Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the House floor today urging House Republicans to take swift action on a bipartisan Senate-passed Transportation bill that would provide certainty to America's workers by creating or saving over two million American jobs, in place of the 60-day, temporary extension introduced by the House Republican leadership. Below are the Leader's remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I couldn't resist the opportunity to come to the floor to speak on the situation that we have before us. I thank the gentleman from West Virginia, for his ongoing leadership in terms of bipartisanship and constructive legislation to rebuild America, which is so important to us.
“As has been the tradition, Mr. Mica will admit, that this has always been a bipartisan effort. That is the history. That is the tradition that has served the country well. For the first time, however, the Republicans have chosen to do a strictly Republican bill, which our very respected Secretary of Transportation - who served in this House as a Republican, served as a Member of Congress, as well as served with Minority Leader, Mr. Michael, as a staff person. So he has a long history of knowledge of legislation in the Congress. Said this was ‘the worst Transportation Bill' he ‘had seen in his 35 years of public service,' and again, this is a field on which he is an expert. He said the bill loses jobs, the bill the Republicans want to put forth, H.R. 7, and it also diminishes safety.
“That is not a formula for a good transportation bill. Less safety, fewer jobs - losing jobs. And so, we had an opportunity to support a bipartisan bill, that has come from the Senate, three quarters of the Senate, in a bipartisan way, passed it out. March 31st is the deadline in which all of this will expire unless Congress acts. And Congress is not acting because the Republican majority does not have its act together. Their ‘no way or the highway' attitude means: no highway bill that does create jobs and promote public safety.
“And it's really so sad because, in the tradition of our country, from the start, from the very start, Thomas Jefferson understood the need for building the infrastructure of America. He tasked his Secretary of the Treasury Gallatin to come up with a project that would expand into America - the Louisiana Purchase, and the Lewis and Clark Expeditions and out of that initiative came the Cumberland Road, the Erie Canal, things like that over time. And in that tradition, the Trans-Continental Railroad and the rest that would come later. And then, in our century, a Republican President - President Eisenhower, at a time of bad economic times, he took the initiative for the Interstate Highway Initiative, which was so important to our country. It was a security issue to unite America. It was a jobs initiative to build that interstate highway system and it was about promoting commerce, connecting people, improving the quality of life. It was a great initiative and it too was a bipartisan initiative. In fact, in the Senate, our friend Vice President Gore, his father took the lead on that legislation, the distinguished gentleman from Tennessee.
“So, this has all been a bipartisan initiative. It's about rebuilding America, which is part of our Reigniting the American dream - to build ladders of opportunity for people who work hard, play by the rules, take responsibility - can have a ladder of success to climb and then put down for others to do. And part of that is A: ‘Make It In America,' so that people can ‘Make It In America.' B: And I get to this point, build America, build America, build the infrastructure of America. That means everything from the highways, mass transit, rapid transit, high speed rail - all kinds of technological infrastructure that we need, with broadband and the rest. We should be - it doesn't have any political or partisan cast to it at all, it never has. Until now.
“And until now, for reasons that are very hard to explain to the American people - well, we have a solution. We have a challenge - the authorization expires March 31st, we have a bill that can be sent to the President in a matter of hours. From this House of Representatives, on this day. Instead of smoothing the way - the road to jobs, we have the Republicans putting up, yet again, another obstacle, because they have not been able to get unity in their Caucus on a bill that promotes commerce, builds America, promotes safety and creates jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.
“So what are we doing wasting the publics' time with a 60-day extension? I support the leadership of our Ranking Member, Mr. Rahall, when he talked about why we have to do something better, something more important, something worthy of the concerns of the American people, than a parliamentary maneuver that isn't going to produce anything. It doesn't even have anything attached to it that says: ‘let's do this now, so that we can do something better later.' It has a bill that they cannot even pass on the House floor - their own H.R. 7 - if they could pass that, they would. Their own Caucus doesn't support what they're putting forth. So they expect the rest of us to cover for them.
“Well, that is a real disservice to the American people. It's a real disservice to the hundreds of thousands of construction workers who are out of work. This [bill], in its totality, in the jobs it would save, and the jobs that it would create, over 2 million jobs. And yet, and yet instead of doing that, we have a tactical maneuver, for god knows what reason. Everything we do is about time. It's about time. Shortening the time which people have to wait for jobs. Shortening the time which get to their jobs, to and from. And it's about time that we put the American people back to work with passing the biggest jobs bill that Congress can ever pass and that is the Transportation Bill. We have it right at our disposal. Mr. Bishop introduced it as H.R. 14, we brought it up earlier today, the Republicans resoundingly voted against the Senate bill. And I understand, it was a procedural vote. Now, on a substantive vote, why don't you bring that bill to the floor? Why don't you bring that bill to the floor? And I ask the question again, to my Republican colleagues: ‘why don't you bring the bill to the floor?' That three quarters of the United States Senate, in a bipartisan way, passed out.
“We all want a longer bill, this is the bill they can pass, this is the bill we should pass so that the President can sign it into law. Anything else is just a conversation. Taking action, taking a vote - that is what the American people expect us to do. So we can talk all we want. What the American people want us to do is to act.
“So, I reject 60 days. We can do something much better for the American people. And I yield back the balance of my time.”