Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to Trumpcare

May 4, 2017
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the Floor of the House in opposition to repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Trumpcare.  The bill passed the House 217-213.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding.  I thank him, Congressman Scott, I thank [Ranking Member] Frank Pallone, [Ranking Member] John Yarmuth, [Ranking Member] Richie Neal, our Ranking Members who have done such excellent work on this debate on the values of our country.  Mr. Speaker, our colleague, Mr. Clyburn, began Mr. Speaker, I want to join him.  I think those words bear repeating.

Over 50 years ago Dr. [Martin Luther] King said, ‘of all of the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.’  We come to the floor with the moral force of Dr. Luther king's words in our hearts.  The Affordable Care Act is a civil right, a fundamental right for every person in our country, not just the privileged few.  So in the spirit of Mr. [Jim] Clyburn and Dr. King, let us be prayerful about how we go forward on this very personal issue, about the well-being of every person in our country.

Speaker Ryan once called this bill an act of mercy, an act of mercy.  There is no mercy here.  Indeed, inequality and inhumanity is exactly – that is exactly what Trumpcare has in store for the American people.  But when he said it's an act of mercy, here’s what others said, ‘from the beginning Trumpcare was a moral monstrosity that will devastate seniors, children and hardworking Americans.’  That was from me.  But don't take it from me.

Sister Simone Campbell said, ‘this is not the faithful way forward and must be rejected.’  The Catholic Health Association wrote, ‘we strongly encourage the full house to reject this replacement bill.’  And the United Methodist Church said, ‘opposing Trumpcare, this is what they said, people will die because of efforts like this to roll back health care.’  Lutheran services of America said, ‘Trumpcare will jeopardize the health care and long-term service and support of millions of Americans.’  The Episcopal Church said, ‘Trumpcare falls woefully short of our spiritual calling to care for the least of these, as well as the noble values upon which our great nation was founded.’  End of quote.  And all that was said before the Republicans decided to destroy the protections of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

I grant our Republican friends their position.  I respect them and their constituents who sent them here.  But I reject the wrong priorities in Trumpcare.  Tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the health insurance for tens of millions of working families across America.  Trumpcare very clearly spotlights the differences in priorities between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.  It has stepped forward in the long standing Republican beliefs that Medicare should wither on the vine, that Medicaid should be shrunken, and that Social Security should be privatized.

If you believe in the health and well-being of the American people, you must reject this bill before us now.  It is what Trumpcare – here's what it means for the American people.  Much has been said about policy here today and over time.  Much has been said about politics.  What are the politics of this?  But what's really important is what this means to the American people.  And they know, they are listening.  They know what it means to them.

It means, Trumpcare does, it forces families to pay higher premiums and deductibles, increasing out-of-pocket costs.  Costs.  Less coverage.  Trumpcare will take away health care from more than 24 million hardworking Americans.  A crushing age tax.  Trumpcare forces Americans age 50 to 64 to pay premiums five times higher than what others pay for health coverage.  No matter how healthy they are.  Steals from Medicare.  Steals from Medicare.  Trumpcare shortens the life of Medicare trust fund and ran sacks funds that seniors depend on to get long-term care they need.  That's why it's consistent with their wither on the vine for Medicare philosophy.  And then, if that were not bad enough, and they couldn't pass their bill because it was that bad, they moved further away from the American people.

By gutting key protections.  Trumpcare eviscerates essential health benefits such as maternity care, prescription drugs, emergency coverage, prenatal care and guts protections for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.  As bad as Trumpcare was the first time around, it was dead, it died.  It died right here on the floor.  Now it's come back to life.  Like a zombie, even more scary than before and it is even worse.

If Republicans had their way, Americans with pre-existing conditions would be pushed off their insurance and segregated into high-risk pools will where they will face soaring costs, worse coverage and restricted care.  Trumpcare means huge premium increases.  It's frightening future for families who need affordable, dependable care the most.  Now on the floor, the Republicans have recklessly, and some would say fraudulently, claimed that Trumpcare covers Americans with pre-existing conditions.  It does not.  It does not.

As the Conservative Mercator Center said about the Upton amendment, ‘the $8 billion amount is a pittance spread over five years, it is fifth of a pittance.’  As the Kaiser Family Foundation said, ‘the Upton means would cover the costs for only 1 percent of the individual market.’  Others have given it up to 5 percent.  1 percent to 5 percent.  Does that mean covering?  No.

Forcing a vote without a CBO Score shows that the Republicans are afraid of the facts.  They're afraid of learning the full consequences of their plan to push Americans with pre-existing conditions into the cold, or as my colleague from New York said, off the sidewalk.

If Republicans thought they really were protecting people, they wouldn't be afraid of the facts.  But they're also afraid of the truth and the truth that would come forth if we knew the facts.  And they're afraid that the American people will find out that this is not a health care bill.  This is a tax bill disguised as a health bill.  This is a bill that is the one of the biggest transfers of wealth in the history of the country, from the middle class to the richest people and corporations in America.

A tax bill, not a health care bill.  That's why they have to do it now.  So they can get on with their tax bill.  But the suffering Trumpcare will inflict on people is all too clear.  That's why this disastrous bill has been condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Age United, the Children’s Hospital Association, AARP, the March Of Dimes, the list goes on and on.  Instead of reading all of these pages, I will submit them, without objection, for the record.

Speaker Pro Tempore.  Without objection.

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Under Trumpcare, families, seniors, vulnerable children, Americans with disabilities, people struggling to overcome addiction, and the sick will lose their health care.  Rural hospitals will be closed, nearly two million jobs will be destroyed across America.  Seven million veterans will lose access to tax credits for health care.  And all of this to give a massive tax cut to the richest in America.  Trumpcare is a billionaire's tax cut disguised as a health care bill.  It's robin hood in reverse.  One of the largest transfers wealth from working families to the rich in our country.

Today we have – within we honor of visions of our – we honor the visions of our Founders, we can, who risked everything.  They risked everything.  Their lives, their liberty, their sake receipt red honor, to advance – sacred honor, to advance the freedom to pursue your happiness.  The freedom from being job locked or policy locked because of what the Republicans want to do today.  Today we fight to preserve affordable health care as the right of every American, again, not the privileged few.

Today we fight for children like Zoe Madison Lynn.  Zoe was born with a congenital heart defect in May of 2010. She faced her first of three heart surgeries at 15 hours.  By 6 months old, she was halfway to her lifetime limit her insurer had placed on her.  She faced a grim future, not only using up her lifetime limit by preschool, by preschool, but by carrying a pre-existing condition will that – that will require attention and care for the rest of her life.

Under the Affordable Care Act, she's protected.  But Trumpcare puts her future in danger.  I wish that our members who vote for this bill have better – I hope you make time to sit down with the parents of a newborn or with a heart condition or a young woman who just learned she had breast cancer, the family of loved ones struggling with the disease or a chronic condition.  Any of the tens of millions of Americans who are rightfully terrified of what Trumpcare will mean in their lives.

Mr. Speaker, we have with this bill a wonderful opportunity.  This is one of the best civics lessons we can engage in.  Because of what happened following the election, the American people are engaged.  They are paying attention.  I'm not saying in a political way.  I'm saying in a personal way.  A former Speaker said, all politics is local.  In the case of health care, all politics is personal.  All politics is personal when it comes to health care.  So, this civics lesson will teach the American people a number of things.

As special as we think we are when we come to the floor here, most Americans don't know who their Member of Congress is.  But they will now.  When they find out that you voted to take away their health care.  They will know when you put an Age Tax on them or undermine Medicare, Medicaid and the rest.  Oh, yeah.  They're paying attention.  Because it's really personal with them.  And their families.  So, I think we have to get ready for that.

Our colleagues who have the mantle of being a moderate, you vote for this bill, you have walked the plank from moderate to radical.  And you're walking the plank for what?  A bill that will not be accepted by the United States Senate.  Why are you doing this?  Do you believe in what is in this bill?  Some of you have said, well, they'll fix it in the Senate.  But you have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead.  You will glow in the dark on this one.  You will glow in the dark.  So don't walk the plank, especially unnecessarily.  Our responsibility to the sick and the hurt is biblical.  It's fundamental to who we are.

As Pope Francis said, ‘health is not a consumer good.  But a universal right.  So access to health services cannot be a privilege.’  Today let us declare once again the Affordable Care Act must be the right of the – affordable health care must be the right of every American, not the privileged few.  So does Trumpcare lower health costs?

Members of Congress. No!

Leader Pelosi.  Does Trumpcare provide better health care?

Members of Congress. No!

Leader Pelosi.  Does Trumpcare protect seniors and families?

Members of Congress. No!

Leader Pelosi.  Is Trumpcare good for our veterans?

Members of Congress. No!

Leader Pelosi.  Is there any caring in Trumpcare at all?

Members of Congress. No!

Leader Pelosi.  For the sake of our values, to honor our responsibilities to our Founders, like liberty, pursuit of happiness, to our veterans who protect us, and to our children whose aspirations are our guide, I urge my colleagues to vote no on this disastrous Trumpcare bill.  I yield back the balance of my time.