Pelosi Floor Remarks Urging President Trump and Republican Leaders to Re-Open Government
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Chair – Madam Speaker – thank you Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I rise following our eleventh vote earlier today to re-open government and end the senseless chaos and the pain of this shutdown. Why won't the Republicans take yes for an answer? Why won't they provide relief for the hard-working Americans suffering in their own communities?
Important to note, Madam Speaker, that on every occasion, we have presented to the Floor, initiatives that had been passed by the Republicans, in the Senate, just their own bills, sending them back to them, and they have said no, or their bills acted upon by a bipartisan group in the House. Our most recent contribution to send over to the Senate and they have said no.
And today, in the simplest, the simplest of resolutions, we said, ‘please vote yes for $12 billion for disaster assistance, we all know that we have to do that, and two weeks – open up the government for two weeks in order to have a discussion of how best to protect our borders.’ And they said ‘no.’
$12 billion for disaster assistance. Two weeks of opening up government to allow the debate to continue while people can come to work and those who are working already, all of them can be paid.
Americans, like Brenda from Maine, whose family can no longer pay for heating fuel this winter, while temperatures remain below freezing. Americans like Julie from rural Iowa who says that farmers already are hit hard by tariffs, will feel the squeeze even more now. Americans like Sarah from Colorado whose new job at the VA is on hold, adding to wait times for veterans who need health care services and may save veterans who compose nearly a third of our federal work force: 31 percent.
Our veterans who have security clearances, who are at risk – which are at risk, when you can lose your security clearance if you lose your credit rating. And you can lose your credit rating if you cannot pay your bills on time: your mortgage, your rent, your car payment, your credit card bills and the rest. Credit rating goes down, the vulnerability of your security clearance goes down – is increased.
So it is harmful to our veterans to be doing this. It's important for everyone to know how they are affected because our veterans, who have donned the uniform of our country to protect us and then carry on their commitment to public service in the public sector as federal employees in some ways still continuing to protect us, in other ways meeting our needs in another way. All of them affected by this shutdown.
Or like Lily from Georgia who says, ‘Food stamp recipients will go hungry. Many will lose subsidized housing. State and local services will be overwhelmed trying to make up for the losses.’
As one woman, Vivian, from Maine, asked, ‘How is a wall more important than families?’
The senseless shutdown shows the American people's safety and security is in peril. This week, FBI agents released a report warning of the dire effects of the shutdown on nearly every aspect of their work.
They write, the FBI writes, we don't need funds to get drug and guns off the – ‘We don't have funds to get drugs and guns off the street and to prosecute the violent gang and drug traffickers.’
‘We aren't able to take child [sexual exploitation cases] to grand juries to seek indictments and warrants in order to get our most violent offenders arrested… This just puts our children in jeopardy.’
‘We have no funds to pay sources that provide cybersecurity intelligence to protect the country against our foreign adversaries.’ And, they conclude, ‘the fear,’ during this disastrous shutdown ‘is our enemies know they can run freely.’
The FBI talked about children, putting our children in jeopardy. This shutdown is putting so many children and the families of our federal workers in jeopardy as well.
Those of us who have had the privilege of serving those in food lines and the rest, to listen and hear their stories, can tell you firsthand that this is taking an impact that is material for sure.
It’s about their financial security, but psychological as well. We're doing serious damage to our country totally unnecessarily.
The President and the Republicans either do not notice or do not care about the real effects of this shutdown on real people. They say, ‘Oh, you'll get paid later.’ Well, they have to pay their bills on time and not some time later.
This morning, when told that many federal workers were going to food banks, Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross said, ‘I don't quite understand why.’ As hundreds of thousands of workers are about to miss a second paycheck tomorrow, Secretary Ross does not know why people without a paycheck have to go to food lines.
This Marie Antoinette attitude of ‘Let them eat cake’ is pervasive in the Administration. The President thinks, I guess, they can call their dads for money.
Hours after Secretary Ross made his statement, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow doubled down on this Administration's ‘let them eat cake’ attitude saying that the shutdown was just a ‘glitch’. Just a glitch? Maybe to you it's a glitch, but it's a paycheck to Americans, our federal employees and the work they do for us.
So they are being harmed by not getting paid. The people they serve, the American people, are being harmed by not being served. Our economy will suffer a downturn. It does at these times. The President's own economic advisors can tell them that.
This shutdown is not a glitch. It is a crisis that the President alone created and that the President alone can end.
The Republicans in the Congress have been accomplices to the President's irresponsibility and just ignoring the consequences of his actions. Either he doesn't know or he doesn't care, but nonetheless, the Trump Shutdown goes on.
Once again, we call on the President and the Republicans in Congress, especially in the United States Senate where they're holding this up, to re-open government now for the sake of the health, the safety and the well-being of the American people.
And I thank our federal employees for what they do to meet the needs of the American people. For the role they play in providing the promise, the public sector promise that we make to people, to meet their needs, to provide the services of the courts, the protections of our national – of our security in terms of the FBI, of TSA, of the Coast Guard.
The cost of this shutdown, the Coast Guard are the only defense entity that are not being paid because this is a 25 percent shutdown, 75 percent of the workforce is at work. The Department of Defense is at work, but the Department of Homeland Security is not, and that's where the Coast Guard. That's what the Coast Guard falls under.
Imagine those responsible for search and rescue in emergency situations having to go to food banks to get food for their families. How does that keep them as strong as they possibly can be, as strong as they possibly can be to search and rescue and protect us? They are our line of defense in securing our borders.
A lot of the discussion is about secured borders. Well, our borders extend to the seas and our Coast Guard are our line of defense there, and in our proposals for the opening up of government, we have funding for our Coast Guard, for assets they have asked us for.
So this is a tragedy in so many respects. It shouldn't go on any longer. We should at least be able to discuss and compare the merits of our different proposals, and we should be able to do that with government open and not holding the American people hostage, federal employees hostage, the security of our people hostage as well, and the safety and well-being of our children hostage to an idle campaign applause line that the President seems committed to at this time.
With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.