Pelosi Floor Remarks on Ongoing Trump Shutdown

Jan 20, 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 regarding the Trump Shutdown.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentlelady for yielding.  Thank you for her leadership and all the Members of the Rules Committee for the time they put in bringing rules to the Floor to relate to a vast array of legislation that we deal with here.

Today, we're talking about Marital Law so we'll be prepared – Martial Law so we'll be prepared to take up something that will open up the government and meet the needs of the American people.  It’s interesting to see the enthusiasm on both sides on these subjects because we have a long history on some of these issues.  We have a long history and commitment to CHIP.  When we brought it to the Floor when I was Speaker, when we first had a Democratic President who would sign the bill, 144 Republicans voted against that bill. 

But that's then.  This is now, and I think that now we're closer than the debate here would indicate.  I think there is a path forward.  And I think that's how we have to be thinking about what is next.  We all have our, shall we say, reputations for where we have been on certain votes.  About CHIP, about shutting down government and the rest, but let's put that aside.  The challenge we have right now is what is that path?  That path has four corners to it.  One of them is the caps.  Parity, we talked about parity.  Other Members have talked about it.  I’m certain Mr. [Steny] Hoyer did again today.  It's about parity.

If you're going to have increases in defense, we need the same increases in domestic.  Defense, that's what the Defense Department decides its missions require, we want to be respectful of that.  But we also know that in the domestic budget one third of the budget, 34 percent, are security functions: Homeland Security, anti-terrorism activities at the Department of Justice, Veterans' Affairs, the Department of State.  That's 34 percent of the domestic budget. So we're saying: our strength of our country is not measured just in our military might.  As important as that that is and respectful of it that we are, but also in these security functions in the domestic budget, in addition to that in the health, education, and well-being of the American people which are also on the domestic side.

I think on the caps thing we have to get in the room and make those decisions.  The challenge that I see is that there are those, it has been reported to me, there are those on the Republican side who have some unease in increasing the domestic budget because they know that they already had a big increase in the deficit in the tax bill and are reluctant to add any more investments for fear it would increase the deficit.

However, these investments in research and development, in education, in infrastructure in reality bring money revenue to the Treasury.  They help decrease debt.  In fact, I think most economists will tell you that nothing brings more money to the Treasury than the investments in education, early childhood, K through 12, higher education, post-grad, lifetime learning for our workers.  In that spirit of saying you want more in defense, we're respectful of that, we need more in domestic, hopefully you'll be respectful of that.  I think we can come to terms on that.

Then there is the question of pay-fors, how is it, or is it paid for?  That's one thing.  That's just you sit down and negotiate, you get it done. I am an appropriator; Congresswoman [Nita] Lowey is an appropriator.  Mrs. [Nita] Lowey is our Ranking Member with such distinction, and Mr. Frelinghuysen on your side.  Appropriators know how to get it done – they know the numbers – left to their own devices.  It's when other factors weigh in that it becomes more challenging.  Let's just say, let's see if we can get that done because that will be more of shortening the time between where we're now and if we get a solution. 

The DREAMers are of value to us, and we told the President right from the start, it's not an issue, it's not a bill, it’s about America.  And I think that we can come to terms on that subject as well.  But make no mistake, if there never were one DREAMer in our country, we still would have this challenge on the money side of the debate.  So let's not try to assign responsibility to the DREAMers for the fact that we don't have the increase in defense.  We’re willing to go to that place as we go honoring parity – honoring parity – that's what we agreed to in the budget agreement.  What the Speaker agreed to as Chair of the Budget Committee.  Why are we departing from that and then blaming it on the DREAMers?  That the DREAMers and the security, we all believe in securing our borders, north and south.  We can come to terms on that – we can come to terms, if we really believe that we should.

Now, none of us believes in, on our side of the aisle, shutting down government.  We believe in government’s role of meeting the needs of the American people.  We subject any initiative to do that to the harshest scrutiny, because we know that the American people need effective initiatives to meet their needs.  So let's take a deep breath.  Let's calm down.  For example, Mr. [Peter] Welch led the way, a large, large number, 100-some Members of the House signing a letter to the President. 

I think it's really important for you to realize this.  When we said we wanted more domestic investment, here's what we were talking about.  We very clear to choose only those initiatives that are bipartisan.  That would pass on the floor with strong bipartisan support. That means preserving the Bipartisan Budget Act.  We need to deliver urgently needed resources to communities fighting the opioid epidemic.  That's what we said to the President.  This is one of the increases on the domestic side: the opioid epidemic – addressing the opioids – rescuing heroic veterans facing a dire shortfall at the VA, opioids, veterans, supporting access by funding CHIP, community health centers, medical education for primary care doctors. 

The package always went together, and preserving Americans’ endangered pensions – we had bipartisan support for that.  That needs more discussion.  But we want to do it. Providing additional disaster recovery for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida, California, states impacted by wildfires.  Puerto Rico, there's nothing partisan about this, in addition to protecting our DREAMers, which again has bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate.  We want them – we want to pass the DREAM Act as well as then engage in the discussion on the borders, which we're completely open to. 

So this is not just about giving us money.  It’s shared values, Democrats and Republicans, and we're saying to the President, help us on this money side of the debate because it's so very important. 

We can talk all day about who said what about what and all the rest of that; I don't think shutting down government is cool, as Mr. [Mick] Mulvaney said.  Let's leave him to that.  We do know that government by CR is not the best way to go.  We could take one day, take this I think caps parity, evening, sit down, pay-fors, probably easier, not a whole lot of opportunity there, but whatever it is.  DACA and, again, if there never were one DREAMer, we would still be having this discussion about the money side of it. 

My view, correct me if I’m wrong, is that there's a resistance on the Republican side, in the House, I can't speak for the Senate, I haven't seen evidence of this in the Senate, is to resist parity when it comes to increasing funding, even for these priorities that we spell because it will increase the deficit, which has been greatly increased by the tax bill.  I would see for some remaining, if existing, deficit hawks you might have that concern. 

Let me add if there were not one DREAMer in America, America would be at a loss.  These young people have come to this country with their parents, they have made us so proud with their diligence and attendance in school, service in the military, working and I have heard from champions of industries, many of whom celebrated the passage of their tax bill saying, ‘The people who are in our firm, they are stars in our firms.’

Why do we not use them as an excuse to face the issues that we have domestic responsibility we have to deal with?  That there is a path.  Our appropriators are used to working together, the leadership has to make these decisions and there's no reason we shouldn't be able to do this by tomorrow, by tomorrow, and then give the appropriators the time to write it up.  But to come to those terms, let's take a deep breath, let's understand our responsibilities to the American people.  Let us withhold as I have done, I’ve curbed my enthusiasm, but I have heard certain things done and said here.  I haven't brought the picture of the President and that the President said we need a good shutdown.  I didn't curb my enthusiasm in that regard. 

But, I do say, that we have more common ground than is reflected in how this has proceeded.  And let us find a better course so we can stay on that course to meet other challenges that face our country.  God has blessed us with the privilege to serve here.  We respect each other and respect the people who sent us here.  We owe them a lot more than government being shut down.  So let's take a path to open it up, understanding that it will involve compromise and bipartisanship and transparency and in a way that brings unity to our country. I think that is something we all subscribe to. I certainly hope so.

I call upon our colleagues to join us, sit down, and I call upon the Speaker to bring some legislation to the Floor that will pass and which would have bipartisan support.  With that, I thank my colleagues for your attention and I yield back the balance of my time.

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