Pelosi Transcript of Enrollment Ceremony for COMPETES Act

Dec 22, 2010
Press Release

Contact: Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Members of Congress held a press availability this afternoon in the Speaker’s office to sign the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which spurs innovation, invests in cutting-edge research, modernizes manufacturing and bolsters education in science, technology, engineering and math. The House passed the final version of the bill yesterday; the Senate passed it last week. The bill will now go to President Obama for his signature into law. Below are the Speaker’s remarks.

Speaker Pelosi Opening Remarks:

“Good afternoon. Today is a day about honoring our past and the traditions of our great country, about the entrepreneurial spirit of America, and about our commitment to the future.

“Nearly 50 years ago, President Kennedy said: ‘The vows of this nation can be fulfilled only if we are first, and therefore we intend to be first. Our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, and our obligations to ourselves as well as to others all require us to make this effort.’ The President said that when he launched his man to the moon and back in ten years safely. And it really started something very important for our country, to keep us number one, to keep us competitive, to keep us innovative, and for all the years since honoring our vows to our founders, honoring our tradition of entrepreneurial spirit and being about the future and acting upon that. That has kept America number one.

“A few years ago, under the leadership of Congresswoman Eshoo, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, George Miller, Vern Ehlers who may be joining us, and many of the Members who are here now, our other astrophysicists—Rush Holt, and Members here led by Bart Gordon, we passed the COMPETES Act. Yesterday, that act was reauthorized.

“We could not have been better served in all of this than by the chairmanship of Bart Gordon. I am so pleased his daughter is here today, Payton, and Leslie, his wife. Payton especially because she has to know, she is about the future. She is the future. She has to know what her father’s commitment to the future was too.

“And so I want to salute our Chairman Bart Gordon, Science—space now they are changing the name—Science, Space, and Technology. No one has known more, has acted upon that knowledge, to do more to keep America number one. I am going to defer to him so that he can say in his own words his commitment to this. I just want him to know all of us who care about the future, all of us who served with him in Congress, respect his contribution to the future enormously and are grateful to him for his leadership.”

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Speaker Pelosi Closing Statement:

“Well, I thank you, and I thank you for your leadership way back when you were one of the first to heed the call of Norm Augustine, the National Academy of Sciences and others, in their report ‘Rising Above the Gathering Storm.’ The hearings that you had demonstrated that we really had to make a commitment to innovation and recognize that innovation begins in the classroom. And the success of this stems from the fact that Chairman Miller recognized that this bill did not have to wait for the Education Committee to act but that Chairman Gordon could carry the ball on this.

“So we are bolstering education in science, technology, engineering and math in this bill, raising up, again, the next generation of workers and students.

“We are putting ourselves on a path to fulfill the pledge that our Innovation Agenda made over five years ago. When the President signs this bill tomorrow, it will reinforce the foundation for new industries that provide good jobs, that find new markets for American products, that offer more students the chance to realize the American dream. And that’s what this is all about.

“So as I sign this legislation, again, I do so with appreciation to all of our Members. We had overwhelming bipartisan support. I wish Mr. Ehlers were here, Vern Ehlers who will be leaving Congress now but made such a tremendous contribution. Anyone who saw him on the floor yesterday saw his knowledge and commitment to the future, being a scientist himself. We have three—Mr. Foster, Mr. Holt, and Mr. Ehlers. What would be the title of that? The quantity may be small but the quality of their contribution is enormous.

“So as I say, with great appreciation to Chairman Gordon, I am pleased to sign this legislation. And when I do—you know what happens? I sign this bill and use all these pens. Then, it goes to the President, and I stand beside him as he signs it. And mine looks very choppy, and he signs it with a lot of pens and it is better. And he does it, as I said yesterday, left-handed.

“This is very exciting for all of us because, again, we are coming up on the 50th Anniversary of the inauguration of President Kennedy. For some of us, that was our inspiration in politics, and his leadership on [7:30 inaudible], to fulfill our vows to our founders, we must be first. That’s what we intend to do.

[Speaker signs the bill.]

“Thank you all for coming. Congratulations.”

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Question and Answer Transcript:

Q: You must be exhilarated that they passed the 9/11 bill next door.

Speaker Pelosi. Well, we have had quite an exhilarating week. Yesterday, we passed the COMPETES Act, we passed a procurement bill, we passed the food safety bill—Congresswoman Eshoo was very involved in that as well as other Members.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who is going to following you out there to talk on the 9/11 bill, a champion on that bill and on innovation as well. Congressman Gary Peters of Michigan, we really depended on him in so many ways and are depending on him to carry this ball forward on innovation. Congressman Paul Tonko of New York, who again has been a tremendous resource and an engineer. And I introduced Leslie and Payton Gordon. And Congresswoman Anna Eshoo who I acknowledged earlier for her work both on this legislation and early with the Innovation Agenda. Yesterday was a banner day for you with food safety and COMPETES Act. And of course, Rush Holt., Rush was so instrumental in establishing our meeting at Princeton right after the election in 2008, to prepare for how we put the Recovery Act together. Because while we passed the Innovation Agenda before, the COMPETES Act, we really didn’t have very much money for it.

I said that you, Vern, were such a tremendous asset, what a loss for the Congress that we will not have your day to day thinking, but the foundation, the contribution, the legacy that you leave is a great one. And you inspired us and informed us yesterday on the floor with you leadership on this issue. You were wonderful. Congressman Ehlers has been a teacher to many of us and, again, here we are the last day, the last bill that will be signed—well we will send one more, 9/11 now. Thank you Vern, for your tremendous leadership.

Q: Madam Speaker, Congressional scholars are saying that this was the most productive Congress in this [inaudible.] Are you prepared to hand over the gavel? Were you able to accomplish much of what you set out to accomplish?

Speaker Pelosi. Oh, we certainly did. They were saying that even before we passed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the COMPETES Act, the food safety bill, 9/11, all of which is happening in the last 48 hours. So, you know, we are very, very proud of the work that was done by this Congress. We came here to do a job. We got much of it done. It all relates to solving problems for America’s families. And we think that the agenda that we passed does just that. We are very, very proud of it. Much of it was done, as I said, the COMPETES Act overwhelmingly bipartisan, and we think the 9/11 bill will be again today. So we will go out on a strong bipartisan note on it. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was very bipartisan as well. So we are very proud of it.

Of course, there is always more to be done. And as long as the American people have high unemployment rates, families who are looking for jobs, as people have uncertainty about their children’s education, about their own economic security, our work is far from over. So I look forward to working with the new Majority to solve problems for the American people.

Q: What lesson that you have learned in the 111th Congress you can pass on to somebody like Payton over there?

Speaker Pelosi. Well let me just say this, first of all, we are here to talk about the COMPETES Act, not about me. And we will come back after the break and we can have whatever reviews of it.

But as far as Payton is concerned, I gaveled this Congress to order when I first became Speaker in honor of all of America’s children. And I want her to know that while we have many statues to the past in the Capitol and on the outside, the beautiful monuments to America’s history, our work is about the future. And as I said before, nobody can compare to her father for his commitment to the future and his position as Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee and his service on the Energy and Commerce Committee. So I want her to know that the future is brighter for her and all children because of her father’s leadership.