CNN.com Op-Ed: Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer: It’s been a busy 100 days for House Democrats
By: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
In November, the American people elected Democrats to take back the reins of power in the House of Representatives and put it back to work on their behalf. In our first 100 days in the majority, we have begun to deliver on that promise. With a dynamic, diverse and energized freshman class of 63 new members, Democrats are moving ahead with our agenda for the people: Lower health care costs and the price of prescription drugs, increase paychecks by rebuilding the infrastructure of America in a green, modern and job-creating way, and clean up corruption in Washington so that the government works for the public interest, not the special interests.
One of the first acts of our new majority was to enable the House to defend the Affordable Care Act in court against efforts by Republican-led states and the Trump administration to dismantle it. This was soon followed by the introduction of a comprehensive bill to stabilize our health care system and lower health care costs for consumers. Already, committees are holding hearings and marking up legislation to keep Democrats’ promises to take action to make health care and prescription drugs cheaper.
To address wage stagnation, we passed H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, in March. This legislation, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, makes it harder to discriminate against women in pay and benefits. With women now the sole breadwinner or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of families with children, closing the gender wage gap is an issue of both fairness and economic opportunity across our country.
Meanwhile, Chairman Bobby Scott and Education and Labor Committee Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act in January, and it has already been marked up and received committee approval. This bill, which aims to increase the minimum wage eventually to $15 an hour, will be considered on the House floor in the coming months.
In the first days of the 116th Congress, House Democrats moved swiftly to implement new rules to make the legislative process more open and transparent and hold elected officials to higher ethics standards. In the weeks that followed, led by Rep. John Sarbanes and many of our freshmen, Democrats passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act.
This major legislation puts power back into the people’s hands by ending the unrestricted influence of big money in our politics, promoting national redistricting reform, and requiring new standards of transparency from those who serve in government. The legislation also broadens access to the ballot box, with automatic voter registration and expanded early voting. In February, Rep. Terri Sewell led Democrats in introducing H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court had undermined in 2013’s Shelby v. Holder ruling. We are holding hearings and working to advance that legislation as well.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act closes loopholes and requires that everyone who wishes to purchase a dangerous firearm does so only after passing a background check — a requirement supported by nine out of 10 Americans, including a majority of responsible gun owners. We also passed Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s legislation to fix the dangerous Charleston loophole that currently allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if an FBI background check on the purchaser has not been completed within three days.
Led by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, House Democrats reached across the aisle as well to pass a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect America’s public lands.
Furthermore, Democrats brought legislation written by Rep. Jimmy Panetta to reaffirm our support for the NATO alliance and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s resolution to demand that the Justice Department make special counsel Robert Mueller’s report public to the floor. Both passed with overwhelming bipartisan votes.
These achievements alone would make the first 100 days of the new Democratic majority among the most productive in Congress’ history. But the list runs even longer. Just last week, the House approved Rep. Karen Bass’ five-year reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act with bipartisan support.
Moreover, Democrats have introduced legislation or held hearings in our first 100 days to address critical challenges the previous Republican House majority ignored. These include: protecting Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected or Deferred Enforced Departure status and keeping immigrant families together; addressing the danger posed by climate change; and banning discrimination against LGBT Americans.
At the same time, Democrats are advancing great progress on our critical priority of rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. We are advancing legislation to invest in our rundown roads, bridges and transit systems; modernize our ports and airports; reconstruct our aging public housing; bring broadband internet to every corner of the country; and build the sustainable, resilient energy infrastructure of the future in a way that creates good-paying jobs and combats the climate crisis.
The American people entrusted Democrats with the House majority because we promised to focus on the issues that matter and the challenges too great to be ignored. This is the positive change that the American people voted for in November, and many of our initiatives passed with bipartisan support. It’s time for Senate Republicans to join us or pay a price with the public for their obstruction. House Democrats have taken action for the people. This is what we’ve done in our first 100 days. It is what we will continue to do in the weeks and months ahead.