Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the House floor today in opposition to the House Republican Reconciliation bill. Below are the Leader's remarks:
“Thank you Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to call to the attention of all of our colleagues, and those who follow the work of Congress, the extraordinary contribution that Congressman, now Ranking Member, Chris Van Hollen has made to this debate. He has led our Members, our Democratic Members, on the Budget Committee, in a way that reflects the values of our country, how we can meet the needs of our children, their health, their education, the economic security of their families. When people ask me what are the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: ‘our children, our children, our children.' And the issues that are addressed in the budget address the needs of our children directly and the families in which they live.
“I watched with great pride the debate, and the strong - this distinction that has been made between a values based budget put forth by the Democrats and that supports a thriving middle class, and the Ryan Republican Tea Party budget that upholds millionaires over the middle class.
“We're here today because the Republicans in the House have decided over and over again, to walk away from bipartisan, bicameral agreement that we reached to avert economic crisis and to reduce our deficit and to honor the full faith and credit of the United States of America. They're walking away, and punishing the middle class, because they refuse to close even one special interest tax loophole to reduce our deficit. They're putting Big Oil and millionaires ahead of America's middle income families. In recent weeks, House Republicans have voted twice, not once, but twice, ‘here we go again,' in the words of a great Republican President-to-be, they voted twice to pass a budget that gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, while ending the Medicare guarantee and increasing costs for seniors in the meantime. That is an absolute fact.
“Today, Republicans are voting to begin implementing their out-of-touch budget - and middle class people, seniors, women, and children will pay the price. Consider these few things: I know that Members of the [Budget] Committee have made the case, but I just want to focus on a few things that affect people really directly in their lives. This Republican-Ryan-Tea Party budget will assault women's health by eliminating the prevention fund. Three hundred and twenty six thousand women would not get the breast cancer screenings they are slated to receive next year. Two hundred and forty eight thousand women would not get the cervical cancer screenings they are slated to receive next year. Those are big numbers. But every individual case is important to the families that those women live in. So, the numbers are staggering, but the specific cases are what's important and this is hundreds of thousands.
“It would harm children, this budget, and seniors, literally taking food out of the mouths of babies as nearly 300,000 children would lose free or reduced-cost school meals, 300,000 kids. Wait a minute, we're going to give a $400,000 tax cut to people making over a million dollars a year, and we're going to take food from 300,000 children to do that, 1.7 million seniors would lose ‘Meals on Wheels.' People are familiar with that in their neighborhoods, in their communities, and other services. Put Wall Street ahead of middle class and working families by weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“In the Wall Street Reform bill, we not only had the biggest changes in regulations so that the recklessness on Wall Street would no longer cause joblessness on main street. The recklessness of some. I don't paint everyone with the same brush. The recklessness of some on Wall Street would not create, again, massive joblessness on main street. And in that same legislation, and they were the biggest regulation changes in a long time, decades. But the biggest change in history was in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This budget weakens consumer protection. That's just not right.
“So, here we are again with the Republican budget, to name a few. In contrast to this draconian Republican bill, Democrats are fighting for a balanced approach that creates jobs, expands opportunity, reduces the deficit, and protects the health and economic security of America's families. It honors the entrepreneurial spirit of America. Republicans are focused on obstruction, rather than solutions. Americans have rejected Republican obstructionism and made it clear over and over again: we must work together to find solutions.
“Because this legislation will have devastating impact, it's opposed by numerous organizations: from Easter Seals, the National Women's Law Center, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Voices for America's Children. As the Obama Administration wrote in expressing their strong opposition to this bill: ‘The bill's unbalanced provisions fail the test of fairness and shared responsibility. At the same time as the House is advancing tax cuts that benefit the most fortunate Americans, this legislation would impose deep budget cuts that cost jobs, hurt the middle class, and vulnerable Americans - especially seniors, veterans, and children.'
“Mr. Speaker, instead of the slash-and-burn approach, let's come together, in a bipartisan way, in a balanced way, to cut our deficit by creating growth, creating jobs, bringing in revenue to reduce the deficit, to make the priority choices that reflect the values of our country. The values of fairness and opportunity, of sustaining a thriving middle class, for the middle class and all who aspire to it. It is the backbone of our democracy. For that reason, I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no' on this devastating bill. And yield back the balance of my time.”