Washington, D.C.— House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to H.R.7, “The Unprecedented, Radical Assault on Women’s Health Care Act,” which places restrictions on how women with private insurance can spend private dollars in purchasing health insurance.
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentlelady for yielding. I commend her for her long-standing and strong support and respect for women, for their judgment, for the size and timing of their families. When women succeed, America succeeds. And Ranking Member Slaughter has been a great proponent of that.
“Today, the President will stand at the rostrum of the House and report on the State of the Union. On a day when we should join him in laying out a vision of opportunity and optimism for our country, Republicans are voting to limit women's health care decisions. They are hiding the provisions of this legislation by what they have described as a long-standing tradition and accepted policy that there will be no federal funding for abortion.
“And indeed there isn't. It's spelled out every time we have a bill that addresses this in Appropriations, which they have stated very clearly and they have said – in a bipartisan way – we have supported. So why are we wasting time coming to the floor today to take up something that, as they have conceded, is the accepted policy of the Congress of the United States? Why?
“We are doing it because they are using it as a front for legislation that is very harmful to the reproductive health of women. It’s very disrespectful of women's judgment, and again a waste of time on the floor of the House. A waste of time when, instead of disrespecting women, we should be mindful of and address the needs of 1.6 million – and growing – Americans who have lost their unemployment insurance through no fault of their own.
“Hard-working Americans played by the rules, worked hard. The work ethic is alive and well in America. But in this economic time, some people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Over time, we have always respected the system that we had and paid these benefits, but not now. But not now.
“So today, instead of going down this path to nowhere – they know this legislation is going nowhere. That is to say, the underlying damage that they are doing to women's health in their legislation is going nowhere. Instead, we should defeat this rule, vote against the previous question, follow the lead of the distinguished Ranking Member Slaughter on the Committee and our distinguished Ranking Member Van Hollen of the Budget Committee, vote this rule down, and enable us to bring up a bill that will use the savings from the subsidy cuts in the Farm Bill in order to pay for unemployment insurance benefits.
“I, myself, do not think that they should be paid for, because it is an emergency. And, by and large, those emergencies have never had an offset. But if the Republicans want an offset, here's an offset – one that is going to be voted into law tomorrow in the House of Representatives. We can use it today to extend these benefits.
“Why don't we use the time that we have to meet the needs of the American people, to honor their priorities, to make their future better, instead of dragging us into the past? So I ask, again, our colleagues to vote against the bill so that we can take up a bill in support of extending unemployment insurance for 1.6 million Americans, instead of this radical Republican assault on women's health care rights.
“With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time”