Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of Designating the National Pulse Memorial

June 26, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 3094, legislation to designate the National Pulse Memorial, in observance of four years since the Pulse nightclub shooting.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding.  And I thank you and him for making this important memorial possible for us today. 

Can I have the photos?  Set the photos? 

I rise to solemnly join my colleagues to honor the 49 beautiful souls murdered four years ago in an unfathomable act of hatred and bloodshed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Thank you, Congressman Soto.  Thank you, Madam Speaker, for giving us this opportunity of observing, and for being a voice for peace and healing for all those affected. 

Pulse was a peaceful haven where young LGBTQ Americans could enjoy music, dancing, celebration knowing they were in a sanctuary of safety and solidarity.  Pulse was a monument to joy, a tribute to resilience and pride born out of the grief that Barbara Poma experienced after losing her brother, John, to AIDS.  That was her motivation for starting this.  May the grief that we experience now, at the loss of 49 who were murdered, move us to turn our pain into purpose.

This poster is all of them, but sometime after the terrible tragedy we stood on the steps of the Capitol holding individual – their individual pictures.  And, at that time, we said we will never forget.  And thank you for giving us the opportunity to keep that promise, to turn pain into purpose.

Shortly after the horrific act of hatred at Pulse, I had the solemn privilege of traveling to Orlando and meeting with survivors and families who had lost loved ones.  Their message to the Congress was – to a person that I met with there – was: ‘Please, do something to stop gun violence.’ 

Yet, painfully, since that tragic night, the horror that we saw in Orlando has been replicated in countless other communities across the country.  In too many places the epidemic of gun violence has killed too many innocent people and left too many families suffering unimaginable pain and loss.

As one of the first actions of our Majority, last year, the House took action to end the bloodshed by passing H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112.  H.R. 8, so designated because it had been eight years since the assault on the life of our colleague, Gabby Giffords.  She survived.  She is doing remarkable things in terms of trying to end gun violence.  But other people died, including a 9-year-old child.  Hence H.R. 8, because it was eight years since.  And then, H.R. 1112, Mr. Clyburn's legislation to address what happened in South Carolina. 

485 days, nearly 500 days later, we continue to urge the Senate to take up this legislation, supported broadly: Democrats, Independents, Republicans, gun owners, hunters, many of whom have had to pass background checks in order to have their guns and to enjoy their sport and protect themselves.  They are not against background checks. 

Across the country, this has broad support, nonpartisan support.  And yet, in the Congress of the United States, there is resistance to that safety of simply commonsense background checks.  And it isn't – it isn't as if we were starting something new.  This is just an expansion of the background checks that already exist to include gun shows and online sales, etcetera, just an extension.

I remind my colleagues that, on average, 100 people die every day from gun violence.  And let me restate: it has been almost 500 days since the House passed those bills and the Senate has failed to take them up.  Almost 500 times 100 a day, you see the consequences.  Not that all of them would have been saved, but many would have.  And many have been saved since the original background check legislation passed.

Four years later, four years after Pulse, our grief remains raw, but our resolve to end the deadly scourge of gun violence and hatred – discrimination, that’s what it was about too – remains unwavering, strengthened by the memories of those who are lost to gun violence: 49 souls here, so many others.

Inspired by the spirit of hope that we celebrate during Pride month, especially this weekend, let us never relent in our mission to end the horror of gun violence once and for all, and end discrimination against anyone in our community. 

With that I, again, commend Mr. Soto, you, Madam Speaker, and urge a yes vote, and yield back the balance of my time.  Thank you.