the Republican government shutdown. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you very much Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and I associate myself with his remarks. I thank him for his extraordinary leadership on trying to keep government open. Mr. Speaker, much has been, this is what, the eighth day of the Republican shutdown of government. Small businesses cannot get loans to expand, veterans have some uncertainty about their benefits, tuition assistance, and the rest, millions of women and children will go without nutrition programs that they desperately need.
“The shutdown could be over in hours if Republicans could stop being the party of ‘no’ and just take ‘yes’ for an answer. So, in case you don’t know, I have some very good news for you: Democrats have not only been willing to negotiate, Democrats have already stated that they are ready to cooperate, cooperate.
“For example, I have good news, perhaps you missed the fact that a, that 200 Members, Democratic Members of the House have signed a letter saying that they’re willing to accept the Republican number of $986 [billion] even though, as the gentleman said, we don’t like this number, we don’t think it’s adequate. But the fact is: we don’t like shutting down the government more. So, in order to open up government, 200 Members have signed the letter and five additional Members have made public statements of their willingness to support the Republican number. There is space in this letter for the signatures of some, maybe just 17 Republicans to sign. But they don’t have to sign the letter, many of them have made public statements which we respect and honor as their public statement that they would vote for the Republican number of [$986 billion].
“This wasn’t a, you negotiated, the Speaker negotiated with Senator Reid, Senator Reid accepted the Republican number, the Republican House number, the President of the United States accepted the Republican House number, the Democrats in the House accepted the Republican House number, the only people not accepting the Republican House number are the Republicans in the House. So when the leadership of the Republican party, Speaker Boehner in particular, go around saying: ‘it cannot pass, the votes are not there.’ Does that mean he does not trust the word of his own Members who have said that they will vote for $986 [billion]? Let’s find out, let’s bring the bill to the floor. In fact we’re saying: just bring it to the floor, it’s passed the Senate, the President stands ready to sign a number we don’t like, but prefer over shutting down government. That is where you, we don’t like it, we want to open the doors of government and we’re willing to use the key of the Republican number to do so.
“Last week, Democrats went a step further in both public and private discussions, Speaker Boehner said that he would not, doesn’t want to go to conference on the budget. Even though he asked for regular order in March. In March, early March, Senator McConnell and Speaker Boehner said they wanted regular order. That’s a message to the President that Congress should work its will. That was good news to us. That means that you pass a bill in the House, you pass a bill in the Senate, you go to conference to reconcile your differences. Perhaps the Speaker didn’t think that the Senate would pass a budget, but they did in a matter of days, practically hours, after the House passed its budget. But what happened to regular order? They blew it out the window. After saying we want regular order, no longer did the Republicans want to take ‘yes’ for an answer. And why? Well, some of this is explained on the Speaker’s own statement, Speaker Boehner said: ‘Under rules,’ – under rules, listen to that word, ‘rules,’ ‘Under rules, if you appoint conferees, and after 20 legislative days there’s no agreement, the minority has the right to offer motions to instruct, which become politically motivated bombs to throw up on the House floor. So to be frank with all of you, we’re following what I would describe as regular order.’
“What I would describe as regular order is not under rules, under rules are the rules of the House. The Speaker, awesome as the power of the Speaker is, and I understand that, you do not have the power to just decide what regular order is. And if you don’t want to honor regular order, just say you’re not going to honor it. But don’t redefine it in order to keep government shutdown.
“So, listening to the Speaker not wanting to shut government down, wanting first, and then after it was shutdown wanting to open it. The House Democrats took a step, unprecedented by any minority party in the Congress of the United States. The House Democratic minority said: ‘we will surrender, we will relinquish our right to Motions to Recommit, Motions to Instruct, an insider term actually, placing conditions on how we go to the conference table. So we said to the Speaker: ‘don’t worry about that, if that’s important to you, if you want to shutdown government because you’re afraid of a Motion to Instruct, we’ll allay your fears.’ Fear no more, Mr. Speaker, we will not offer these motions. And as an example, we didn’t offer the motion on the first night, which was our right to do, when this bill was introduced as all of you will agree with.
“So we have said, we have made that claim. This is, as I said, unprecedented, but is a necessary move to end the Tea Party stranglehold on our government and restore basic services which millions, on which millions of people rely. Didn’t take ‘yes’ for answer, 200 signatures and I wish for unanimous consent to submit this letter for the record.”
Speaker Pro Tempore. Without objection.
“Two hundred signatures, it’s a beautiful site because I want to tell you something: it’s about cooperation, none of us like this number, all of us want to open up government. That’s why we signed it. And I want to thank Congressman Tim Bishop and Congressman Patrick Murphy and Congressman Keith Ellison for producing this result and I’ll put that there.
[Leader Pelosi places the letter on the dais]
“So, we’ve said ‘yes,’ to your, we’re giving the votes on something we don’t like. We’ve said we won’t do Motions to Instruct, please take ‘yes’ for an answer. If you insist on being the party of ‘no,’ then don’t hide behind something and say ‘they won’t negotiate.’ We cooperated. We gave you what you wanted. And now here we are today. Republicans are offering yet another motion to keep government shut down. Some people call it in the press the Supercommittee, others call it the Ted Cruz Committee, whatever you call it, I’d like to know who writes this stuff? This is so ridiculous a proposal, so ridiculous a proposal. How about we go to the budget table and see how we can reduce the deficit, produce growth for our country. But all we’re going to do is cut our investments in education, investments in making the future better. We’re going to make seniors suffer more while we do not touch revenue and we will not allow any discussion of closing special interest loopholes. That’s how they want us to go to the table. You must be kidding. As I said, who writes this stuff?
“You know sometimes there’s an expression that people use, flippantly they’ll say: ‘who do you think you are?’ If you say something, remember that from your childhood? Somebody say: ‘who do you think you are?’ I think we have to take that sentence very seriously, who do we, with an emphasis on think. That would be interesting. Who do we think we are? Do we think that we are a party that is responsible, all of us, a Congress that is responsible, that wants to do the right thing for the American people, know that we have to come here to cooperate with each other to get something done in a bipartisan way. To my fellow colleagues on the Republican side, I hope that’s allowed, Mr. Speaker, they are Members of the body. Do you think you have come here, do you think you have come here to make sure that people know that you can do this just because you’re doing it? It’s just a waste – a total waste of time – and we don’t have time to waste. In fact, we could be spending our time in such a more important way. Working in a bipartisan way on entrepreneurship, creating growth for our country, investing in the education of our people which, by the way, brings more money to the Treasury than any other initiative you can name – early childhood, K-12, higher education, lifetime learning – you want to reduce the deficit? Invest in education. You want to increase the deficit? Cut education. But let’s sit down and talk about that. And the path to get there is one that says, ‘say yes to$986 [billion],’ we did, your number, says, ‘accept our offer, we won’t offer any instruction to the committee, but don’t continue to be the Tea Party of “no.”’
“Mr. Speaker, give, I hope that the Speaker, is that allowed, Mr. Speaker? I hope the Speaker will give us a vote so we can see where this Congress stands on the serious responsibility that we have and if the Republicans will even accept what they are asking us to accept. This rule should be voted down, this commissions is a joke, whether you call it the Ted Cruz Commission, or the super, ‘super’ in what way? Certainly not super in meeting the needs of the American people. To recap: A, we’re giving you 200 votes for your number, take ‘yes’ for an answer. B, Speaker doesn’t want any conditions, or discussion, or anything else on the floor about the budget, we’re willing to accept that. Take ‘yes’ for an answer. With that, I ask for a ‘no’ vote on the rule and yield back the balance of my time.”