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Pelosi Opening Remarks Commemorating 20th Anniversary of Family and Medical Leave Act

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at an event commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Family Medical and Leave Act.  Below are the Leader’s opening remarks:

“Good afternoon, everyone.  We are gathered here to celebrate something so momentous, when it passed twenty years ago in the Congress, and was sent to President Clinton, he said: ‘Family and medical leave is a matter of pure common sense and a matter of common decency.  It will provide Americans what they need most: peace of mind.  Never again will parents have to fear losing their jobs because of their families.’

“How brilliant, how wonderful.  That was twenty years ago, but there was a lot of work that went into it for several years before.  Last year, some of our guests here, Judy Lichtman and others, talked about Chris Dodd and that he had introduced the bill over and over again.  Congresswoman DeLauro was his assistant at the time, his top assistant at the time, and helped advance the bill, and others.  Our colleagues will talk about how we got here.  But as a relatively new Member of Congress at the time, it was exciting to see, year in and year out, how this, we tried to advance it, and then finally we had a President who was going to sign the bill.  We had, had two vetoes before President Clinton and we had President Clinton elected, and as you can see we [were] only a week or two after the inauguration, so this was the first bill that President Clinton signed.

“Some years later, President Obama’s first bill that he signed was Lilly Ledbetter.  Again, talking about women in the workplace, families in the workplace, and at his inaugural he declared in his stirring address: ‘Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and our daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.’  But this isn’t just about women, it’s about families, and it’s about men, too, who have taken family and medical leave for the good of their families.

“So, here we are to celebrate – how could it be twenty years later?  Well, we’ll hear from George Miller, who was really a champion in that effort at the time and from some of our other colleagues to address the issue.  But our very special and important guests today are Matari and Vivian, who will tell us their real life experience.  I don’t know what George is going to say, but I know one thing I want him to say is that we want family and medical leave paid.

“Are you up to that, are you going to talk about that?”

[Mr. Miller comes to the podium to loud applause]