Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor tonight in support of the final passage of the bipartisan economic stimulus package. The bill passed by a vote of 380 to 34. Below are her remarks:
'I thank the gentleman for his kind words and his extraordinary leadership, which made it possible for us to come to the floor with this bipartisan historic legislation tonight. Thank you, Mr. Rangel, for your leadership. And thank you, Mr. McCrery, for yours. It's quite an evening when we can come together in a bipartisan way for legislation that helps the middle class, helps those who aspire to the middle class, and gives incentives to businesses to create jobs to stimulate our economy. I thank you for that.
'I acknowledge the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, for his leadership, along with Ranking Member Bachus for his, because those who are concerned about the subprime crisis, and that is all of us, can see some relief in this legislation because of their leadership.
'I want to acknowledge another member of the Financial Services Committee, Mr. Kanjorski, and salute him for his leadership dropping the bill even before we took this up this evening for seniors and disabled veterans to be getting the recovery rebates as well. I also thank him for the clarification of language regarding undocumented persons in our country getting that benefit. Thank you, Mr. Kanjorski, for your leadership.
'Before I go on too long, I must salute Leader Boehner. It was a privilege to work with him on this. Mr. Hoyer and I shared a view of our caucus. We came with consensus to the table. None of us got everything we wanted in the legislation, but we did get a great deal for the American people. We did so in a manner that was timely. We were acting in record time, targeted on the middle class and those who aspire to it, targeted to businesses, tax incentives to businesses to create jobs, and temporary. So these resources and these tax incentives will be used and spent in a way that will have an impact in the economy.
'I also want to salute Secretary Paulson for his persistence and his leadership and his receptivity, shall we say, and responsiveness to some of the values that the Democrats were putting on the table regarding those who have not participated in receiving a recovery rebate before, but do so in this bill.
'This was across the aisle, but it is also across the Capitol. We worked it out in record time, again, with Leader Reid and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, on the Senate side, so that tonight we could bring this bill to the floor.
'It was only about 2 1/2 weeks ago that leadership was on the telephone with the President of the United States. He had just returned from his trip to the Middle East. And we talked about what every homemaker in America has known for a long time, that our economy is going into a downturn. We wanted to prevent it from being more of a downturn, and a stimulus was needed.
'We had heard from Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke about the state of the economy and that a stimulus was needed and that it should have certain features of being timely, targeted, and temporary. And the President, on that phone call, agreed that we should go forward with a stimulus package in record time. The House put it together and sent it over to the Senate. And I'm very, very proud of that.
'If I boast of it, it's because it's highly unusual that we can respond in such record time. But we did so because it was urgent for the American people. So often they listen in on the debate on the floor of the House which seems irrelevant to their lives. This is very relevant to their lives because there are many firsts in here.
'For the first time, those who don't make over a certain income are able to participate in the recovery rebates and the child tax credit. In fact, more than 40 million families will be receiving those rebates and tax credits who had never received a rebate or a tax refundable child tax credit before. That's just astounding.
'It was different from the bill the President originally proposed because his proposal did not have a cap, so some of the wealthiest people in America could get this rebate. Instead, we said, God bless them for their success, but we need to put this money in the pockets of those who are living paycheck to paycheck, who are finding it hard or struggling to make ends meet with the price of gasoline, the price of groceries, the price of health care, the price of education, anything that you can name. Costs were going up and the purchasing power of their income was not.
'And so we believe that the stimulus, the way it is targeted, will put money in the hands of those who will spend it immediately, injecting demand into the economy and therefore creating jobs. That's the impact that we want the stimulus to have. Same thing with the small business incentives.
'One of the reasons we were able to move so quickly is because we were ready. The reason we were ready with the child tax credit is because Congresswoman DeLauro has worked on this issue for her lifetime in Congress. And of course as Chairman of the committee, Mr. Rangel has had this as a high priority. So it wasn't something that we had to go create. It's something that we had in our minds and in our hearts to do for a long time.
'The tax credits and the incentives for small businesses have been a part of the bipartisan support we have in the House for an Innovation Agenda so that small and medium-size businesses can take advantage, in a short period of time, of this incentive that they have to invest and to purchase equipment and for job creation. Good-paying jobs here in America.
'We were ready because the Financial Services Committee, under the leadership of Mr. Barney Frank and Ranking Member Bachus, had already passed these bills on the floor of the House. Not everything in the bill is included in this stimulus, but these bills have passed the House and had been sent over to the Senate. Certain features are contained in this bill so that there is some relief for the subprime crisis.
'The list goes on and on. But we had our priorities; they have been our priorities for a while. They are particularly essential now in the time of a need of stimulus. So when the time came and the President said he would sign such a bill, we were ready with our priorities.
'We fought it out. It wasn't an easy fight, but we knew we had to do it in the shortest period of time. And it wasn't easy. And there were some things that I said to the President on the phone when he congratulated us for going forward that I would have liked to have seen in the bill, like unemployment insurance and LIHEAP and food stamps and the rest. But we will take care of those issues in due course. Every bill cannot accomplish every goal that we have.
'I want to identify myself with the comments that Mr. Bachus made. This is a fiscally sound bill. There were those who wanted to make it larger with elements that were not necessarily stimulus that we resisted, even though they were excellent ideas. They should be revisited in another piece of legislation for another day.
'But we had been cautioned over and over, and we have cautioned each other that whatever we did in the stimulus, even though it would not have to conform with PAYGO, strictly speaking, would not be so overloaded that it would be a deterrent to recovery because we would be taking our country more deeply in debt than was justified by our stimulus package for recovery.
'So, because of all of this cooperation, hopefully, it will serve as a model. I again want to commend Secretary Paulson for his perseverance and his leadership. And we look forward to soon, in a few days, perhaps, the President of the United States signing this bill. But the Secretary has assured us that with the passage of this bill tonight, even before the Presidential signature, the word will go to the IRS to begin the process of getting these checks out to the families.
'So I think every Member of this body should take great pride in the bipartisanship of it, in the focus of it, the discipline of it, and what it means: that it is relevant to the lives of the American people. A typical middle-income family, a family of four with two children, will get $1,800. Eighteen hundred dollars. I think that that is impressive. And families making less than that, other families, depending on the number of their children, will get a sizable check in the mail.
'This says to them we respect your contribution to our country, to our economy, to our society, and even if you don't make a lot of money and pay income tax, that your contribution to our economy is recognized and acknowledging the FICA tax that you pay. And that's why once more I will reiterate that 40 million American families will participate in the recovery rebates to the tune of about $28 billion infused into our economy through their hands.
'This is a new direction. I urge my colleagues to support it and am proud to be associated with it. And I thank all for their leadership in making it possible this evening.'