Pelosi Opening Testimony in Support of Amendment to Add DREAM Act to Continuing Resolution
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi testified for more than two hours before the House Rules Committee this morning in support of Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s amendment to add the DREAM Act to the continuing resolution. Below are the Leader’s remarks
Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman [Sessions], thank you. Members of the [Rules] Committee, to our Ranking Member, Louise Slaughter – we are very proud of her work, as well as all the Members of the Committee. Although Mr. Chairman and I have had our policy differences, he knows that I respect and admire his family enormously and that is the connection we have – whether it’s his sister, his mother or father and the rest – Mr. Sessions – [Laughter]
Congressman Sessions. Nancy may or may not know this, but my mother tells people how proud she is of all her children, except for Pete – Pete had no ambitions so he became a Member of Congress.
Leader Pelosi. Give her my love – season’s greetings. Mr. Chairman, Madam Ranking Member, Members of the Committee, I join the Distinguished Chairman of the Committee in commending Members of the Rules Committee. I always say in our Caucus, I pay special tribute to all our Members – likewise to you – to the service you provide to the Congress because, as you know, your hours are extraordinary and unpredictable and you probably know more about all the issues before the Congress than – well, Steny [Hoyer] and I are appropriators – we think we know full brief of what’s going on in Congress, but the Rules Committee does in real time, so thank you all of you of the Rules Committee – I am in awe of you. Thank you for your service.
The issue that I’m coming to talk to you today about is the continuing resolution and, just to put it in perspective, I am disappointed in the CR that is before us today because we had hoped, and I know you know this but just to stipulate to some fact on it – one of the issues that is of disagreement in how we go forward with our funding for the next years is the issues of the caps – what are the caps? Mr. [Congressman Tom] Cole is an appropriator so he knows how important it is for us to get to the caps so the appropriators can get to the business of writing the bill that – now in January, maybe even sooner than the 19th – at the expiration of the CR and in the caps it’s 54-37 – we are calling for parity – parity is not 54-37, that is part of the disagreement that we have right now.
We have gone to the President and to our Republican colleagues to say – between the 37 and the 54 – let us address some of the issues that are bipartisan, non-partisan. Let us address the opioid epidemic that has broad bipartisan support. Let us address the further needs of our veterans who are part of our national security and increased funding of the National Institute of Health – I know Mr. [Congressman Tom] Cole is a champion of that with his important role in his subcommittee and, also, issues that relate to emergencies in terms of pensions in our country. None of these are partisan in any way – these are areas where we have really come to agreement on many aspects of them.
In the absence of that, we have serious concern about this continuing resolution as it goes forward in terms of where we go with the caps because we are not addressing with money – policy – the President has a good policy on opioids, but you have to have the money to go with it and that’s where the difference would be between the 37 and the 54.
I’ll remind the Committee that in the 37 billion dollar increase as opposed to the 54 – that the domestic discretionary non-defense budget, as Mr. Woodall knows, is also has a big national security function. In that budget is State Department, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and also the anti-terrorism activities of the Justice Department. So strong national security functions, but they are counted not on the defense side but on the domestic side, so the lack of the increase on the domestic side is harmful, also, to our ability to have the national defense function well.
In that spirit, we come here today, we have problems with the CR, how veterans are dealt with – I, respectfully, disagree with Mr. Burgess in terms of the offset in the bill coming from the prevention fund. As our distinguished Ranking Member said: this is coming from the prevention fund – we have children’s inoculations, we have addressing lead poisoning so we don’t think children should have to pay for children’s health. As you know, there are bipartisan discussions going on for other pay-fors – I am disappointed that we resurrected this bill – the piece of the Walden bill which, as you mentioned, was not taken up in the Senate that we opposed on the Floor because of the pay-fors.
CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] – I still call it SCHIP because we’ve been going back a long time. We have bipartisan support for that, for community health centers, for Mr. Byrne just mentioned in his comments – it is the offset – how the veterans are dealt with in this bill. So we have concerns about this CR and its construct: what it doesn’t include and how it includes what it does.
One of the things it does not include is an opportunity for something we think has strong bipartisan support, not only in the Congress, but across the country. That’s what I want to focus on right now. I would hope that this distinguished Committee would allow for a rule for us to take up the DREAM Act – the Committee should give the American people a vote – give the American people an opportunity to attach the DREAM Act to the CR.
The Committee can act to ensure that we not only keep government open, but keep the American Dream open as well. By an 84 to 12 margin, Americans believe that Dreamers should be allowed to stay in America and gain legal status, including 77 percent who support a path to citizenship, 81 percent of Independents want citizenship status for Dreamers, 57 percent of Republicans – Republicans – want citizenship for DREAMers. The three B’s: badges – law enforcement, bibles – our faith groups, and the business community all strongly support the DREAM Act.
Excuse me, the Center for American Progress – according to an analysis by the conservative CATO Institute, deporting DACA recipients would cost taxpayers $60 billion. The Center for American Progress [said it] would cost our economy a staggering $460 billion over the next decade. CATO was addressing deportation – Center for American Progress was talking about productivity of our economy.
The courage, determination and optimism of DREAMers makes America stronger and more prosperous every day. The DREAMers with their hopes, dreams, aspirations and dreams of their families to make the future better for the next generation. Well, that’s an American value and, in committing to that American value, they make America more American. They embody the best in our nation: patriotism, hard work, perseverance. We should not leave them to celebrate the holidays in fear watching their DACA protection expire, fearing being deported from the only home they have ever known.
This should not be a partisan or political issue. I was telling the President recently that, at his holiday party – I told him, ‘I thought it was a Christmas Party, but it was called a Holiday Party.’ Many of our Republican colleagues told me how supportive they would be of the DREAM Act. What was interesting was that many of the spouses – your spouses – told me that as well. So I think there is a spirit of family in all of this. We have many issues to address about immigration in our country. This discrete one is one where we have bipartisan consensus so it’s not a partisan issue.
Congress has a duty and an obligation to protect these DREAMers – the Committee should take this opportunity and take the bipartisan DREAM Act a vote on the floor. My colleagues – I am very honored to be joined by our distinguished Whip [Hoyer] who has been a champion on this issue for years and the Chair of the Hispanic Caucus [Lujan Grisham] – they will and I can further add why it is necessary to do this in terms of what is happening to Dreamers in terms of their loss of their status. But I will yield to my distinguished colleague Mr. Hoyer and the distinguished Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus [Lujan Grisham]. If you have further questions about that after you hear their testimony, I will be pleased to answer.