Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to the Republican Budget Proposals

March 25, 2015
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the House floor in opposition to House Republicans’ “Work Harder for Less” budget proposals.  Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I say with great pride how impressed all of us are by his statement of values that he has put forth in this House Democratic Budget.  The breadth of knowledge, the depth of commitment, the vision for a strong way to keep America number one – thank you, Mr. Van Hollen, and thank you to the House Members of the Budget Committee.

We say it all the time: a budget should be a statement of our values.  What is important to us as a nation should be reflected in how we allocate our resources.  Are we allocating them as investments in the future, the education of our children, the building of our infrastructure, to promote commerce, to protect the environment, to improve the quality of life of all Americans?  Or is it a budget that subscribes to the trickle-down economics of the Republican Party, which have never been successful for America's hard-working families.  Instead, we have a budget that subscribes to what President Obama spoke about in the State of the Union Address, middle class economics.  And that is a better set of values to build a strong and prosperous future for America that is reflected in the House Democratic Budget.

But as I said, this budget should be a statement of our values.  And, I just ask you, Mr. Speaker, I'm allowed to ask our colleagues, is that correct, Mr. Speaker?  Oh, you changed.  I'm allowed to address my remarks to my colleagues?  Or just to you?

The Chair.  All remarks shall be addressed to the Chair.

Leader Pelosi.  To the Chair.  So you’re the one, Mr. Chair.  So to you and to all you represent, I ask you: do you think it's a statement of the values of the American people to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country while increasing taxes on the middle class by around $2,000?  We don't begrudge the wealthy their success and their achievement.  But why should people come forth and say, ‘We're going to balance our budget by giving tax increases to the middle class and tax decreases to the very wealthy?’  And by the way, it doesn't balance the budget.  The Republican budgets are not balanced.

Is it a statement of value to end the boost in child tax credits, end higher education tax credits, freeze Pell Grants for 10 years, thereby curbing the opportunity for people not only to reach their fulfillment but for our country to be competitive and keep America number one?  It's not just about personal aspirations.  That would be reason enough.  But this is also about keeping America number one.  Because we know that innovation begins in the classroom.  If we want to have great innovation, we have to have access to education, to many more people.  But then again, this budget, the Republican budget, does not invest in innovation in any way.

Is it a statement of value to say to seniors, ‘We're now going to end your Medicare guarantee, and focus on, for you, to pay more for preventive care and high prescription drug costs,’ instead of keeping what we have now, which is free preventive care for seniors and reducing their prescription drug [costs]?  Infrastructure: the Republican budget abandons the nation's crumbling infrastructure by cutting $187 billion, or more than 19 percent, from transportation funding over the coming decade.  How could that be a statement values, when we're not building the infrastructure of our country?  By the way, infrastructure and transportation have, in years past, not been partisan issues.  This is a place where we've come together because it made all the sense in the world to build the infrastructure of America – to know that no maintenance is the most expensive maintenance.

And in their bill, it's just stunning to see: once again, the Republican budget repeals the Affordable Care Act.  Now mind you, the Affordable Care Act has nearly $1 trillion in savings.  They take the savings and spend it on other things, like tax cuts for the rich.  But they repeal the bill.  It just doesn't make any sense at all.  I just don't understand how you [cannot] see that that doesn't add up.  So, this budget savages the investments needed to keep America number one in the global economy, with even deeper cuts than the already devastating sequester.

I know, if you're sitting at home and watching this on TV, you're thinking, ‘What does this mean to me?’  What this means to you is that this is a budget – our House Democratic Budget works for hard-working Americans, making it easier to own a home, easier to send a child to college, easier to have a secure and enjoyable retirement.  And even if your child does not want to go to college, you can enable your child to reach his or her aspirations because of your own financial security.  For us to achieve a bright and durable future for our country, we must embrace the fact that financial security of our working families is both the measure and the engine of our nation's success.  Democrats are proud to offer a budget that grows opportunity, prosperity and dignity for every American, not just the wealthy and the well connected.

It's time for Republicans to abandon their fuzzy math and their broken priorities and come together with Democrats to pass a budget dedicated to the future of hard-working American families.  I think that's what we all came here to do, Democrats and Republicans.  But you’d never know it to see not one, but two, of the Republican budgets they have put forth today.  That's why I'm so proud of the work of the House Budget Members on the Democratic side.  That's why I commend Mr. Van Hollen for his superior work on this subject of having a budget that reflects the values of the American people for a brighter future.  I yield back.