The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut. He spoke of the victories that will allow Democrats to be in a better position to stand up for all Americans.
(Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT))
“Thanks to victories across the country, Democrats in Congress will be in a better position to stand up for your kids, your parents, your neighbors, your friends. Congressional Republicans have a choice to make: continue down their path of sabotage or work with us to lower health care costs and expand access to quality care.”
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
No transcript has been provided. One will be posted if it becomes available.
Leader Nancy Pelosi’s held a press conference after the midterm elections showed that Democrats will become the majority party in the House for the 116th Congress starting on January 2, 2019.
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a news conference on the 2018 midterm election results that handed the Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives for the 116th Congress. Leader Pelosi called the previous night’s election “a vote to restore the health of our democracy,” stressing the importance of checks and balances in government, but saying that House Democrats would look to work with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. “We will strive for bipartisanship. We believe that we have a responsibility to seek common ground where we can. Where we cannot, we must stand our ground,” she said. She was also asked about her prospects to once again assume the speaker’s gavel. “It’s not about what you have done; it’s what you can do,” she said. “I think I’m the best person to go forward.””
Leader Pelosi. Good afternoon, everyone. And a good afternoon it is. It’s a great day for the American people.
The biggest winner yesterday was the health care for American people, for our seniors, and hard-working American families. Health care was on the ballot, and health care won.
Yesterday, Americans elected an extraordinary class of dynamic and diverse Democratic candidates, Members-Elect who reflect their districts and who embody the bountiful diversity of our nation.
Women led the way to victory with at least 30 new women coming to the Congress. Is that not exciting? And there are still some races that are not finalized yet, so there could be more.
Democrats also secured big wins in the governorships across the country. And while it is my responsibility to win the House for the Democrats, the winning of governorships is essential, essential to good policy in our country and open elections and the rest.
So victories in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Nevada. We are very proud in New Mexico that our colleague, Michelle Lujan Grisham, is now the Governor. In Colorado, Jared Polis is now the Governor, our current colleague, even though that’s replacing a Democratic Governor, great Governor, Governor Hickenlooper, so that wasn’t a pickup, but it is a Democratic Member there. Tim Walz in Minnesota, our colleague, again, winning in Minnesota.
So, for us, seeing the extraordinary leadership of eight Members going into Governors’ offices, seeing an increased number of Democratic governorships, it was a great night for the American people.
We won because from the beginning we focused on health care. Two years ago today, the day after the election, not the same date, but the same day after the election, everyone came together and said we see the urgency, we want to take responsibility, and that gave us opportunity to protect the Affordable Care Act. That was so essential to the health and financial security of America’s working families, and we knew it would be a target of the Trump Administration.
So just so you know, that by that Sunday, we had mobilized many of the groups outside. They were self-mobilized as well, but we all came together, depending on where we might be on the spectrum in other issues, to say this was our focus.
We made a plan to launch our campaign on the weekend of Martin Luther King Day. You know when that is, in January. And we did. After the President’s inauguration, as you know, something historic happened in our country, the Women’s March. And much of that was about health care, women’s reproductive health. Health care, the beat goes on.
Over the course of that next year and a half, working with the outside groups – and they deserve a great deal of credit – and I’m proud of our Democratic unity in the Congress of the United States and our inside maneuvering. That unity was essential to the clarity of our message and our differentiation from the Republicans on that subject. But working together, voting together, we were able to make our case.
The outside groups, and we participated in some of this, but the outside groups had 10,000 events across the country speaking out about the risks that were involved in the Republican policy in terms of health care in our country, their assaults on Medicare, Medicaid, their assaults on the benefit of a pre-existing medical condition being taken away, all of that, so much more. The issue about the cost of prescription drugs, all of those issues by groups, coalitions, Protect Our Care, Little Lobbyists, patient advocacy groups across the country, labor unions, veterans, the list goes on and on, so many people who were involved in that leading up to this being on the ballot.
And some of you have said to me, how did this emerge as the issue in the campaign? My answer is, we made our own environment because we knew how important health care is, not only to the good health of families, but to the financial well-being of their families, health care costs being such a major assault on their economic security.
It was, and when we put together our For the People agenda, our first priority was to lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Leader Mitch McConnell went forth and really admitted that Medicare and Medicaid and some aspects of Social Security disability benefits were on the chopping block. The President pulled his punch when it came time to lowering the cost of prescription drugs by enabling the Secretary [of HHS] to negotiate for that.
So this is very important. That was For the People, lower health care costs, bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America, integrity in government by reducing the role of big dark money in the political spectrum. That was our agenda. Our candidates ran with it. But health care, health care, health care in every household in America is an important issue.
The man whose office I occupy now, Speaker Tip O’Neill, he said all politics is local. When it comes to health care, all politics is personal.
And so, again, we made our own environment. While the GOP tried relentlessly to distract and divide, our candidates kept their focus on that subject. When I say ‘our candidates,’ our candidates for reelection as well.
Voters delivered a resounding verdict against congressional Republicans’ attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, and people with pre-existing conditions in districts everywhere in America. They want new direction, a House that will – now they want a new direction, a House that will work to make progress in the lives of America’s families and seniors.
Democrats pledge, again, a new majority, our For the People agenda, lower health care costs, lower prescription drugs, bigger paychecks, building infrastructure, clean up corruption to make America work for the American people’s interest, not the special interests.
Yesterday’s election was not only a vote to protect America’s health care. It was a vote to restore the health of our democracy. The health of our democracy. Under the Constitution, I’m proud that the legislative branch is Article I, the first branch of government, the legislative branch, right after that beautiful preamble stating our purpose, Article I, the legislative branch. It is there as a co-equal branch of the other branches of government and a check and balance on other branches of government.
The American people had put want to put an end to unchecked GOP control of Washington, restoring again the checks and balances envisioned by our Founders. That’s a responsibility we have when we take that oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and we, as Democrats, are here to strengthen the institution in which we serve and not to have it be a rubber stamp for President Trump.
House Democrats will honor our responsibility to the Constitution, as I said, have a conscience. How we will open, how we will do things, we will open the Congress with a rule that will insist upon openness and transparency so that the American people can see the impact of public policy on their lives, putting an end to what the Republicans did with their tax scam in the dark of night, the speed of light, no hearings on a bill that would have trillions of dollars of impact on our economy. That’s over.
We will strive in that openness with the American people as our partners because they will see the impact of legislation on their lives. We will strive for bipartisanship. We believe that we have a responsibility to seek common ground where we can. Where we cannot, we must stand our ground, but we must try. And so openness and transparency, accountability, bipartisanship, a very important part of how we will go forward.
We believe that’s the responsibility we have to honor the vision of our Founders. They gave us in their Declaration a call for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How beautiful. They also gave us guidance on how to achieve that: E Pluribus Unum, from many, one. They couldn’t imagine how many there would be or how different we would be from each other, but they knew that we had to strive for oneness.
Recognizing that this is a marketplace of ideas, we have different views on the role of government, and that’s a healthy debate for the American people to witness and for us to have. We do so with confidence in our values and our proposals, but also with humility to listen and hear what others may have to say. And so that will be the kind of Congress that we have, one again that honors the guidance of E Pluribus Unum.
Last night, I had a conversation with President Trump about how we could work together. One of the issues that came up was part of our For the People agenda, building the infrastructure of America, and I hope that we can achieve that. He talked about it during his campaign, and, really, didn’t come through with it in his first two years in office, but that issue has not been a partisan issue in the Congress of the United States.
Over the years, we’ve been able to work together regionally, bipartisan across the aisle, across the Capitol and down Pennsylvania Avenue. I hope that we can do that because we want to create jobs from sea to shining sea. We want good paying jobs, whether it’s about surface transportation, water systems, my colleague Congressman Eshoo is here, a champion on broadband, always on high-speed broadband across America to end the digital divide, especially into rural areas as well as urban areas, and then in schools, housing, and the rest.
Those jobs, those initiatives will create good paying jobs but will also generate other economic growth in their regions. So we hope that we can work in a bipartisan way in that way.
The other issue that we could hopefully work on is lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and that is something the President has talked about. We had it in our ‘6 for ’06’ 12 years ago when we won the House. Five of those six became law. The one we couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate for was enabling the Secretary [of HHS] to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. We hope to get that done now because that is a big impact on America’s families’ budget.
And then the third really caffeinating issue for us is integrity in government, to reduce the role of special interest money, and I commend all of our candidates for their commitment to the health care agenda, to a bigger paycheck agenda, and also to the good government agenda.
They have written letters saying that they want H.R. 1, which is our Better Deal for America’s Democracy, to be something they vote on. But I say to them, when you come here, you will have an impact on what that legislation is. You may want to make some additions or some tweaking, but nonetheless, our newcomers will be part of putting together how the agenda goes forward, and we look forward to that invigoration of the Congress.
I also spoke to Mitch McConnell, Leader McConnell this morning on how we can work together, especially on infrastructure. I did receive a call of congratulations from Speaker Ryan, and I welcomed that, and we discussed how it is to win and how it is not to win.
In any event, the concern that he was expressing was about some of his colleagues who will no longer be serving. On that point, I want to make a couple of I want to say something because in winning this election, not only are we on the right side of history, we’re on the right side of the future. This is where we have to go. But once we talk about the challenges that we face, we had to jump over gerrymandered lines all over the country.
So when we talk about our success, it’s about the grassroots operation owning the ground. All of these groups that care about health care, many of them out there helped elect people who share their values about lowering health care costs, removing lifetime caps, even annual caps on insurance coverage, and certainly restoring the benefit of pre-existing conditions not being a barrier to coverage.
Most importantly, though, the quality of our candidates, they are spectacular from every walk of life, and some of them from a couple of different walks of life. And when they come here, they’ll bring their experience, their knowledge, and especially their values to the Congress. We look forward to that. This is no easy feat to win this election. I hear the President attributed it to this, that, and the other thing, but when we think of how gerrymandered the country is, how we hope to change that, but nonetheless, how we were able to succeed in this election is a tribute again to the quality of our candidates, the determination of our grassroots folks across the country, and the values that we share with the American people.
In terms of working with the President, I will I just would say that I worked very productively with President Bush when we had the majority and he had the Presidency. We passed one of the biggest energy bills in the history of our country. We passed one of the biggest tax bills in terms of stimulus for low income people as well as middle income people in his Presidency, and the list goes on. PEPFAR, he wanted PEPFAR. We wanted and there was so many issues that we worked together although we vehemently opposed the war in Iraq.
But the point is, is that we worked together. The President said: I’ll wait for them to send me something. Well, we have ideas, and we can send him something, but the fact is that we’d like to work together so our legislation will be bipartisan. We’re not going for the lowest common denominator. We’re going for the boldest common denominator. Our position will be a consensus within our own party for what we can support but also welcoming other ideas.
So we look forward to a new kind of a new era in terms of what is happening. This past two years, it seemed like a very, very long time in terms of the path that it’s taken us down. And I think of our Founders and their courage, their vision, what they had in mind for us, E Pluribus Unum, from many, one, when I think of the American people and how beautifully diverse we are and how newcomers to our country have constantly reinvigorated America, when I think of our beautiful planet, and, of course, our own country, God’s gift to us and how it has been neglected and degraded in this past couple of years, I think that there is plenty of opportunity for us to match our legislation with the rhetoric that we are hearing.
It might surprise you to note that the President I quoted the most on the campaign trail – what would you think? Ronald Reagan. And I’ll just – I won’t read you the whole quote, but I’ll read you just one paragraph. Ronald Reagan said: ‘This is the last speech that I will make as President of the United States, and I want to – it’s fitting to be leave final thought, an observation about a country which I love.’
His last speech. That’s quite a headliner, right, in your business, Ronald Reagan’s last speech.
He said: ‘Thanks to each new wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we are a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. This quality is vital to our future as a nation.’
He goes on to say: ‘If we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost. If we ever close the door, our leadership will soon be lost.’
So in that respect for the vision of our Founders, the diversity of our country, the beauty of our land, the values in our Constitution, first and foremost, we think there is an opportunity to work together. One sign of good faith on the part of the President to work together [would be] for them to withdraw their assault on the pre-existing condition benefit, which the Republican attorneys general across the country have put forth, and which this administration has said they will not defend the law of the land, they will join in that lawsuit. That’s just wrong. That’s just wrong. So we think, again, as a sign of good faith and in keeping with what they are saying on the campaign trail, prove it. Withdraw the lawsuit. So that would be one place that we could start.
In any event, next week we look forward to welcoming our new class of freshmen. We will celebrate their diversity, the freshness of their thinking and the rest, and they will immediately be incorporated into our building a consensus of how we go forward in a very open, transparent, bipartisan, unifying Congress.
Any questions? Yes, sir.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
Leader Pelosi appeared on CNN on November 8th.
Last night, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Chris Cuomo on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time for a wide-ranging interview on Democrats’ priorities For The People in the 116th Congress, including reducing the cost of health care and prescription drugs, increasing workers’ paychecks, and cleaning up corruption in Washington. She reaffirmed Democrats’ commitment to working for all Americans and finding common ground with Republicans.
Leader Pelosi also questioned the constitutionality of President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General and added that Trump’s actions mark a “perilous time” for our nation.
Highlights are at the link.
Here is the letter Nancy Pelosi sent to House Members and House Members-Elect asking for their support for Speaker of the House.
Congratulations on your victory and for being a part of an historic and exciting new Democratic Majority. Your wisdom and leadership will be essential to our efforts in the months ahead.
The American people have spoken, and demanded that Congress listen to what matters to them – the health care and economic security of hard-working families.
In the campaign, we won because we focused on our For The People agenda and refused to be distracted. With the Majority:
– We will defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions, keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the chopping block, and lower health costs and prescription drug prices for all Americans;
– We will raise workers’ wages with strong economic growth by rebuilding America’s infrastructure;
– We will clean up corruption to make Washington work for the American people.
By reducing the role of money in politics and advancing fair elections with the Voting Rights Act, we will build trust so that the public knows that the people’s interest and not the special interests are served.
We must show on the first day of the 116th Congress that we are prepared to get the job done for the American people.
Our opening day rule must assert a new Congress of transparency, bipartisanship and unity. We will seek not the lowest, but the boldest common denominator. We must honor the guidance of our Founders: E Pluribus Unum. From many, one. As we debate our differences, we must work to unite, not divide our country further.
In the next few weeks, I look forward to talking with you and every Member of our Caucus to gather the best ideas on how to strengthen the institution we serve and to honor our responsibilities under Article I: the legislative branch, a co-equal branch of government that is a check and balance on the Executive and the Judiciary. How we go forward will spring from Member participation in the committees and the Caucus to build consensus.
My vision for the next two years is to restore the House to the role it should have as a strong and independent voice for the American people, and maximize the ability and the creativity of our entire Caucus.
In that spirit, I am writing to respectfully request your support for Speaker, and do so with confidence and humility. Thank you for your consideration.
Again, congratulations and best wishes.