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Pelosi: 'In This Congress, There Must Be No Higher Priority Than Creating Jobs Now'

Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today against Republican legislation directing House committees to conduct oversight--a function they should already perform--and in support of allowing a jobs bill, the Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act, to come to the floor for a vote. House Republicans, however, blocked the Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act from coming to the floor. Below are the Leader's remarks:   

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding and thank him for his leadership in calling out H.R. 11, Build America Bonds, later. 

“Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to watch this debate because what you see here is -we're talking about jobs.  The American people want us to create jobs and now.  And what you see on the floor of the House now today and tomorrow is a ‘make work' project.  The Republicans have no jobs initiatives, so they need to fill time.  And they are filling time with their resolution--that we all recognize the committees have the jurisdiction to do, and some of the committees already have.  We should subject every dollar, every initiative to the harshest scrutiny to make sure it fills its purpose.  That would bring common sense to what we are doing. 

“But we don't need to spend ten hours of the floor, on the floor of the House, because we have no job proposal--on the side of the Republicans--and make it look as if this is a job creation bill.  This is a ‘make work' product for Republicans who are without an agenda for job creation.  However, we hope they will join us in renewing the Build America Bonds to build America to create jobs now. 

“In every district nationwide, our constituents, many of them struggling without a paycheck, tell the same story.  They are waiting for us to create jobs, to focus on jobs and economic growth before we do anything else.  Today, I rise to echo their call: to urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to act in the best interests of America's families, and put people back to work.

“In his State of the Union address, President Obama encouraged us to do what it takes to ‘out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.'  In that statement, he continued his job-creating initiative.  From day one, President Obama has been a job creator.  We had to dig our way out of a deep recession, but nonetheless, the Recovery Act created or saved over 3 million jobs.  Other initiatives like Cash for Clunkers and other initiatives that this Congress took, working with President Obama, spared us an even worse unemployment rate. 

“Now, that isn't good enough if you don't have a job.  And it isn't good enough for us who are responsible for creating them.  And that is why, the effort that the President started at the beginning of his Administration, reiterated in his State of the Union address, starts with creating more jobs here at home; and, in this Congress, there must be no higher priority than creating jobs now. 

“Yet the Republican leadership has not met that challenge.  Since taking charge of the House more than one month ago, they have yet to propose a single jobs bill.  They have yet to unveil a concrete jobs plan, and Americans are still waiting.

“This week is no different.  Instead of focusing on job creation, this Congress is spending ten hours on the floor, a filler as concrete evidence of the fact that they have nothing else to fill the time with, directing our committees to conduct oversight, a very appropriate instruction: the committees are already doing that. 

“These committees don't need a partisan resolution in order to start their work.  And this House does not need a long floor debate that only diverts us from our purpose, which is to create jobs.  

“Instead, we should focus on investments that work, that create jobs, that rebuild America and grow our economy.  And that is why we are proudly putting forth the Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act.  This legislation would: leverage public dollars to strengthen the private sector 40 to 1, for every public dollar spent, $40 of investment to strengthen the private sector; spur job creation at home by supporting projects to rebuild schools and transit projects.

“Last week, we had a hearing on this subject following the President's State of the Union address and his pronouncements about innovation, education, infrastructure, etc.  We had a hearing on infrastructure, and it is to which the Build America Bonds directly relates.  The representative from the Society of Civil Engineers told us that our country has trillions of dollars of [an infrastructure] deficit, that our roads and bridges get Ds and C minuses in terms of their safety and effectiveness.  In addition, our water projects, some of them are ancient--made of brick and wood.  And that's a health problem.  In addition, in terms of innovation for the future, our investments in infrastructure, such as broadband, is also essential to the growth and creation of jobs in our country. 

“The initiative to Build America Bonds and leverage dollars for encouraging the private sector has the support of mayors, governors, and local businesses.  It is good for taxpayers, using federal investments to unleash billions from private businesses in our neighborhoods.  That's why Governor Martin O'Malley came to testify for this and Mayor Nutter of [Philadelphia] Pennsylvania, giving us their direct experience on what a difference the Build America Bonds initiative, which was in the Recovery Act, and which needs to be renewed.  Most significantly, renewing Build America Bonds keeps our promise to stay focused on jobs, and it helps put Americans back to work.

“Both parties agree that we must stay focused on reducing our deficit and that's exactly what Building America Bonds do.  We cannot achieve the goal of deficit reduction unless you invest in growth and job creation. 

“A vigorous oversight is critical to that effort, and Democrats remain committed to doing our part.  We are ready to eliminate waste, fraud, abuse, duplication, obsolescence in our budget, and we will subject every dollar, taxpayer dollar, to the harshest scrutiny.  And we are prepared to make tough decisions to get our fiscal house in order. But we will not sacrifice key investments that are helping our economy grow, our small businesses expand, and we need to make more investments in small business, not less, and help our workers find jobs.

“We have said from the beginning in this Congress: Democrats will measure every effort by whether it creates jobs, strengthens the middle class, and reduces the deficit.  The resolution before us today does none of the above. 

“I think it is interesting just to make a contrast between the first month of this Republican majority and our first days here in the Congress.  Most of what we have proposed is the law of the land, some of it signed by President Bush--bipartisan way.  H.R. 1, enact the 9/11 Commission recommendations--this is 2007.  The 9/11 Commission recommendations had not been enacted by the Republican Congress.  We know our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe--H.R. 1, now the law of the land.  Raise the minimum wage--economic fairness.  It hadn't been raised in over a decade under Republican rule, and we raised the minimum wage and it became the law.  Making college more affordable, which is now the law of the land.  We also had the Energy Independence and Security Act as part of our ‘6 for '06,' much of which was signed into law by President Bush at the end of that Congress and his term.  A couple initiatives did not become law, one of them was to remove the subsidies we give to Big Oil to give them an incentive to drill.  Big Oil, which has made a trillion dollars in profit over the last ten years, does not need billions of dollars in taxpayer money to have an incentive to drill for oil. 

“And so, on this side, H.R. 1--instead of enacting the 9/11 Commission recommendations, raising the minimum wage, making us more energy independent, making college more affordable--H. R. 1, repeal the heal care bill, no prospect of success in doing that, no hearings leading up to it.  But nonetheless, a filler for the floor, red meat for those who are for the health insurance industry, oppose giving leverage to America's patients and consumers by saying that they will not be deterred from having coverage because they have a pre-existing medical condition and are keeping kids on their parents' policies until they are 26 years old.  That's what they wanted to repeal.  Again, red meat for the industry, for the special interests--no jobs for the American people.   
    
“In the weeks ahead, let's renew our focus on job creation.  Let's vote on bills that grow our economy through innovation and public-private partnerships, and tackle unemployment head-on.

“Together, we can help Americans create jobs rebuilding America in a very green way, and the technologies we will develop will keep us number one, investing in transportation and manufacturing, in clean energy, in new technologies and industries and in small businesses.

“As my colleague, Mr. Hoyer, reminds us every minute, if we ‘Make it in America,' America's families can make it in America.  Let's set our path on doing that instead of frivolously using ten hours that are unnecessary but there for only one purpose: you have nothing else to offer.  Today, we can keep our recovery on-track, and put Americans to work.

“I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no' on this resolution--not that we don't think we should subject regulation to scrutiny but because we think we shouldn't waste the public's time on this when it is already being done in committee, and we should be having a lively debate on what the best approach is to create jobs, spur the economy, reduce the deficit, and strengthen the middle class.”