Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of Continuing Resolution
Contact: Drew Hammill/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the floor of the House in support of the bipartisan Continuing Resolution. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentlelady, our Ranking Member on Appropriations, for yielding. I thank her for her great work, being involved in the appropriations process, which I shared with her for many years – but a place where so many of our values are reflected by how we allocate our resources. I particularly want to thank her, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, for their relentless, persistent, constant advocacy for this Flint money.
“As you know, Mr. Chairman and others, it was February when President Obama sent over a request for $1.9 billion to address the Ebola crisis. This was an amount of money based on expert evidence that related to science and evidence that related to how we would do research for a vaccine, how we would do vector control, how we would do prevention, and as our colleagues have mentioned, how we address the issue that this is a very unusual situation because it is sexually transmitted and we had the obstacle of saying, ‘no contraception’ – that held us up for a while.
“So today, finally we come to the floor and I think it's very important that we take the action that we do. But I do want to remind that $1.1 billion is still $800 million short of the $1.9 billion the President requested. Some of that other money was taken from the Ebola resources, which were surely needed, continue to be needed there.
“So while this is an important, giant step, it's not complete in terms of what we need to do. The Continuing Resolution before us must recognize that more than 23,000 Americans, including almost 2,100 pregnant women, have been infected with Zika. The bill falls short of the – as I said – $1.9 billion, that top public health officials said is the full amount required to protect American communities. But I will say this: I think there's some good intention, in a bipartisan way, the distinguished Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and others, working with Congresswoman Lowey, Congresswoman DeLauro, Congresswoman Wassermann Schultz, to think in terms of anticipation rather than reaction – that perhaps we could have a FEMA-like fund for disasters of this kind that affect the public health, the public health system is a strength of our country. And when it is threatened, we must have the resources to protect it.
“So perhaps out of this long delay, one of the things that could come together is a conversation that says, ‘Let's have a FEMA-like, biomedical research – whatever it happens to be – reaction to a public health emergency that enables us to do the research necessary to protect the health, the public health of the American people.’
“Earlier tonight, the House took an important, long overdue step toward addressing a man-made disaster in Flint, Michigan. The success of the Flint Amendment is a tribute to the leadership of Congressman Dan Kildee, who has been an absolute lion, a lion for the children and families of Flint throughout this crisis.
Thanks to Congressman Kildee, we have sent a message of hope to the people of Flint. It is my hope that the House-Senate WRDA conference with that, we can move forward toward the Flint assistance that overwhelmingly passed the Senate 95-3, that amendment did – a strong bipartisan support, passed earlier this month. While we had preferred to deliver those funds to the children in this bill, we are at least on a path to meaningful action and that is important to mention.
“In this bill, and our distinguished Chairman made this reference, and certainly our distinguished Ranking Member on the Committee , Mr. [Sanford] Bishop, made the point about what the bill contains to increase our funding for the military and veteran caregivers. I mean, so much is in this bill is about veterans and, as we say in the military, on the battlefield, we leave no soldier behind and when they come home, with leave no veteran behind. And so many in this room, on both sides of the aisle, have been champions in that and certainly our Ranking Member, Mr. Bishop.
“I particularly want to highlight that in this bill, we have increased funding for our military and veteran caregivers, strengthening the support for America’s Hidden Heroes. The Hidden Heroes who are named such by Senator, Secretary Elizabeth Dole. Yesterday in the Capitol, in the Visitors' Center, in the theater there, hundreds of caregivers of our military and veteran families, came together to talk about the shared challenges that they have, to be engaged in a Hidden Heroes launch, launching of cities in conjunction with the actions of the Hidden Heroes initiative. I’m proud to be a co-chair of the Congressional Task Force Caucus on Hidden Heroes with Senator McCain and Senator Reid on the Senate side and Congressman, our chairman over here, Jeff Miller.
“In this bill, there's $10 million to boost the VA caregivers initiatives that will help address the increasing demand on VA services, as service members continue to come home to their families. Hidden Heroes, do you know how many there are? 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers in our country. How these families raise their children, care for their loved ones, siblings, spouses, children, is remarkable. This legislation recognizes that need – the need to assist with training and all. We must ensure that the VA can meet the demand of a growing population of caregivers, hiring more staff and coordinators to make sure veterans, families and loved ones get the services and care they deserve. With this CR, we will keep the government open and prevent any self-inflicted wounds to our economy that have been inflicted before.
“I want to especially thank our Ranking Member, Nita Lowey, for her leadership in helping to craft this bipartisan path forward. Thank our distinguished Chairman for his leadership, extend my gratitude to the Speaker for us coming together to address the issue of Flint, which has enabled us to come forward in this legislation. And for that reason, I will be supporting this legislation and I yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.”
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