Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra, and Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen held a media availability this morning following a Democratic Caucus meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Leader's remarks and a transcript of a brief question and answer session:
Leader Pelosi's Remarks:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Becerra. To both of my colleagues, the Chairman and the distinguished Vice Chairman of the Caucus: Yes, teamwork pays off. It did last night for the Democrats in the baseball game and for women's soccer team, and we are very proud of both of them.
“I'm very proud of our House Democratic Caucus. I wish that all of you could have heard the knowledge, the respect of the values that they are bringing over and over again to this discussion, most currently this morning. We stand with the President of the United States in the hope that we could have a ‘grand bargain' that takes us well into the future with deficit reduction.
“I remind you that it was only a week ago that we were hopeful that this could happen in a bipartisan way. Thursday, we left the meeting--of last week--we left the meeting with some spirit of cooperation that we could work on a ‘grand bargain' for great deficit reduction so that we could move on to job creation. Friday, we were working on that. Saturday, the Republicans walked away from that. And since then, we've been trying to find out if that's still possible and if not, what is possible. But whatever is possible, and it's not possible for us to reduce the deficit and create jobs on the backs of America's working families.
“So we continue to say to the President: ‘Congratulations. We are proud of the work you are doing, and we are glad that it does not reduce benefits for Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries.' It doesn't mean we are not open to initiatives that will strengthen those, Medicare and Social Security, that will cut cost and keep them solvent for a longer period of time. But we are not reducing the deficit on the backs, and give tax cuts to the wealthy, on the backs of our Social Security and Medicare recipients.
“When I came to the table two days ago, I brought with me the priorities expressed to me by a large number of students who came to my office the other day. They said, ‘We know the deficit is not good for our future. We all stand ready to help reduce it, think everybody should participate in that. We hope you won't diminish the prospects we have for college education. We want you to know how important Medicare and Medicaid are to our families. It enables them to allow us to go to college by taking some of the fear out of health care costs for them. And of course if you are young and you are in college or you are newly graduated, jobs jobs, jobs, jobs--they are important to you. So don't do anything that impedes the economic growth.' Their wisdom is so clear.
“But what we saw at the table was an attempt by the Republicans to increase the cost to students by over 30 billion dollars without taking one red cent of sacrifice from the wealthiest people in our country, from corporations sending jobs overseas, tax subsidies for Big Oil.
“So again, our Caucus focused on our priorities, which are based on our values. We support our President for the ‘grand bargain.' We hope that can still happen, and we know that it will happen--whatever happens, we will not be reducing benefits to Medicare and Social Security recipients.
“With that I am pleased to yield to the leader in charge of ‘Make It In America' in terms of job creation, our distinguished Whip, Steny Hoyer.”
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Question and Answer Session:
Q: Can we get your reaction to the McConnell proposal, the backup plan if you guys can't come to a grand agreement? Is this a viable way to…
Chairman Larson. Well, when we find out more about it, I guess we'll be able to respond.
Q: You don't know the details of his plan?
Chairman Larson. No.
Q: Madam Leader, about a cap and balance…
Leader Pelosi. Well, it's outrageous. I'll tell you what. We'll talk about that later. I want to see what it is because we just heard about it, but it is as bad as their balanced so-called--and it wasn't a balanced budget amendment. It was a Trojan Horse to bring in the Ryan plan again. This is even worse, from what I've heard. But I have to go see it because that was just announced by the--but what we know of it and what was introduced by the Republican Senators before, this is even worse. Thank you.