Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to the GOP Continuing Resolution. The bill failed by a vote of 195 to 230. Below are the Leader's remarks.
“Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and congratulate him on his tremendous leadership as the Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee.
“And when he was speaking today, I was thinking back to when I was a relatively new Member of Congress, not even here 2 years, when we had the Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. We came--it was shocking to us. Of course, it was a complete surprise, a terrible natural disaster, very hard. The Bay Bridge was out of commission. It cracked the-- homes were on fire for days and days and days, a true natural disaster.
“And when I came to the floor, when this issue was brought up by the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the Honorable Jamie Whitten of Mississippi, he came to the floor and with his words of comfort and assurance to the people who were affected by this natural disaster, his comments made all the difference in the world. They made--listening to him no one had any doubt that the federal government was going to honor its commitment, honor its commitment to the American people that when in time of natural disaster we will be there. We have a compact with the American people.
“How different the conversation is today when we're talking about saying when in time of natural disaster--and by the way, many more then the natural disaster in San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Area; Loma Prieta would stretch for long distances in northern California. But today we have hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, forest fires still raging out of control in some parts of the country - Texas until recently in that situation. I hope that it's under control now or that the rain we all pray for there is coming.
“And what do we do? We come to the floor and say now we're going to institute a new policy that says in time of natural disaster were going to have to find some place to pay for it.
“Now what's next? Where are we going next to pay for it? The distinguished Chairman has said ‘Well, we've paid for emergencies before.' And indeed we have. I'm talking about something of a much different caliber. I'm talking about a natural disaster. I'm talking about the FEMA disaster relief fund.
“All of the disasters that are happening at once--we don't know when the next one will come--but what is frightening also is that we don't know where this Majority wants to go to pay for it. I have serious objection to the payfor in this legislation.
“I have a bigger objection that we would have to pay for disaster. We never paid for the tax cuts for the rich. They never were paid for. We never paid for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were never paid for. But all of a sudden we have to pay, to try to make whole these people who have been affected, who've lost everything. I've visited there. I wish you would and maybe you have, maybe you have.
“It's not that Joplin, Missouri is finished. It's not that as we go to a new disaster we are finished with the old one. It is just compounded.
“Someone mentioned earlier in the election people talk about this, that and the other. And the American people want--whether it is in an election or out of election--they want jobs. And exactly what this bill does is cut jobs.
“Instead of creating jobs, the number one priority of the American people, this Republican bill will cost good-paying jobs. It's amazing because the bill that we are debating here will cost at least 10 [thousand] good-paying jobs under, American manufacturing jobs. ‘Make It In America.' And perhaps tens of thousands more by cutting the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program.
“I am not even going to speak too much about it because our colleagues already have. They have talked about how this takes us to the next place in innovation, in competitiveness for our country, the next place in technology for cars that will reduce emissions, which will help to stop some of the natural disasters. These loans have proven to be effective. They have already created 42,000 jobs, putting America to work making cleaner, more efficient American cars.
“We shouldn't have to choose between creating jobs and caring for those struggling in the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Irene and the earthquake that preceded it and the floods that continue.
“One of the speakers, a gentleman whom I respect, said this is a political move. Well if there is anything that is not political in our country, it is a natural disaster. You want to talk politics when somebody is suffering a natural disaster? There is no place for that. It is some place we walk on a ground that is more hallowed, more hallowed than the normal terrain in which we debate. And that terrain is the terrain of the disaster that has affected the American people.
“If you looked in their eyes, you would feel so helpless that you cannot make them whole. You may not be able to have them have the personal effects of their families, seen it so many times. And will they economically be made whole? Will their homes be restored in a way that makes it the home it was before that they loved, that created a sense of community, one home after another?
“So we are at a very sad place for all of these people. We don't know who is next. And what makes me suspicious about what the Majority has put into this is--I want you to know this. We haven't paid for natural disaster assistance before. They are using this Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing. They are taking $1 billion of it to pay for the disaster. And there is a half a billion dollars left, and they are rescinding it in this bill. They are eliminating it.
“So this isn't about paying for the disaster. This is about destroying an initiative that is job-creating, that is innovative, that keeps America number one, that creates jobs, good-paying jobs in our country. It's really hard to understand what the motivation is for that. But one thing is clear: They are using the disaster to eliminate that initiative. And that's just not right.
“But even if they had the best off-set in the world, I still think it is wrong for them to go down a path that says: ‘This time, for your disaster, we are using this technology program.' What's next? With all of the disasters that we have, where do we have the room to say, ‘On those days, at that specific time, this is how we will pay for it'?
“Let's instead do something that gives hope to people, that creates an economic boomlet in these places that have been affected and not a discouragement that they are being treated differently than anybody else has in time of natural disaster. I heard the distinguished Chairman use the term ‘emergency.' It's a different story. It's a different story. It is with great sadness that we try to meet the needs of people at this difficult time. It's a great sadness that we even have to have a debate about it, that we even have to have a debate about it.
“I urge our Republican colleagues to withdraw this bill, come back clean. Let us vote together to address the natural disaster that has afflicted our country, recognizing that we don't know what's around the corner. And as one of our colleagues said, ‘We said we were going to pay for everything.' We don't know what God has in store for us for the next disaster. We hope and pray that whatever it is, we have the strength to meet the needs of our people in a way that has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with America.
“With that, I urge my colleagues to vote against this, reluctantly, because I would love for us to join together. But not in its present form.”