Pelosi Remarks at Los Angeles Press Conference on Biden Child Tax Credit
Los Angeles – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Karen Bass and advocates for a press conference on the Biden Child Tax Credit, life-changing payments for working families nationwide included in Democrats’ American Rescue Plan. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. What an honor it is to be here with each and every one of you, especially with our VIPs – the Gomez family. When I say that they are our VIPs, this moment is all about them and as well as our friends gathered here. Thank you for being here.
This is a very special day. This is a day with a promise fulfilled. President Biden’s campaign said that “Help Is On The Way.” Today, Help Is Here. It is here in the form of the Biden Child Tax Credit. We’re very proud of it.
I’m honored to be here with my colleague, Jimmy Gomez, who has been effective from the start in Congress. I told him that four years ago, this very week, when he was sworn in as a Member of Congress, I called him to say, “Can you do a town hall meeting on infrastructure right away?” And he did. Effective from the start.
His Committee is the Committee of jurisdiction with the Child Tax Credit legislation, and so thank you to Representative Gomez. And thanks to Judy Chu, Congresswoman Judy Chu, a member of that Committee. And Karen Bass, who is on the Judiciary Committee – well, she’s on many committees – but has a role in making sure that this was possible today. Thank you, Karen Bass, for your leadership as well.
But as I said, our VIPs are Dennis and Sonia Gomez, who will tell their story. It is a story about how we can honor our commitment to our children. Our children, our children, our children. And across America today, Democrats are hosting meetings with the nonprofit groups who are our messengers, our messengers to the families to make sure they know how to avail themselves of the benefits, because as we work – and we’ll make sure everyone knows how to do that.
I thank our Tax Board Chair in California – Conway Collis has been a champion on this issue for a long time.
Democrats in Congress have an economic and a moral imperative: helping families recover and grow out of – coming out of this sad year, as Representative Gomez described. That’s why we focused on, not only this – just think about this for a moment – 27 million families in America, particularly, will directly benefit, especially communities of color. We’ll cut child poverty in half, in half. Over one million children will benefit — in CA-34, and we use this as a model to make sure other children benefit as well. Tens of thousands of children will be lifted out of poverty. Checks are being mailed or electronically transferred as we speak, because with President Biden in the White House and Democratic Majorities in Congress — and that's really important calculus here.
We know more needs to be done. Our creed has been Build Back Better, but we keep saying Build Back Better with women and families. Therefore, we want people to have the flexibility, the liberty to participate.
So, this will be part of something where we have expanded access to child care, early education, tax credits of course. Again, as I said, family and medical leave but also child care. It will transform the Care Economy for the children. For the children. When people ask me what are the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children. Their health, education, the economic security of their families, a safe environment in which they can thrive. And that means safe from gun violence as well as air pollution and the rest.
We must Build Back Better putting families first, and that's why we need our grassroots movement to help us do that so that everyone who is eligible can participate.
And when we talk about families – again, the Gomez family is here to make a presentation, but in order to present them, it is now my privilege to yield back to the distinguished gentleman from California, the representative of this district.
As I do so, let me just say again what an honor it is to be at Barrio Action. Isn’t this a beautiful place? Here we are at the gym.
… the murals on the walls, respecting the dignity of children and their community that it serves.
Thank you to Tammy for your tremendous leadership for decades, her leadership for decades, again at Barrio Action Youth and Family Center.
So, as with today has been about youth and families, a champion for youth and families: Congressman Jimmy Gomez.
Q: What concerns – for what – how would you address the concerns of employers who said that this credit will disincentivize people from entering the workforce?
Congressman Gomez. Well, someone who had parents that work four to six jobs a week and struggled on 100 percent of their salary, the benefits are going to be tremendous. And that concern is not real. It's – and the reason why is that there's so many different things that prevent people from going to work. My district director just was on maternity leave for, for twelve weeks, paid family leave. She was having trouble finding child care. And because she couldn't find child care, she had to delay it.
So, as things open up, people do get back to work. And people want to work. This is not going to prevent them from doing that, but it's going to help them, you know, put food on the table. It's going to help them make sure that they're not struggling with with rent or mortgage. It's going to keep people off the streets. But it's gonna – the, the impact will be tremendous.
Speaker Pelosi. There are a number of reasons why some people have not returned [to] the workforce after the COVID. And one of them is health and danger to their families. And so when we're fully through this and the workplace is safe and people feel secure, going to work without bring COVID back home or to themselves, that will be one of — removal of one obstacle for people not going to work.
As Congressman Gomez mentioned, access to child care is one of the biggest obstacles to people returning to work. One of the biggest prices to pay in this COVID was the price that women in the workforce paid. Millions of women had to stay home. Their children could not be in school. They did not have access to nor could afford child care.
So, in the package that we have, both in a Rescue and in the new package — the care economy package — is a big infusion of resources for child care.
Also, people are not just caring for children. They're caring for elderly parents who might be sick or disabled, sibling or member of the family who is not a child, but nonetheless in need of care. And we have that in the jobs bill that is coming up. In fact, in the bill — a couple hundred billion dollars in the bill that was agreed to with the Senate and White House last night and which I praise them for. Because that is another reason: caring for someone at home. Being safe in the workplace, being free and liberated to go to work.
Now, let's just remember this, any infusion of cash into the pockets of the American people, especially for the children, because these – their needs are urgent. Their needs are urgent. Any infusion of that cash is quickly spent, injects demand into the economy, create jobs.
So, think of this as a job creator, not a barrier to somebody going back to work, because they're going to be more fully able to care for their children’s needs as well as take millions of children out of poverty.
Q: My question is, when you talk about the extension of this, the permanence of this, is there the possibility of excising this from the broader package, because this, as you've noted, is so important that perhaps it could pass more easily than everything else that's surrounding it?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, this is part of the, I mentioned earlier, this is part of a comprehensive plan to address the needs of families. Family and medical leave — that's another reason that people cannot go back to work. Child Tax Credit as we are here, child care, tax credits and other ways we have to fund — have better access to quality child care. It's comprehensive. It's part of a bigger package.
But as Karen Bass – Congressman Bass said, this is Social Security for children. And in order for us to increase – lengthen its life, we need to show that it really is working, that people understand how they qualify, that they sign up. And families see the benefit.
So, as was said by all of our colleagues, outreach, outreach, outreach is so important, and that's why we're so grateful to the nonprofit groups who are trusted, cultural and linguistically appropriate outreach to various communities. That – so that they can all fully benefit from it. And that will be our biggest selling point for making it longer, rather than spinning, spinning it off. I do believe.
So, we'll have several more years when we pass the reconciliation bill. But again, the proof of its need to be permanent will be its effectiveness right from the start.
Q: I just wanted to speak it all to the fear – I think Tammy mentioned earlier about the possibility to lower your tax refund next year for in fact paying something. And then there might be some concern about that.
Congressman Gomez. Can you speak up?
Q: I know that there's a fear out there. And I think Tammy mentioned it at the top that people might actually be paying something next year in their taxes or that they would lower their tax refund.
Congressman Gomez. No, this is not going to impact – it's not going to have that impact on families, when it comes to this benefit. It's not going to make their income rise where that's impacting that the fact that they get different programs – help from different programs.
This is something that we thought about. It's something that we thought about, even with the stimulus checks. Those stimulus checks are going to impact people's income levels where they're getting punished on the back end. If that was the case, then we wouldn't do it.
Speaker Pelosi. If I just may put this in perspective, because we've been trying to do this for a long time. And one of the techniques that our colleagues have been involved in was when we tried to get a tax benefit, use the tax code for tax credit, some people who didn't make enough income wouldn't get the benefit. But if you made more income, you get a tax credit.
So, we wanted to make it what we call refundable, refundable to lower income people who didn't make enough income to get the tax rebate that was available to higher income — not even high, but higher income people. So, refundability was our fight. That was our fight for years.
This eliminates that fight, because it just gives it to everyone. You don't have to say, “I had to make certain amount of money a year in order to get a tax benefit.” Or, “if I don't make that, is it refundable?”
So, I understand – this is, this is Rosa DeLauro, who is the godmother of this bill she introduced in every Congress for the past ten Congresses, every Congress the past ten. For 20 years, she's been introducing this bill. And now we have an opportunity to bring it to fruition. And we don't – it’s done with care, not in a way to make matters worse in any way for anybody. But to make matters better in every case For The Children.
Q: Going back to the question on businesses not having enough workers. Some of them are afraid that all of these packages are at least perhaps encouraging a culture of laziness among some of the beneficiaries from some of these packages. Would you agree with them? How would you address that?
Speaker Pelosi. I thoroughly, completely and totally disagree with that. In fact, if they looked carefully at what this package does, by having child care and family medical leave and home health care for seniors and people with disabilities, we're enabling people to go to work. We're enabling people to go to work.
So, that, that, that may be an excuse for why they are paying higher wages, but it is not a reason why people are not, not are not going to work. This is something so positive. And there may be – you know again – there may be some instances where they might make that case, but I always say this in Appropriations Committee — I'm appropriator, well I used to be when I was on the Committee — “the plural of anecdote is not data.” The data is that people could not go to work because they could not leave people at home who needed care: children or seniors or people with disabilities and the rest. That they could not go to work because they did not feel safe in the workplace because some employers were not implementing proper OSHA standards for safety to protect themselves, the employees and the rest. And there are – let's be respectful of the, those who see a problem in hiring and see how we can help correct that.
But that is not to deter the support that our families have that they need. And this is taking us into a new era: Social Security for children. Social Security for children. We are going to fight to make sure that this is permanent. But again, the strongest weapon in that fight is that it works. And that people truly avail themselves of it and not stay home from work because they have this advantage, but instead see themselves freed up to go to work because they can afford what is needed in child care and health care and the rest. I think it's very liberating. I think it's very liberating because when we say Build Back Better, my colleagues and I say Build Back Better with women. And this is going to have many more women be able to go into the workforce. So, let's be respectful of the concerns that some of the businesses have put forth and address that specifically, but not paint everybody with a brush as you characterize it.
Rep. Gomez. And I want to just – growing up with my parents, right? Came from Mexico. Worked four, five, six jobs a week. They would leave in the morning and they wouldn't come home until about eleven. It was basically my siblings and I taking care of each other. That's why – one of the reasons my Spanish is so poor. They were never around.
Why don't we want parents only to have to work one job or two jobs, you know, to make ends meet? 40 hours a piece. Come home. Take care of your kids. Make sure that they're studying, that they’re staying out of trouble. Right? Isn't that the family values that we always talked about? Isn't that what we always wanted? So, that is what we're fighting for, for a future and a present that values hard work, that values people who take care, who are going to work every single day. And they just need a little bit more help. And I took a tour of small businesses in my district, a restaurant in Boyle Heights that 28 workers from that were outside of the – before the pandemic, they did a lot of changes to keep their employers on hand. The PPP program helped them out. And then they're still – the doors are open. And how many workers do they have back? 27 out of 28.
So, this is actually – these employers are doing great work. And we're going to take steps to help them out in order to make sure that they succeed. And if it wasn't for what the Democrats pushed for – making sure that more money went to small businesses through community lending institutions – a lot of these businesses who employed 28, ten, fifteen, four people would have been out of business. And that would have had a profound negative impact on the economy of not only the entire country, but working-class communities like I represent.
Speaker Pelosi. If I can just mention this one thing. When you mentioned PPP – the Paycheck Protection Program, which was to help us – we have about a trillion dollars – a trillion. Not a million, not a billion. A “TR.” A trillion dollars in the PPP. And that's only one aspect of the assistance to businesses that we have. And as Mr. Gomez said, because of the work of Chairwoman Bass who was, well she’s gone, but relentless in making sure – Maxine Waters. Oh, my God. Maxine Waters – just relentless and persistent in making sure that small businesses – businesses of women, people of color, veterans, rural small businesses – avail themselves, as Mr. Gomez mentioned, to it. So, over a trillion dollars to businesses, so let's help — and the Fed, the Federal Reserve, in their action did so much to shore up business. We want to shore up families.
Q: Madam Speaker, you said you’re making progress on a couple of bills. I’m sure you want to have that fall into your lap. When it does, how will you proceed in tackling those two big pieces of legislation?
Speaker Pelosi. But first, I want to make sure we had the permission of the other members of the press for you to have a second or third question before they had one. You okay? You okay? I’ll come back to you.
Congressman Gomez. Last two questions. Or last three. Go ahead.
Q: I was wondering your response to the record of overdose deaths over the past year and also your thoughts on the California recall – whether you’d like to see Governor Newsom in a debate?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I'll take care of that later. But let's stay on topic right now, okay?
Q: This is actually off topic too – about information coming out that potentially generals who are afraid of the former President staging a coup.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let’s stay focused.
Q: On the permanency issue, if the GOP were to win Congress and the presidency, this could go away. Can you speak real quick on the process of that?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don't want to predicate anything on the Republicans taking back the House or the White House, but suffice to say this is a Democratic initiative. This is a Biden Child Tax Credit. And –
Speaker Pelosi. As was said earlier, what a difference, what a difference an election makes. Yeah, we’ll take up when they – they haven't written the bill yet. They just have some principles. When we see the text, we'll go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Many of the priorities of the House are already in the bill. The question is the topline, how we stay under the topline as we perhaps realign some of those priorities. Or maybe they're the same. But I salute the action that they took, as well as saluting the bipartisan infrastructure bill that is coming out. It isn't as green as I would like. It isn't as people-oriented as I would like. But it is – what is in there is something we agree with, but it is imperative that we take the next step in reconciliation to make it all greener and more family-friendly.
Q: Will it go through regular order to expedite or with the process of what the House…
Speaker Pelosi. Well, when that – you'll be the first to know.
Rep. Gomez. She asked about the recall…
Speaker Pelosi. She just asked about the recall, I don't need the second part. What was the first one?
Q: Mine was the overdose deaths.
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, my God. The overdose deaths. Well, that is a major issue. And that is something that is addressed in a separate legislative path that we're on now. And later today, we'll be on the phone with the Appropriations Committee, addressing what we need to do in terms of the overdoses and just to see what the actual facts are, as they relate to the isolation that people found themselves in during the COVID period. But that is of the highest priority for us.
And as far as the recall is concerned, Gavin Newsom has been a great Governor of California. He will prevail in the recall. And it's unfortunate that it's a waste of time to go down that path, but it is one that is allowed for, so we respect it. And we will be sure that Gavin Newsom prevails.
And then in terms of the President — a coup, well, I think it's pretty clearly obvious that the then-President of the United States incited an insurrection on the Capitol of the United States, which was not in support of our Constitution, did not honor the values of our country, the patriotism of our men and women in uniform. And, again, the cultural causes of it that he inflamed, the organization that he required, the funding of it that he encouraged and the messaging of it are right there at his doorstep. But you’d have to talk to the generals about what word they want to use for it. But it certainly was unpatriotic.
And then you – what, did you move here so you’d get a different question? You're the same person. I know who talked.
Q: On the Child Text Credit, just one last thing. I just wanted to ask you, nationwide do you have a number of how many children will be lifted out of poverty? Because we see how many in Los Angeles County – but nationwide do you have a number of how many children…
Speaker Pelosi. It’ll be about half of the children who live in poverty. And I, as always, say to Members, when you run for office or when you come to Congress, tell us your “why.” Why are you here? What is your purpose? For me, my “why” is that one in five children in America lives in poverty. That is my “why” — to lift them up. I have five children myself, my husband and I. Now, nine grandchildren – two at USC. I know our USC folks have been here and of course –
There they are. And so, the fact that in this great country – as Mr. Gomez addressed earlier, in this great country that so many children are living in poverty, going to sleep hungry at night, how could it be? How could it be? So this is the path. And that's why I'm so particularly happy, and as Congresswoman Chu said, this is an historic day. This is an historic day. And so, it's millions, tens of millions of children who will be lifted out of poverty.
Thank you all.