Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to Republicans’ Fifth Stop-Gap Spending Bill
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks of the Floor of the House expressing her opposition to the Republicans’ fifth stop-gap, short-term spending bill. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentlelady [Congresswoman Nita Lowey] for yielding and commend her for her extraordinary leadership on the Appropriations Committee where important decisions are made about how to allocate the resources of our country, to respect the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and to honor the values of our founders for a country that’s making the future better for every generation to come.
The distinguished Chairman of the Committee, Mr. [Rodney] Frelinghuysen, opened his remarks saying he came to the floor to introduce the fifth – fifth – continuing resolution, and the gentleman who followed him talked about this being the fifth continuing resolution. The more is not the merrier. It’s like golf: the lower the score, the better.
To have five continuing resolutions is a statement of incompetence and ineptitude. The Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, yet they are pressing forward on their fifth stop-gap short-term spending bill, demonstrating their failure to govern. Since President Reagan was mentioned, I’ll mention our very first president, our patriarch, George Washington. President Washington, when he was leaving office, he cautioned against political parties who were at war with their own government. Does that sound familiar to you? Here we are again two days from another shutdown, careening toward another manufactured Republican crisis, demonstrating the Republican failure to govern. We don’t want to go to that place.
As Members of Congress, we take a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to protect the American people. Democrats support a strong national defense. We, too, want our men and women in uniform to have the resources they need to keep them safe and to keep the American people safe as they accomplish their mission, but we will not allow Republicans to use this Continuing Resolution – the fifth time they have come to the floor because they could not govern – to hollow out our nation’s commitment to the health, education and economic security of America’s working families.
We all know that our military might is part of our nation’s strength. But the health, education, security and well-being of the American people is also a source of that strength. Instead of working constructively with Democrats to meet the needs of the American people, Republicans are trying to starve the domestic budget. I want to remind our colleagues, one-third, 34 percent, one-third, of the non-defense domestic budget goes to national security.
So, when you starve the domestic budget, you are not making us stronger. One-third of the domestic budget is about security: Homeland Security, Veterans’ Affairs, the State Department and anti-terrorism activities of the Justice Department.
Republicans refuse to give those on the domestic side the resources they need to do their job, just the chaos and uncertainty of another stop-gap extension. As Defense Secretary [James] Mattis said, ‘stop-gap measures create instability, it makes us rigid. We know our enemies are not standing still so it’s about as unwise as it can be.’ And here we are as one, as unwise as can be for the fifth time. While the continuing resolution seeks to ransack every other commitment to the health of the American people, Republicans hide behind a fig leaf of a two-year extension of community health centers. We all support community health centers: it was an important part of the Affordable Care Act, a very important part.
Our colleague, Congressman – Assistant Leader, Mr. [James] Clyburn of South Carolina, was one of the great champions of all time in Congress of expanding the funding for programs for care and for bricks and mortar for our community health centers. This is a very important piece for us. We should be extending it in a fuller bill to five years, except it’s used here to hide from the fact of so much other domestic investment that we are not making.
Republicans are eliminating the Home Visiting initiative that’s vital for maternity and child [health] and cutting off workforce training for low-income Americans seeking good-paying jobs in health care. The sole purpose of the Republican bill is to destroy our leverage to achieve parity in the caps. To eliminate any need for bipartisan compromise. To eliminate any need to invest in working families. Why? Because if they get their defense number, then they don’t have to negotiate about the domestic number.
And as I said, we support our men and women in uniform having what they need to be safe and to keep us safe. But the strength of our country is measured in other ways as well. They don’t believe that, they can’t pass that, so they have to put the defense bill there. But we cannot support that because, again, it comes at the expense, instead of as a source of strength to our country.
Democrats simply want action on the critical, overdue and bipartisan priorities of the American people so beautifully spelled out by our Ranking Member, Congresswoman [Nita] Lowey.
Again, we need funding for the opioid epidemic. The President talked about that. Show us the money. But the opioid epidemic claims the lives of 115 Americans every day and it’s getting worse every year in every district in the country. Bipartisan support is there to fight the opioid epidemic. Let’s do it.
We need funding, more funding for veterans to meet our responsibility and ensure that no veteran is denied the care they deserve upon returning from the battlefield.
We need emergency disaster funding for all communities ravaged by hurricanes and wildfires. We need to save millions of hardworking Americans’ endangered pensions. We need to pass a bipartisan DREAM Act immediately. This is a moral priority for us. This is about the character of our nation. Who we are as a country. A nation over time constantly invigorated by people coming to our country to seek the American dream. A dream that is predicated on every generation working to make the future better for the next. A dream that takes determination, optimism, hope and courage. And then these newcomers come to America with that determination, that courage, that optimism, that hope, that they associate themselves with the values of our Founders to make the future better for the next generation.
These newcomers to America make America more American. And so, we ask to bring the Hurd-Aguilar bill to the floor. It’s bipartisan. It has bipartisan support on the floor. It would pass. Have the courage to bring a bill that protects the DREAMers to the floor of the House.
These priorities that I mentioned are all bipartisan. They would pass if brought to the floor for an up or down vote. The GOP squandered all their time, energy, votes and enthusiasm on tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest, with 83 percent of the tax bill going to the top 1 percent.
And now Republicans need to get serious and get to work on a budget that funds both the military and domestic investments that keep our nation strong.
I want to make one point about the tax bill, again. Did you see that the Speaker of the House sang the glory of the tax bill because a woman was getting $1.50 a [week] more in her paycheck? Did you see that? Do you believe that’s a good thing when the top 1 percent are probably getting $1,500 a week, compared to her $1.50 a week in her paycheck. Thank God, after millions of people objected, the Speaker withdrew that tweet. But I don’t think he withdrew that sentiment because it’s the same sentiment that haunts all of these negotiations about investing in the American people.
Republicans must stop governing from manufactured crisis to crisis and work with Democrats to pass many long overdue priorities of the American people. We must abandon, as our distinguished Ranking Member said earlier in her remarks, Ms. [Nita] Lowey said, ‘we must abandon these short-term bills.’ She spelled out very clearly why.
I associate myself with her remarks, urge a no vote, and yield back the balance of my time.