Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Highlighting Democrats’ Progress For The People in the 117th Congress
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Pelosi joined Members of House Democratic Leadership for a press conference to highlight Democratic achievements For The People in the 117th Congress and discuss House Democrats’ upcoming legislative agenda. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. For us, this is a day to acknowledge great accomplishments for the American people. When the American people voted for a Democratic White House and Democratic majorities in the Congress, we promised Help Is On The Way. And now, Help Is Here.
Democrats have been delivering For The People to Build Back Better: passing the American Rescue Plan to crush the coronavirus and defeat the economic crisis, including with the ‘Biden child tax cut’ – Biden [Child Tax] Credit. For some – it really is a tax cut for all. Passing landmark laws for equal pay, empowering workers, lowering health care costs, creating jobs, rebuilding the infrastructure and more.
Thanks to the Democratic leadership, the Build Back Better economy is working. It’s working. Thank you, Mr. President. Jobs are coming back, going from 60,000 jobs every month to 60,000 jobs every three days. Thirty days, three days: one tenth of the time. Sixty thousand jobs. Wages are rising: paychecks are growing at the strongest rate in fifteen years. The economy is booming: yesterday, you saw the economy grow at the fastest rate in nearly 40 years. Families are benefiting: poverty is said to be cut in half this year, with the share of Americans living in poverty set to reach the lowest level on record.
But to sustain this growth for years to come and to ensure that we can then share in its benefits, that all can share in its benefits, we need to be transformative in terms of how we go forward with infrastructure investment and reconciliation bills that truly meet families’ needs. We will Build Back Better with more jobs, cut taxes and lower costs for all.
We're proud to be here with our dazzling Chairs of the committees, who made so much of this possible. You'll be hearing from Leader Steny Hoyer, Whip Jim Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark and our Committee Chairs stand ready to answer any questions about what is – right now, we are celebrating record-breaking accomplishments on passage of the appropriations bills, thanks to the virtuoso performance of our great Chair Rosa DeLauro.
We are just so grateful to Frank Pallone for every one of the bills for the last year and a half that he has been there to help with: crushing the virus and now truly doing so, and actually have an impact on the infrastructure legislation as well. Our Chair Peter DeFazio is just a maestro in all of this. He knows issues that relate to infrastructure better than anyone. He's been at it for decades on the committee of jurisdiction and now, so proudly for all of us, as its Chairman. But he also knows how to save the planet. And the combination of those two is absolutely essential at this time.
And Richie Neal, my goodness. Everything goes through Richie Neal's committee. Thank you for the child tax cut. Thank you for so many other things that I'm sure you will tell us about. Richie said, you know, ‘Everybody goes out and makes investments and then comes to us to pay for them. We want to initiate some of our own ideas about this.’ Child Tax Credit, family and medical leave, child care, so many, so many issues. Thank you to the Ways and Means Committee. And the list goes on.
We're also joined by our distinguished Chair and Vice Chair of the Caucus: Mr. Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, Vice Chair Pete Aguilar. And the Chair of our DCCC, who knows why we have to make sure the American people get the message, because it is in their interest.
With that I'm very pleased to yield to the distinguished – I have to say it right, Chuck said I didn't say it right yesterday – distinguished Democratic Leader, Majority Leader of the House Steny Hoyer.
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Thank you so much. Listening to our leadership go over so many of these things, I think it would be important to put an exclamation point on some of this, starting with the Child Tax Credit. As our distinguished Leader said, it’s about the children. As Steny referenced, it's about the children. It's about the – he has Floor duty – about the children. Mr. Neal, would you like to put an exclamation point on all of this?
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That was – some of what the distinguished Chairman mentioned happened early in the Administration of Joe Biden. Part of that Rescue Plan was the work of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Mr. Chairman, do you want to brag about some of what's there and what's to come?
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Well, in this time of Olympics, I'd like the victory lap of comparison. I began chronologically. Next, we did the INVEST Act, of which we are very, very proud. I spoke earlier about the credentials that Mr. DeFazio brings to this subject. I would like to yield the podium to him.
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Thank you, Mr. De Fazio. And now – up until last night, we were on the Floor with our appropriations bills. Mr. Hoyer, Mr. Clyburn, Ms. Clark and I are all appropriators, so we have some good judgment about what – how to pass an appropriations bill. Rosa DeLauro set a higher standard than we ever knew. And we thank her. Madam Chair.
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It's important to note that for – what? Ten Congresses now, twenty years, Rosa DeLauro has been introducing the Child Tax Credit legislation, and so –
And Mr. Neal has been a partner in all of that. But as far as Rosa’s concerned, as usual, she was persistent, dissatisfied and relentless. And the children benefit. To make it known to the public, to build a consensus in our Caucus, our distinguished leadership of the House Caucus, Mr. Hakeem Jeffries and Pete Aguilar – who is an appropriator as well – have given us a forum to build that consensus. And our distinguished Chair, Sean Patrick Maloney, he is trying to convey that message to the American people so that people will take advantage of the opportunities that are there.
They, and all of our Chairs, stand ready there to answer any of your questions. Questions? Yes, ma'am.
Q: Madam Speaker, on the issue of voting rights, can you tell us a little bit more about your meeting with President Biden today? And more specifically, when is it? And also, if you can tell us if you do have H.R. 4 ready next week, when you intend to bring it up on the Floor?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, Mr. Clyburn has addressed this very thoroughly, because – thank you for your question. This is of the highest priority for us, the sanctity of the [ballot] box, the basis for a democracy and the assault on the democracy that is being perpetrated across the country, in states across the country, to suppress the vote in a way that just undermines the strength of our democracy.
We – I have not seen what has been circled, but my understanding is there's something that the Senate has put together. I myself have not seen it because I was doing our other work. And I will see it. Our hope with the White House – well, we'll see. It's the President's meeting. And so it's his agenda. But it is well known to the Administration and to the United States Senate that the H.R. 1 is essential to us in the House, because it is fundamental to our democracy.
Mr. Clyburn, I think, went into some detail about what August 6th is. It's fraught with meaning as the anniversary of the first Voting Rights Act being passed in 1965. And that our goal is to be ready with something. What happened was, the Supreme Court said that our, as Mr. Clyburn mentioned, that we had to have our formulas updated.
We didn't think so, but they're the Supreme Court. So, we wanted to make the next presentation of the bill ironclad constitutionally, and we were on a path to do that until just a few weeks ago. The Court again made an assault on the Voting Rights Act on Section II. And so, so we had to go back to make some modifications.
I feel confident that we will be ready. And as soon as [we are] ready, we will bring it to the Floor. Yes, sir.
Q: Madam Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. These two – these seats here have some kind of advantage, so you all should know that. No offense anybody.
Q: Madam Speaker should immigration reform –
Speaker Pelosi. Excuse me, sir. Mr. Clyburn, did you want to add anything on the voting? Anybody? Mr. Jeffries? Okay.
Q: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, should immigration reform be in a budget reconciliation bill? And if it is, and the Senate Parliamentarian rules it out, should Senate Democrats overrule the Parliamentarian to include it?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I'll just address the first part and yield to Mr. Aguilar to speak to that. He has been a real leader on this issue and working very hard on it. I do believe that immigration should be in the reconciliation, some piece of that in the reconciliation. I never go into Senate rules. Mr. Aguilar.
Vice Chair Aguilar. And I don't think I'll go into Senate rules either. Yesterday, I was pleased to join Chair Lofgren and Chair Nadler as well as Chair Durbin and Chairman Menendez and a group of others in the White House to talk to the President about this and to reiterate our support for reconciliation, including immigration proposals.
We should be guided by – and I know the Chairs and the people behind me, you know, speak to this as well – we should be guided by providing the greatest good for the greatest number of people in our country.
And so including a path to citizenship for those with DACA status, TPS, essential workers and those farmworkers – bipartisan bills. Most – three of those proposals, bipartisan bills that this House has passed under the leadership of the Speaker, the Leader and the Whip, and so that's what we should be guided by.
And, and that's the – the President's commitment is that he will continue to support. He will speak out on this. We appreciated it. And without speaking to the, to the Senate discussion, you know, we're going to be guided by providing a path to citizenship for those in our country who know of – who, this is their country, as the, as the Speaker has said time and time again. Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. Just for your information, I’m sure most of you know this, but the – to qualify for being included in a reconciliation bill, the proposal has to have an impact on the budget. We have clear numbers to that effect, to go forward.
So, again, without going into how the Senate considers something significant or not – we won't go into that and what the Senate should do if not – but we know we have a very good case for this to be included.
Q: Speaker, [you] said in your letter last night it’s a moral imperative for Congress to extend the eviction moratorium.
Speaker Pelosi. Yeah.
Q: Are you frustrated that the Administration took so long to make that ask of Congress? And is it your –
Speaker Pelosi. I'll be happy to answer that, but let's stay on subject here. And then I'll come back to that. Okay. Any questions on our agenda? I know some of our other colleagues want to weigh in on that. Yes.
Q: I was hoping to get more clarity on voting rights. I heard Mr. Clyburn say, ‘I think that we will have a product going to the Senate by next week this time that will meet the tests that are required.’ Does that mean there will be a House bill? And will you bring the House back for a vote?
Speaker Pelosi. Mr. Clyburn, would you like to speak to that?
Whip Clyburn. Well, H.R. 4, called the John R. Lewis Voting Rights […] Act, is what we renamed. It has, you know, the last – the deal last year was based upon issues that we were aware of and that were before us.
As the Speaker said, two weeks ago I guess it was, the Supreme Court issued another opinion on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And so therefore, we are including our language as to what will fix that, as well as what will get us to where we ought to be on preclearance.
Now, I know we are supposed to be out next week, but I also am realistic enough to know that we may not be out next week or the week following it. So, we are going to get this bill prepared, hopefully announce what it is on August 6th – a bill that can go to the Senate. When it goes to the Senate is when we get a chance to vote on it.
Speaker Pelosi. And may I just say, let's not get ourselves too concerned about a date. The date of August 6th is so important to us, fraught with so much meaning historically, so much pointing to the need for us to perpetuate what was – when that first bill. But, when it is ready, is when we will call Members back. And what, when it is ready is when we – it will be ironclad constitutionally. And I salute the distinguished Whip and the Members who are working on this very important piece of democracy.
There are other issues, like nullification of election – there are other things that we have to deal with in the H.R. 1 beyond what was in it originally, because in the last election, and since then, we have seen further undermining of the vote.
Chairman Jefferies. Well, we're going to continue to move forward, thanks to the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Jim Clyburn and others in addressing the attack on democracy and the voter suppression epidemic, with the fierce urgency of now. Including dealing with the most recent Supreme Court decision, as the Speaker and the Whip have illustrated.
At the same time, we're going to continue to make tremendous progress for the American people. The Biden economy is growing at the fastest rate in 40 years. Millions of good-paying jobs have been created. A massive middle class tax cut has been enacted. Democrats are doing our damn thing. And we're just getting started For The People.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Where this – the rubber meets the road, where the rubber meets the road on voting is, of course, in the elections. And I wanted to have our distinguished Chair of our DCCC, Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney – by the way, today is his birthday.
Whip Clyburn. Happy birthday.
Speaker Pelosi. He's 55 years old. I told him this morning in a conference that we had with the Members, that, in the casino, 55 is called ‘hard way ten.’ Anybody of you go to casinos? No? Any of you go to casinos? ‘Hard way ten,’ because you can get a soft ten, six and a four. There's a six and a four on each die. There's only one five on each die. Fifty-five: ‘hard way ten.’ Happy Birthday, ‘Hard Way Ten.’ It’s ‘hard way ten,’ but a glorious cause for celebration for the rest of us.
Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney.
Chairman Maloney. Just when you think you don't know every wrinkle of the Speaker’s extraordinary talent. When I think of the Speaker, I think of being on a heater in Las Vegas. Yeah.
But I – and I have now discovered that the title of the book we're going to write together on why we won this election: it's going to be called ‘Hard Way Ten.’
Speaker Pelosi. There we go.
Chairman Maloney. For the American people.
Well, look, you've heard my colleagues speak in detail about how Democrats are delivering: strongest economic growth in 40 years, a middle class tax cut giving families back their own money to help families, and an infrastructure plan – investing in American infrastructure to bring our jobs back, grow manufacturing, stop sending jobs to China, be less dependent on foreign energy and grow this economy even more.
And the only point I'll add to what my colleagues have said, is that every Republican voted against the economic growth plan that is producing the greatest growth in 40 years. Every Republican voted against that expansion of middle class tax cuts that is giving families their own money back, and we're gonna find out where they are on infrastructure.
And so while Democrats are delivering, the Republicans have told two dangerous lies. These are the evil twin towers of deception: a lie about the election, which led to the attack on this Capitol, which they are now trying to ignore, and the lie about the vaccine, which is making harder our efforts to end this pandemic and get our lives back. The Republican Party has become deceitful and dishonest, dangerous and divisive. But Democrats are delivering.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you so much. Any other questions on the great accomplishments of the Democrats in the first six months, seven months of this year? You had one, right?
Q: Yes, Madam Speaker, I wanted to go back to my question on eviction moratorium. The Supreme Court ruled a month ago that Congress can act – to action on resetting that eviction moratorium. Why is Congress – why is this action only coming now, the day that the House is supposed to leave?
Speaker Pelosi. Okay, are there any – I'm happy to come back here – on this subject that we're here for?
Q: On the Child Tax Credit, are you confident that there will be an extension of the tax credit in any reconciliation bill? Would that be through 2025? Or a permanent extension? And would that come with any additional aid for the IRS to implement it since they struggled with that?
Chairman Neal. I can guarantee you that IRS enforcement will be in the next package. Any one of my constituents, if you said to them, if you spend $40, we'll give you $140 back – my constituents get it. And what's happened is that the IRS no longer has the capacity in terms of technology and or man and woman power to do the sort of sophisticated audits that are now required. I heard a statistic the other day I hope you'll all zero in on, which tells the whole story.
The compliance rate in terms of tax reporting in America generally hovers between 82, 83, 84 and, on a good year, 85 percent of the American people. They pay their taxes. For wage earners, because of withholding, it's 99 percent. That's the difference.
So, for those of you who are paid in wages, like I know most of you are, it's easy. The IRS collects. But now it's more sophisticated avoidance, and in some offshore addresses, it's about evasion. And there's a distinction between the two. I know because in settled law, you approach it differently.
The Child [Tax] Credit, my intention is to make it permanent. I must tell you the reviews are extraordinary so far, and I think part of it is because of the expansion of income levels for people who could secure that. And the other part of it is not been really reported.
Some of the Christian conservative groups in America are really fine with this. They're pretty happy about it. They tend to vote in the other side, but they like this as an initiative. So, I think as we go forward the two questions you've asked, I hope been answered.
Chairwoman DeLauro. Just very, very quickly, Madam Speaker, as the Chairman said, it will be a part of the reconciliation bill, but it is already a part of the Financial Services and [General] Government Appropriations Subcommittee, which we just passed, and in the minibus yesterday, there is increased funding for the IRS; both for enforcement and for the implementation of the Child Tax Credit. And we are told by the IRS, one, is that we leave about a trillion dollars on the table because of their, over the years – the inability for them to have what they needed with technology and staffing to make up that – to make up that difference.
And if you think about it, it's a trillion dollars in what child poverty costs us in this country. And so, what we want to try to do is to make sure they have the tools that they need to both enforce and to implement.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. I just want to say that, again, coming back to the children: the Child Tax Credit. The many other things that we've had in past legislation – in the Rescue package, but that need to be even more so in the reconciliation, that Congresswoman, Assistant Speaker Clark has been a champion on. On child care, child care, child care.
So, when we say Build Back Better, we're saying Build Back Better with women. Child care – now, not that gentlemen don't, men don't, dads don't benefit from the child care money as well. Child care, family and medical leave, early childhood education, universal pre-K, that is – issues that relate to home health care workers, to liberate people from their responsibilities at home in a way that they can go to work, pursue their careers, knowing that their family members are safe. So, there's so many things about the human infrastructure that is in that bill in addition to the Child Tax Credit, which is so remarkable. Thank you for your leadership on child care. She's – she’s relentless, dissatisfied, persistent on the – on the subject.
One last question, then I'll go do yours.
Q: Yeah, my question is on that thing exactly, because millions of people right now, of course, are holding their breath after watching this eviction moratorium expire. Were you caught off guard by the White House's statement not to extend it, and why did Democrats wait until now, hours before recess and hours before this official moratorium is going to expire to try and hold a vote to extend it?
Speaker Pelosi. Excuse me. Any questions, comments on what has gone before, my colleagues? Any closing remarks? Okay.
We're in a situation where the pandemic has, of course, taken its new shape. As we've talked before, these viruses are resourceful. They – when they are transmitted, they mutate and that makes it more of a challenge. We know that that is what we are faced with now. And so, the Center for Disease Control has talked a new way about, again, about mask wearing, about urging vaccination and the rest.
The moratorium for eviction is a COVID initiative related to the intensity of the issue. And $46 billion was allocated, both in the year-end omnibus last December, as well as in the Rescue package: $46 billion. This money has largely gone out to the states and local governments to implement and to give to the renters, so they can pay the rent, which helps the landlords, of course, too. And the fact is that almost $50 billion was allocated, $46 billion, less than ten percent of that has been spent. Around $3 billion is reported to me, but let’s say it would be ten percent. Why should the renters be punished for the fact that the system did not put money in their pockets to pay the rent to, to the landlords?
So, that's where we come to this – it’s like, ‘Well, CDC, you have defined this, and these people have not gotten the money.’ So, this is – I think this is something that will work out. It isn't about any more money. The money is there, resting in localities and governors’ offices across the country. So, we would like the CDC to expand the moratorium. That's where it can be done.
And then – and, of course, with the public message of governors, mayors, et cetera, give the money for its purpose to the renters. So, this is – this is, to me, very imperative that it be done, and that – as I say timing is not everything on this, except that the moratorium ends. But, again, if they know that the money will be released, then we'll go there.
There are all kinds of talk among lawyers, who thought this and that and the Executive Branch. I don't know. I don't want to be critical of what they have because they just made the statement yesterday. But we are – we're not going away from this issue, whether it's now or shortly thereafter.
It is – I mean have you ever seen an eviction? Sometimes, even the law enforcement people go into these apartments are crying because they know they're going to do something that's going to put babies’ cribs out on the street, personal belongings out on the street. It happens like that. Passers-by can even take that stuff. These people who’ve been evicted now have to find another place to live, to take this stuff that’s now been on the street.
This – it is the most heart-wrenching, and so in defiance of everything that we say we are about in the Gospel of Matthew: When I was – needed shelter, you gave it to me. That’s the word of the Lord.
So, I think that this is something that – fairness and justice has to be done. We’ll ensure that it does. Thank you all very much.
Q: Madam Speaker, will you keep Members here until the House passes an extension?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we’ve been having – we’ll find a solution.
Q: Today, Madam Speaker?
Q: Do you think the Administration can extend it?
Speaker Pelosi. I think the CDC can.