Floor Speech on the Rule to Advance Build Back Better Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill & John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of the Rule to Advance S.Con.Res. 14, which sets forth the Congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2022 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2023 through 2031; H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021; and the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his distinguished role on the Rules Committee. Now, let us praise the Rules Committee for the important work that they do making sure that legislation comes to the Floor in a way that is consistent with the Rules of the House and, in this case, a budget that is consistent with the values of our country. Thank you, and thank you to the Chairman, Chairman Jim McGovern, for his leadership as well – and to each and every member of the Rules Committee. We have to salute them, on both sides of the aisle, for the time they put in and how they facilitate the work of the House.
Madam Speaker, today is a great day of pride for our country and for Democrats. We have a President with a big, bold vision for our country, an unprecedented opportunity to keep our promises For The People. We promised For The People that we would lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We would increase paychecks by building the infrastructure of America. And we would have cleaner government by passing legislation for the vote. This rule does all three of those things and much more, enabling the Congress to vote on those – some of that legislation today, some of it in the bill and some of it for later.
When the President spoke about the infrastructure bill, which is provided for in this Rule, he said to our Republican friends, ‘I want to find our common ground on infrastructure, but I will not confine my vision to what is in the bill that we can do in a bipartisan way, unless you want to help us Build Back Better.’ I like to say Build Back Better for women, because that is what this budget will do – that is in this Rule. So, I salute the President not only for his vision and his determination to get the job done, but for the priorities that will be contained here in this budget as we go forward.
The Build Back [Better] agenda is one that is liberating for families, not just women. Moms and dads with child care, with a Child Tax Credit, with universal pre-K, with home health care, with workforce development so that not only are we building the physical infrastructure of America. We are building the human infrastructure of America to enable many more people to participate in the success of our economy and the growth of our society. It does so with equity: 40 percent justice provision that will be in there. Now, it remains for to us work together – work with the Senate to write a bill that preserves the privilege of 51 votes in the Senate. So, we must work together to do that in a way that passes the House and passes the Senate, and we must do so expeditiously, expeditiously.
On October 1st, the authorization for highway, et cetera, will expire. Well, it expires September 30th. And by October 1st, we hope to have in place – that is the plan, to have in place the legislation for infrastructure. That is bipartisan, and I salute that, but it is not inclusive of all of the values we need to build back at a time when we have a climate crisis.
And so, I salute our distinguished Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mr. DeFazio, for the knowledge that he brings, the value system and the knowledge that he brings to looking at how we do a reconciliation bill, a Build Back Better bill, in a way that is preserving of our planet for the children, for the children.
Exciting in all of this is the fact that we will have the John Lewis – John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This is pretty exciting. And I commend you, Madam Speaker, for your leadership in making this possible, for you to be the author of it. When you are the author though, you will no longer be able to preside. You'll have to come down and manage us on the Floor. So, it's appropriate that during the rule that will enable this to come to the Floor, you are presiding, so we can all congratulate you in a highly visible way.
This legislation is so important. I was very much a part of passing the previous bill. That was in 2007 – we wrote it in ‘06, it became effective in ‘07, when President Bush was President and we had [Democratic] Majorities, House and Senate, and we passed the legislation overwhelmingly. Over nearly 400 votes in the House, unanimous in the Senate, signed by President Bush, as bipartisan as anything that has come to the Floor. We walked down – of the steps of the Capitol in a bipartisan way, saluting the fact that we had extended the Voting Rights Act, and President Bush signed it.
And with great pride, he came to your neck of the woods, to Selma, on the 50th anniversary of the Voting – of [the] Selma march, but he came as the person who had signed the Voting Rights Act. And even more important to that, Laura Bush came, too, so their hearts are in this legislation. I would hope that it would be some level of bipartisanship on that as well. We'll talk more about that as we go into the debate on that bill in a little while.
But I too, again, want to thank Congresswoman DeLauro for her relentless, persistent, dissatisfied – until now, I hope, satisfied to a certain extent, more to come – of the Child Tax Credit. For ten Congresses, she has introduced that bill, and now it is being advanced.
And Mr. Yarmuth, the Chair of our Budget Committee, will lead us now as we prepare in our individual committees, in our work for the Budget Committee, to put together a package. Madam Speaker, as you know, a budget should be a – a national budget should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation should be reflected in our budget, and this will be the case. And under the leadership of Mr. Yarmuth, who is not only values-based, but eloquent in conveying that message, we are very excited about how we go forward.
Again, I mentioned Peter DeFazio. In terms of the budget bill – excuse me, the Voting Rights [Advancement] Act, your leadership, very distinguished: the Chair of the Committee, Mr. Nadler, the Chair of the [Judiciary Committee]. Zoe Lofgren for her work on [the] House Administration Committee. Mr. Butterfield. So many people. And our distinguished Whip, Mr. Clyburn, who has made this his life’s work.
Passing this rule paves the way for the Building Back Better – the Building Back Better Plan, which will forge legislative progress unseen in 50 years, that will stand for generations alongside the New Deal and the Great Society.
This legislation will be the biggest and perhaps most [consequential] initiative that any of us have ever undertaken in our official lives.
Everything we do is about the children. As you've heard me say 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, their education, the economic security of their families, a safe environment in which they can thrive and a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfillment.
When children come here to the Capitol, it is such an invigoration to us, an inspiration for us, because we are here for them. As I say to them, as you see the statues and monuments of those who went before, it is appropriate that we honor them. But they want us to honor you, the future of our country, to make it better For The Children.
Again, any delay in passing the rule threatens the Build Back Better Plan, as well as voting rights reform, as well as the bipartisan infrastructure bill. We cannot surrender our leverage For The Children for the first time.
I can't remember a time as historic as this, For The Children. President Biden has given children leverage in his visionary proposal. The children have the leverage, not those at the high-end who benefited from the Republican tax bill – and I wouldn't even have brought it up, except you're acting as if you don't even know. When you added $2 trillion or more to the budget, to give 83 percent of the benefits to the wealthiest people in our country. Leverage for the rich, no. We don't begrudge their success, but this is about leverage For The Children: for them, for their families, for the future.
And guess what? It would be our attempt to pay for this bill so it is not a burden to those children, as we go forward. And that means that some of the people that benefited from that tax bill, that Tax Scam in 2017, are now going to have to pay their fair share, fair share, pay their fair share. And that we may have to address other ways to pay for the legislation by putting the responsibility on the high end, both whether it's corporate or individual, so that we can again make progress For The Children, without burdening them with the debt that – some of which they got in 2017.
So, it's [a] pretty exciting day. I congratulate all in the Rules Committee for going in time and again, as we sought clarification on how we go forward. I thank Mr. McGovern, Mr. Neguse and so many other Members of that Committee.
I thank all of our colleagues for their involvement in all of this, and I would hope that as we proceed, we could do so in the most transparent, bipartisan and fair way, For The Children.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.