Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leaders and Committee Chairs held a press conference in the Capitol this afternoon following the House passage of HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation later today and President Obama will sign it into law next week. Below are the Speaker’s opening remarks:
Thank you very much. Good afternoon — and a good afternoon it is indeed. It is a day for us to feel some sense of satisfaction — that working together under our new President, we were able to pass legislation today that is transformational for what it will do for our economy.
On the steps of the Capitol — one week and one day before Congress acted the first time — the President inspired the nation with a message of hope that we would take the country in a “New Direction.” He said that we will ‘harness the sun, and the wind, and soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.’ And he went on to talk about 21st century education and investments in health and science — to make the American people healthier, innovation to make us competitive.
These and other things were contained in his promise to America. One week and one day after that, the House passed a bill that did just that. And today we’ve followed through with a conference report that as the President requested, is “swift, bold action.”
The American people are feeling a great deal of pain, they have uncertainty about their jobs, about health care, about the ability to pay for the education of their children, and sad to say — in our great country — even the ability to put food on the table. And so, today, we have passed legislation that does take that “swift, bold action” on their behalf.
I could feel it myself when I turned in my voting card — that I was voting not just for myself and the people of my district, but for all Americans who want us to fulfill the promise of what President Obama had to say. And also on issues that we have been working on for years.
I’m going to yield to my colleague Mr. Hoyer now. But first I want to acknowledge all the folks who are here. Some friends who are with us who have helped with the outside mobilization of this legislation — Committee on Education Funding, Feeding America, the Coalition on Human Needs, the League of Conservation Voters — thank you, and others who are here, for the work that you have done.
My colleagues in the leadership will be speaking, but I want to acknowledge our Chairmen who are here, who have played a pivotal role in making this day possible for our country — Chairman Waxman of Energy and Commerce, Chairman Frank of Financial Services, Chairman Obey, Master of the Appropriations Committee, Chairman Miller from Education and Labor, Chairman Oberstar of Transportation and Infrastructure. He wasn’t here when we first walked out; we thought he was already working on a shovel-ready job. And Mr. Rangel, who I walked in with right now, Chairman Rangel, Ways and Means Committee.
And before I yield again, Steny, I just want to say something about Barack Obama. Barack Obama, in just a few short weeks as President, has passed one of the biggest packages for economic relief in our country’s history. Probably the biggest tax cut for the middle class — investments in our future that I already mentioned. The American people know, and historians are judging that this is one remarkable President. He did something faster than any other President ever has in our history and that is to pass this economic package in just a matter of weeks. And we salute him for his leadership.
And now I want to yield to the distinguished Majority Leader, who again championed these issues we’ve been working on for over a year and Steny, he knows chapter and verse, day-to-day the work that went into getting this to where we are.
Washington, Feb 13 - House Republican Leader John Boehner
(R-OH) today delivered remarks on the House floor in opposition to
Democrats’ trillion-dollar “stimulus” legislation and in support of the
House GOP’s economic recovery plan, which will create twice as many
jobs as the Democrats’ bill at half the cost. Full video and
transcript of Boehner’s remarks follow:
“The question is how do you do that? The President, when he outlined his desires for this bill, summed it up simply when he said this bill needs to be about jobs. I don’t think there is anybody in this chamber agrees that this bill needs to be about jobs, preserving jobs in America, helping to create new jobs and helping to get our economy rolling again. But a bill that was supposed to be about jobs, jobs, jobs has turned into a bill that is all about spending, spending and spending. This is disappointing.
“The American people expect more of us. They expect to have something that’s going to work for them - and my opposition to this bill isn’t the fact that we’re doing a bill, we need to act. But how? When you look at some of the spending in this bill, it will do nothing about creating jobs in America. Tell me spending $50 million for some salt marsh mouse in San Francisco is going to help a struggling auto worker in Ohio? Tell me how spending $8 billion in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district.
“How about the family who called me about the fact that the bread winner’s hours are going to be cut from 40 hours to 20 hours? He can hardly make his payment. What does it do for him? Absolutely nothing. And so, my concern about this is that we have to have a plan that will work for the American people, work for families, work for small businesses and help get our economy going again. I don’t think this bill does it. I hope this bill works. I really do, for the good of our country. But my concern is that the plan that’s outlined will not do what we want it to do. That’s why Republicans came to the table with what we thought was a better idea, a plan that will create twice as many jobs as the bill that we’re dating and at exactly half the cost.
“But our ideas weren’t considered. We weren’t allowed in the room. We weren’t allowed to participate at all. And all the talk about bipartisanship that we have heard over the last several months went down the drain. Now my Democrat colleagues know that I know how to be bipartisan, even when we were in the majority. I have worked with many members on the other side of the aisle to bring bills to this floor that truly were done together. But we would usually start at the beginning of the process. Not only were we not included in the beginning of the process, we weren’t included at the end f the process.
“It’s not about us being excluded, it’s about our ideas to help make this economy better, our ideas about how to get American families and small businesses the ability to keep more of what they earn, to help their families, to help their businesses and create more jobs. That’s what the American people want. They don’t want spending on a couple of million dollars to get the country for a national health plan, money that’s going to go to the bureaucracy. They want to know how their budgets are going to be helped - and unfortunately, they’re not.
“If all of that wasn’t enough, here I have, 1,100 pages, not one member of this body has read. Not one. There may be a staffer in the appropriations committee that read all of this last night. I don’t know how you can read 1,100 pages between midnight and now. Not one member’s read this. What happened to the promise that we’re going to let the American people see what’s in this bill 48 hours? No - we don’t have time to do that. We owe it to the American people to get this bill right. We owe to American families, we owe it to small businesses and we owe it to ourselves to get this right so we can, in fact, help our economy.
“I don’t believe this is the way to do it. It’s disappointing. The way this process has worked and the outcome that we’ve got. And we shouldn’t come to the floor and talk about process, but bad process leads to bad policy, and that’s what we have here, in my view, bad policy that will drive up the debt and put all of this cost on the back of our kids, grandkids and their kids. I hope it works, but I surely have my doubts.
“So I’m going to vote no. I’m going to vote no, and I’m going to hope – hope – that the next time that we get into a major piece of legislation on this floor that you include us, you’ll include our ideas. I said on opening day that republicans would not be the party of no, that we would be the party of better ideas. And I’m committed to bringing better ideas to the floor and let’s debate those better ideas. Our fast-acting tax policy that helps American families and small businesses does create twice as many jobs - twice as many jobs - because we want the American people to keep their money and invest in their families and their small business.
“We aren’t interested in growing the size of government. I asked my colleagues yesterday in our conference, think about the first time you ran for congress. Freshman members can remember this because they just did it. For me it was 18 years ago. But I can tell you what I said 18 years ago, that I would come here to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable federal government. This is the epitome of what I came here to stop. I don’t think there is one member of congress who came here to pass a $890 billion bill, $1.1 trillion of spending to help grow the size of the federal government and to do very little to help American families and small businesses.
“I’d suggest that you vote no.”