The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread.
The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California.
(In this week’s address, Speier highlights the ‘Me Too’ movement and urges support for the ME TOO Congress Act, the bipartisan and bicameral bill to bring transparency and accountability to Congress)
We are at a moment of reckoning. For too long, in too many workplaces, men and women have been propositioned, grabbed, licked, kissed, and groped. They have seen their careers crumble into dust through no fault of their own. They have been driven out of the industries – journalism, entertainment, and yes, Congress – in which they had worked for years to excel. […]
“I am proud to say that the ME TOO Congress Act, the bipartisan and bicameral bill with nearly 100 Democrat and Republican sponsors, heeds the outcry from the American people to bring transparency and accountability to Congress. It will overhaul the current process to empower victims and bring accountability to perpetrators and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for settlements by Members of Congress.”
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)
“Hello, I’m Jackie Speier, Congresswoman from the 14th Congressional District in California.
“We are at a moment of reckoning. For too long, in too many workplaces, men and women have been propositioned, grabbed, licked, kissed, and groped. They have seen their careers crumble into dust through no fault of their own. They have been driven out of the industries – journalism, entertainment, and yes, Congress – in which they had worked for years to excel.
“Now, at last, we are reckoning with this predatory plague that has spread throughout this institution, including the very Floor of the House of Representatives.
“Now, survivors are stepping forward to say ‘Me Too.’ They are saying that they will no longer be silenced by powerful men, by high-priced lawyers, and by restrictive non-disclosure agreements.
“And now, at last, the reckoning has come to Congress. It is undeniably clear that misguided attempts to protect this institution have instead harmed it, and have left the shattered lives of too many victims in its wake.
“Make no mistake: This institution is special. But we as Members of this body are not. It is a privilege to serve the American public in an elected capacity, from city councils and school boards, to the Commander-in-Chief.
“And that is why we cannot let this moment of reckoning pass us by. The outcry for accountability that we are hearing from all corners of the country must be heeded. We are seeing titans of entertainment, news, and every other business be swiftly terminated, yet here in Congress, we hide behind a structure that shields us from true accountability.
“Serving as a Member of Congress is a privilege, not a right, and anyone who has abused their power in this manner deserves to lose it. That is justice.
“I am proud to say that the ME TOO Congress Act, the bipartisan and bicameral bill with nearly 100 Democrat and Republican sponsors, heeds the outcry from the American people to bring transparency and accountability to Congress. It will overhaul the current process to empower victims and bring accountability to perpetrators and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for settlements by Members of Congress.
“We cannot fail in our duty to do what is right. The American people do not want us to hide behind opaque decisions by the House Administration or Ethics Committees. They do not want to pay for an inability to keep our hands to ourselves. They want accountability and transparency, and they want it now.
“Every individual is entitled to a workplace safe from harassment and abuse.
“Together we can and will meet this challenge. We can and will be the leaders that the American people deserve, and that the entire world looks to for inspiration.
“We can and will do what is right.”
Any bolding has been added.
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor on the House of Representatives in support H.Res. 630 requiring each Member, officer, and employee of the House of Representatives to complete sexual harassment training. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. [Robert] Brady, thank you for your leadership. Thank you Mr. Chairman [Gregg] Harper for yours as well. Thank you for bringing this legislation to the Floor.
Here it is. November 29, 2017, an historic day in the history of the Congress. A watershed moment in our Congress’ history because it is a day in which we will take the opportunity to make change.
This body is taking a constructive first step to protect all members of our legislative community from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. This vote is vital to upholding the integrity of the U.S. Congress.
We’re grateful for the tremendous leadership of Congresswoman Jackie Speier. I have observed her leadership on this subject for a very long tremendous leadership of time. She has a lifetime commitment to exposing and ending the scourge of sexual harassment. I thank her for that leadership.
I want to also acknowledge my own daughter, Christine Pelosi, the Chair of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party. She was a former prosecutor in San Francisco, prosecuted these cases and has been a strong, strong advocate for protecting people in the workplace. And has had some level of success with that.
So here we are at this watershed moment in the nationwide fight against sexual harassment and discrimination. Brave women in every corner of the country and every industry are making their voices heard. As Members of Congress, we have a moral duty to show real effective leadership to foster a climate of respect and dignity in the workplace with absolutely zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, or abuse. Anything less is unacceptable, my colleagues.
Requiring the Members and staff to take training, while valuable, and we must have it, must be only a first step – and we must make sure that that training is very effective as well.
But the next step for Congress to take is to pass the Me Too Congress Act, introduced by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, to create greater transparency and accountability in the broken reporting and settlement system.
Taxpayer money should not have been spent to build a culture of silence and complicity around workplace harassment. We must make a judgment about how that was used. This bill, the Me Too Congress Act, will reform the policy that has persisted. It will ensure that survivors who wish to share their stories publicly can come forward and they can come forward to the ethics committee.
We want to create a culture that says to everyone who comes to work here, ‘This will be hospitable for you.’ We want it to be a culture that is a model to the nation.
In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, this moment is a moment of truth for the Congress. It is disappointing and disturbing that some in the Capitol have not served with the dignity and respect required of this office.
It is very hard to accept that people we admire in public life and here in Congress have crossed the line and broken the public trust and violated the dignity and respect of those who have worked for or with them. But zero tolerance means consequences for everyone. No matter your contribution to our country, you do you not get a pass to harass or discriminate. No matter how great the legacy, it is not a license to harass or abuse.
To the victims of harassment and abuse, we hear you, we believe you, we are here for you.
Where there is harassment, women and men must have support to come forward. We have a duty, again, to address their concerns and provide them needed resources. We don’t want to lose the leadership or service of any patriot who comes to work in or around the Congress. We can’t let harassment or discrimination destroy their safety or drive them out of public office. We cannot tell young women or men who aspire to serve in this historic body that they must put up with harassment and abuse.
So, Mr. Speaker, I want to just close by, again, thanking Congresswoman Jackie Speier for her leadership. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Brady, all who are concerned with it. It is utterly unconscionable that courageous survivors who seek to end the nightmare of sexual harassment are also dealt the injustice of having their voices silent. During this watershed moment, we must seize the moment and take real lasting action. The eyes of the country are on us. We cannot fail them or any prospective victims.
With that, I thank all of those who have brought this to the Floor. Congresswoman [Barbara] Comstock, Mr. [Gregg] Harper, Mr. [Robert] Brady, Congresswoman [Jackie] Speier. I urge a strong unanimous vote on this resolution. I yield back the balance of my time.
Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:
Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference
Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks
Good morning. Here it is. The GOP tax scam, briefly. As you know, today, in the Senate, the Republicans are racing forward with a tax scam with catastrophic consequences for America’s working families. The GOP tax scam raises taxes on 82 million middle class families – the SALT – eliminates the state and local tax deduction and blows a hole in the state and local budgets across America.
It will unravel the ACA, the sneaky ACA reform repeal – sneaky ACA repeal – 13 million more uninsured Americans – exploding the ranks of the uninsured. And with all of that, increases the national debt by over $2 trillion, their 1.5 plus interest.
It’s almost criminal. It’s a lethal attack on the middle class, on Americans’ jobs, good health, and education, on the children and seniors. Republicans, they will force our children to pay this debt. They are robbing from the future.
All of this is to hand staggering tax breaks to the wealthiest 1 percent and corporations shipping jobs overseas. Sixty-two percent of the tax breaks in the Senate bill go to the top 1 percent. That’s what they’re up to today.
After an entire year squandered on Republican special interest giveaways, Congress faces an urgent – a huge, urgent list of overdue priorities for the American people. While the President tweets, ‘I don’t see a deal,’ Democrats are simply asking – it was so sad because all we wanted to do is give him some information so that he would have some judgment about what he was talking about.
Democrats are simply asking for action on a broad set of bipartisan priorities, things that we had already agreed to, but to make him understand how they fit into appropriations bills.
We want to keep government open. That’s what we are about. They have the votes, they have the Presidential signature to do whatever they want, but Democrats are committed to keeping government open.
To do so, we need to raise the caps. We support additional resources for strong national defense.
It is really important to note that we need to increase the domestic budget if we’re going to be strong, because the domestic budget – the non-defense discretionary budget – just for those of you who write about appropriations – I’m an appropriator, so we go to that place – the non-defense discretionary domestic budget, a third of it is national security issues: veterans, State Department, Homeland Security and the anti-terrorism efforts of the Justice Department. A third of the budget is about our national security functions.
The rest of the budget is another measure of the strength of America, the health, the education, the well-being of the American people in our system.
So that’s all we wanted to say to him: here are some of the things that you might have learned. In those empty chairs, in the difference in the caps that we are discussing now, for those of you who are covering the cap situation, the difference would be money that we could pay to address the opioid epidemic. We wanted to sit in that chair people affected by the opioid epidemic.
Veterans. We need increased veterans spending, in addition to what is in the domestic side, increased veteran spending. Veterans would be sitting in those chairs.
Children, CHIP and the community health centers, the funding that is needed there, all of this agreed to in a bipartisan way and for which we may in some cases have offsets so it’s not just an increase.
Emergency disaster funding for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands and wildfire-impacted communities like my own, those people would be sitting in those chairs. Their message would come through if we were there.
And saving America’s endangered pensions across the country. This is a crisis. We wanted to talk to the President about that. Again, bipartisan support.
And then, of course, passing the DREAM Act, which has bipartisan support in the Congress.
So we are advocating for priorities that have broad bipartisan support and which would pass on the floor with an up or down vote on any one of them. We were going to talk to the President respectfully and, in doing so, make the case for why the caps have to have the parity that we have talked about, because our national security and the strength of our country measured in a number of different ways depends on it.
He didn’t want to even hear about it, because sometimes when you have knowledge you have to make a judgment. How can your judgment be respected if you don’t even know what you’re talking about?
So in any case, we will continue to make our case. Instead of pushing our nation into a needless crisis, Republicans should join us to meet the needs of the American people and keep government open.
We always want it to be working together, respecting the role the President plays in this, in our system of checks and balances. Whether we disagree with him on an issue, we recognize we all have a role in the system of checks and balances.
This tax scam will so seriously – and we said to them, ‘Let’s go to the table, and let’s do this in a bipartisan way,’ which then would have sustainability, which would send a message that this is something the country is committed to – instead of this rip-off, this plundering, this pillaging of the middle class that the Republicans are doing.
Their trickle-down economics has always been in their DNA. It has never created jobs, it has always increased the deficit, and it’s simply not true that it pays for itself.
So with that, I will take any questions you may have. But this is a fight we will engage in. They seem to think they have the votes today. Perhaps they do and that it will go to conference and that’s really the fight in the House and the Senate on the bill. I repeat, they’re saying this is a middle income tax cut. Eighty-two million middle class families will have an increase in their taxes. It’s a stunning thing.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after House Republicans introduced their partisan proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act:
“Today, House Republicans unveiled their latest devastating blow to students, borrowers, Millennials and all Americans pursuing lifelong learning.
“In the GOP tax scam and now in this radical Higher Education Act reauthorization, Republicans show no shame in making college more expensive for low-income students. This partisan bill pulls the rug out from borrowers and gives unfettered access to federal funding with no accountability. It furthers their mission to destroy Pell Grants, decimates loan repayment flexibility and repeals critical protections from predatory lending and institutions. When paired with the Trump Administration’s executive efforts, this GOP legislation will create a two-tiered system that sends rich kids to college and puts lifelong learning out of reach for low-income Americans.
“Instead of yanking lifelong learning out of reach for millions, Republicans should abandon this partisan exercise and work in good faith with Democrats to expand access to quality education and tackle the crippling impact of the student debt crisis on millions of Americans. House Democrats will continue to fight for our Aim Higher initiative so that all Americans can pursue a meaningful degree or credential that leads to a good-paying job.”