Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at East Hartford Press Conference on the Biden Child Tax Credit
East Hartford – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congressman John B. Larson and Governor Ned Lamont to celebrate the expanded Biden Child Tax Credit. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. I think that introduction may be longer than my remarks. But I can't promise, because you know, when a politician says, ‘I'll be brief,’ that's a very dangerous place. I’ll try to be succinct.
It is an honor to be here at Goodwin. Mr. President, thank you for your extraordinary work, your great leadership, enabling people to be prepared to go into the workforce. That they can take care of their families and reach their personal aspirations is probably the most important work of any of us has to do. Thank you for making Goodwin an example of – a model for the country of how to train people for a job, to do so in a way that recognizes their family needs and their ability to balance it all. I’m honored to be here. I can't wait to come back again. And we've learned a lot from him just on this visit today. But don't worry, John Larson sings your praises regularly. And as you know, he can be generous with his remarks.
In any event, what an honor is to be at this school, this college. What an honor to be here with the governor of the state, a governor who has not only used the resources well that are out there from the federal government. He has also been an example of how we should prioritize what we're doing at the federal level so that it really works when it comes back to a state. And Governor, thank you for your leadership in so many ways. The minimum wage. Earned Income Tax Credit. You’ve named so many things. And you've been a great governor for the children. I think that's the best compliment of all.
And Mayor Bronin, thank you for your leadership as well, taking your experience as one who worked in the Obama Administration, with Governor Malloy at the state level, as a veteran of Afghanistan, in so many ways, bringing all of that experience to bear as the Mayor. So, thank you so much for your leadership. And also, your, again, your example. Now, Mr. Mayor, I want you to know something about John Larson. When we were writing these bills – Governor, you'll know what I'm saying, no offense – the governors wanted all the money. Not Governor Lamont; he understood. But we decided that we would have some of that go to the state and some of it go to the cities, localities and counties so that – in this state, you have no problem. Your Governor shares your values. But in other places, the money might not have gone to the states and localities and the counties. John Larson was a leader in making sure that happened in the legislation. So, you've got your direct funding, as well as the generosity of the state. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you.
So, John Larson, he’s a leader in the Congress. He’s part of the delegation, a senior Member. Rosa DeLauro, as was mentioned, the godmother of the Child Tax Credit that people – equal pay for equal work – almost anything you can name. Joe Courtney, we call him two-summary Joe. Jim Himes, a leader in so many ways, leading up our initiative to study and correct the economic disparity in our country. Jahana Hayes just, you know, Teacher of the Year. She brings so much, too, to the delegation. And of course, John Larson. He is – came at the turn of the century. 2000 – century, came in 1999. And he has been a leader for the children, for their parents and the workforce, for their grandparents and on Social Security. Nobody has done more.
So, I thank all of you for bringing him here. He is an intellectual resource, an advocate of relentlessness, and relentless, dissatisfied, always urging us to do more for the children. So, thank you, John Larson. And thank you for your kind words.
But they all will agree – the Governor, the Mayor, the Congressperson, President of the university, of the college – that our VIP today is Carmen Rodriguez.
Thank you so much. Her words, the truth that she spoke about what this means in the lives of people, is really the most eloquent statement of what we're trying to do.
Let me just place this in time for a moment. When he became President, the President, Biden said – President Biden said, ‘Help is on the way.’ When he began his Build Back Better initiative, he wanted to do so in a bipartisan way. He said to the Republicans and I was there when he said it and it was said again and again, ‘I want to find our common ground. If we can only find it on infrastructure, building the infrastructure, then let's do that. But I will not confine my vision to what we can do in a bipartisan way on infrastructure, because my vision is to Build Back Better. And that means involving many more people in the economic prosperity and success of our country.’
So, the Build Back Better initiative not only addresses some of our infrastructure needs, when it comes to climate change to save the planet, to fill in, she will say, places that the infrastructure bill did not address. And I thank the President for his leadership in that regard and to keep insisting that we protect the planet for the children. He says ‘You don't have to tell me. I'm the first person in Congress to ever introduce climate crisis legislation, decades ago.’ So, that is something that we're working on in the reconciliation package.
But we're here to talk about the Child Tax Credit. But what you should know about the Child Tax Credit, Carmen told us more eloquently than any of us can state. But what I want you to know is, it's a part of so much more for women in the workplace. So, I say Build Back Better for the women.
For the women, we have the Child Tax Credit. We also have a paid family and medical leave, something John Larson has been working on since the days even before he came to Congress. We have universal pre-K, which there was referenced earlier, as something that is there for the children. Children learning, parents earning. Everybody benefits from that. And then we have home health care, home health care, so that if a person, a mom or a dad, a son or a daughter has a person who is ill, a person with disabilities in the family or child, that they know that there will be home health care for that person.
So, this just goes on and on. It is liberating. It is transformative, and along with the Child Tax Credit, is a recognition of how we value children, how we support families and how we must honor President Biden's vision of something bigger than just building roads and bridges, as important as that is, as important as that is, but how we must do more. So –
I appreciate that. I’ll tell the President you say that. In any event, that is the plan. We expect to have this done in a matter of weeks.
But in the meantime, in another week, the third check will go out for the Child Tax Credit. That was part of the Rescue package. The goal of the Rescue package was to put vaccines in people's arms, money in people's pockets, children – to put children safely in school and people safely back at work. And that is what it is in [the] process of doing.
With some of it being COVID-oriented, we want to make it – we want to make it permanent. Again, we can have no more persuasive argument than the one that Carmen gave. Now, Carmen has nine grandchildren, and so do I. And we all know, as Carmen said, some of these children, all the children, have the opportunity to reach their fulfillment and make their mark. But, thank you for sharing your story, Carmen.
I have five children of my own, nine grandchildren. And when people ask me, why did you want to go to Congress? What motivated you? I tell them my ‘why.’ My ‘why’ is that one in five children in America lives in poverty, goes to sleep hungry – and that’s intolerable in our country. That’s intolerable in our country. That's why I went from the kitchen to the Congress, housewife to House Speaker – for the children. So, this vision that Joe Biden has is so aspirational and so in keeping with addressing the needs of our children.
I just want acknowledge Secretary of State Denise Merrill – is Denise still here? She left? Well, I just want to acknowledge the Secretary of State, because this is so important to make sure that we respect those who are respecting the vote of the people as we go forward, so thank you to the Secretary of State.
But, anyway, thank all of you. And thank you to the people of Connecticut for sending such a distinguished delegation to the, to the House and to the Senate, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy. And, again, electing such wonderful leaders in your state, city, the mayor and the rest.
Thank you all very much for being with us today, For The Children.
And thank you, John Larson, and I yield back to the distinguished Chairman of Social Security Subcommittee in the Congress.
Q: Time for a question or two?
Speaker Pelosi. Sure. I’ll take a couple.
Congressman Larson. Whatever the Speaker wants.
Q: Could you talk about –
Q: You have – midterm elections are – the history of midterm elections are not on your side. Do you feel a special pressure and urgency regarding the reconciliation bill as far as whether or not this may be, sort of, the, the last dash with some truly large stakes?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don't worry about the reconciliation bill in regard to the elections. The reconciliation bill is about a vision for our country that is transformative, that frees people to reach their aspirations without concern that their children or their parents or their disabled relative are not cared for. And to do so in a way that gives children all the opportunity to go forward. It puts food on the table.
I mean, you understand, there is so much disparity in our country. This bill is long overdue. Many of the things in the legislation exists in most developed countries in the world, but not in our country. So, separating it from that.
In terms of the elections, I have no – I know we will win in the Congress. People say, ‘Well, in the off-year, it’s not the good year.’ But, I think any assumptions about politics are obsolete. We live in a whole new world of communication and the rest. And I think that all of our Members who survived Trump being on the ballot with them will survive next year, because Trump’s not on the ballot.
Q: Are you worried that the infrastructure bill will get caught up in Washington as states are looking for help and relief here? Where do we stand now? How hopeful are you that something will come up and it will be something that you support?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we all support the bill that came out of the Senate. It's a fine piece of bipartisanship. But it doesn't have everything, and it doesn't have – it has practically nothing in terms of climate, and so we will address that in our bill. As I said, the President said: ‘I'll do all we can in a bipartisan way, but I will not confine my vision to what we can do in a bipartisan way if we're not going to address the climate issues and meeting the needs of our families, for the children.’
So, I don’t – we’ll be fine. We're on our path. I was in the meetings until I got on the plane to come here. I'll be back on the phone as soon as I leave here. And we're on our path, I feel pretty confident about it.
Q: So, not to belittle a $3,000 tax credit, the cost of child care in the state of Connecticut for one year for one child is $20,000 a year. How are you going to get some of this other stuff passed through the Senate? The Senate seems to be a roadblock.
Speaker Pelosi. No, no, we'll have it in our bill. There are two different things, which are the Child Tax Credit, is money in the pockets for families to meet their needs, whatever they are for their children. In the bill, we have hundreds of billions of dollars for child care tax credit. And it goes up pretty high, in terms of the families, it will, it will be a middle income as well as an aspiring to middle class credit as well.
Q: Will it be similar?
Speaker Pelosi. Hm?
Q: Will the income levels be similar to it – be similar to what the Child Tax Credit was or the child care tax credit
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we will see. Well, we're negotiating, but it'll be families. As I said, I don't want it to just be viewed as something for those who aspire to the middle class, because that would be reason enough to do it. But because we have middle class families who cannot afford child care, it's, it's ridiculous that we don't have something so far.
Since you asked about that, let me just tell you that 50 years, ago, are you getting too hot to hear this story? Fifty years ago, in 1971, the Congress of the United States sent a bipartisan bill to the President's desk.
Everybody, not everybody, many people thought that President Nixon would sign the bill – child care. It was about child care. And because it was bipartisan in the House and in the Senate, people thought that he would sign the bill. That was the expectation. Somebody – this is before most of you were born – but somebody named Pat Buchanan intervened and made a cultural argument against it. That to have child care for our children was like being in the Soviet Union, that other people would be taking care of people's children. A cultural war on families. A cultural war on families. And I could go further into that, but I won't.
And so the president vetoed the bill. Fifty years later, we have a very generous child – couple of hundred billion dollars – child — it might be more — we’ll see how it works out, but at least that – a Child Tax Credit, and it will go to many families, most families in our country, not the very, very wealthy, but the most families in our country. And it's something to be very proud of. And it's a transformation, and it will make a difference in people's lives. The women of America took the biggest bite of the wormy apple called COVID, in terms of losing their jobs. In terms of losing their jobs, over four million women lost their jobs. The children weren’t in school. They couldn't afford child care. They just had to stay home. Two million of them are still not able to go to work. Now that school has begun, still two million.
So, that can't be. We have to have a system and a society that values our children, respects our child care workers, as well as our home and health care workers, for some children might be older but in need and in even seniors. So, this is, this is a remarkable. If you're a family member, if your dad or mom needs help with child care, or help with child expenses, or more opportunity for your children in school, or needs family and medical leave if someone gets sick, this bills for you. This bill is for you.
Thank you, Joe Biden.