Pelosi Remarks at Media Stakeout on Build Back Better Act & Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Whip James E. Clyburn for a media stakeout on the path forward for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the rule for consideration of the Build Back Better Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Today, we have an opportunity to proceed down a path to advance a very historic and transformative agenda – the President's agenda to Build Back Better – and also to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. Create good-paying jobs across the country building the infrastructure of our country, with mass transit to help clear the air, with safer bridges for safety for the American people, for broadband to help people communicate better, whether it's distance learning, telemedicine or commerce, or just family relations. There's many other – there are many other elements in the legislation. They are very important, very important to the success of our economy.
But in order to Build Back Better, we wanted to do that and pass the Build Back Better bill. I call it Build Back Better for Women because it makes a big difference in being transformative for women in the workplace.
We had hoped to be able to bring both bills to the Floor today. Some Members want more clarification or validation of numbers that have been put forth – its topline, that it is fully paid for. And we honor that request.
So, today, we hope to pass the BIF and also the rule on Build Back Better, with the idea that before Thanksgiving – it should take them another week or so to get the numbers they are requesting, as – I don't know, that's how long it takes. As we do, then, we'll have a Thanksgiving gift for the American people.
I do want to thank the Black – Congressional Black Caucus for the creative alternative that they presented today that advances the agenda – to do so in a way that, again, is historic and transformative.
With that, I'll yield to the distinguished Democratic Majority Leader, the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Hoyer.
Leader Hoyer. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. And thank you, Jim Clyburn, for the hard work that you and your whip organization – but you in particular – have put forward in terms of getting the work done.
What is the work? The work is two bills. They are the President's vision of a better and stronger America, a more competitive America, an America that reaches out to its working men and women, its families, to its children, to educate them, to seniors – to care, make sure that they're cared for properly. These two bills will make, as the President says, a generational change for our country.
I believe that the votes today to pass the build – infrastructure bill and to provide for a path forward by adopting the rule for the passage of the Build Back Better legislation will be a giant step forward. And I am absolutely convinced beyond a doubt that before Thanksgiving, the week of the 15th, we will pass the Build Back Better legislation.
All Members of our Caucus have indicated they are for BIF. Almost every Member has indicated, and I believe we'll have an overwhelming Democratic vote and pass, on our side of the aisle, the Build Back Better legislation.
I’d now like to yield to my friend, Jim Clyburn, who has been so important in moving this bill forward.
Whip Clyburn. I thank you, Leader and the Speaker, for their vision, getting this to where we are today. I think that what we are about to do is hopefully pass a piece of legislation that will be very transformative to many of our communities.
If you look at this bill, the so-called infrastructure bill, we see funding that gets us to about 70 percent of the way with a 100 percent buildout for broadband in our country. That, to me, is very, very important. You're not going to be able to have the kind of medical care that we need unless we have telehealth and telemedicine. We'll not have the adequate education for our children unless there's online learning that has took place. And rural businesses are not going to be able to thrive unless they can have, just in time, delivery of their services and their products. So, broadband alone is a big, big deal for me.
But if you look at the communities that I represent – rural communities, many of them rural – these communities with this bill get the water, the sewage, the kind of development that is needed to make these communities attractive for future growth and development. This bill gets us a long ways down that road, and not to mention what it does for our ports. The Charleston port is in my district. Our ports. When you see a state like South Carolina building – and now we do more tires in South Carolina than they do in Ohio. And we've got Mercedes-Benz, their Sprinter is made in North Charleston, Volvo, all these plants, BMW – they've got to have the ability to get these products out.
So, this bill, this infrastructure bill, is huge for my state and the community that I represent. And then that gets us to the rule on Build Back Better. And in Build Back Better, the reason we've got to have that bill is because that's where so much of what we need for families to get to where they need to be, for their communities to get to where they need to be. Just take, for instance, children in that bill is where we make permanent for another year the tax credits for children. Tax reduction, I call it, for families with children. These things are very, very important. Not to mention the other parts of the family that are taken care of in that bill.
And so, when I think of what we've got to do for the cost of pharmaceuticals – I have to use – I try to use the word ‘pharmaceuticals’ rather than the ‘drugs.’ The cost of pharmaceuticals, the cost there is in Build Back Better. And so, I think there's strong support, if not unanimous support, in our Caucus, for Build Back Better. And so, today, for us to do the infrastructure bill, give the President this bill to sign so that he can keep the job growth that we just heard about this morning moving forward. That’s a huge deal for us.
And then we'll go on to do the rule so we can go home and await these final numbers coming from wherever they've got to come from and do what we need to do to pass that bill sometime out into the future. And I'll let the Speaker tell us when that will be.
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say how important it is to have a vote. Once we have the rule vote, we had the path to the Floor. And all of our Members voted for the rule so that we will pass, as Mr. Hoyer said, we’ll pass the bill. And that’s what the distinguished Whip said as well. So, the rule vote – people have to understand: this is the threshold. And so, we'll cross the threshold that will take us –
Q: Do you have enough Republican votes to pass the bipartisan plan?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we hope to have as many Democrats as possible to pass the bipartisan plan.
Q: A couple of questions on that. Congresswoman Jayapal came out with a statement indicating she will not support – her caucus, the Progressive Caucus – the infrastructure bill if it goes without Build Back Better. She would rather wait until the CBO score comes and the moderates are on board for both. Have you spoken to her, and do you have the votes right now for the infrastructure bill?
Speaker Pelosi. We all speak to each other quite regularly. In fact, it's not mere chance to say I spoke once or twice – it's a constant conversation among all of us in our Caucus. And the fact is, we believe it is necessary to pass the BIF so that these jobs can come online as soon as possible. We have waited a while. We had hoped to pass it sooner, but we can't wait too much later for the legislation. I do believe that there are a large number of Members of the Progressive Caucus who will vote for the bill. That is my understanding. I work the Members all the time. I have my own – now, Mr. Clyburn has the official whip count. I have the Speaker's secret whip count. I don't tell anything that people tell me, not even you, my dear good friends. But i have a pretty good feeling.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, do you have 218 votes to pass BIF?
Speaker Pelosi. We'll see, won’t we?
Q: Speaker Pelosi, the inability –
Speaker Pelosi. Let’s see. Anybody else here?
Q: Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Right there. Okay. Please.
Q: We've seen this: there's going to be – there's going to be a vote, not going to be a vote, going to be a vote. At a certain point, do you worry that it starts to look like the Democrats can't get out of their own way?
Speaker Pelosi. No. Welcome to my world. This is the Democratic Party. It is – Will Rogers said it very well, wherever he is – right there. And it is a party with vitality and diversity. It's something that we all respect and admire. We're not a lockstep party. We are not just speaking as one person and nobody else needs to show up. And that exuberance is the vitality of our party, which we value and treasure and respect the different opinions within our party.
One of the challenges that we have, though, because I've been here a long time, as have all three of us, the – in those days, all of this would be done, but not on 24/7 platforms where there are opinions going out, characterizations going out before anybody even knew what was going on. So, it's an additional challenge, but I see every challenge as an opportunity.
Q: Speaker Pelosi?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am.
Q: What is your message to progressives who say they will not vote for this infrastructure bill until a final vote on Build Back Better is accompanying it?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I would say that it's really important for us to pass the infrastructure bill, for the reasons that Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Clyburn mentioned. We have to weigh the equities in our vote, each and every one of us. And I hope it would weigh heavily on them that American people want to see progress in their communities with job creation. But not only that: what those jobs will create in terms of mass transit, to protect the air, water projects to protect the water that their children drink, broadband so that we can have fairness in how people learn and buy and sell and get health care online. The list goes on and on. And it's very important that we pass it. So, I hope that they would make a judgment on the merits of the legislation.
Q: This inability –
Staff. Last question.
Q: This inability of Democrats to pass this today, what does this show to the American –
Speaker Pelosi. What inability? What inability?
Q: The inability to pass the Build Back Better plan –
Speaker Pelosi. Well, that’s – we’re not – we're moving the Build Back Better along. This is the first major step. We have never – let me, with all due respect to your characterization – this is as, we're in the best place ever today to be able to go forward. We have not had this level of progress in terms of where we are on Build Back – the BIF, Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or as it’s called – the jobs creation legislation, and the opportunity to have a path to Build Back Better for Women.
And for women, because there's so much in there that is liberating, liberating for women, women in the workplace. And dads, too, who have home responsibilities. Whether it's child care, whether it's elder care and home health care, whether it's ‘children learning, parents earning,’ with the Child Tax Credit that helps pay the bills. In so many ways. And, of course, we're very proud of the fact that, in this legislation, we have the opportunity for people in the twelve states that did not embrace the Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act to be taken under the Affordable Care Act.
This is transformational. And everything I mentioned, everything I mentioned, is supported by Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema. Everything that I just mentioned. There's some things that they may add, subtract or whatever. But 99 – over 90 percent of the bill was built House-Senate-White House. So, if there are a couple of things at the end that are different, we'll deal with those. But this is, again, transformative, historic and, again, this is a giant – two giant steps forward today.
Speaker Pelosi. No, no. Watch the vote when it comes up, okay?
Speaker Pelosi. That was the last question.
Staff. Thank you. Thank you.