Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in strong support of the House budget resolution, which the House is expected to pass this evening. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“I thank the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Spratt] for his extraordinary mastery of the budget and for presenting us with the opportunity to vote for a statement of our national values here today.
“Madam Speaker, President Thomas Jefferson wisely stated that, ‘every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.' That is so, but some are. The difference of opinion over this budget is a difference of principle. In fact -- more than one principle.
“This budget, as a statement of our national values, upholds the American principles of opportunity, security, responsibility, and fairness.
“It upholds the principle of fairness with tax cuts for the middle class -- for 95 percent of the American people. It upholds the principle of fairness with health care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege. The budget will not only create a healthier America, but by lowering health care costs, health care reform is entitlement reform. By curtailing the rising costs of Medicare and Medicaid, health care reform will significantly reduce the deficit.
“This budget upholds the principle of opportunity -- by advancing the President's investments in education -- from early childhood through post-secondary education and training. It supports the President's goal of improving education and training a workforce that is prepared to compete and succeed in the global economy.
“This budget upholds the principle of security. The first responsibility we have, as elected officials, is to keep the American people safe. I'm proud that in doing so in this budget, it gives the biggest increase ever to our veterans. This is the first time a President has submitted a budget which exceeds the veterans' independent budget. I hasten to add that in the last Congress -- the New Direction Congress -- exceeded the veterans' benefits under the leadership of Chet Edwards and Mr. Spratt as well. On the battlefield, the military promises to leave no soldier behind, and when they come home, we promise to leave no veteran behind.
“This budget upholds the principle of responsibility. The budget resolution begins the process of turning around the Republican budget legacy of deep deficits, mounting debt, and economic decline, due to the Bush Administration's reckless fiscal policy. It takes steps to put the budget back on a fiscally sustainable path, by restoring fiscal responsibility and cutting the deficit by more than one-half by 2013.
“It upholds the principle of responsibility for our planet by investing in science, technology, and renewable energy resources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That is a national security issue, an economic issue, an environmental health issue, and a moral issue, if you believe like I do that this planet is God's creation and we have a moral responsibility to preserve it. It is God's beautiful gift to us and it is our responsibility to convey to the next generation intact.
“Decisions are liberating. By deciding to support this budget, Members are freeing themselves from past mistakes and stale assumptions. They're unleashing the possibilities of the future. This budget is the logical progression of the bold initiatives already taken in the first three months of this year.
“By providing health care for 11 million American children in the SCHIP Act, and the recovery bill and the omnibus bill's investment in NIH cancer research and in Health IT -- this Congress has done more for health care in America than has been done in decades.
“In terms of education, with the investments we made in the recovery act, the omnibus, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, and now this budget -- we have done more for education, than has been done in any one other period of time in our history.
“On energy proposals, we plow new ground. As President Obama said: “We will harness the sun, the wind, and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” We have made the investments that will spur new growth of energy that we can produce here in America -- creating new green-collar jobs for American workers.
“This budget also allows for fiscally responsible legislation that will promote energy independence over the long term.
“In terms of science, we have made bold and new investments in the area of science in both the recovery act and the omnibus. We also just passed the landmark public lands bill that will protect two million acres of natural heritage -- the most sweeping conservation legislation in decades.
“So in terms of energy and the environment, we have made historic progress. This budget is in stark contrast to the Republicans' hollow shell budget. We must always strive to find common ground here in the Congress. However, when the American people voted for change in November, they did not vote to send us here to split the difference. They sent us here to make a difference. Sadly, the difference of opinion on this budget is a difference of principle.
“Mr. Spratt, again, I thank you and the Members of the Budget Committee for giving us the privilege of upholding America's principles of fairness, opportunity, security, and responsibility today by voting ‘aye.'”