Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered opening remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference “Capitol Hill Day Summit” this morning in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairwoman Barbara Lee for your leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus - the conscience of the Congress.
“Essential to the CBC's efforts on behalf of all Americans is your ‘Opportunities for All - Pathways Out of Poverty' agenda. As we strengthen our economy for all Americans, we must pay particular attention to those who have been facing long-term economic hardship.
“I would also like to acknowledge Chairman Kendrick Meek for his leadership of one of our nation's foremost institutions for improving the lives of African Americans: the CBC Foundation.
“From across the country, you have come to Washington during a historic moment of opportunity.
“Congress, led by the CBC, is making progress on behalf of all Americans.
“We are guided by the three pillars President Obama established for our nation. They are the foundation of American economic growth and job creation for decades to come: education for all of our children; energy independence and the creation of new green jobs; health insurance reform that ends disparities.
“Essential to the strength of our nation is a quality education for all of our children, and affordable higher education for all who qualify. In that regard, last week the House kept our promise to millions of college students, passing legislation that marks the greatest investment in higher education since the GI Bill.
“I am particularly proud that this legislation will invest more than $2.5 billion in our Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions. This will provide students with the support they need to stay in school and graduate.
“To foster a new era of American energy independence, the House has passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act. It tackles the climate crisis head-on; it revitalizes our economy by creating millions of new, clean energy green jobs; it increases our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil; it preserves our planet by cutting emissions; and it helps promote environmental justice.
“Just yesterday, at the United Nations Climate Change Summit, President Obama reaffirmed America's commitment to transition to a clean energy economy that creates jobs and reduces global warming pollution. Our families, our communities, and our nation will be strengthened by this effort.
“And today, we stand closer than ever before in history to passing comprehensive health insurance reform.
“This week, the fifth and final Congressional committee is marking up legislation, and in the House we are working together to reconcile our differences in the versions presented by our committees.
“Though there are some differences between us, the legislation that Congress votes on will lower cost, bring greater choice, and ensure higher quality. It will reduce health disparities and offer stability and peace of mind. And we will pass it this year.
“There's been a great deal of discussion about what health care reform will mean for middle class Americans. Today, I want to clear up the confusion. Here's what reform will mean for you: no discrimination for pre-existing conditions, no dropping your coverage because you become sick, no refusal to renew your coverage, if you've paid in full and become ill, no more job or life decisions made based on loss of coverage, no need to change doctors or plans, if you like the coverage you have, no co-pays for preventive and wellness care, no excessive out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays, yearly caps on what you pay, no yearly or lifetime cost caps on what insurance companies cover.
“This year, with health insurance reform, we have an opportunity to transform our economy and build a foundation for prosperity for all of our citizens.
“And we will do it with the CBC, and all of you, in the lead. We need you to partner with President Obama and Congress to take health care in a New Direction. This week, while you are in Washington we need each of you to contact your Member of the House and Senate about the urgency for health insurance reform.
“Thank you for your advocacy and your leadership. In advancing African Americans issues of social justice and opportunity, you have advanced our nation.”