Pelosi Floor Speech on House Vote on Senate Passed Legislation to Avoid Fiscal Cliff


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor tonight urging Members to vote in favor of the Senate-passed legislation to make tax cuts for the middle class permanent, extend critical tax credits for working families, and avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.”  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“I thank the gentleman for yielding.  I thank him for his great leadership as our Ranking Member on the Ways and Means Committee and for bringing the clarity to our thinking on this important subject that we are dealing with this evening.  My colleagues, many of this morning began the day with Vice President of the United States coming to the Democratic Caucus and speaking to us about legislation that passed the Senate last night 89 – 8.  That is absolutely historic.  It was legislation that he helped negotiate working the Republican and Democratic leaders in the United States Senate.  It was a remarkable accomplishment, because as we all know, while we share the same goals, we sometimes have different paths to achieving them.  And reconciling our differences was a monumental task, especially with the time growing short.

“So, we appreciate the leadership, we appreciate the leadership of the Vice President.  We appreciate the leadership of the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate and we thank Speaker Boehner for bringing this legislation to the floor.  Hopefully, we can duplicate the strong bipartisan vote that the legislation received in the United States Senate.  And why is that important?  It’s important because the American people told us in the election they wanted us to work together.  They have their differences too, they understand disagreement, they also understand compromise.  And that is what this legislation represents.  I listened attentively to the previous speaker who said he was voting for the bill for what was not in it.  That’s an interesting approach, we can judge all of the legislation that we vote on for what is in it, or vote against it for what is not in it, but at some point you strike a balance – you balance the equities, where do you come out in terms of making a choice?  And I hope the choice the American people will make tonight is to vote – we will reflect the will and heed the call of the American people to work together and follow the lead of the Senate with a strong bipartisan support.

“What do they want us to do?  What are their priorities?  They want us to create jobs.  They want us to grow the economy.  They want us to invest in education.  They want us to reduce the deficit.  They want us to strengthen the middle class.  And that is what this legislation does.  It does so in a way, in a way that is not complete, but is an important first step.  We talked much about what would happen, all the gloom and doom of what would happen if we went over the cliff.  Well, let’s talk instead about what happens if we don’t go over the cliff.  And I believe that we will not, seeing the rule, the vote on the rule this evening, I believe that we will heed the American people, come together with a strong vote.

“We will increase, by voting for this legislation and passing it in a strong bipartisan way, we’ll increase the confidence of consumers, of the markets, of businesses, of employers to hire more.  We will extend unemployment insurance to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.  This is very, very important, not only to those individuals, but to our economy, because this is money that is spent immediately, injecting demand into the economy, creating jobs.  We’ll extend permanent tax relief for the middle class, for more than 98 percent of American taxpayers, more than 97 percent of America’s small businesses.  We will support our middle class, strengthen it by supporting child tax credits, credits for higher education, American Opportunity credits, Earned Income Tax Credit, and the like, our distinguished Ranking Member went through some of the provisions, but it’s important to see them in light of what they mean to America’s working families.  And by doing this, by voting for this agreement, we will demonstrate that we have listened to the American people, we have heeded their call, once again, to work together in a bipartisan way.

“I want to salute President Obama, he campaigned on strengthening the middle class, I think all of us probably did, and this is one way for us to fulfill that promise.  Yes, to all of those who say this doesn’t, all the other things that don’t happen in the bill.  No, I don’t know any piece of legislation that I’ve ever voted for that did everything that I thought it should do.  But this is a very, very strong first step as we go into the new year.  Let us send a message to the American people that, again, while this bill doesn’t accomplish all that we need to do to grow the economy, reduce the deficit, and strengthen the middle class, it is a good way for us to have a happy start to a new year by taking this first step.

“I hope that as, again, you balance the equities, the pros and cons of this legislation, that you will weigh heavily in favor of the message that it sends to the kitchen tables of America about the respect we have for them, meeting their needs, meeting their challenges, honoring their aspirations – this great middle class is the backbone of our democracy, let us all be very patriotic tonight, support our middle class, support our democracy, vote aye on this strong bipartisan legislation which passed 89 – 8 in the United States Senate.  Let’s step up to the plate to do that in the House of Representatives.

“I urge my colleagues to vote aye and yield back the balance of my time.”

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