Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of a Clean, Long-Term DHS Funding Bill

February 27, 2015
Speech
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today in support of a clean, long-term funding for America’s homeland security.  Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentlewoman for yielding and commend her and Congresswoman Lowey for their very important Motion to Instruct conferees to accept the Senate language.

“I wanted to address some of what our previous speaker had mentioned but I want to go to the most previous speaker.  If you feel so strongly – because I don't know if this is about thinking or feeling – so strongly about the immigration issue and executive actions taken by the President, I respect that.  But why are you jeopardizing the homeland security of the United States of America by attaching your emotions to this bill?  That’s what this is about.  You have an argument about immigration?  Have an immigration bill come to the floor.  Let’s have that debate.  But it is totally irresponsible, and you did say that we have given up the opportunity to act responsibly.  Well, that's exactly what you are doing today.

“Policy differences about immigration or the rest are the legitimate debate in this great marketplace of ideas that is called the House of Representatives.  But for you to hold hostage the homeland security of our country, to jeopardize the opportunity to prepare to have what is current and necessary for the realities of the threats that we are facing now instead of three months since December – this would be to March 19 – three-month-old funding carried over from last year.

“A lot has happened since then. In Paris, in the Middle East, threats in our own country.  Get a grip on our responsibility.  Get a grip, Mr. Speaker.  Give us a chance to vote on a bill that passed by more than two-thirds in the United States Senate with a strong bipartisan support.

“And as far as your criticisms of President Obama, nobody said ‘boo’ over there when President Reagan used – justifiably so, rightfully so – his executive orders on protecting immigrants in our country.  George Herbert Walker Bush did the same.  Bill Clinton.  George W. Bush, who was one of the best presidents on immigration in our country – wasn’t able to convince his Republican colleagues to respect immigration as invigoration of our country, but nonetheless, he led on that subject.

“You’ve made a mess; you have made a mess.  We have so many bills, counter bills, CR's, all the rest of it coming back, forward and all the rest, and every time I ask all of you what's happening, everybody says: ‘I don't know.’  Well, it's only six, what, eight hours until the government will shut down.  That can't possibly happen.  And I want to address that point.  Someone has said to me: ‘Well, the President said he won't let government shut down, that he would sign this three-week thing.  Is that thebad choice that we have given the President, to shut government down or extend for three weeks, when that three-week extension is as undermining to our national security as the shutdown in government?  That’s just not right.  It’s not responsible on our part.

“So I say to our colleagues: if they want to go down that path of poor choices, let the Republicans do that because they have multi-agendas here, anti-Obama agendas here about immigration and the rest.  Let them go down that path.  Let them put their 218 votes on the board without associating ourselves with it.  And just because the President's person says: of the two bad choices, he would choose, if it came to his desk, the three weeks, don't let that deter you from voting ‘no’ on that and ‘yes’ on what Congresswoman Roybal-Allard is putting forth and Congresswoman Lowey as well.

“Yes, we do take that oath, the gentleman said – whether you're a judge, whether you're in the military, whether you're in Congress, whether you’re the President of the United States – to protect and support the Constitution of the United States.  We’re not protecting anything with what you are doing here.  We’re not protecting anything.  We’re dragging it out.  We’re sending a message that, for some historic reason, we are now taking it out on Barack Obama because we're angry about what the Republican gentleman said, the one on the Republican side, that Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush have done.  Bring it up under another circumstance.  Keep it off the protection of our country.

“Your chairman, Mr. Rogers, working with our Ranking Member, Congresswoman Lowey, was able to put together 12 bills which were a compromise, compromise bills that everyone was prepared to support until you decided you were going to use immigration to hold hostage the national homeland security of our country.  And so kick the can to here.  Now you've kicked the can to here, now you're going to kick the can to March 19.  What do you think is going to happen on March 19?  We’ve already had two recesses today, in this very day of congressional deliberation.  What do you think you're going to accomplish if you're not willing to grow up, bite the bullet?

“You've made your point. Your colleagues, Republican Senators, do not agree to drag this out.  They’re giving you a face-saving path.  The judge in Texas gave you a face-saving path.  Je suis Charlie gave you a face-saving path.  The urgency is very, very clear.  Well, clear to everyone except you happen to exist in this chamber.  When your negative attitudes to President Obama have so overwhelmed you that you a willing to jeopardize the homeland security of our country, the homeland security.  So whether it's firefighters or SAFER act or FEMA or anything that comes in contact – where the federal government comes in contact with people, you are standing in the way and using immigration as an excuse.  For some of you it may be a reason.  Maybe it is for some of you.  But for some of you it is an excuse and for all of you it is a shame.  It is a shame.

“So follow the lead of your [Republican colleagues in the Senate].  And one of the gentlemen said: if we accept the Senate language, we're not living up to our responsibility to have a bill in the House. And then you expect them to accept your language.  Doesn’t it hold true both ways?  If you don't want to accept their language, why do you expect them to accept your three-week language?  Do you not understand the legislative process?  This Constitution, which we value, has – the Legislative Branch, the first article of government, the legislature, preeminent.  The President can't sign what we don't send him in terms of making the law.  He can take executive action, but the law is stronger.  Let us honor our responsibilities.

“And stop, stop standing in the way of protecting the American people.  It’s about the security of the American people versus the philosophy that you have going over there, which is perfectly to be respected in another piece of legislation.  Let’s have that debate separate from protecting [the American people].  It's about time, it's about time for us to come together to get the job done.  The Senate did it, we can.  Please support Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, Congresswoman Lowey’s Motion to Instruct the conferees to accept the Senate bill.  With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”