Pelosi Floor Speech Against Republicans' Bill to Sue the President

July 30, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today condemning Republicans’ priorities of suing the President instead of focusing on legislation to help the people of America.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“I thank Congresswoman Slaughter, our Ranking Member on the Rules Committee, for the time, and also, more importantly, for her great leadership in so many ways.  In so many ways, it has been about her advocacy for the priorities of the American people.

“And so today, we have on the floor of the House legislation that is a serious matter about suing the President of the United States instead of doing the people's business, which is what Ms. Slaughter and others have advocated for – whether it's bringing good paying jobs home, creating jobs by building the infrastructure of America, reducing the cost of higher education for families, investing in our children, raising the minimum wage, passing legislation to have equal pay for equal work – everything that would increase the financial stability of America's families.  Instead, we are wasting the taxpayers' time and money on the floor of the House on a matter that is serious, but is a waste of time.

“There are those who have said that this initiative to sue the President of the United States is about a step toward impeachment.  Others who say ‘no, it's instead of impeachment.’  I told the Speaker that I had a similar situation years ago – not similar in terms of the subject, because I think there's no basis for this and no standing on this House on the subject of suing the President – but similar in that there were calls by some to impeach President Bush, when we took the majority and people were very unhappy about the Iraq War and the false claims made to draw the American people into support of that war effort – which proved to be untrue.  It wasn't about people in your Caucus clamoring for suing the president; it was about hundreds of thousands of people in the streets objecting to the war in Iraq and the false basis on which we went in.  But when I became Speaker and people clamored for the impeachment of the President, I said what I advise the Speaker to say right now: ‘Impeachment is off the table.’

“This isn't about impeachment.  That simple sentence will be a clear one.  ‘Impeachment is off the table.’  Why hasn't the Speaker said that?  Why are there those in your Caucus who won't deny that that is a possible end in sight for this ill-fated legislation that you bring to the floor?

“We're going to adjourn tomorrow for five weeks; five weeks, leaving unfinished business here.  We need to solve problems for the American people, to create opportunities for them, but that kind of legislation is nowhere in sight – whether it's job creation reducing the cost of higher education, equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, some of which I already mentioned.  We have precious few hours remaining to act on the priorities of the American people and finish the can't-wait business before the Congress.

“So much needs to be done: the humanitarian situation at the border – which provides an opportunity for us to do the right thing; the Highway Trust Fund – to deal with it appropriately and give it the proper amount of time instead of rushing it through.  But once again, Republicans are putting the special interests and the howls of impeachment-hungry extremists before the needs of the nation.

“The lawsuit is only the latest proof of the House Republicans’ contempt and disregard for the priorities of the American people.  It is yet another Republican effort to pander to the most radical right-wing voters at taxpayers' expense: $2.3 million spent defending DOMA – a doomed case – defending DOMA, more than $3 million on the Select Committee to exploit Benghazi – and by the way, something that had been investigated again and again, at the very admission of leaders on the Republican side.  Why are we doing this?  And then this, which we don't have a price tag on that they will reveal to us.

“But again, why would you sue somebody unless you want to prove something?  And why would you go down that path unless you wanted to do something about it?  But the fact is: Republicans in Congress have no standing on this suit.  Most constitutional scholars have, or do, admit that.  Even your expert witnesses have in the past said you don't have standing on it.

“Middle class families don't have time for the Republican partisan grudge match with the President.  They know this is – it's a funny thing – well funny in one strange interpretation of the word ‘funny’: but a couple of weeks ago, on the steps of the Capitol, House Democrats were there to launch our ‘Middle Class Jumpstart’ about some of the issues I raised: job creation here in the US, affordability for college, early childhood education, all of those things, equal pay for equal work, raise the minimum wage.  We were doing that on the steps of the Capitol.  And in the Capitol building, the Republicans were launching their lawsuit against the President.  What could be more different in terms of addressing the needs of the American people?  We made the point that this was all happening on the same day.

“But the fact is: that difference of focusing on progress and job creation versus process and do nothing is what we live through here every single day.  And today is another one of those days on the floor of the House.  So let us recognize what this is: serious – serious on a path to nowhere; or maybe, among some of your ranks, a path to impeachment.

“But if we just want to talk about the lawsuit, it behooves the Speaker of the House to say: ‘Impeachment is off the table.’  I hope we can hear that soon, and then we’ll see what the merits of this case are.  It has no standing.  It has no merit.  It has a political basis.  And let the American people judge it for what it is.  If you don't want to hear people use the word impeachment, as your people have done, then tell them impeachment is off the table.  That's what I had to do.  That's what the Speaker should do.  I yield back the balance of my time.”