Pelosi Remarks at Press Availability on Ex-Im Bank Discharge Petition

Oct 9, 2015
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill/Evangeline George, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member, House Financial Services Committee, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Congressman Denny Heck held a press availability today after successfully gathering enough signatures on the bipartisan discharge petition to bring a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank up for a vote. Below are the Leader’s opening and closing remarks followed by the question and answer session: 

Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks

“Good afternoon, everyone.  I'm honored to stand here with our distinguished Whip, with our Ranking Member on the Financial Services Committee, with two champions for the Ex-Im Bank and getting the job done for the American people to create jobs for the American people, Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, and Congressman Denny Heck of Washington State. 

“This is a very important day because we have broken through the wall of obstruction in the Congress, again to get the job done in a bipartisan way, which is what we all come here to do.  The Ex-Im Bank is about small businesses, about businesses throughout our country, benefiting from our opportunity to reach markets overseas.  Every big trading country has the equivalent of an Ex-Im Bank.  For us to have ours not authorized and funded is to tie the hands of American business as we try to expand our exports and, again, increase jobs and paychecks in the United States. 

“So, it's really quite an important day.  I commend the Republicans who came forward and signed the discharge petition.  I applaud the leadership on their side for enabling this to happen.  But I’m particularly proud of the work done on the Democratic side to amass, what, 176 signatures, and more.  They just cut it off at 218.  Essential to all of that was the work of the Whip’s Office, individually speaking to Members, and a larger sense leadership that the Whip provided on this issue, inside and outside the Congress. 

“Our Ranking Member on the Financial Services Committee received kudos galore from the business community for the roundtables and sessions that she held and for her persistent, dissatisfied, excellent advocacy for the Ex-Im Bank.  And our two colleagues whom I mentioned, Gwen Moore and Denny Heck, were relentless.  I mean, Denny Heck got signatures in less than one day, less than 24 hours.  He was able to amass the signatures of when we were collecting signatures for such legislation.  But with great pride and admiration for the work done with the Whip operation under the leadership of our distinguished Whip on behalf of American workers – I yield to Mr. Hoyer, who has been a champion of Make It In America, but also, let's export it to the rest of the world.  Mr. Hoyer.”

Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks

Leader Pelosi.  And that's the point I wanted to make.

Whip Hoyer.  It’s a lot better than a ten, right?  218.

[Laughter]

Leader Pelosi.   Congratulations, Maxine Waters, on being 218.  And that's the point, and Denny referenced it: this was not about whipping to convince Members because our Members have long been supportive of this.  Mr. Hoyer said: over 300, practically every – except for one, we could only identify one so we say maybe, but we don't put him down as a yes – and everybody unanimously for it.  But the wonder of it all was to get people to be here on a Friday, to be here on a getaway day, and to be here on time. 

We had more Members who wanted to sign but once you get to 218 they cut it off.  So our number is bigger than that, but the mastery of today from the Whip's standpoint was that people were here and they stayed and they signed up, and they found out that they had come sooner they would be within the 218.  So, congratulations on all of that.  Now we hope we can go forward.  

We have another deadline.  This is overdue – but we have deadline for the Transportation Bill, which has always been bipartisan, and hopefully, we can meet the end of October deadline on that.  Lifting the debt ceiling – which is the first week of November deadline – hopefully, we can deal with that even sooner.  We have the keep government open omnibus we're working on and hope to do even before December 11th, to remove all doubt that we’re going to honor the full faith and credit of the United States of America – that we’re going to keep government open, that we're going to create jobs in our transportation bill, and as we do so, we are going to also pass a 9/11 health bill, to not only on 9/11 sing the praises of those who were so courageous, but after that to meet their needs by passing that legislation once again, and hopefully in the very strong bipartisan way.  Any questions?  Yes ma’am.

***

Q:  Leader Pelosi, how – speaking of deadlines – how are you preparing for some of these deadlines given the great uncertainty about who will be leading House Republicans?

Leader Pelosi.  Well, right now we have a Speaker, and we have been – like I said yesterday in our press meeting there – [on] our deadlines that are coming up, the Committees of Jurisdiction, the Senate has acted.  The Committee of Jurisdiction in the House is working on a transportation bill.  We hope it is something that will meet the needs of the American people and not make matters worse because it's too meager, but be bold enough and fiscally sound enough to take us toward creating jobs, promoting commerce and doing all the things that a transportation infrastructure bill is designed to do. 

On the full faith and credit of the United States, we want to remove all doubt.  Just the thought of it before lowered our credit rating.  We can't go to that place again, and we’re working in a bipartisan way on that.   And on the omnibus – as I mentioned yesterday – the Committees of Jurisdiction are working on the pay-forwards, they are working on the actual dollar amount that we will have once we know what the pay-forwards are and a discussion of no surprises when it comes to policy and moves that they want to put in the bill, any riders they want to put.  So, everybody is working in their own piece of it.  And hopefully, all of this will meet the deadline.  Hopefully, the Republicans will come to terms as to who their recommendation will be for Speaker [of the House], but that's really up to them.

Whip Hoyer.  Let me just reiterate what the Leader said: we have a Speaker, and the Speaker of the House has said he doesn't want to see the government shut down, and he doesn't want to see the debt limit compromised.  I would hope and expect and believe – and I think today was an indication of that – that this Speaker wants to make sure that before he leaves, America is well-served by his leadership. 

Q:  Could you ever see something like what we saw yesterday happen in the Democratic Caucus?

Leader Pelosi.  No.  No.  We haven't, and we won't. 

Q:  Leader Pelosi, some Republicans said they're open to the idea of Democrats helping them elect the next Republican Speaker. What do you make of that?

Leader Pelosi.  Why don't we just wait and see what they do.  As I said at my press meeting yesterday when they said, ‘Tell us what you think, and how you're going to work with Kevin McCarthy.’  I said, ‘When they act – in their Caucus – and they elect a Speaker on the Floor, we'll talk about how we will work together for the good of the American people in a bipartisan way.

Whip Hoyer.  And, we Democrats are unified that we will certainly accept their support of the next Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.  So, you know, it goes both ways.

Q:  Back on Ex-Im, have you gotten any guarantees from the Senate on Ex-Im?  They say they won’t take up a standalone bill.  They did pass the amendment, but they're saying they won't take up this bill.  What kind of conversations have you had? What’s the outlook there?

Congresswoman Waters.  Well, let me just say that this is the Heitkamp bill that we are discharging, and so I do believe that we can feel comfortable that they will take up the legislation.  It's the same legislation, basically, that they passed.

Q:  They just said they won't spend the time.  It will take a week…

Congresswoman Waters.  Well, I think they will.  I think they will.

Leader Pelosi.  They didn't expect what was happening today to happen.  They really didn't expect that we would have a legislative approach that would be successful.

Whip Hoyer.  I talked to Senator Murray just about an hour ago, and brought her up to date on where we are and the work Denny Heck and Maxine and the Leader were doing to get this done.  And she is going to be working very hard – I know, with Denny Heck and others – to convince McConnell, that as – and I want to make it very clear what Ranking Member Waters just said.  What this rule provides that we've just discharged is for the bill that got 64 votes on the floor of the Senate.  So this is not a bill that has not already passed the Senate.  It has.  Now, it was attached to the defense bill – so it's not the same.  So it won’t go directly – if we pass it – it won't go directly to the President.  But it is the bill the Senate has already passed, by almost a two-thirds vote.  And I would certainly hope under those circumstances Senator McConnell would take it up, realizing that 64 of his Members – as you saw 218, with the 218th standing right here – said this is critical for jobs in America.  And I hope that Senator McConnell, under those circumstances, would facilitate bringing a bill that has already passed the [Senate] with almost two-thirds to the floor.

Q:  Leader Pelosi, one of the candidates that has been discussed is Chairman Hensarling – to be Speaker of the House, and Representative Heck kind of alluded to the historic nature of this.  He’s criticized Republicans for putting forward this discharge petition.  I'm wondering if the three of you can speak to Chairman Hensarling’s leadership, and also add to what Mr. Heck said about the nature of a tea-partier in Representative Fincher working to allow the first discharge petition since 1986?

Leader Pelosi.  First let me thank you for asking about the Ex-Im Bank, which is what we're here to discuss, and this is something that cannot be ignored.  As I said yesterday, when they choose their nominee for the floor, and they elect a Speaker, we'll be happy to work in a bipartisan way to find common ground.  It's up to them.  It's not up to us.

Q:  Do you have any comments on Chairman Hensarling’s leadership throughout all of this, and [his] opposition to the Bank?

Congresswoman Waters.  I basically said he had put obstacles in our way.  He did not believe in it.  He believed the Bank should be killed.  But he did not have the support of all of the Members of his Committee, or all of the Members of the Conference.  And that's why we are able to do what we are doing today.  We know he does not like it.  He does not wish it to be reauthorized.  But we're past that now, because we have been able to get this discharge petition signed by 218 Members of Congress.

Leader Pelosi.  And it will have a bigger vote when it comes to floor, is it…

Whip Hoyer.  The 26th.

Leader Pelosi.  The 26th of October.

Congressman Heck.  Let's be clear.  This is nothing new.  Ranking Member Waters beat him on flood control insurance, beat him on terrorism risk insurance, beat him on his GSE reform proposal.  She is four for four.  I am not worthy.

Congresswoman Moore.  Just let me say, democracy is messy, but it's just the best system that we know, and it works.  One person cannot stop the momentum of the majority, and this was a real tribute to democracy.

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