Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today on the Republican three-week Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through April 8. Below are the Leader's remarks.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his hard work to help keep the government open. While many of us will not agree on the legislation before us today, we know it is necessary for us to proceed. So I don't rise to support or oppose the legislation but instead to comment on the situation that we are in.
“Again, today we are in a situation where we are debating a short-term bill to keep the government open on a week-by-week basis. This is not any way to run a government or a business. It certainly is not a way, as the military generals, leadership, have told us to protect the national security of our country on a week-to-week basis.
“Democrats will work with Republicans on legislation that will create jobs, that will strengthen the middle class, and that will reduce the deficit. On all three of these scores, this Republican spending bill fails. Democrats have long fought, on the subject of fiscal responsibility, Democrats have long fought for fiscal responsibility as a top priority of this Congress. We won't go into the history right now, but it's well known that President Clinton took us out of a period of deficit into his last five budgets being in surplus or in balance. President Bush turned that around immediately when he became President. And now, we have to dig ourselves out of the deficit that he has taken us into.
“Last December, Democrats passed a $41 billion cut in the President's budget. We did so with only one Republican vote--$41 billion. Democrats are in the lead on fiscal soundness.
“On the subject of jobs, it has been 11 weeks. We are in the 11th week of the Republican majority in the Congress, and we have not seen one bill that will create jobs. In fact, the only bill coming from the Republicans, the only legislation that has come to the floor to create jobs would be the Democratic initiatives: one to Build America Bonds, to build the infrastructure of America, to keep ahead of the game in terms of innovation, Build America Bonds--Republicans overwhelmingly rejected that. The other bill was a bill to keep our jobs from going overseas by rewarding businesses that send jobs overseas. Democrats said ‘no' to that idea. Republicans said ‘no' to our legislation.
“Zero jobs bills in 11 weeks--quite different from the record of President Obama coming into office 2 years ago with a Democratic Congress. President Obama was a job creator from day one. One week and one day after the President's inaugural address calling for swift, bold action now to create jobs, the House of Representatives passed the recovery bill, which was then passed by the Senate and signed into law in a matter of weeks. That legislation created or saved 3.6 million jobs. This is important in terms of the deficit because it produced jobs, produced revenue into the treasury that helped reduced the deficit.
“Tax cuts for the wealthy--it has been the job creator that Republicans put forth in the Bush Administration and since--do not create jobs and increase the deficit.
“And so, we are at a place where we have, again, 11 weeks. Not by my measure, just look to some of the, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Republican spending bill would cost not a trivial amount of jobs. Mark Zandi, the Republican economist, said the Republican spending bill would destroy 700,000 jobs. Goldman Sachs said the Republican spending bill would reduce U.S. economic growth by 1.5 to 2 percent. 320 economists sent a letter calling Republican threats a threat to our economy's long-term economic competitiveness and strength and the strength of our current economic recovery. They all agree, to one extent or another, that the Republican agenda is taking us in the wrong direction. And that agenda is manifested in the Continuing Resolution, H.R. 1 and the budget approach that they are taking. In fact, in addition to not creating jobs, the Republican initiative is making matters worse.
“Many of us have come to the floor to talk about budgets year in and year out. We all say that our national budget should be a statement of our national values. What is important to our country should be reflected in the allocation of our resources. We want to have that debate on values rather than just on cuts. Again, we all agree we have to get rid of waste, fraud, abuse, duplication, obsolescence and the rest. The GAO has given us a blueprint for that, and we subscribe to that. We all agree that we must reduce the deficit and the fiscal commission has given us a road map for that. We can agree or disagree with some of it. But the fact is, it gives us a blueprint for how to go forward. And we should take heed of that. And that blueprint says that we should not be cutting, making cuts right now that will be harmful to our recovery. And yet that's exactly what the Republican initiatives do.
“So this statement of values--when we have this debate, it's not a debate about: ‘Are we going to cut off 6 million of 3 million seniors off of Meals on Wheels?' It's about who we are as a country. How do we protect the American people, both in our national security and our neighborhoods, how we educated our children to keep, to make them happy but also to keep us competitive as innovators internationally, how we maintain healthy America, not just about their health care but about their good health--the air they breathe, the water they drink, the safety of the food that they eat.
“Again, it's about the creation of jobs. I believe we have an obligation as a government to be job creators which give people the means to find their own happiness but also bring revenue into the treasury, if we are just speaking pragmatically and not in terms of values. So I don't believe it is just about the dollars. It's about the values that we have to have this debate. And unfortunately, the bills that we are presenting with, H.R. 1, are like a balloon--you squeeze it here, it pops out there. It doesn't change anything for the better. In fact, as has been indicated, it makes matters worse.
“So again, as we consider our budgetary decisions as a discussion of a statement of our national values, we have to remember that the greatness of our country depends on the strengthening of our middle class and that we have to do that by creating jobs and we certainly must reduce the deficit.
“Now we are waiting at the negotiating table for the Republicans to show that they are willing to work together--we have cut the $41 billion with one Republican vote--that they are willing to work together to reach an agreement that is a statement of our values. I think we can do that. Many of us have worked together on the Appropriations Committee over the years. I urge our Republican colleagues to join us in our efforts to create jobs, to strengthen the middle class, and to reduce the deficit, and to do so in the interest of the American people. And that's why I think this vote today, people will vote however they view their own statement about it. But the big vote is coming up, is the vote on the Continuing Resolution, on the long-term basis to keep government open and functioning for people, again, in a way that is a statement of values for our great country.”