Pelosi Floor Speech Opposing GOP Retirement Security CRA

February 15, 2017

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the Floor of the House in opposition to the Republican Retirement Security CRA.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentlelady for yielding, and I thank her for her hard work on this important issue.  Because, Mr. Speaker, every American should be able to trust in the promise that after a life of hard work, a secure and dignified retirement will be there for them. But today, that promise is at risk.  Half of all private sector employees in America, almost 60 million people, do not have access to any type of employer-sponsored retirement plan.  It's a problem that Republicans should remember when they plan to raise costs on seniors, when they work to slash Medicaid, and they destroy the sacred guarantee of Medicare.  Yet once again, Republicans have come to this Floor, not with the retirement security of hard-working families in mind, but with a greedy Wall Street First agenda.

“Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Labor empowered the states to create innovative solutions to the retirement savings crisis.  The gentleman is talking about some of these savings that didn't even exist when we had the Majority.  In states across the nation, however, the great laboratories of our democracy went to work just as they should.  My state of California decided to create something called Secure Choice, a state-run retirement plan that allows employees to be auto-enrolled into an IRA if they work for a business with five or more employees.  In doing so, California would give almost seven million workers access to retirement savings, no substitute for a pension or a 401k, but a vital step toward greater retirement security, toward greater retirement security.

“Other states have stepped forward with their own plan.  The gentlelady's state of Oregon being one of them, has been one that – Oregon, California, Illinois, Washington state, Connecticut.  The Republican measure targets workers' savings accounts in those states, and efforts to foster retirement savings accounts in some 20 other states, in some cities, including the city of our Chair Mr. Crowley, New York City is attempting to move in that direction.  So today, instead of supporting states' innovation, this is a states' rights bill, to the party of states' rights, Republicans have decided Wall Street's profits are more important than workers' retirement savings.

“This Republican resolution is opposed by AARP, the National Conference of State Legislatures, AFL-CIO.  In fact, the AARP letter to Congress states, it starts, as a matter of fact, ‘On behalf of hard-working Americans who struggle to save for retirement, AARP urges you to vote against a Congressional Review Act Resolution to overturn the Department of Labor's final rule on savings arrangements established by states for non-governmental employees.’  And while Republicans race to do the bidding of their Wall Street friends, they still have not lifted a finger to create more good-paying jobs for hard-working Americans.

“Let's just make a comparison.  Friday will be the four-week – it will be four weeks since President Trump took office.  Let's go back eight years to when President Obama took office.  On January 20, 2009, President Obama stood on the steps of the Capitol and asked for swift, bold action now to create good-paying jobs, to establish education for the 21st Century, the list goes on for swift, bold action now.  One week and one day later, the House passed a Recovery Act.  One week and one day later, the House passed the Recovery Act.  One week after that, the Senate passed the bill.  And on February 17, which would be Friday of this week, four weeks since the Inauguration of President Obama, President Obama signed into law the Recovery Act, which created or saved around four million jobs for the American people, stopping the loss of jobs that existed in the Bush Administration, and that is something so remarkable.

“So, where is the jobs bill from the Republicans?  Wasn't this election about jobs?  Where [are] the jobs, where's the infrastructure bill?  And by the way, President Obama also passed the Lilly Ledbetter, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Bill even before the Recovery Act, the SCHIP program, which has bipartisan support in the Congress, and much more.  This ‘do-nothing’ Congress – except do stuff for your friends who will exploit the environment, clean air, clean water, you name it, retirement savings – has done nothing.  And while Republicans – as I said, within four weeks of the Obama Administration, all that had passed.

“So today is February 15, so I ask my Republican colleagues: where is your jobs bill?  Why do you have time for Wall Street's agenda, but no plans to create jobs for hard-working Americans?  This is the people's House, and we must do the people’s business.  You must do a better job by the people we serve.  When you are ready to do that, we look forward to working with you in that regard.  I join the AARP in urging a ‘no’ vote on this ill-advised CRA, and I yield back the balance of my time.”