Pelosi Remarks at Press Event Promoting Affordable Education as Part of ‘Middle Class Jumpstart’ Agenda


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD), Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), students and advocates for a press event today calling for initiatives that promote affordable education to keep America number one – a key pillar of House Democrats’ “Middle Class Jumpstart” agenda to put the middle class first.  Below are the Leader’s opening and closing remarks:

Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks:

“Good morning everyone.  I see it’s still morning, although it’s been a long one.  As we all know, education is the greatest investment that individuals can make in themselves and can make in our nation to grow our future.  Nothing, by the way, returns more money to the treasury – nothing reduces the deficit more than investing in education.  Nothing is so important to unlock the full potential of our future as expanding access to quality, affordable education.  And that is why it is such a central piece of our Middle Class Jumpstart, because all the job creation, entrepreneurship and innovation that we need to keep America number one begins in the classroom.

“So in addition to addressing and helping meet the aspirations of the American people, it is essential to keeping America number one.  Last week, the House Democrats unveiled the Middle Class Jumpstart on the steps of the Capitol to put the middle class first, to build an economy that works for everyone – not just the privileged few – and for young people to inject some level of economic stability in their lives.  The first piece of it: Make It In America.  Bring better jobs home.  Build roads, bridges, broadband, water systems and the rest while investing in clean energy, creating good-paying jobs, supporting workers and empowering small businesses.  It’s about young entrepreneurs having the chance to not only be employees – have jobs – but to be employers, creating jobs.

“Again, a central point of it is: ‘When Women Succeed, America Succeeds’ – and that means young women as well.  Equal pay for equal work; Raising the minimum wage; second piece of earned paid sick leave; the next point: quality, affordable child care.  And we have legislation for all of this that you will hear about.  And that’s the strong start that our children need.  But what were here to talk about today is affordable higher education, our commitment to a key rung in the ladder of opportunity for the American people.

“Again, we must pass the Strong Start, that George Miller is a sponsor of with Senator Harkin, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act to increase access to effective early childhood training, get our children on a path to lifetime learning.  But that helps young millennials too, because it’s children learning, parents earning.  So for young parents, this is essential for their children.  But it’s also essential for the economic stability of their families.

“We’ve just come from a meeting with this illustrious group of national young leaders to talk about some of the challenges facing young Americans: the crushing burden of student loan debt – it’s holding back a generation of young people, weighing on the lives of millions of students and graduates.  We must work to make a college education more affordable, reducing the rate of interest.  We have the Tierney bill.  It’s the Warren bill in the Senate.  George Miller will speak to that, as well.  We need to increase  access to Pell Grants and pass the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act – the Tierney bill – to allow Americans to refinance their loans at new and lower rates.

“While Republicans continue distraction, dysfunction and obstruction – we’re on the steps of the Capitol announcing Middle Class Jumpstart; they’re upstairs trying to sue the President.  Progress to create jobs on our side; process and obstruction on theirs.  We will keep working to empower women workers and young people with this Jumpstart for the Middle Class.  And hopefully as the word spreads on it – the drumbeat across America for economic stability for all Americans, this echo chamber that we create – we can get strong bipartisan support for these initiatives as we go forwards.

“With that, I’m pleased to yield the floor to the distinguished gentleman from California.  He has served as the Chairman of at least four committees – one that relates to children and families early on in the Congress; the Chair of the Natural Resources Committee; later the Education & the Workforce Committee, currently; and for a long time, the chair of our policy committee.  I’ve said of him: the three most important issues facing our Congress are our children, our children, and our children.  And no one has done more for our children, our children, and our children than George Miller, George Miller, and George Miller.  So thank for your commitment to the future, George Miller.”

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Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks:

“Thank you very much to Congresswoman Meng, Congresswoman Edwards, Congressman Castro, Congressman Miller.  I join all of them in thanking Lisa for sharing her story with us.  Her story is a story of the American dream as it is aspired to, and hopefully will be achieved.  It has been for her family; I know they take pride in her higher education and what’s in store for her next, which has to be better and can only be better with a change in public policy.

“Some fundamentals: the middle class is the backbone of our democracy.  To achieve the American dream, to arrive at the middle class, to be able to have a job, a pension, savings, home ownership – if that’s what you aspire to – to be able to send your kids to college to make the future better for the next generation; that is what your Founders had in mind.

“That’s why they said we would be a country forever, seclorum: ‘forever,’ our national motto – ‘A New Order’ for eternity.  One generation would always take responsibility for the next.  That’s what we have the opportunity to do; that is the debate that we are engaged in now.  In having that debate, we are listening to young people about how they see things; how economic stability is a priority for the young; how the middle class is where we want to strengthen it; we want to hold people in it; and we want those who aspire to it to achieve it.   Central to all of it is education.  Our Founders knew that.  They spoke as much about an informed electorate, an educated population, as they did about democracy because they knew that they were connected.

“So we have important work to do.  It’s patriotic work to strengthen our democracy by strengthening the backbone of it.  The middle class education is essential to that.  Thank you to my colleagues for their leadership on that.  Thank you to our young leaders – the future leaders, but they are current leaders as well – for the inspiration and the ideas they have about how to go forward.  We promise you, Lisa, to work endlessly to improve your plight, and all of the people that you have spoken for today.  Thank you Lisa, again, for doing that.”

[Applause]