Pelosi Floor Remarks Opposing the Continuing Resolution
Contact: Drew Hammill/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor in opposition to the Continuing Resolution. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentlelady for yielding and I commend her for her excellent leadership as the Ranking Member, Ranking Democratic Member on the Appropriations Committee. As an appropriator myself, I understand the culture, I understand the camaraderie between parties and for that reason, I want to commend our distinguished Chairman, Mr. Rogers, for his wonderful service as the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. I served with him for many years on the committee. I know firsthand his concern for the American people, and I thank you for your service. I know you'll continue as an appropriator, but thank you for your leadership as Chairman, Mr. Rogers. And I join in commending one of our Members, who is leaving, Sam Farr, for his always looking out for America's children – whether it was the health or education especially, in terms of their access to food security. Thank you, Mr. Farr, for your leadership.
“Mr. Speaker, it's with great regret that I come to the floor to express my personal disappointment in this legislation and that I will be voting no. My colleagues have asked me what I think about it, I am not urging them to do anything, but I am telling you why I think this is a missed opportunity.
“While we all recognize that it was a moral challenge for us to do something for the children of Flint, the manner in which it was done in a bifurcated way was used to get votes for another bill, which I think was wrong. But not to dwell on process, not to dwell on process. Let's just look at the facts. The facts are these: this will probably be a bill over $1.5 trillion – over $1.5 trillion dollars that could have been $170 million appropriated for the children of Flint in this bill. Some would say that's not authorized. Probably $250 billion to $300 billion in this bill is not authorized. So, why should the children of Flint have to step over a higher barrier?
“And that's just exemplary of the partisan nature of the bill. We have always worked in a bipartisan way, House and Senate appropriations, and that especially as we come to the end of the year. But this year it was Republican-Republican House and Senate. Again, forget process, but what does that mean in terms of priorities? It means that Families First, an initiative to help foster kids in our country – something that had bipartisan support, House and Senate – was rejected from consideration. It means, again, that the miners, the families of coal miners, who needed – supposing your business that you worked for, my colleagues, went bankrupt or declared themselves insolvent and, therefore, your pension and your health care benefits disappeared. How would you feel? Well, that's just what happened to the miners. And what was needed is a long-term security for them that Mr. McKinley, a Republican, put forth in his legislation, that we hoped could be taken up and be part of this. But it was rejected by our Republican colleagues. And it was interesting because one of the other things that is not in this bill, that we hoped would be, would be a correction to last year's bill for extenders for renewable energy.
“I was told by the Republicans that, ‘We don't want to do that for renewable energy because we are fossil fuel guys.’ Well, fossil fuel guys take care of the miners and their families. The anticipation was that there could be a five-year proposal for pension and health care benefits. Right now, there's a four-month provision for health care. Four months – not five years. Not pensions and benefits, just health care. So, why? Why is that so unimportant when we're talking about people who are part of a culture of coal mining in our country that is fading, and they need help, and we should be here to help them?
“So, as we reject any proposals for renewables that might provide many, many jobs for these same people, we are also rejecting their rights to their health benefits and their pensions. The list goes on. But it's really so sad that the Flint issue should have been all in one bill, but it was bifurcated for reasons I can't explain. And that's why – if I can't explain it, I’m not voting for it. That's why I’ve called upon my colleagues, recognizing the many good things in the bill – but not meeting the needs of the American people. Foster kids, bipartisan support, House and Senate, rejected. Rejected.
“Now, there is funding for the opioids in this legislation. And I’m pleased about that. I've been told that I should be happy about that because that was one of our requests. I think it was a bipartisan request of everyone, House and Senate, to have the funding for opioids. That's what I thought. That's what I thought. And I’m glad it's in the bill.
“So in any event, for the opportunity lost, for the ignoring of some very legitimate proposals to help the American people, for the rejection of Republican suggestions in terms of the miners – for these and other reasons, I will be voting against this, regretfully, because we have tried to work in a bipartisan way in the past. But this year, instead of four [corner negotiations], it's two, and that has had an impact on what the content of what this is and that content has an impact on the lives of the American people.
“With that Mr. Speaker – that's why I am [not] voting for the bill. Members will have to make their own decisions, but we cannot go down the path of missed opportunities and just roll over and not speak out and say, ‘This isn't the best that we can do for the American people.’ And we owe them much better than this bill. With that, I yield back.”
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