Pelosi Floor Speech on House Republicans' 56th Vote to Repeal or Undermine the Affordable Care Act

February 3, 2015
Speech
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the House floor on House Republicans’ 56th vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act.  Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding, and for his leadership on this important issue.  It's as important as the health of the American people.  I salute Congresswoman Brownley for her alternative bill that we should be voting on, if we can defeat this rule, that helps students get manufacturing jobs – just what we have been asking for, a collaboration between business and education, where kids are trained for good-paying jobs as they leave school.

“Instead, the Republicans are putting forth this rule that would once again, for the 56th time, repeal the Affordable Care Act.  We come together on the floor of the House right now, when we need to pass a Homeland Security bill to protect the American people – the Speaker said, in December, when we didn't pass the appropriation bill for the year: ‘We'll do it after the first of the year.’  In January, the world was alarmed by what they saw in Paris.  The whole world was galvanized around the issue of fighting terrorism and protecting homeland security – except in this House chamber.  We still haven't done what we take an oath to do – support and protect the American people – when we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

“Instead, we have the Republicans continuing to bay at the moon.  They're baying at the moon [with] something that is not going to work.  And instead of proposing any – which we'd be welcome to hear – good suggestions they may have to improve the Affordable Care Act, they're baying at the moon [for the] 56th time.  We have important work to do for the American people.  They want us here to create jobs, want us here to protect them.  We need to pass the Homeland Security bill.  And instead, in our hermetically sealed world – oblivious to what's going on outside – we're taking this up.

“They want to strip health security from America's families.  They're willing to threaten what that means to our economy, willing to jeopardize the need for us to lower costs for businesses – [that] is what [ACA] does.  I've said over and over again, even if everyone loved his or her health insurance or his or her health care, even if that were the case in our country, we would still have had to pass the Affordable Care Act.  Because the cost – to individuals, to families, to businesses large and small, to governments, local, state and national – the cost was unsustainable.  And that was one of the things the Affordable Care Act set out to do.

“And I'm so pleased to see that the statistics show that the rate of growth of health costs is going at a lower rate than ever in our history – very important.  The CBO projected that this bill would save, what, hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe up to a trillion dollars over its projected life – the life that we had to account for when we put it forward.  So this is now about the health of our people, it's about the health of our economy, it's about lowering cost.  It's important to know what's at stake, because families are seeing the full promise of the Affordable Care Act emerge – to make health care a right for all, not a privilege for the few.

“8.2 million seniors have saved more than $11.5 billion on their prescription drugs since this bill passed – an average of $1,407 per senior.  One hundred and five million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit or annual limit on their coverage.  This is what you want to repeal today.  One hundred and twenty-nine million Americans with pre-existing conditions no longer have to be worried about being denied coverage because of their health status.  That's what you want to repeal today.  It's also interesting [and] important to note that, with the success of the Affordable Care Act and the 9.5 million people who are signed up in marketplaces, including Medicaid expansion, 19 million uninsured Americans will be covered in 2015.  In addition to that, the Affordable Care Act has pushed forth the solvency of Medicare for 13 years longer.  That's what you want to repeal today.

“Our Founders, how beautiful they were in all that they did and wrote and their courage and their optimism for the future.  They wrote about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence.  And in that Declaration of Independence – that's the independence we want to give people, for a healthier life, the liberty to pursue their happiness, without being job-locked because of a health care policy, free to be self-employed, to start a business, to change jobs, to pursue their happiness.  So this is about, again, the health of our country – not just the health care of our country.

“On our path forward today and in the future, the Affordable Care Act will continue to rank up there with Social Security, with Medicare, [as] a third pillar of economic and health security for the American people.  And so, I urge our colleagues to vote ‘No’ on this rule, enable Congresswoman Brownley's education proposal to match kids up with skills and jobs – something that this country needs – to move on to legislation to create good-paying jobs, to add bigger paychecks for America's working families, to stop the stagnation of wages, and to do so in a way that understands how important health care is to reducing the deficit in addition to improving the health of our country.

“And again, by the way, the clock is ticking on the bill for Homeland Security.  That's our responsibility – to support and protect.  Let’s get about the business that we take an oath to do, instead of, for the 56th time, bay at the moon.  It's hard to understand why we would waste the time of this chamber and the American people on this frivolous resolution.  With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”