Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today calling on House Republicans to abandon their partisan agenda, stop the Republican Government Shutdown, and join Democrats at the negotiating table to re-open the government. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I associate myself with the remarks of Mr. McDermott: it is a happy day for the American people because today, people can begin enrolling in the Affordable Care Act. Imagine if you were there when Social Security became the law of the land. Imagine if you were there when Medicare [became the law of the land]. Two of our colleagues were: Mr. Rangel and Mr. Dingell. But you are here, on the third pillar of economic and health security for the American people is being put into place. It’s a start – health care for all Americans as a right, not just a privilege for the few.
“We’ll talk more about it in the course of the day. But I come to the floor to really address the issue of the government shutdown and attempt to hold back the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act. It didn’t happen. But what is happening is that our colleagues on the Republican side have refused to accept their own suggestion.
“So, I come once again to the floor, to once again propose to the Speaker and our Republican colleagues an explicit offer to help get the votes for their number, $986 [billion]. I think it’s a number that’s too low, but I do think that with the six weeks that are built into it, for us to come to the table to discuss a budget that reduces the deficit, that creates jobs, that puts people to work, [and] that we can make progress. Once again, an explicit offer to help you, Mr. Speaker, get those votes because this shutdown, while it might be a joy to all of you who are opposed to government, is a luxury the American people cannot afford.
“Senate Reid, Leader of the Senate, has at least three times accepted your offer of $986 [billion]. Once again, he will send it back to us so that we can take ‘yes’ for an answer to a number that the Republicans have put forward, which the Democrats don’t like because we already agreed with the Republicans on a number, a compromise number, $1.058 [trillion]. But we are willing, in the interest of the American people, to accept that number of the basis for discussion and go to conference, really go to conference. This is – well, I won’t even go into my view of what happened last night.
“I will say and remind that five years and a couple of weeks ago, we had terrible news brought to us that our national institutions were in meltdown. House Democrats rallied to support President Bush to stop that meltdown from happening, even when the Republicans rejected the proposal of their own President. Bipartisan cooperation is what the American people expect and when it is a question of a meltdown of our financial institutions, the shutdown of our government, we have no choice but to cooperate with each other.
“And so, in that spirit, I offer a hand of friendship to the Speaker, to our Republicans colleagues accepting their number as the basis for us to go forward, to truly go to the table as was suggested six months ago and many, many times since then.
“So, I hope that, again, in the interest of the American people, Republicans will take ‘yes’ for an answer to their own proposal and let us sit down and get to work for the American people. Shutting down government, shutting down government should not be an option that is taken lightly by any of us here.
“Let’s get it open. Let’s get to work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back the balance of my time.”