Transcript of Pelosi and House Leaders' Press Conference on American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act
Contact: Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin held a press conference this afternoon following House passage of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010. The legislation will help create or save more than 1 million American jobs, close tax loopholes and enforce corporate accountability, and provide tax relief for middle-class families. Below is a transcript of the press conference:
Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon. Today is jobs day for us, and we just passed a very important jobs bill for our country. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Jobs and Build America Bonds to build our infrastructure; jobs by closing the loopholes that enable companies to outsource jobs and get a tax break to do it and closing that loophole; jobs in terms of the investments that we make in research and development to take our competitiveness to a higher place; jobs in terms of summer jobs for our young people. The list goes on and on. And for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, we have unemployment insurance, which economists tell us, grows jobs faster by injecting demand into the economy. So every aspect of this is about jobs.
In legislation that comes to the floor, we all want to see what it does to create jobs and to reduce the deficit. Under the leadership of Chairman Levin, we did just that today. Thank you, Mr. Levin.
In addition to that piece, we have provisions that are very helpful. The Farm Bureau, I have been told by Mr. Skelton, has endorsed this bill because we have the agriculture disaster assistance in the legislation.
This being Memorial Day weekend, I want to call special attention to what we do for our men and women in uniform. We have the concurrent receipt language, which for two years, addresses the disparity. We call it the veterans’ disability tax. It removes that for the next two years.
And as far as our seniors are concerned, the SGR in here for 19 months ensures for them that if they like their doctor, they can keep their doctor. And I am very pleased that that passed as a separate amendment but that it passed on the floor.
In any event, now we will be taking up the COMPETES Act, which is a bill for jobs for the future. It is the legislative manifestation of our Innovation Agenda, to keep America number one.
But it is a day, as I say, built around jobs, fiscal responsibility, and I congratulate Mr. Levin. And I will congratulate Chairman Gordon for his important work.
Now I would like to yield to — Mr. Hoyer is magnificently performing his duties as floor leader, as Democratic leader, and may be joining us momentarily. I would now like to yield to the distinguished whip, Mr. Clyburn.
Majority Whip Clyburn. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. As the Speaker has indicated, this bill is a very, very important step toward continuing to strengthen our economy and create jobs on Main Street.
I think that what we saw today was a choice by the Republicans to continue protecting special interests and companies that continue to get low taxes while shipping jobs overseas. In this bill, we close those loopholes, and we keep Americans’ fine jobs in their communities.
And most especially, as the Speaker indicated, $1 billion to summer jobs, which we think are very, very important for our young people who are, will find themselves this summer having a tough time trying to find summer jobs. But we also did a significant extension to the TANF, the temporary emergency assistance fund.
And I am particularly pleased that in this bill, we have finally taken Congressional action on two issues that’s been around for a long, long time, a long time before I came here almost 19 years ago. There have been discussions about what to do about Native Americans who were subjected to discriminatory treatment that everybody admitted that they received and the Cobell litigation to address that. We are settling that issue with this bill. Also the Pigford case – the black farmers, has been around for a long, long time. That is also addressed in this legislation.
I want to thank Chairman Levin for working so hard to find a way to pay for this. And that is the main reason we have not done it for a long time. It is because we have not been successful in finding a way to pay for it, and because of the longevity of these two issues, we could not legitimately categorize them as emergencies. And so we have been searching for some time to get pay-fors. And I want to thank him so much for the hard work he did in helping us to pay for this longstanding litigation.
And with that, I yield to the chair.
Chairman Levin. Thank you very much, Mr. Clyburn, and for your dedication. And to the Speaker because once again we move forward, and that would not have been possible without you.
We were talking how these days no bill seems easy. And this wasn’t. But it was absolutely vital. We named it the jobs bill not only because nobody really knows except a few of you what extenders mean. Some people think it is closer to suspenders. It is because the key provisions relate to jobs—the Build America Bond program – $97 billion in bonds. I read on the floor a statement from a school district. It is school districts in places throughout this country. And there are other provisions here—the R&D tax credit is a jobs bill. There is a provision for the use of alternative minimum tax credits, which will help basic industries in this country.
And we combined it—I will close with this—with unemployment compensation because we face a dual crisis. More jobs, and we have started job growth, and not leaving those who are looking for jobs out in the cold. And we pay for it. We paid for all of the bill except for unemployment compensation. It falls within statutory PAYGO. So this is necessary for job growth, necessary to be faithful to those people who are looking for work, and also fiscally responsible, having passed Statutory PAYGO. So this is in that sense, a three-for, plus the physicians and a few Republicans voted for it. I don’t know how they go home after having created the cliff under their rule, and then patched it, and we have now said for 19 months there will be a slight increase and we’ll continue to work on it.
So this is a proud day, I think. Mainly for Americans who are looking for work and those who can’t find it.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. I was hoping Mr. Hoyer, our Leader, would be here by now. But he worked very hard to help put this legislation together and to come to some of the resolutions that we have in the bill and he’s hard at work on the floor now. But I want to commend him for his leadership and for his effectiveness in getting the votes for this jobs bill. Build America Bonds, summer jobs, investments in research and development for taking us to a more competitive place with better paying jobs, more skilled jobs. Most important of this — this is historic that we have repealed the loophole that has enabled corporations to outsource jobs, to send jobs overseas, and get a tax credit for it — imagine that.
So in any event, it fits comfortably in the HIRE Act that we have done, we’ve done these jobs in pieces. The HIRE Act before this legislation. We consider all the bills that we have done —the health care bill, the energy bill yet to be passed in the Senate, and the education bill — to be jobs bills as well.
And I’m very pleased to see the CBO report that came out on Tuesday, which said that the recovery package — because of the recovery package the economy has gained 2.8 million jobs so far, and will be 3.7 million jobs by September. At that rate, under the Obama Administration, more jobs will have been created in [this year] than in the eight years of the Bush Administration. And I might add to that, the Bush Administration hardly produced any private sector jobs — it was largely public sector jobs. And what we’re doing is try to do both, but especially with an emphasis on the private sector.
So, it’s about jobs. I think we have an almost ethical responsibility to create jobs and opportunity and in this bill we do it in a way that brings many more people into a new prosperity for our country.
Q: …this bill is a lot smaller than what you and other Members of the leadership wanted — about $80 billion. And because of the delays in getting it done — the Senate has already [inaudible] a lot of things are going to expire. I’m wondering how much of the difficulties are because of a rejection by a lot of rank-and-file Democrats of what you wanted to do and how much the difficulty is a lack of trust by the rank-and-file House Members, as well as House Leaders? And what the Senate can actually deliver once you give the bill over?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I believe that everything that we had in the bill will be done — not all of it in this bill. There was a concern about the size of the package and so we have broken it down. And so I don’t think that we have walked away from any of priorities that we want to achieve and we will deal with them in time. Some were more urgent than others in terms, as you indicated, a timeline. But it was very important for us to start, so that as soon as the Senate comes back, they can finish this and it can be sent to the President.
I feel — this is the legislative process. So I feel very comfortable about how it has proceeded and what we were able to accomplish with this bill and what that means for what comes next.
Q: Well, should anybody have the blame for the fact that these benefits are going to expire?
Speaker Pelosi. No, it’s not a question of blame. No one will be deprived of anything. We will pass the bill — the bill will be passed in the Senate and will go onto the President and those who are unemployed, who have been on unemployment compensation, will be compensated.
Q: But can you talk about the difficulty you had with your own rank-and-file…
Speaker Pelosi. Every bill is a heavy lift. Every bill here is a heavy lift. And that’s — and you keep saying what is the mix.
Q: Why is it at a point now…
Speaker Pelosi. It wasn’t heavier today. It wasn’t heavier.
Q: ...dramatically scaled back $80 billion on…
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I didn’t get a public option or anything in the health care bill either. It’s all about how you reach your goals and how you put the votes together to do them. In one package or two or whatever it is.
But let me say that every — the excitement of this place is that we interact with each other, we build consensus. You put a marker down so that people can respond to it. But it’s the consensus building is why we win our votes. It is not because we dictate: "This is bill, now go vote for it." It’s: "Here’s the marker, now let’s see how we can find our common ground." I’m very proud of the thoughtfulness, which all of our Members brought to the discussion on this issue. But if you think this was the hardest — no.
Q: Madam Speaker, next month — later this summer, Congressman Levin has talked about undertaking renewing the 2001 to 2003 tax cuts. With the fights over the deficits on this bill, what does that tell us about what we have to look forward to?
Speaker Pelosi. We’ll let him do that. Mr. Levin — do you want to speak to the tax issue… Oh, well they have to vote. Go vote then. Okay.
As you know, when we did pay-as-you-go — we had pay-as-you-go and under the PAYGO, we had an exemption for middle-income tax cuts for SGR that we voted on earlier today, for AMT, for a number of things. And so I would foresee a renewal of the middle-income tax cut, but not for the high end — $250,000 and above.
Q: Madam Speaker, could you comment on the Sestak report out of the White House?
Speaker Pelosi. I haven’t seen it. I haven’t been briefed on it or anything. Sorry.
Q: Are you comfortable that no laws were broken in the Sestak matter and even if no law was broken, are you concerned that the spirit of the law was not upheld?
Speaker Pelosi. I haven’t seen the report. I haven’t been briefed on it. But I am confident in the parties involved and the President of the United States and Congressman Sestak.