Pelosi Floor Remarks Ahead of Budget Caps Vote

Feb 9, 2018
Press Release

Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to the budget caps bill and reiterating her call to House Speaker Paul Ryan to make a public commitment to schedule a vote on the bipartisan Hurd-Aguilar Bill to protect DREAMers.  Below are the Leader’s remarks: 
Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr Speaker.  I thank the gentlelady for yielding.  And I thank her for her outstanding statement of values and what our country is about.  Thank you, Congresswoman [Nida] Lowey, for your extraordinary leadership. 

And I thank all of our colleagues for the unity that we had over the months when we were having this debate about what this bill would look like.  And I want to again read a letter that Mr. Hoyer, Mr. Clyburn and I sent to the Speaker last night, or I guess this night.  And this is what it said.  Because I think it's very important for people to understand the simplicity of our request.  The fairness of our request.  To the Speaker. 

Speaker Pro Tempore.  The gentlelady will suspend.  The House is not in order.

Leader Pelosi.  It says – 

Speaker Pro Tempore.  The gentlelady will suspend until the House comes to order and the Chair recognizes the gentlelady again!  The request comes from the body, and I’m trying to let the gentlelady be heard.

Leader Pelosi.  I thank the Speaker.  

Speaker Pro Tempore.  The gentlelady may continue.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  ‘In the spirit of bipartisanship, we write to again reiterate our sincere desire to ensure that the government remains open and that the priorities of the American people are properly addressed.  As you know, Democrats have been clear that we support a budget agreement that ensures our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to protect our country and that America’s middle class and working families have the tools they need to succeed.  As part of this agreement we have always expected that the House and the Senate would address the issue of DACA and the DREAMers.

‘Most of our Members believe the budget agreement is a reasonable compromise to address America’s military strength and critical domestic priorities, like fighting the opioid crisis, boosting NIH, moving forward to resolve the pension crisis, caring for our veterans, making college more affordable, and investing in child care for working families. ‘

That is what the fight has been all along.  Fight the resistance on the Republican side to invest in the domestic agenda. I was pleased to hear our Republican colleagues talk about some of the things in this bill that we insisted upon being there. 

So, Mr. Speaker, ‘We are writing to again reiterate our request that you make a public statement regarding the scheduling of a vote on a DACA bill.  Our request is that you publicly state that you will schedule a vote to consider the bipartisan Hurd-Aguilar bill and any other DACA bills that you wish to consider, under a Queen of the Hill rule.  We strongly believe that Members of the House and their constituents deserve the same dignity that Leader McConnell has extended to Members of the Senate by allowing for a vote on this issue.’

And we asked him for his immediate attention to this issue, but we did not receive that.  

I said earlier, America is the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world.   Aren't we proud to be American? 

America is a country, of beautiful diversity, that has changed over time from the days of our Founders.  E pluribus unum, they said.  They could never imagine how pluribus it could be, how many, how many different people.  And yet, they established our Constitution that enabled everyone, everyone as they stated in our Declaration of Independence, everyone, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It’s a beautiful thing, it’s a beautiful thing. 

Our country has become a more diverse country over time.  But still, e pluribus unum.  And this vote to say, we’re just saying, pay respect to the fact that we are a nation of immigrants and constantly reinvigorated by newcomers, coming with their hopes, dreams, aspirations, courage to make the future better for their families.  That's what America is about and what the optimism our Founders based on, that every generation would take responsibility.  

These newcomers have made America more American.  And then who is America? America is our great Constitution of the United States, a great Constitution which we take an oath to support.  And what else is America?  America is our great patrimony, this beautiful land that God has given us, to be stewards of. 

Speaker Pro Tempore.  The gentlelady will suspend.  Please take all conversations off the floor.  The gentlelady, please continue. 

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  The great patrimony of our country.  And it's important to know that our country is our fifty states, the District of Columbia and our territories – and our territories. 

And in respect for that, I’m pleased in this bill we were successful in the negotiations to get more funding for the territories, especially Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, an increase over what was the original disaster bill.  

But there are other things that important to note, that are in this bill, again, opioids and mental health, National Institutes of Health – these were Democratic that priorities we fought for and this is why it took so long, because there was a resistance on the Republican side to invest on the domestic side.  

So they’ve been increasing the defense number, which we go along with but we want a commensurate increase on the domestic side.

On the domestic side for us in our budget, Appropriators know this better than anyone, includes security and functions: Homeland Security, the State Department, Veterans Affairs, anti-terrorism activities of the Justice Department.  So there’s much security on the domestic side and we insisted on increasing that number. That did happen, that did happen and I’m able to say in this letter there are many good things in this legislation.  

For some reason, sometimes I think the Speaker thinks he’s Speaker of the White House, not the Speaker of the House of Representatives and we should have the opportunity –

[Audible boos]

– we should have the opportunity –  oh, I touched a nerve there, I hear – we should have the opportunity to have this House, the people's House work its will; not be the recipient, if it passes as 60 votes in the Senate, maybe I’ll bring it to the Floor. 

That's not a commitment.  Just let me say again, what an honor it is to associate ourselves with the aspirations of the DREAMers in our country.  They are so magnificent.  They are models of patriotism to our country and all they wanted the recognition of the Speaker of the House. 

[Audible interruption]

I'm almost finished. 


Or I could go longer. 


In any event -- and I thank the various Speakers who were presiding the other day and I thank the Speakers for the courtesies they were extending.  And you too, Mr. Speaker.

But here it is – yes, I was one of the four principals with the White House negotiating on this legislation.  A lot of it came our way.  You know why?  Because nobody wants a shutdown.  And this is a good bill, it doesn't do everything but it's a compromise.  

But the one thing, the one message to allay fear to build confidence, to honor the vows of our Founders that we could have done is to say ‘we, in the United States of America in this people's House want to assure you that we will allow the House of Representatives to work its will, let the chips fall where they may, but give us the chance to allay the fear that are in the hearts of these DREAMers and their families and remove the tears from the eyes of the Statue of Liberty observing what is happening here.’

I yield back the balance of time.

Speaker Pro Tempore.  The gentlelady yields back. 

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