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Pelosi Remarks at Bill Signing for Legislation Guaranteeing Back Pay for Furloughed Federal Employees

January 12, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats held a bill signing for legislation ensuring back pay for all furloughed federal employees.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Good afternoon, everyone.  I’m very honored to be here to sign this legislation which is about fairness to our federal workers, our public employees.  It should not be necessary.  We shouldn’t have a shutdown but since we do, we want to ensure that our public employees, some of them are working without pay, some of them are shut out from working, but all of them will be assured that they’ll be paid not just for this shutdown but for all shutdowns, to remove all doubt.

We hope there will be incentives to some in the financial services sectors and some in the credit union sector, who have provided interest-free loans so that people can pay their bills in real time, even if they don’t get paid in real time.

With that, I’m very honored to welcome one of the new Members of Congress from Virginia, Jennifer Wexton.  One of our senior members, in terms of service, Eleanor Holmes Norton.  Mr. Beyer from Virginia as well.  Anthony Brown from Maryland.  Congressman, Mr. Chairman, Peter DeFazio of Oregon.

All of them have worked very hard to show value, all of them worked hard to make sure that this legislation came to the Floor as soon as possible and to acknowledge Senator Cardin, Senator of Maryland for getting this through the Senate by unanimous consent so we could take it up so expeditiously in the House today.  I will sign it.  This is called the enrollment ceremony.

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Speaker Pelosi.  We had not intended for this to be a press availability only a photo op but since I did speak, when the President acts we will respond to whatever he does.  Okay?

Q:  Madam Speaker, since everyone is leaving here, we’ve guaranteed this will be the longest government shutdown.  What are your comments on that given that it will be day 22 starting on Saturday?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well it’s unfortunate because it’s totally unnecessary.  In fact, we have given many paths to alleviating this, opening up government.  In fact, what we did, I think it is important to remind, that in the House we put on the Floor, the legislation that had already been passed by the Senate, the Republican Appropriations Legislation.

Earlier in the week we passed legislation that would open up the Treasury Department to make sure that people got their refunds in real time and other assistance they need from the Treasury Department the next day.  We talked about opening up the Agriculture Department so farmers would get their farm support and people would get food stamps and other provisions from the Department of Agriculture.

Yesterday, we did legislation on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development to make sure that people could get access to – some people would be evicted because of the initiatives that would be shut down or not extended — then today as you know, we had a bill on the Floor for the Department of Interior to open up the parks, so important to America’s families.

Then next week – all of those were part of a minibus that passed Senate, 92-6.  A Republican Senate initiative that passed 92-6 in the Senate we’re putting on the Floor here, sending it back to them to say, ‘Take yes for an answer. We did exactly what you Republican Senators wrote, now take yes for an answer and pass your own bill that you’ve already passed once again.’

Next week we’ll take up legislation that relates to – legislation that passed over there, some of it voted on in different committees by Leader Mitch McConnell.  We hope that – hopefully by then we wouldn’t have the shutdown, we shouldn’t in the first place.

It’s again, a temper tantrum by the President.  I’m a mother of five, grandmother of nine, I know a temper tantrum when I see one.  It’s most unfortunate.  Because people’s services, are being withheld and that’s not right for the American people and we have a better idea about how to secure our border.  To do so with technology and infrastructure that is smart, and does the job.

Building infrastructure where 90 percent of the drugs come in, the President talked about that, most of the people come in seeking asylum, let’s have more personnel there.  More infrastructure, more road repair to facilitate all of that we have the technology.  Put the resources there for the technology, take maybe $400 million to $500 million to scan cars coming in for drugs and other contraband guns.  Other problematic items that might be in those cars that can be detected electronically.  And use innovation to protect our border in so many other ways.

This is smart.

This is about now and the future.  It’s not building a wall.  It’s more cost-effective to do it this way and it honors our values.  There’s again a better way.  That’s a negotiation we should be having.

We had three meetings, I think the last one was a staged affair so the President could walk out.  The other meetings of staff over the last weekend have tried to be productive – if you want a solution.  So we’re happy at least – not that this makes it okay – but at least it makes it better for America’s workers for them to know they’ll paid and for their creditors to know they will be paid.

Q:  Speaker Pelosi, should Steve King resign? Is fit to serve?

Speaker Pelosi.  We’ll be acting on that.  He’s said terrible thing, terrible things have been said by other people in this Administration as well.