Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in support of sending the STOCK Act to a Conference Committee of the House and Senate to be strengthened. Republicans stripped a critical provision on political intelligence, one which passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, from the House bill. The revised House STOCK Act passed the House today by a vote of 417 to 2. Below are the Leader's remarks.
“I thank the gentleman for yielding. And thank him for giving us this opportunity to discuss an important matter: the integrity of Congress on the floor of the House.
“I too want to join the distinguished Majority Leader, Mr. Cantor, in praising the leadership of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, our Ranking Member on the Rules Committee, and Congressman Tim Walz, for their extraordinary leadership over time. Their persistence, the approach that they have taken to this--to remove all doubt in the public's mind, if that is possible, that we are here to do the people's business and not to benefit personally from it.
“I listened attentively to the distinguished Majority Leader, Mr. Cantor's remarks, about the STOCK Act and its importance. And, it just raises a question to me, as to if it is so important, and it certainly is, that why we could not have worked in a more bipartisan fashion, either to accept the Senate bill, which was developed in a bipartisan fashion, either to accept the Senate bill, which was developed in a bipartisan fashion and passed the Senate 96 to 3, 96-3--it's hard to get a result like that in Congress these days. But, they were able to get that result because they worked together to develop the legislation.
“We had two good options: one was to accept the Senate bill, or to take up the Slaughter-Walz legislation, which has nearly 300 cosponsors, almost 100 Republican cosponsors on the original STOCK Act. The discharge petition has been calling upon the leadership to bring that bill to the floor. What's important about that, is that when we pass that bill, we can go to conference and take the best and strongest of both bills to get the job done.
“Instead, secretly, the Republicans brought a much diminished bill to the floor--it has some good features. So, I urge my colleagues to vote for it, to bring the process along. What's wrong about it is, it makes serious omissions. And, I won't associate myself with remarks that have been made earlier, but I think they bear repetition, in any event.
“Senator Grassley's remarks are stunning, stunning indictment of the House Republicans, in terms of their actions on this bill. He said, and I know my colleague has read this into the record already, but I will too. Senator Grassley said: ‘it's astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street's wishes by killing this provision,' that would be the provision on political intelligence. ‘The Senate clearly voted to try to shed light on an industry that's behind the scenes, if the Senate language is too broad, as opponents say, why not propose a solution, instead of scrapping the provision all together, I hope to see,' Senator Grassley said; ‘a vehicle for meaningful transparency through a House-Senate conference, and other means, if Congress delays action,' as Chairman Conyers just said, ‘if Congress delays action,' said Senator Grassley, ‘the political intelligence industry will stay in the shadows, just the way Wall Street likes it.' Well, the Senator's statement is very widely covered. In ‘The Hill' today, has a full page: ‘Grassley: Republicans caved; Iowa Senator says House doing Wall Street bidding.
“I think it's important to note, that on the Senate side, there was interest in doing this study, that is now in the House bill, and it was rejected by the Senate, by a 60-39 vote, to include the political intelligence provision, in the bill rejecting the study. Now that that's already been rejected in the Senate, its resurrected on the House side, a weakening of the bill.
“So, whether it's the political intelligence piece, proposed by Senator Grassley. Or, Senator Leahy's piece about corruption, I think it's really important that those two elements be included in the bill. A good way to do that, to find a path to bipartisanship in the strongest possible bill, is to pass the bill today, despite its serious shortcomings--and it's hard to understand why the shortcomings are there, but nonetheless they are.
“Pass the bill today and go to conference. To pass earlier, we're to accept the Senate bill, or to take the original STOCK Act, strong STOCK Act, to the floor. Both of those were rejected. Pass this bill. Go to conference. It's very important that the House and the Senate meet to discuss these very important issues.
“With all due respect to a study on political intelligence, that's really just a dodge, that is just a way to say: ‘we're not going to do the political intelligence piece.
“So, again, with serious reservations about the bill, but thinking it's the better course of action, is to pass it--and I don't want anyone to interpret the strong vote for it, to be a seal of approval for what it is, but just a way of pushing the process down the line, so that we can move expeditiously, to go to conference for the strongest possible bill.
“And, I want to close again, by saluting Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, and Congressman Tim Walz, for their most persistent dedication to this issue. Had they not had this discharge petition, and the nearly 300 cosponsors--bipartisan, nearly 100 of them Republicans--I doubt that we would be even taking up this bill today.
“So congratulations, and thank you. With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”