Fighting Back: “Democrats believe that it is our duty to help our fellow Americans recover from natural disasters.”

 
 

The Democratic Leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi, held a press conference on Thursday to discuss the preparations for Hurricane Florence and the Trump Administration’s incompetent response to hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands last year:

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was joined by Small Business Committee Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett for a Press Conference to discuss the new threats to communities from Hurricane Florence and the need for renewed action and accountability for the federal hurricane recovery response in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Nancy Pelosi: “We owe the communities facing Hurricane Florence a solemn pledge: in these critical months of recovery to come, the government will do everything it can to save lives and make them whole – the promises we owe every American facing disaster.

But sadly that promise was not kept for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.[…]

The suffering endured by our fellow Americans over the past year has been a challenge to the conscience of our nation, yet Trump tweeted yesterday that the death toll of 3,000 people, 3,000 Americans, was made up to discredit his Presidency.

Think about that. Pray over that. Think of the people who are affected by that.

The attitude from the Administration and from the Republican Congress is unacceptable. We have a moral obligation to do better, not only to finish the job in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but to prevent the same type of inadequate response from ever happening again.”

(The video and transcript of the press conference is below the Weekly Democratic Party Address, which was delivered by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont)

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

(“The American people just witnessed an unprecedented week of Supreme Court hearings for President Trump’s nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).)

Transcript: Senator Patrick Leahy Gives The Weekly Democratic Address

“The American people just witnessed an unprecedented week of Supreme Court hearings for President Trump’s nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Now I have been in the Senate for 44 years, that’s a time that includes 19 nominations to the Supreme Court — more than any other sitting Senator. And I do not use the word unprecedented lightly. Unfortunately, it was unprecedented for all the wrong reasons.

This was the least transparent confirmation process I’ve ever seen. Senate Republicans blocked the American people from seeing more than 93 percent, that’s 93 percent, of Judge Kavanaugh’s record during his five controversial years in the Bush White House. Of the small fraction we’ve seen, Republicans, without justification, have kept us from sharing nearly 190,000 pages with the American people. And then on top of that, President Trump asserted executive privilege to hide an additional 102,000 pages from the Senate and the American people – that is unprecedented. And the White House hasn’t even released a privilege log so we don’t even know what they’re withholding. Reasonable Americans watching this should wonder: What are they hiding?

Judge Kavanaugh’s conception of the Constitution itself is deeply troubling; his lack of candor during the hearing only exacerbated my concerns. The documents that Senate Republicans have been withholding from the American people could help cast significant light on what we already know about Judge Kavanaugh’s troubling legal views. As a judge, for example, he has argued that all regulations on guns are effectively unconstitutional, unless they were in effect when the Constitution was drafted. Of course at that time, that was an age of muskets, not military-style assault weapons favored by mass shooters today. And as a White House staffer, Judge Kavanaugh coached controversial conservative nominees, coached them to provide vague, meaningless assurances to the Senate regarding Roe v. Wade. Well, last week, he followed his own blueprint; he dodged questions about whether the Constitution protects a woman’s right to reproductive care. The same week that a federal court was hearing oral arguments in a case that would erode vital health care protections, Judge Kavanaugh dodged a question on whether he would promise to uphold pre-existing condition protections as constitutional by saying he couldn’t “give assurances on a specific hypothetical.”

And, you know, of unique interest to a President who is increasingly fixated on his own legal jeopardy and problems, Judge Kavanaugh has taken the unorthodox position that Presidents should not be burdened with either criminal or civil investigations while in office. Perhaps knowing that President Trump would be watching last week, Judge Kavanaugh artfully avoided providing any real answers than would walk back his unbridled views on executive immunity and power.

I have never been more concerned about a Supreme Court nominee’s basic willingness and unwillingness to be truthful under oath. Judge Kavanaugh repeatedly testified that during his time in the Bush White House, he never had reason to believe he was benefiting from information that had been stolen from Democrats. But he repeatedly received information clearly marked “highly confidential” and even one e-mail with the subject: “spying”, this from a Republican aide behind one of the biggest thefts in Senate history. A scandal in which Republican aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee stole 4,670 files from six Democratic senators, including myself. Documents show that his testimony was almost certainly false.

Now Judge Kavanaugh also testified that he was never personally involved in the highly controversial nomination of Judge William Pryor, who called Roe v. Wade a constitutional ‘abomination.’ Well, the documents show that too was false. And Judge Kavanaugh testified that he had “heard nothing at all” related to the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program of Americans until the press exposed it, and he said he never worked on policies related to detainees. Again, documents strongly suggest that this testimony was clearly misleading. You know, candor speaks to a person’s character. And nothing is more important than character than when that individual seeks to shape Americans’ lives for a generation or more with the mere stroke of a pen.

With so much at stake, Americans are right to be deeply concerned about this nomination. The confirmation process has been woefully inadequate. Republicans have abandoned basic standards of transparency well-established by our committee. They treated last week’s hearings more like a coronation than a constitutionally-mandated vetting. Judge Kavanaugh’s candor – and therefore his character – is seriously in question. And his constitutional views are downright extreme.

Like we did last week, Senate Democrats will continue to make our voices heard during this confirmation. And we count on Americans to do the same. We need to speak up, before it is too late, to defend the integrity of our nation’s highest court. Only nominees of unquestioned character and forthright candor should sit on the Supreme Court, and Judge Kavanaugh threw both into question during last week’s hearing.

We must protect women’s constitutional rights, vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions, protect the rule of law from a president who acts like he’s above it, and the hard-fought rights of millions of hard-working Americans. With so much on the line, remaining on the sidelines is simply not an option. Democracy, especially in moments like these, is not a spectator sport.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday discussed the preparations for Hurricane Florence and the Trump Administration’s incompetent response to hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands last year:

Transcript: Transcript of Press Conference on Unfinished Hurricane Recovery in Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islandse

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was joined by Small Business Committee Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett for a Press Conference to discuss the new threats to communities from Hurricane Florence and the need for renewed action and accountability for the federal hurricane recovery response in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.

We’ve come together very prayerfully this morning with prayers in our hearts for all our fellow Americans who are facing the terrible winds and waters of Hurricane Florence. We’re praying for the safety of the families in harm’s way and for the heroic first responders who have come from across America to help.

We owe the communities facing Hurricane Florence a solemn pledge: in these critical months of recovery to come, the government will do everything it can to save lives and make them whole – the promises we owe every American facing disaster.

But sadly that promise was not kept for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. At the end of the July, we led a bipartisan delegation of sixteen Members to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to see firsthand what still needs to be done. It was our goal to expedite the assistance, the cooperation that would be necessary.

It was my honor to be joined on that trip by Representative Nydia Velázquez of New York, Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee and member of Financial Services and Natural Resources, both of which have a role in this.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who will be joining us shortly, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation, and also a Member of the Homeland Security Committee and the Budget Committee. So she takes about three bites of this apple, at least.

And of course Representative Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Ranking Member of the Interior, Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and a Member of Transportation and Infrastructure and Agriculture.

The three Members and I were part of a sixteen Member delegation.

This month marks one year – I always like temporal markers so that we can see how far we have come and remember the loss of life, the real loss of life. This month marks one year since Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit, and the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still struggling to heal and recover.

The suffering endured by our fellow Americans over the past year has been a challenge to the conscience of our nation, yet President Trump tweeted yesterday that the death toll of 3,000 people, 3,000 Americans, was made up to discredit his Presidency.

Think about that. Pray over that. Think of the people who are affected by that.

The attitude from the Administration and from the Republican Congress is unacceptable. We have a moral obligation to do better, not only to finish the job in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but to prevent the same type of inadequate response from ever happening again.

And right now, in real time, as we see the suffering on our East Coast, in the Carolinas, and we’ll see what happens next, we have to understand that it’s not just about the physical destruction of property. That’s traumatic enough in terms of the impact it has on people’s lives. More importantly, it’s about the personal consequences.

I think there’s been – I don’t know if there’s been any loss of life, but hopefully in the recovery, it’s not just about rescue, but the recovery will be about the well-being of the people there.

And that’s one of the manifestations of natural disaster that we saw in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the personal consequences of it all. And really so sad for the President to add salt to the wounds by making the most unfortunate statement that he made. But let’s put that aside and let’s be serious and real about it.

Now it’s my honor to yield to a person who has been relentless, persistent, dissatisfied, constant in her advocacy for the people, the American citizens in Puerto Rico, a person who was born there, who knows the territory, and knows the Congress and knows our possibilities, Congressman Nydia Velázquez of New York.

* * *

Leader Pelosi. Thank you, Ranking Member Velázquez.

It is important to note that we planned this meeting with the press long before the President made his statement. We went to Puerto Rico. We stayed in touch with each other over the month of August to be up-to-date. We met last week as a delegation to talk about additional steps we would take, whether it was with FEMA, whether it was with HUD, whether it was with the Small Business Administration, et cetera, with the Administration, and what we needed to do in the Congress. And so we planned to report on our trip and what we want to do next.

Unfortunately, the President put in clear focus part of the challenge that is there in terms of not understanding that when a President speaks his, words weigh a ton, and when he says something so demoralizing that the weight of it all is just incomprehensible.

When we were there we went to the Virgin Islands, that was a main part of our trip. We’ve been very magnificently served in the Congress by Congresswoman Plaskett.

She took us all over the Virgin Islands, whether we’re meeting with people and hearing their concerns, whether we’re talking about health care facilities, whether we’re talking about rebuilding the economy by having reconstruction of some of the facilities there.

Clearly, she commands great respect there and she does in the Congress and as a Member of the important, now, Member of the Transportation Committee, among her other assignments. We saw there the importance of infrastructure in the Virgin Islands as well.

* * *

Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Plaskett.

Obviously, one of our purposes is to remove the obstacles of participation of individuals having access to the money, whether it’s for housing or whatever. And, again, the intent of Congress was that this would be facilitated.

With that, I’m pleased to yield to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, of Houston, Texas. When she came on our CODEL at the end of the last session she brought her fresh eyes from having experienced not only Houston receiving recipients from Katrina, experiencing their own natural disasters, but recent.

And so she as a Member, as I mentioned before, of the Homeland Security Committee, the Judiciary Committee, wears several hats, including a Representative of people who have suffered through a natural disaster and has that experience to share with us. Sheila.

* * *

Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, Congresswoman Velázquez, and Congresswoman Plaskett.

As you can see from these three leaders, our brief is well-documented, there is great knowledge and experience that went behind our going on that trip and continues as we try to expedite the assistance. There were many other Members on the CODEL, but we’re not in session today, so we have three Representatives of the different aspects of it.

Let me just say this. When I first was a new Member of Congress we had the earthquake, Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, and you learned right off the bat the only thing that really matters in terms of people and their relationship to the public sector is if you are there in their time of need, at a time of need that is beyond their control. It’s not need of something incremental, it’s drastic need.

And for there to be any doubt in anyone’s mind in a time of these very predictable natural disasters that we have to be there in a timely fashion, time is the most valuable commodity and the money that goes with it. The sooner the money, the better it is.

Now, we expect that this is an opportunity, that in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands there could be a new grid. Not restored to where it was before, as the law says, we have to restore it to the standard where it was before. That’s not good enough. We have to leapfrog over that, because that did not serve us well.

What we saw was interest in having renewable energy sources so that we can help to slow down, to lessen the heat that accelerates the pace of these hurricanes. So there are all kinds of opportunities here.

But first and foremost, we have to be there to meet the needs of people, whether it’s Community Development Block Grants or whether it’s removing obstacles of participation to access housing money, whether it’s thinking about how we build the committee by thinking in new terms about what that grid would look like if it is really about the future. The list goes on and on.

As Congresswoman Plaskett said, these are Americans and they are our veterans. They’re our children. It’s for us to hopefully not think in a different way about a disaster in one place and a disaster in another. But let’s remove all doubt and get this done.

But we are determined, as you can tell, by the determination and the knowledge and the vision that our colleagues have on this subject.

Unfortunately, we’re coming to you, again planning this well in advance, but not knowing that Florence would be taking its toll at this time. So, again, our thoughts, prayers and actions have to be to have that immediate rescue, emergency recovery, and then go on to what comes next after that.

Any questions on this subject first?

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

~

Not satisfied with running the deficit to a trillion dollars a year to give tax breaks to their donors, the Republican Congress plans to pass Tax Scam 2 – paid for via cuts to Medicare, Medicare and Social Security – and adding another $2 trillion to the deficit!

Breaking the Bank: House GOP Tax Scam 2.0

To nobody’s surprise, the GOP’s latest tax bill will add even more to the deficit, further padding the pockets of the wealthiest 1 percent. It’s just another step in their plan to use the massive deficit from their tax scams to justify ransacking the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that seniors and working families rely on.

Washington Post: House GOP is pushing a new round of tax cuts that could cost $2 trillion over 10 years

House Republicans bracing for November’s midterm elections unveiled a second round of tax cuts on Monday that could add more than $2 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade, aiming to cement the steep cuts they passed last fall despite criticisms of fiscal profligacy and tailoring their policies to help the rich.

While Republicans dig themselves in deeper on unpaid-for tax breaks for the richest few, Democrats are fighting for real, bipartisan tax reform that creates jobs, reduces the deficit and is For The People.

(More media reaction at the link)

~

U.S. House Democratic leader: NAFTA should stay a trilateral deal

U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday warned the Trump administration that NAFTA should be maintained as a trilateral pact between the United States, Mexico and Canada and not just as a U.S.-Mexico arrangement.

Pelosi’s remarks are significant because whatever deal to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement is ultimately reached will be reviewed by the next Congress that convenes in January. Pelosi could be the speaker of the House if Democrats win this November’s congressional midterm elections. […]

“I think it should be trilateral,” she told reporters, adding she did not think it would be “in the interest of this hemisphere” to turn NAFTA into a bilateral deal.

~

  2 comments for “Fighting Back: “Democrats believe that it is our duty to help our fellow Americans recover from natural disasters.”

  1. JanF
    September 15, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Paul Ryan supports his party’s leader, hates Americans:

    From Nancy Pelosi’s Newsroom: Speaker Ryan on 3,000 American Deaths: ‘No One’s Fault’

    Even after the President’s cruel and insulting statements [about the Puerto Rican death toll], Speaker Ryan once again shielded his President from accountability at his weekly press conference:

    “These numbers [are] a function of: this was a devastating storm that hit an isolated island. That’s really no one’s fault. That is just what happened.”

    Wait… what?! The death of thousands of Americans is “no one’s fault?” What will it actually take for House GOP to do its job and provide oversight on the Executive Branch?

    Republicans are the only ones turning a blind eye. Earlier today, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker laid down the truth:

    “In any part of the United States, 3,000 excess deaths in six months would be considered a crisis, worthy of an intensive investigation to find out what went wrong — rather than a tweetstorm that minimizes the problem.”

    What would it take for House Republicans to uphold their duty to hold their President and his administration accountable?

    (Slight edits to emphasize that Trump is Ryan’s president, not mine.)

  2. JanF
    September 20, 2018 at 5:30 am

    Nancy Pelosi warning us about the Republican Party’s plans for 2019:

Comments are closed.