Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the House floor today calling on House Republicans to stay and work in Washington on issues confronting Americans rather than cutting and running from town. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you Mr. Hoyer, I appreciate your yielding and your leadership for bringing us together on the floor of the House. We’re in after-hours and it is only 12:40 p.m., but it is after hours on a Friday afternoon. That is the context of – we left here on August 3rd, we’re not due back until November 14th. And yet we have had only eight legislative days of work in that period of time. I thank you for calling that dereliction of duty to the attention of the American people because we have work to do. It’s not as if our work is finished. And as you have indicated, there is critical expiring legislation that is passed even in the Senate yet Republicans have blocked a vote in the House. Whether it’s middle income tax relief, postal reform, violence against women, farm bill, and then, of course, initiatives proposed by President Obama to create jobs for our economy.
“I wanted to, I was so pleased to hear what our colleague, Congresswoman Schwartz had to say about Medicare because really, our names are all on the ballot in this year’s election, but what is really at stake is Medicare. Medicare, Medicare, Medicare. And as you said, distinguished Whip Hoyer, they offered nothing but to raise costs on seniors for getting less as they phase out Medicare.
“I wanted to just talk about another subject though. Because it is a larger issue that I hear this question bandied about. You hear people say: ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ The Republicans have the nerve to pose that question when if you look back to four years ago this very week, Mr. Speaker, you would know that we are indeed fundamentally, and unquestionably, better off as a country today.
“This fall, again, this week, four years ago – September 18th to be exact, but this week – there was a meeting, in my office when I was Speaker, of the Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and of the Senate – gathered together to hear a report from the Administration that was very alarming. Now, mind you, September 18, 2008, the Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, described for us a financial system in imminent danger of total collapse. Chairman Bernanke, at that same meeting, the Chairman of the Fed[eral Reserve], told us that if we did not act immediately we would not have an economy by Monday. This was a Thursday evening. You remember, Mr. Hoyer; you were there. ‘If we do not act immediately we will not have an economy by Monday.’ How on earth can people who perpetrated that situation on our country have the nerve to turn around and ask that question? At the end of the meeting we all went out in a bipartisan way and spoke to the press and I said at the time: Time is of the essence and that Congress would act. Trying to lift the confidence in our financial situation.
“Despite a Presidential election seven weeks away at that time, it was no time for partisanship. The crisis demanded that Democrats and Republicans work with President Bush to rescue our economy from depression, or as Chairman Bernanke said, from our not having an economy four days later. In the days ahead, our country confronted the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The costs were staggering: more than $8 trillion lost in household wealth, more than 8 million jobs lost, and more than 4 million families losing their homes to foreclosure.
“Nonetheless the Democrats voted with President Bush to restore confidence in our markets, and the Republicans even walked away from their own President. In the two years after that September 18th meeting, we continued to take actions to reduce spending, to address what was inevitable from the policies of the eight years previous to the November 2008 election. We continued, with the majority and President in office, we took action to reduce spending, to create jobs, keep people in their homes, and pass Dodd-Frank, the toughest Wall Street reforms in generations. And with it, the most historic – for the first time, protections for American consumers in that bill – all of it fought vigorously against by the Republicans.
“So now we have President Obama and we have a Republican Congress. Under President Obama’s leadership we have added private sector jobs for 30 straight months compared to losing 700,000 jobs a month as he entered office. The [American] auto industry, which was facing extinction and the loss of over one million jobs in that industry, is again competitive and hiring and thriving. The Dow Jones average, which is one reflection of the security of tens of millions of American investors and pension funds, has already doubled and housing prices are slowly rising again. We need much more private sector [job growth]. But imagine from that time the Dow Jones has doubled.
“We still have work to do to continue the American recovery. If the Republicans had cooperated at all with President Obama in the last two years, we’d be much farther down the road to recovery. We cooperated with President Bush but they would not offer an ounce of cooperation to President Obama and our economy has paid the price. We have reaped the benefits of some of what happened in the two years when we were in the majority and President Obama, in the first two years of his term. But so much more could have been done with some cooperation from the Republicans.
“So we get back to the question: Are we better off this week in September than we were this week four years ago? Well, you be the judge. I know America’s families are hurting. We want to do more to create jobs, etcetera. We have to have bipartisan cooperation to do that, the Republicans have resisted that. So from that standpoint, yeah, we can do better. But from the standpoint of this country being in a state where the financial, where there was a financial crisis, we were on the verge of a total collapse where the Chairman of the Fed told us if we did not act immediately we wouldn’t have an economy by Monday. Yes, we are fundamentally as a country better off and therefore the prospects for the future are better for all of America’s families. And that’s what we are here to work on, the future, too bad our Republican colleagues have cut and run from town. But we stand ready to welcome them back to work in a bipartisan way, to make concessions to get the job done for the American people. And I thank you Mr. Hoyer for giving us all the opportunity to express our views on the subject here today.”