Fighting Back: John Lewis on Gun Violence – “What will it take for the Republican Congress to wake up?”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread.

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congressman John Lewis of Georgia.

(Congressman John Lewis has been leading the charge for change for decades. Now, he wants Congress to do the same by taking action to end gun violence.)

Rep. Lewis:

“What will it take for the Republican Congress to wake up? They hold moments of silence and vigils. They offer thoughts and prayers but they do nothing. And when the media moves on, they peddle the lie that we need more guns to stop violence and they try to roll back protections that keep our communities safe.”[…]

“Republicans have not lifted a finger. They have not done one single thing to combat this crisis and worse they are refusing to even begin a bipartisan process to address the gun violence epidemic.”

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Transcript prepared from CSPAN voice-to-text and captions:

Hi, I’m Congressman John Lewis and I represent the 5th District of Georgia. On Monday, our nation woke up the news of the worst mass shooting in our history. At least 58 people were killed. Over 500 were injured. All because an evil, disturbed man was able to get his hands on a dozen deadly weapons and turn them on a crowd of innocents. When I think of Las Vegas – when I think of Newtown and Charleston and Orlando and Aurora – my heart breaks. Gun violence is a daily epidemic – a daily drumbeat of tragedy in families and communities across America. Not always on the front pages, but always someone irreplaceable and beloved. Ninety Americans are killed every day. Every year we lose more than 30,000 men, women, and children to gun violence.

What will it take for the Republican Congress to wake up? They hold moments of silence and vigils; they offer thoughts and prayers. But they do nothing. And when the media moves on, they peddle the lie that we need more guns to stop the violence, and they try to roll back protections that keep our communities safe. I know – I’ve been around. I’ve seen too many gun deaths and I’ve seen too much Republican inaction and obstruction. And I’m here to say this must stop, and it must stop now.

Democrats know what must be done. The way forward is clear. We are calling on our Republican colleagues to join us and take some simple steps to end an epidemic that is killing Americans every day.

First, Republicans must walk away from a radically dangerous bill that will open the floodgates to silencers and armor piercing bullets. Second, they must work with us to pass the bipartisan King-Thompson bill, which would strengthen the life-saving background checks that keep guns out of the wrong hands. Third, they must work with us to ban the sale of “bump stocks” – a deadly tool that enables a shooter to spray murderous automatic fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds a minute, just as the shooter in Las Vegas did. Finally, they must join us in a bipartisan Select Committee on Gun Violence, to study and prevent the daily tragedies of gun violence. But Republicans have not lifted a finger. They have not done one single thing to combat this crisis. And worse – they refusing to even begin a bipartisan process to address the gun violence epidemic.

How many more husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors must die before the Republican Congress acts? How many more sons and daughters will be ripped away from their parents? How many more mothers and fathers will be stolen from young children?

The families of the victims deserve more than Republicans’ empty words and moments of silence – they deserve action! Good, commonsense proposals are already on the table. We invite our Republican colleagues to take a seat and work with us on real action to stop the violence. I say this to my Republican colleagues: We were elected to lead. We were elected to be headlights not a taillight. We cannot be silent. We cannot be complacent. We cannot wait for the next shooting. Let us, this time, be different. Let us make a down payment on ending gun violence in America. Let us do our job – and let us bring commonsense gun legislation to a vote – now.


Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi. Good morning.

Yesterday morning we all proudly stood on the steps of the Capitol with [former Congresswoman] Gabby Giffords, our former colleague and our national heroine, inspiration to us all, with [Congressman] John Lewis, the spiritual leader of the Congress, and especially on this issue that relates to protecting the American people, with [Congressman] Mike Thompson, who is the chair of our Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention, and with [Congresswoman] Robin Kelly, who spoke so passionately about what’s happening in her district in terms of gun violence.

All of us praised the first responders in Nevada, all of the speakers did, and all of the rest of us joined them as well.

What a terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy to befall our country, that community, those individuals especially.

Last night, I had the privilege of getting a question by a grieving husband and daughter on CNN: Bob, a husband, and then with [his] daughter, of a person who died in Las Vegas. And they asked the question: ‘There was Sandy Hook, there was Florida, there was San Bernardino,’ Bob said. ‘How many more lives have to be taken before something is done?’ He said he was a gun owner. He and his wife owned a gun for protection. He was asking this question.

Again, we take an oath to protect and defend the American people, our Constitution and the rest. We are not protecting them by not having the gun laws that are suitable to avoid gun violence.

So we are asking the Speaker [Paul Ryan] to withdraw their SHARE [Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement] Act, the silencer bill, and then also armor-piercing bullet bill, to pass the bipartisan King-Thompson bill on background checks, commonsense background checks, ban the bump stocks. This is something we all are learning a lot more [about].

Mike Thompson has been on this for a while, he being a gun owner and a Vietnam vet, a wounded Vietnam vet, so somebody with real standing on how to use guns. And he had called into question the use of this bump stock. And now everybody is aware of it.

And so hopefully we can bring that to the floor and at least pass a bill that bans something that enables a shooter to spray murderous automatic fire on innocent people.

There is a bill, the Cicilline-Thompson bill, [Congressman] David Cicilline of Rhode Island, [Congressman] Mike Thompson of California bill, [which] has nearly 150 cosponsors already. So hopefully it will be bipartisan, hopefully it will be brought to the Floor.

But in addition to that, we have to do much more. We have to. We have asked the Speaker for a Select Committee on Gun Violence. You don’t like these ideas, what ideas can we come together on?

This is a big issue in our country. It is overwhelmingly supported, background checks, by the American people, even by large numbers of members of the National Rifle Association. Even though their organization doesn’t support it, many of the members do. Many hunters, gun owners across the country have said, ‘We have had our background checks. We think other people should too.’

So we must act. It is really a daily tragedy. Do you know that four is the measure of a mass tragedy, and there are probably averages of one a day in our country where there is an episode where four or more people are [shot]? It is like 270-some already this year. And we have to act now.

And we’re not going away. We have told the families we have to pass something. And always this blossoms when something occurs, and then we have the flurry of comments from the other side of the aisle saying, ‘This is not the time, now is not the time. No, now is the time for a moment of silence, and no time for action.’

So the impatience of the American people is right on, and we have to do something about it.

Instead, here we are not taking up any of these bills, but the Republicans are spending this week on their budget, their miserable, deceptive, horrible budget.

A budget should be a statement of your national values. What is important to us as a country should be reflected in what we prioritize in our budget. Show me your budget, show me your values.

I don’t know that it’s a statement of values of the American people to have a budget that cuts a trillion dollars out of Medicaid, a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare, cuts other health initiatives, cuts education, harms veterans, abandons rural America in order to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.

The tax cuts in the bill, 80 percent of the tax cuts in the bill benefit the top 1 percent in our country. $2.6 trillion dollars in tax cuts go to corporate America; around $475 billion in tax increases go to Middle America. $2.6 trillion cut for corporate America; almost half a trillion dollars in increases for Middle America.

So, again, it raises taxes on the middle class, cuts taxes on the wealthiest and adds trillions to the deficit.

Now, this is really – I use this word from time to time, and it is so appropriate around here – pathetic. This budget that they are putting forth, combined with their tax proposal, will add around $2.4 trillion, nearly two and a half trillion dollars to the national debt, $2.4 trillion to the national debt, not counting debt service, interest on that. So it gets closer to $3 trillion.

They deceptively, misleadingly say to the American people, ‘Oh, the growth that’s going to occur by giving 80 percent of these tax cuts to the top 1 percent, and cutting the taxes of corporate America is going to produce such growth that it will eliminate that increase in the debt.’

Nonsense. Never has. Trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the wealthy, with the thought that there might be some job creation – no job creation, only increases the debt.

But don’t take my word for it. I’ve told some of you before, if you were at our hearing last week where Bruce Bartlett spoke, Bruce Bartlett being an advocate of supply-side economics, a partner with Jack Kemp in that regard, he said – let me see, I may have exactly what his words are. He basically said that – I don’t have his exact words here. But he used a little profanity. Maybe that’s why it’s not here.

He said, ‘this whole supply-side, dynamic scoring, pay for itself, it’s just not true, nonsense, BS,’ in his words, ‘complete and total nonsense.’ It just doesn’t happen. It never has. Supply-side has its own justification, but it doesn’t pay for itself.

So we will be fighting on the other side of that. We have A Better Deal. Our budget is A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future for America’s families, lowering the cost of living for America’s working families, equipping them with the tools so that they and their families have a place in the economy of the 21st century. And we are fighting for that Better Deal on the floor right now.

On another subject, yesterday the Speaker and I and Mr. Hoyer visited FEMA headquarters for a briefing on the status of relief efforts following Hurricane Maria. I want to thank our FEMA, the volunteers and the workers at FEMA. They have just been so lovely and generous with their time, efforts and concern. We owe them a great debt of gratitude, and our military as well, who are there.

However, the job is not done, as excellent as their service has been. We were not there soon enough. And a real lesson to all of us in terms of what can be done in preparation for an impending hurricane.

The people of Puerto Rico really were helping on Irma, were helping other islands with humanitarian assistance and the rest, because they didn’t get hit as hard. They got hit hard, but not as hard as they would when Maria came.

So the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, what’s happening there now is a challenge to the conscience of America. We have 50 states and our territories, two of them being Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, we really have to do more and better for them.

Congress must move swiftly for the [disaster] relief supplemental for all of the areas; Florida as well got hit. And also we have the Medicaid cliff that we have to address when it comes to Puerto Rico specifically. But for both islands, for both territories, we must make a long-term commitment to not only relief, recovery, but ongoing, long-term economic recovery.

Today, October 5, is the last day for enrollment for DACA recipients if their status expires between September 5 and March 5, 2018. The President’s declaration, which was given by the Attorney General – they only had 1 month to sign up, and so we urge eligible DREAMers to sign up.

We think the short period of time of four weeks is miserably short. We especially think special consideration should be given to them, but also those who live in Texas, Florida and places that have been incapacitated because of the storms. And when we do pass the DREAM Act, which I feel confident we will, we must make the re-enrollment period longer and retroactive for those who didn’t sign up by today.

So these and other things, starting again with the sad situation in Las Vegas, really, the cumulative effect of one after another, children, little children in school, people praying in church, young people dancing at Pulse, a nightclub, theaters, you know the litany of concern, what happened in Las Vegas just being the biggest of them all, but happening every day in our cities. The gun violence has to stop.

With that, I’ll be pleased to take any questions you have.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)


Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to the Republican Job-Killing, Seniors-Betraying Budget

Our federal budget should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as nation should be reflected in the priorities that we place into that budget – and I just can’t – this budget that is before us, proposed by the Republicans, is just the opposite of that. It is accompanied by the tax proposal that they put, one of the biggest transfers of wealth to the wealthiest people in our country, in our country’s history. Every time they do, it they make it worse.

I’ll let you be the judge. Is it a statement of our national values to cut $1 trillion from Medicaid, to take Medicaid down a bad path in order to give tax cuts to the richest people in our country?

More at the link.


  4 comments for “Fighting Back: John Lewis on Gun Violence – “What will it take for the Republican Congress to wake up?”

  1. JanF
    October 7, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Nancy Pelosi on the new “guidance” issued by Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III:

    San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released this statement after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidance allowing federal agencies to discriminate against the LGBT community, women and many other Americans in the name of religious freedom:

    “The Trump Administration’s staggeringly broad guidance greenlights open discrimination against tens of millions of Americans in a shameful attempt to advance the White House’s culture of cruelty and intolerance. Attorney General Sessions’ guidance insults our laws and violates our fundamental values as Americans.

    “From the start, the Trump Administration has launched an all-out assault on Americans’ civil rights and liberties. In the last day alone, the White House dismantled workplace protections for transgender Americans and ripped away women’s access to basic preventive health care. Now, it has maliciously thrown open the door to blatant and devastating discrimination against millions.

    “It is a dark day when the White House seeks to inflict its hateful anti-LGBT and anti-women bigotry against the American people. The Trump Administration’s unceasing attacks on the rights of Americans make passage of the Equality Act even more urgent, to protect all members of the LGBT community from the White House’s vicious discrimination. Democrats will fight with all our strength to pass this vital legislation, and to defend the rights of all Americans.”

    The “guidance” led the Trump Administration to allow employers to claim a “moral objection” to their female employees having access to free birth control as mandated by the Affordable Care Act:

    San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the Trump Administration moved to end the federal requirement for employers to cover basic contraception in their health insurance plans:

    “The Trump Administration’s despicable new rule reaches into the lives of hundreds of thousands of women, overrules their right to basic preventive care and forces them to pay a huge new cost. This Administration’s contempt for women reaches a new low with this appalling decision to enable employers and health plans to deny women basic coverage for contraception.

    “The Affordable Care Act ensured access to preventive health care for millions of women. Now, Republicans have launched a sickening attack on women’s health, women’s pocketbooks and women’s independence. No woman should have to choose between obtaining contraception and paying for groceries, utilities or other daily necessities. No woman should be subject to the whim of her employer to access the affordable contraception that is her right.

    “House Republicans have been full accomplices in the Trump Administration’s assault on women’s health, voting six times to attack women’s health care this year. While we expect that this latest dangerous action from the White House will be challenged and defeated in the courts, Democrats will fight with all our strength to defend every woman’s right to comprehensive health care, including contraception coverage.”

    The ACLU and at least two states – California and Massachusetts – have filed suit to block this change.

  2. JanF
    October 7, 2017 at 9:20 am

    ThinkProgress on the “guidance”: Justice Department issues new ‘religious freedom’ memo that invites anti-LGBTQ discrimination

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued extensive guidance (PDF) Friday morning regarding “Protections for Religious Liberty” throughout the federal government. The document scrupulously avoids mentioning the LGBTQ community by name but it is undeniably the latest in a string of actions targeting LGBTQ rights.

    Among the 20 “key principles” in Sessions’ memo are several assurances that the government will not penalize religious organizations for their religious beliefs, including their hiring practices or other aspects of their religious practice. Principle 2 states, “The free exercise of religion includes the right to act or not to act in accordance with one’s religious beliefs,” and that reference to not acting is the exact argument that has been used in countless cases where businesses and organizations have refused to serve LGBTQ people because of their religious beliefs.

  3. bfitzinAR
    October 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Thank goddess for our “A” Team. We need them so much right now. Just hope the “kids” are learning from them instead of following the LW ageist (except when it’s bernie) crap about they’re too old and needing “fresh blood” – yes we need a new generation, actually two generations now, to step up. But not if they’re going to refuse to learn from the experienced team currently saving our bacon.

  4. JanF
    October 8, 2017 at 8:58 am

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