Floor Speech on H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. And thank you, Mr. Chairman for your great leadership in bringing this important legislation to the Floor – a rule of the House to expand opportunity for so many people in our country, to protect our planet for future generations to do so with great equity in a way that Builds Back Better for Women. Mr. Speaker, thanks to the tireless work of so many in the House Democratic Caucus, all of our Members, our Chairs of the Committees of jurisdiction, the Members of those committees worked so hard bringing their years of experience, knowledge and judgment on how we would go forward to fulfill the President's vision.
President Biden has a big vision for America and for our future, a vision that has equity in it so that we are building with fairness for all in our country to participate in the increased prosperity of our nation. We thank the President for his great leadership, the vision that he has put forth, the knowledge of all of his careers in the Congress and as Vice President in terms of legislation and his respect for all of our Members paying so much attention to their concerns and more especially to how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people.
This is Build Back Better with Women, Build Back Better For The People. It will be one of the most significant legislative undertakings that any of us have ever been part of. And I say that with great proprietary attitude toward the Affordable Care Act, transformative and historic. This is even bigger than that. In fact, it strengthens the Affordable Care Act.
So, if you are talking about how we want to have immediate and enduring difference for the workers and families, creating jobs, securing middle class tax cuts, lowering costs for families and making the wealthiest pay their fair share, all the while contributing to reducing the national debt, making everyone pay their fair share.
Did I hear a laugh over there? Did I hear a laugh from those who added $2 trillion in tax cuts to the richest people in America? One percent, 83 percent of it going to the top one percent. This is paid for and more than paid for.
In terms of jobs, together with the historic, also historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, it will create an estimated two million jobs each year, 20 million jobs over the life – into the next decade. And that's just immediately to this legislation, not talking about what it will generate as many more women are in the workplace.
If you look at any piece of the bill, it would be extraordinary. Madam Speaker, if we came to the Floor and just talked about protecting our planet for our children – it's always about the children, the green aspects of this bill are For The Children and their future. It's about creating good-paying jobs. It's about, again, a generational challenge that we have. It's about health care, the air our children breath, the water they drink, the atmosphere in which they can thrive. It's about jobs, again, good-paying, green jobs, about making America preeminent to the world in the new green technologies and sharing that information with other nations so that they can succeed as well – underdeveloped countries.
It's also about security. National security experts come to us and say that we must treat this as a security issue. Years ago when I was still in the Intelligence Committee – now I’m still ex officio, but then on the Committee, we were even seeing the need for using our technology and our knowledge in terms of protecting our country, recognizing the assault on our planet that the climate crisis would be. Why?
Because as you know with rising sea levels, encroachment of deserts, drying up of rivers, great rivers of Asia, all of the things that are happening, the thermal management of the planet, the list goes on and on, all of this has created in many ways drought, famine, floods, violent storms beyond – of record proportion. And so the experts say that the competition for habitat and resources that this causes can increase conflict as we have migrations and the rest can cause conflict. So, we must anticipate that as a security concern as it is already.
And then when we talk about it, health, For The Children, jobs for their families, security for our country, we also recognize that this is a moral issue for us all. If you believe, as do I, that this beautiful planet is God's creation, then we must be good stewards, have a responsibility to be a good stewards. But even if you don't share that religious belief, we all agree that we owe it to our children. I would hope we all agree that we owe it to our children to pass this planet on to them and future generations in a responsible way. So, even if this bill were just about that it would be historic in its proportion and its transformative nature and worthy of just voting for that. But it isn't about just that.
We'll make historic progress to nearly universal health care coverage in America, strengthening the ACA to make coverage more affordable for those who buy insurance on their own. It also contains the Medicare hearing benefit, making a major difference for seniors. As you probably know, Madam Speaker, I know you do, but my colleagues, there are some states that would not accept – expand Medicaid. This is a great disadvantage to children. Not only children but seniors who depend on Medicaid for long-term health care and the rest in this legislation. We expand not only Medicaid but Medicare – excuse me, not just Medicaid but the Affordable Care Act to draw those people into the plan at practically no cost to them except their participation in an appropriate way.
Build Back Better makes historic Medicare prescription drugs and negotiation for the very first time. The Secretary of HHS would have the power to negotiate lower prices for some of the most expensive medicines our seniors use.
What's in the bill is a compromise. I have for a generation been fighting for this important provision for the Secretary to negotiate for lower prices, really since on this Floor we passed Medicare Part D, which was a real giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry. This now reins that in.
Under this agreement, when people go to the pharmacy instead of paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for their insulin, their bill will be capped at just $35 a month. Think of what a difference that makes in people's lives and how important insulin is to them.
In total, the most any senior would be allowed to pay for their medications in Medicare Part D per year is $2,000, not one penny more. And Big Pharma’s outrageous price hikes above inflation will be halted not only for seniors but for all Americans. And that is remarkable because that – that was one of the strong points of this agreement.
In terms of family care – okay so, there we are with health care. The green – under the green framework we talked about climate. Under the health we talked about Affordable Care Act, Medicare, et cetera and prescription drug benefit. And now we are talking about Build Back Better. There’s a #CareCan'tWait. Indeed it can't, and help is on the way.
In terms of family care, Build Back Better is the most transformative initiative in children and caregivers in generations. For decades hardworking families have been struggling under a system that stacks the deck against them, a situation made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. That COVID-19 pandemic pulled back the veil on how hard it was for people to deal with many of these challenges.
Our legislation, the Build Back Better [Act], Builds Back Better because it saves most families more than half of their spending on child care, delivers free pre-K for every three- and four-year-old in America, just on those two scores, parents earning, children learning – possible because of child care and the universal pre-K – give more than 35 million families a major tax cut by extending the expanded Biden Child Tax Credit, putting money in the pockets of families with children, expand access to high-quality home care for older Americans and Americans living with disabilities. Madam Speaker, even some of my colleagues in this body on both sides of the aisle have frequently told me that they spend more time caring for their parents when they are sick than they did when their children were small and they were sick because their parents are older and more in need of that attention.
Well, this not only provides high-quality care for older Americans and Americans with disabilities. It also recognizes the value of those people who are providing that care, treating them with respect and with proper pay. Okay, and then we have, make a significant contribution to workforce development. If we're going to Build Back Better, even in the BIF bill – the bipartisan infrastructure framework – it's important to have people be trained for the jobs. Not only in construction, but in home health care and in other ways. And so – and doing so was very important to President Biden and to all of us, but this was a must for him in every aspect of the legislation, to advance equity and opportunity with investments in maternal care, nutrition, housing and more.
That equity is part of what's happening in the construction – the infrastructure bill and here. We must have equity. We cannot perpetuate disparities in income and living conditions and the rest. To do so with respect for work, honoring work, and to do so in a way that has equity. And we have included permanent universe paid medical – family and medical leave, which is a pillar for all of our work for our families. I hope this will stay in the bill.
We must get children learning, parents earning, as I mentioned, in a way that assures women can follow a career path as they meet their family needs. Just think of the liberation that this is, that women will be able to go to work, follow their career path, help provide for their families. Or maybe they're a single parent, provide for their families, all the while knowing that their children, or if it happens to be a parent, are well cared for. It does – so, I'm very excited about what it does in that regard.
Again, I talked about the climate and I won't go back into it except to say that with all we want to do in the climate sector, we have to meet our goals. If we are going to be true to any promise to our children, grandchildren or future generations, we have to. Build Back Better will enable us to do so by cutting greenhouse gas pollution by over a gigaton, helping meet the President's vision to cut pollution in half by 2030 and protecting our children's health. It will drive forward the clean energy economy, create good-paying jobs and lowering family's energy costs. And it will advance environmental justice back to that equity issue, as it will educate a work force for the future and advance housing initiatives that are resilient and green.
The Build Back Better is fully paid for and reduces the national debt. According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, this legislation is fully paid for with its tax increase provisions in the bill raising $1.5 trillion over ten years, not including the additional savings from the prescription drug pricing and the IRS tax enforcement. Further analysis based on CBO estimates show that the legislation reduces the deficit by over $36 billion over the next ten years and then by at least – are you ready for this, Madam Speaker? Over the next – the second ten years by $2 trillion over the second decade. And if it reduces the debt and grows the economy, Build Back Better will not increase inflation according to experts. As seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists recently wrote, because this agenda invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer term inflationary pressures. Inflation is very important. We must pay attention to it. And that's why it's so essential to pay for the legislation. But I'm a pay-as-you-go person. I always want us to be able to pay for or offset any new investments that we have, so this legislation is consistent with that.
President John F. Kennedy once said, ‘To govern is to choose.’ To craft and pass this bill choices had to be made. And we see, it's big. It's transformative. It’s historic. So, it will be challenging. And different Members will have different views for how we go about prioritizing and the rest. In this chamber, this very chamber, when people come here, I love to tell them about the history of this chamber. This is a chamber that abolished slavery, a chamber that declared war in World War II and before. It is a historic chamber, a place that we all must treat with great respect. And we will enhance the luster of this institution if we pass this historic, transformative legislation. No piece of legislation contains everything. And once we pass Build Back Better more work must remain to strengthen the financial security of America's working families to improve families' health care and to protect the planet and more.
But we cannot and will not miss the opportunity to Build Back Better for women, for children, For The People. The Build Back Better agenda creates more jobs, secures more major tax cuts for the middle class and lowers costs for families, while making the wealthiest pay their fair share. It's not punitive. It's fair share. And its agenda for workers, for families, for children, for the planet and, as i said, for women. The passage of this rule will take a strong step in achieving this goal.
So, I urge my colleagues to support the rule. I do so with special, again, congratulations and gratitude to the distinguished Chair of the Rules Committee, Mr. McGovern, the distinguished Chair of the Budget Committee, Mr. Yarmuth, the Chairs you have heard from, so many of them here this evening. Mr. Richie Neal from Ways and Means, so important in all of this, Frank Pallone of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Bobby Scott in terms of Education and Labor – three really important committees in the legislation – and housing, Maxine Waters and her contribution in that regard. Mr. Grijalva in terms of climate issues in the Natural Resources Committee. The list goes on and on. And it is a list, really a gallery of heroes, people who have brought their knowledge, their experience, their legislative skills to bear. Their knowledge and therefore their judgment to get the job done For The People. And we all – we do all of this in such a way that has equity. And so, we thank the President of the United States for his extraordinary leadership, his encyclopedic knowledge of what is in the legislation because he's been working for these issues so long, for the opportunity it will provide for families, children, dads and moms who need to have help at home and to do so in a way that treats people with respect, respect for their work. respect for their families, respect for their future.
With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time and urge a yes vote on the legislation.