Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House of Representatives

Pelosi Remarks at Press Event Ahead of Vote on Never Forget The Heroes Act

July 12, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Pelosi joined Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Members of Congress for a press event ahead of the House vote on H.R. 1327, the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alverez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Good morning everyone, and a good it is because we are here to do the Lord’s work.  Members from both sides of the aisle are honored, but more importantly, we are humbled to be with our 9/11 first responders, families and advocates.

We salute Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her relentless, persistent and dissatisfied advocacy on behalf of our 9/11 heroes.

And thank Chairman Nadler and the entire – Mr. King where did he go?

[Laughter]

Mr. Peter King – and make the emphasis – Representative Peter King

[Laughter]

For the entire New York delegation and beyond for their work. Let us salute them for what they have done.

[Applause]

Thank you so much.

We acknowledge them, but we are truly honored to have some very important people in our midst: the families, the advocates, the champions of the first responders and the first responders themselves.

We are honored to have Jake Lemonda and Gerard Fitzgerald, who are here with us representing the firefighters and police officers, and you will hear from them.

So, in placing us in time: on September 11th, our nation suffered loss we could never have imagined, and we witnessed heroism that we will never forget.  On that day of horror, our brave first responders were there for us.  We must always be there for them.

The Never Forget The Heroes Act takes long overdue action to provide the financial security and support for the 9/11 heroes, survivors and families.  It is critically important that we restore the compensation of those hit by drastic, unfair cuts and ensure that their claims will be fully paid out in the future.

This bill honors James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez.  And we are blessed to be here with Luis’ sister Aida.  We will hear from her in just a few moments.

I just want to, in the interest of time, go directly to a very special guest who is here with us, and that is John Feal.  John is a constant, relentless, persistent, dissatisfied – where is he?  There he is.  There is our guy.  So much he would be saying.

[Applause]

It is your turn.  John is a persistent, again, dissatisfied, relentless advocate who knows his power.  And he was clearly always telling us, and he is right to say it, that the people are the bosses of the Congress.  That is exactly the right attitude to have.  Nobody feels it more strongly than you at this time.

Thank you for making today possible, John Feal.

[Applause]

* * *

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Jon [Stewart].

I just want to make this observation, because there’s no issue about passing this in the House of Representatives.  We have bipartisan support.  It’s just a matter of getting it right, in terms of writing the legislation.  We were very well guided by Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Peter King and that, but the fact that Jon Stewart weighed in on this has made all the difference in the world, in terms of the United States Senate.

Jon – we have two Jons here – John Feal, his relentlessness, the advocacy of everyone was very, very important to help raise the profile of this and to have the action taken here.

But, the Senate was going to be a very tough nut to crack – the spotlight that Jon –

John Feal.  No it won’t.

[Laughter]

Speaker Pelosi.  Yeah – no, not now.

The spotlight that you all, but especially the celebrity of Jon Stewart, raising it in the public view really changed – really made such a tremendous difference.

So, the celebrity spotlight, the mobilization of all of you are making today and next couple of weeks possible.  But, I wanted to join John in honoring Jon Stewart for the spotlight that he put on it to make it too hot to handle for the Senate not to take up the bill.

And, with that, I’m pleased to yield to Carolyn Maloney, a champion on this issue.

* * *

 Speaker Pelosi.  The Speaker has the humble privilege to give the last word to the Alvarez family.

Thank you for speaking so personally about your brother.  Thank you for your own contribution as 30 years on the force.  Thank you for speaking about your brother and mentioning his veteran’s background, many of our first responders are veterans, as well.  And thank you for speaking from your [experience] and from your heart.

I was just going to say – when Jerry was speaking earlier, he mentioned what was happening in the immediate aftermath.  Any of us who went to ground zero at the time saw and heard the silence.  The sacred ground.  And many people, many first responders, were there sifting through the soil for any remains that could be found.

So, let us today replicate that silence – have a moment of silence for Ray Pfeiffer, for Luis Alvarez, for James Zadroga and for so many others who made that sacrifice and for those we are trying to protect today.  Let us have a moment of silence and personal prayer.  Thank you all for being here.

[Moment of silence]

Thank you.  We will never forget our heroes.

Thank you.