Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats held a press availability in the Capitol today calling on House Republicans to immediately begin working with Democrats on a long-term agreement to extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans--and avoid taking us to the point of brinkmanship once again.
This morning, Republican Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Denham, under orders from Speaker Boehner, refused to allow Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn to speak on the floor and call for the payroll tax cut conference committee to get to work.
Americans are out of work and we've got work to do, but Republicans are out of session. We can't wait.
Below are selected quotes from House Democrats at today's press availability as well as Leader Pelosi's opening remarks and closing statement.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:
“The American people are crying out for jobs. They want us to work together. We can do that. I don't know what the Republicans are afraid of. Where are they? They are telling us that they were in late in December so they can't be here in January? What is this one month on, one month off? The American people want jobs. We have a job to do. We can't wait.”
Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn:
“Democrats are here, and we are ready to work. And we just can't wait…Our conferees are all here in Washington looking for their Republican colleagues so that they can develop a proposal to extend the payroll tax cut for the American people and do so in such a way that certainty and stability will be built into the lives of the American people…As you noticed, we were just shut down and not allowed to speak on the floor when we were told that we are in session.”
Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson:
“Republicans have left us in the dark abyss of uncertainty and that uncertainty is what we see when we go home and speak to our constituents almost every single week. They want us here working.”
Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra:
“We just spent four minutes today in session and now we're done. Well, most Americans woke up at the beginning of this week wanting to be able to say, loving the opportunity to say: ‘I'm going back to work after this vacation.' Yet here we are, and we're done. Four minutes. And we've got some work to do. Either we're in or we're out of session. Can you imagine what would happen if we had Republicans working with the President to create jobs?”
Congressman Chris Van Hollen:
“We know that millions of Americans are still out there every day looking for a job, unable to find one through no fault of their own. And that's why it's so important that we get to work and get to work now, just like all the Americans who have jobs got back to work.”
Congressman Henry Waxman:
“Let the conferees meet. We've been informed that we won't even have a meeting until January 18th or thereafter. Let's get to work. Come on, Republicans. Let's not pretend to work. Let's really work.”
Congresswoman Donna Edwards:
“The rest of America that has a job went back to work. The Congress needs to come back to work too. We have work to do. We have to create jobs. We have to make sure that we extend unemployment [insurance] for millions of Americans who are out of work and we need to make sure that we extend those tax cuts for 160 million Americans who went to work after the holiday.”
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Leader Pelosi's Opening Remarks:
“Thank you very much, Assistant Leader Clyburn. Thank you for going to the floor to call for the conferees to meet to give a payroll tax cut to 160 million Americans, to assure and reassure millions of Americans who are out of work through no fault of their own that they will have unemployment benefits, and to tens of millions of our seniors that they will be able to see their doctor under Medicare. This certainty gives people confidence.
“These measures will inject demand into the economy because those who receive the tax cut and those who receive the unemployment benefits need the money, will spend the money, inject demand, create jobs. It's good for the economy. It's good for America's families.
“We were told with great vehemence yesterday that Congress was in session. That's why we went to the floor today to call upon the conferees to get to work. The American people are crying out for jobs. They want us to work together. We can do that. I don't know what the Republicans are afraid of. Where are they? They are telling us that they were in late in December so they can't be here in January? What is this one month on, one month off? The American people want jobs. We have a job to do. We can't wait.
“As the [Assistant] Leader said, the President's American Jobs Act has given confidence to people. Already, the economy is responding to his leadership in that regard--and with the hope that we will continue our work in a bipartisan fashion and in a timely fashion to extend the tax cut, the unemployment benefits and the seniors ability to see their doctors for the rest of the year. There's no reason, tell me why, how can we explain to the American people why the conferees are not here to do their work even if the leadership does not want the Congress to be here doing the peoples work?
“One year and one day ago, the Republicans were sworn in as the majority in the Congress of the United States. Great privilege. We can associate ourselves with what a great privilege it was to do the peoples work. One year later, have they tired of it? One year later, we're working five days in the month of January when the American people desperate need us to take positive action for job creation.
“I'm very proud of our conferees. Some are with us right now, all of them here this week to get the job done. Scores of our Members came from across the country to urge Congress to get moving on the conference report, hoping that we could be in session to have some exchange of ideas on this subject. But, evidently the Republicans think that the needs of the American people can wait. We can't wait.
“Now, I'm pleased to yield to the distinguished Chair of our Caucus, John Larson of Connecticut.”
Leader Pelosi's Closing Statement:
“I thank my colleagues for being here. I thank them for going to the floor to express the concerns that I know are felt by people across the country. Where are the jobs? Where are the Republicans? We talked about passing the bill that would extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans, extend unemployment benefits for millions of people unemployed through no fault of their own and extending the ability to see a doctor for tens of millions of seniors.
“There's plenty else we could do. The absence of Congress being in session deprives us of the opportunity to take bills to the floor that would reignite the American dream for people who are so hopeful, build ladders of opportunity for people who want to work hard and play by the rules to reach their success. And we have plenty of work to do. We could be taking up an infrastructure bill to rebuild America, reignite the American dream, rebuild the middle class, rebuild America, ‘Make It In America,' as Mr. Hoyer always says. We can be passing that kind of legislation, the President has it all in his proposal.
“Instead, the Republicans are missing in action. You've heard us on the floor. But, unfortunately, the public could not hear because we were shot down when Mr. Clyburn, the distinguished gentleman from South Carolina, stood up to speak on behalf of the American people.
“So we'd be pleased to take any questions.”