Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to call on House Republicans to appoint budget conferees so an agreement can be reached on the budget that responds to the needs of the American people, including addressing the sequester in a comprehensive way. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. This is really a very unusual morning. We are here because of the refusal of the Republican’s to come to the table for a conference. What is a conference? A conference is a public, open meeting where differences between the House budget bill and the Senate budget bill can be reconciled. It is done with transparency and in full public view. Proud, each side of our priorities, we have the American people be the judge of what is their statement of values.
“Afraid of that public scrutiny, the Republicans have refused to appoint conferees for a conference. Conferees for a conference. We call upon the Speaker to appoint conferees, so that we can have that public airing, that transparent view of something very important. The Republican leadership has said, in the House and the Senate, they want regular order. What is the regular order? The regular order is the House passes a bill, the Senate passes a bill, you go to conference. Now, afraid that their views may be rejected by the American people, they don’t want to go to conference. And that’s why we are here this morning for sequestration.
“What is sequestration? Sequestration is a mindless, across-the-board cutting of what we are now recognizing, and the Republicans are recognizing, of something that should not be cut. It affects the efficiency and the safety of our airports, that’s very important. But as our distinguished Democratic Whip, Mr. Hoyer, has pointed out, there is much more that needs to be addressed instead of using this as a vehicle – one of the distinguished Chairman said earlier: ‘the safety our airports should not be subject to political debate.’ Neither should the education of our children, the nutrition for our seniors – four million Meals on Wheels – tens of thousands of children thrown off Head Start, our defense – mindless across-the-board cuts in our defense and what that means for our national security, and for the workers in our national security sector. It is a, and the list goes on and on. Investments in our future, bio medical research cut by this.
“So, I suppose, if this is an example of governance – that the Republicans will next come up with something else and say: ‘we should exempt that.’ Well, why don’t we just get rid of the problem? Why don’t we just get rid of the problem and go to conference? Some of the press said to me: ‘does this hurt your leverage in going to conference?’ I said: ‘no, this is an opportunity.’ Because it demonstrates to the American people how unwise this course of action is, and how much better it would be to find solutions, to get results in the regular order, respectful of everyone’s point of view, but recognizing that decisions made here have an impact, not only in the lives of the children, and the lives of their teachers, and the lives of all consumers, so it will have an impact on our economy as well.
“So this should be a clarion call. It’s almost ludicrous to hear my Republican colleagues get up there and talk about their individual airports. We’ve had, most of us have airports. We understand what this issue is about. Why don’t you understand that there is a great deal at stake including the efficiency and the safety of our airports. But also, again, the education of our children. How can we sit there and say: ‘four million Meals on Wheels for seniors gone? But that’s not important.’ Over 70,000 children off Head Start. ‘But that’s not important.’ What is important is for Republicans to hold a hardline about the public debate about the budget that a conference would provide
“So Members vote the way they’re going to vote on this, but recognize, recognize that this is not the way Congress should be meeting the needs of the American people. Let’s go to the conference. Mr. Speaker, appoint conferees so can end this mindless addressing the sequestration.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”