Washington, D.C. - Speaker Pelosi delivered remarks at the NAACP National Religious Leaders Summit this morning. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared for delivery:
“It is an honor to welcome so many religious leaders to the United States Capitol. By gathering for this summit, you are adding your voices to the chorus for justice and opportunity in Congress.
“Working with the NAACP - one of the truly extraordinary institutions in our country - your calls for change will not go unnoticed.
“More than four decades ago - standing in this temple of democracy, speaking to a congregation of legislators - President Lyndon Johnson called on this nation to live up to its promise of equality, to overcome a ‘crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice,' and to fulfill our true mission as American leaders: ‘to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.'
“These tenets of the American creed inspired Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act and continue the struggle for civil rights. They embodied a faith in the common good, a belief in our better angels, and a commitment to opportunity and equality, our nation's heritage and our hope.
“These words have rested at the core of what the NAACP has achieved over its 100 years of progress. In that time, the NAACP has made America more American. You help us honor our pledge to the flag - one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.
“President Johnson's call echoes in our hearts as we fight today's battles.
“This week, Congress is going to continue working to right the wrong of a financial crisis defined by instability for all and uncertainty for the least among us.
“At the center of this effort is a Consumer Financial Protection Agency - a new institution designed to shield America's families from the risky decisions of Wall Street bankers and CEOs, and to place the interests of our families ahead of financial industry profits.
“Since President Obama took office, we have sought to do justice for the 47 million Americans without health insurance and the millions more struggling to pay the medical bills. The century-old dream of universal coverage is at our fingertips. The House passed a bill founded on three core principles:
• Affordability for the middle class
• Security for our seniors
• Responsibility to our children
“And in this legislation, we commit to ending health disparities whether in diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS.
“Now, the Senate is hard at work on its own plan. We must keep the pressure on to get a bill passed and to President Obama's desk as soon as possible. Our families, our children, future generations deserve nothing less.
“Now more than ever, it is absolutely critical that we serve men and women of every race and religion by focusing on our top priority: putting people back to work. The Recovery Act and other measures created or saved more than one million jobs and prevented a slide toward a Great Depression. But more must be done.
“Today, President Obama is outlining his vision for how we can move forward to keep the economy growing and create jobs. In the coming days, the Democratic leaders of Congress will unveil a jobs package that:
• Invests in infrastructure
• Helps small business owners gain access to capital and credit
• Directs aid to states and local governments, keeping teachers, police officers, and firefighters on the job
“As leaders of faith, everyone here recognizes that these challenges do not simply concern our pocket books or the public purse. They appeal to our moral obligation to help our fellow human beings.
“As the Gospels tell us, ‘The poor you will always have with you.' And it is up to us - to representatives of government and faith - to never forget them, to always serve the poor and the needy in our land.
“In the spirit of the NAACP - in the spirit of President Johnson's call for justice and President Obama's drive to make the promise of America a reality in our time - let's continue to fight for a more just, more fair nation. Let's uphold our responsibility to being our brother's keeper and our sister's keeper.
“Thank you for all of your work.”