Fighting Back: “Democrats will always put the American people first.” #ForThePeople

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware reminding everyone that Democrats will always put the American people first.

(In this week’s address, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester discussed House Democrats’ sweeping new legislation to tackle out-of-control prescription drug prices: H.R. 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act.)

“Since January, Members of the House have worked to deliver on the promise [to lower health care costs and improve access to quality health care]. Through our For The People agenda, we further strengthened our nation’s health care system by building upon the Affordable Care Act.

“But we still have more work to do. This week, my colleagues and I are back in our districts, speaking to our constituents about the latest and boldest part of our For The People agenda: H.R. 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act.

“House Democrats are putting the American people first and directly addressing a broken system where Americans pay five, ten, sometimes 60 times more than others around the world pay for the same drug. Our dynamic approach to tackle our prescription drug system will bring prices down for seniors, for Americans using health care exchanges and even for the 180 million Americans with employer-sponsored coverage.” […]

“The bottom-line is that every American deserves high-quality affordable health care. We can do this, we must do this and, together, we will do this, For The People.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“Hello, I’m Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester from Delaware. When I ran to represent the First State in Congress, my constituents and people across the nation demanded action to lower health care costs and improve access to quality health care. And Congress promised to follow through.

“Since January, Members of the House have worked to deliver on that promise. Through our For The People agenda, we further strengthened our nation’s health care system by building upon the Affordable Care Act.

“But we still have more work to do. This week, my colleagues and I are back in our districts, speaking to our constituents about the latest and boldest part of our For The People agenda: H.R. 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act.

“House Democrats are putting the American people first and directly addressing a broken system where Americans pay five, ten, sometimes 60 times more than others around the world pay for the same drug. Our dynamic approach to tackle our prescription drug system will bring prices down for seniors, for Americans using health care exchanges and even for the 180 million Americans with employer-sponsored coverage.

“Soaring drug prices touch everyone’s wallets, from millennials to middle aged parents to seniors. America’s patients and taxpayers can’t afford for this broken prescription drug system to continue.

“That’s why the Lower Drug Costs [Now Act] levels the playing field and drives down costs for Americans in four key ways.

“For the first time since the creation of the Medicare prescription drug program, the government will be allowed to negotiate the prescription drug prices for medications that millions of Americans rely on but find themselves increasingly unable to afford. Our plan will tie the prices Americans pay to the lower prices charged for the same drugs in other countries. Regardless of where Americans get their health insurance, they will benefit from these lower prices.

“Prescription drug companies will no longer be able to drastically hike up the price of drugs. If they do, they’ll pay a penalty.

“Seniors who are part of the Medicare prescription drug program will be protected with a cap on their out-of-pocket costs and the sky will no longer be the limit for how much they will pay for their medicine.

“And finally, with the savings this bill generates, we can make critical reinvestments into innovation and new cures at the National Institutes of Health while also improving Medicare benefits.

“As a witness who came before the House Energy & Commerce Committee told us, ‘If you can’t afford it, you don’t have it.’ The bottom-line is that every American deserves high-quality affordable health care. We can do this, we must do this and, together, we will do this, For The People.

“Thank you, and God Bless the United States of America.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning. Good morning, everyone.

Thank you for being here as we observe the district work period in their – the Holy Days.

As we gather here, our Members across the country are having communication with their constituents on two subjects, in particular, and one perhaps. The first is on our legislation H.R. 3, to lower the cost of prescription drugs now. We are very pleased that the response that Members are receiving as we’ve asked them to go out there to receive public comment on H.R. 3, and when they return, we will be ready to proceed, some in committee, others are just among Members to present the legislation.

H.R. 3 is important because, as I’ve said to you before, across the country, you can see grown men cry at meetings because of the cost of prescription drugs. It’s almost impossible for them to be healthy and financially healthy with the rising cost of prescription drugs. In the last year’s election, this was a very high priority. It continues to be.

So, when the President says that he can’t do anything if he has the threat of impeachment or the consideration of impeachment, I hope he doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to work together to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

It would give the Secretary additional powers to negotiate for lower costs. It would end the disparity of cost between what consumers in America pay and what they pay in other countries. It would have a cap on out‑of‑pocket expenses for catastrophic Medicare [drug] expenses. It would also, in a negotiation, not only be for Medicare, but for all, and it would have an inflation rebate that reverses years of increases.

So, we’re very pleased with the work that has gone into it so far by our three Chairmen: Frank Pallone of Energy & Commerce, Richie Neal of Ways & Means and Bobby Scott of Education & [Labor], and many Members as well. We will be discussing this again over the break and the district work period when we return.

At the same time, we are making progress on a U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. This is an issue of concern around the country, and we want to be sure, as we go forward, we are protecting, we are strengthening America’s working families and our farmers, who are very affected by this. This is not about trickle‑down trade. We’re not trickle‑down economics people. We’re not trickle‑down trade people either. Unless it hits home for our workers and our farmers in terms of enforceability, we can’t be there yet. But we are on a path to yes. And as probably know, on Friday, our House task force, under the leadership of Richie Neal in Ways & Means, put forth a counter-offer to what the Administration has proposed.

When we can arrive at a place where not only do we have our issues addressed, but that we have enforceability that will make it real for America’s families and farmers, then we can go down that path. I hope, again, that the President saying because of other actions, in terms of upholding the Constitution of the United States, that he is not – he can’t, he can’t work with us, because I do think he wants this U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. And, we want it when it is right in terms of enforceability and that we can work together.

At the same time, we’re hoping that if we can return, renew our conversations about infrastructure, building infrastructure of America. As I’ve said, our agenda last year when we ran, was For The People: lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs – that’s what we’re doing – building infrastructure of America in a green way, so that we can increase paychecks. Lower health care, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. While I think that we can work with the Administration on prescription drugs – I hope so – and infrastructure – I hope so – clean government, that’s more of a challenge.

So, as we gather here today, we are clearly at a place where we are legislating to try to meet the needs of the American people in a transformative way. We are investigating. We are litigating. We also are here today on the one year anniversary of the Khashoggi – since [Jamal] Khashoggi was killed. Such a very sad thing. And, at the same time, you see the administration schmoozing with the very people who perhaps orchestrated that.

The – again, it’s yesterday, the Chinese observed their 70th anniversary. At the same time, the President was very positive about that. While observing their anniversary is one thing, praising them for it is another when they have serious repression going on right now in China, whether it’s undermining the cultural language and religion of Tibet; whether it’s the incarceration – placing in education camps one, two or three, depending on the cost, but at least one million Uyghurs; and whether it’s the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong and just the violation of human rights throughout China.

It’s the same fight we’ve been having for years. For what does it profit a man or a country if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his soul, but we seem to be able to ignore the shout out from our soul on respecting the dignity and worth of every person.

So, I know many of you are here, some of you are regulars, many of you are not, and I said to Mr. Schiff, maybe you should come to all of our meetings, we might get some coverage for what we’re trying to do for the American people. But, we are very proud of the work of our Chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

We take this to be a very sad time for the American people, for our country. Impeaching a president or having the investigation to impeach a president is not anything to be joyful about. I don’t know that anybody’s joyful, but it is a sad time.

And, as you’ve heard me say over and over again, the dark days of the revolution, Thomas Paine said, ‘The times have found us.’ We think the times have found us now. Not that we place ourselves in the category of greatness of our Founders, but we do place ourselves in a time of urgency on the threat to the Constitution, a system of checks and balances, that is being made.

It is – they fought for our independence, they declared independence, they fought and won, they established a democracy. Thank God they made the Constitution amendable so we could always ever be expanding freedom, and we see the actions of this President being an assault on the Constitution. Once we had his even admission to that, we had no choice but to go forward.

It’s hard. We want to weigh the equities. We want to be fair as we go forward, and we couldn’t be better served than by the leadership of our Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, and it’s my honor to present him to you now.

***

Speaker Pelosi. Just one moment, please. I’ll decide who asks the questions. Do we have any questions first on the work to meet the needs of the American people in terms of the USMCA and the H.R. 3? On that subject?

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

~

Speaker Pelosi had House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff with her and they both answered questions related to the need for a full House vote. The White House has insisted that any subpoenas are “illegal” until there is a House vote. The response (edited for clarity, bolding added):

Q: Have you taken off the table, or do you plan for a full House vote on an impeachment inquiry? Are you preparing for a court battle, and how do you make sure that that happens in what you say is an expeditious manner?

Speaker Pelosi. First of all, there’s no requirement that there be a Floor vote. By the way, there’s some Republicans that are very nervous about our bringing that vote to the Floor.

Chairman Schiff. To say that we are concerned that the White House will attempt to stonewall our investigation, much as they have stonewalled other committees in the past, it’s why I say the White House needs to understand that any action like that, that forces us to litigate or have to consider litigation, will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice. And, of course, that was an article of impeachment against Nixon, the obstruction of the lawful functions of Congress, that is. We will also draw the inference, though, as appropriate, that they are trying to conceal facts that would corroborate the allegations in the whistleblower complaint, so we’ll have to decide whether to litigate or how to litigate.

We don’t want this to drag on months and months and months, which appears to be the Administration’s strategy, so they just need to know that even as they try to undermine our ability to find the facts around the President’s effort to coerce a foreign leader to create dirt that he can use against the political opponent, that they will be strengthening the case on obstruction if they behave that way.

~

Chairman Schiff on the question “is ratfking the Constitution really all that bad?”:

Q: One big picture question and one logistical question, just following up on what you just said. Some Republicans have said that the President’s phone call wasn’t great, but that it isn’t an impeachable offense. Is it possible that you’re making too much of one phone call?

Chairman Schiff. Well, if you think about what the framers were concerned about at the time of the drafting of the Constitution, they were paramountly concerned about foreign interference in American affairs. They wanted to ensure that the President of the United States was defending the interests and national security of the United States and not corruptly, secretly advancing some private agenda with a foreign power.

It’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances that would’ve alarmed the Founders more than what’s on that call, where you have a President using the full power of his office to try to effectively coerce a foreign leader that is completely dependent on our country for military, economic, diplomatic and other support, to intervene in our election to help his campaign. It’s hard to imagine a more corrupt course of conduct.

So, to my Republican colleagues that say, ‘There’s nothing to see here,’ or, ‘Yeah, it’s bad, but is it really something you’d remove the President from office for?’ They’re going to have to answer. If this conduct doesn’t rise to the level of the concern the Founders have, what conduct does? […]

There’s a great more that we need to know to understand the full depth of the President’s misconduct. And, maybe when that comes out, it will persuade some of those Republicans to recognize the gravity of the situation. But, I think we have to be realistic here. There seems to be no floor below which this President can drop that some of the GOP Members, and maybe even many of the GOP Members, would not be willing to endorse, look away from, avoid comment on, let alone, rise to condemn as incompatible with the duties of his office.

Any bolding added.

~

Also in the House this past week.

Dear Colleague: USMCA & Prescription Drugs Update

September 30, 2019

Dear Democratic Colleague,

Thank you for your continued thoughtfulness and patriotism at this sad and solemn time for our country. The American people are depending on us to follow the facts, to uphold the Constitution, and protect our national security. They also are depending on us to continue to advance legislation that will make a difference in their lives.

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement

House Democrats, under the leadership of Chairman Richie Neal and our Working Group, continue to make progress in our discussions with the Trade Representative to secure key improvements to the USMCA. We are addressing our core concerns on, first and foremost, strong enforcement, labor, prescription drugs and environmental protections. We hope to continue further down the path to yes, but insist that any trade agreement strengthen America’s working families.

H.R. 3 – The Lower Drug Costs Now Act

The out-of-control price of prescription drugs is an issue that touches every family in America. Earlier this month, led by Chairmen Frank Pallone, Richie Neal and Bobby Scott, House Democrats put forward transformational legislation to reduce drug prices for every American: the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R.3). This sweeping legislation:

– Gives the HHS Secretary powerful tools to negotiate lower drug prices, and makes those lower prices available to every American, as well as Medicare beneficiaries;
– Stops drug companies from ripping off Americans while charging lower prices in other countries for the same drugs, by establishing a maximum price for any negotiated drug with an Average International Market price;
– Creates a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries; and,
– Creates a Medicare inflation rebate that reverses years of unfair price hikes above inflation.

We are anticipating a score from the CBO that will show significant federal savings from lowering drug costs. The Committees will have to determine how to reinvest these savings, perhaps to improve Medicare benefits, encourage innovation, and strengthen the health care of the American people. Upon our return, we will continue to strengthen the bill with Members’ input.

Democrats will continue to advance bold legislation For The People, at the same time as we prayerfully, thoughtfully and somberly pursue the facts and defend the Constitution.

Thank you for your leadership.

best regards,

Speaker Pelosi’s signature

~

A reminder that the DACA battle is being joined. It is before the Supreme Court in the 2019-2020 session.

Pelosi Statement on Amicus Brief in Supreme Court DACA Case

October 4, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on the filing of a bipartisan, bicameral amicus brief in the Supreme Court in the case of DHS v. Regents of California, arguing that the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative was unlawful:

“Since Day One, our nation’s courageous Dreamers have faced an unrelenting assault from the Trump Administration’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda. The Administration’s disgraceful actions undermine our nation’s core values while forcing millions of families to live in fear and uncertainty. The Supreme Court must uphold the rulings of lower courts across the country, which have determined that the Trump Administration’s cruelty in terminating DACA was illegal and must be overturned.

“The DACA initiative’s vital protections have been instrumental in freeing 800,000 patriotic young men and women to pursue their dreams and aspirations, and in the process make America more American. House Democrats have acted decisively to pass H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act, which will safeguard DACA’s critical benefits and provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of Dreamers. It is time for the Senate to end its obstruction, honor the will of the American people and pass this this legislation, now.

“In the courts and in Congress, Democrats are standing up for our immigrant communities. We will continue our work to advance progress to fix our broken immigration system in a way that honors our heritage as a nation of immigrants and our responsibility to secure our borders. We will never relent from our mission to ensure America remains a beacon of hope, freedom and opportunity for all.”

~

  4 comments for “Fighting Back: “Democrats will always put the American people first.” #ForThePeople

  1. JanF
    October 5, 2019 at 8:11 am

    If it’s “the economy, stupid” then Republicans will have a lot to answer for in 2020.

    Pelosi Statement on September Jobs Report

    October 4, 2019

    Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the Department of Labor released its September jobs report:

    “The September jobs report is no consolation for the millions of Americans living under the growing toll of the GOP special interest agenda that continues to jeopardize their health and economic security.

    “Across the country, America’s farmers, workers and families are facing an uncertain future as the cost of living soars and Republicans continue to try to destroy lifesaving protections for people with pre-existing conditions. These hard-working families deserve decisive action that makes a difference in their lives. Democrats are moving forward to fulfill our promise to deliver progress for the American people. Republicans should join us to lower the cost of prescription drugs, advance bold investments in infrastructure and provide Americans with the financial security they need to thrive.

    “House Democrats are committed to fighting For The People to lower health costs, raise wages and clean up corruption in Washington. We continue to call upon Republicans to join us to build an economy that works for everyone.”

    Bolding added.

  2. JanF
    October 12, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Congress was in recess the week of October 7th through October 11th so there was no Nancy Pelosi press conference on Thursday. There will be no new Fighting Back post this week but here is a followup on H.R.3 related to last week’s post.

    Pelosi Statement on Initial CBO & Actuary Analysis of Lower Drug Costs Now Act

    October 11, 2019

    San Francisco – Speaker Pelosi released the following statement on new initial findings by the Congressional Budget Office and the CMS Office of the Actuary on the substantial savings for taxpayers, private business, and seniors and families from the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3). CBO found that drug negotiations alone will save taxpayers $345 billion in Medicare Part D Spending over 2023-2029. The Office of the Actuary found that drug negotiations and Medicare inflation rebates will save households $158 billion and private businesses $46 billion from 2020-2029.

    “The initial analyses from CBO and the Office of the Actuary show the transformational impact of the Lower Drug Costs Now Act to lift the crushing burden of unfair drug prices on American patients, taxpayers and employers.

    When we negotiate for fair drug prices, we put money back into the pockets of seniors and families, reduce insurance premiums, and improve the personal and financial health of the American people. Instead of out-of-control drug prices feeding Big Pharma’s stock buybacks and record profits, we can reinvest billions in the search for new treatments and cures.

    “Now, our Committees of Jurisdiction will continue their work to strengthen this bill with Members’ input and determine how to reinvest these savings, perhaps to improve Medicare benefits, encourage innovation, and strengthen the health care of the American people.”

    Bolding added.

  3. JanF
    October 12, 2019 at 6:54 am

    Speaker Pelosi sent out two Dear Colleague letters this past week, one discussing the commitment of Congress to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law and a followup celebrating the Mazars ruling.

    October 8, 2019

    Dear Colleague on Commitment to Upholding Constitution and For The People Legislative Priorities

    Dear Democratic Colleague,

    As we focus on our For The People agenda during the District Work Period, Democrats and Republicans alike are condemning President Trump for deserting our Kurdish allies in a foolish attempt to appease an authoritarian strongman. This decision poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner.

    On another front, none of us has come to Congress to impeach a President. Because of the seriousness of the challenge to our Constitution that our country faces, it is imperative that we address this investigation somberly and prayerfully.

    The actions taken by the President over the past two weeks show a defiance of our Founders, with a total disregard for their wisdom and the U.S. Constitution. In his “great and unmatched wisdom,” President Trump must know that no one is above the law. The President will be held accountable. When it comes to impeachment, it is just about the facts and the Constitution.

    At the same time as President Trump is obstructing justice, abusing power and diminishing the office of the presidency, we have a responsibility to strengthen the institution in which we serve. This is essential if we are to honor the separation of powers which is the genius of the Constitution. To that end, I thank and am grateful to the Chairs and Members of the committees of jurisdiction and indeed all the Members of our Caucus for their seriousness of purpose in honoring our oath of office.

    When it comes to our legislative priorities – gun violence prevention, equal pay, VAWA, minimum wage, Climate Action Now, Equality Act, Dream and Promise Act – we will continue the drumbeat across America for the GOP Senate to pass them.

    Every single day, we will insist on the Senate passing our bipartisan background check legislation because every single day lives could be saved by its enactment. The issue of lowering out-of-control drug prices is one not only of the health but of the financial health of America’s working families. It is our hope that we could work with the President in a bipartisan way to pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act this year, which could also save lives.

    During this difficult time, we must continue our strong legislative agenda which is set at the kitchen table of America’s working families. We will continue to keep our commitment For The People: lower health care costs by lowering prescription drug prices, bigger paychecks by building the physical and human infrastructure of America and promoting cleaner government.

    We must legislate strongly, investigate fairly and litigate strategically. During the District Work Period, I’m very proud of what our Members are doing to advance the prescription drug legislation, continue our discussion of the USMCA, press for action on life-saving gun violence prevention legislation and demonstrate the need for cleaner government as you hear the concerns of your constituents.

    Thank you for your leadership.

    [Speaker Pelosi’s signature]

    Bolding added.

    ~~

    October 11, 2019

    Speaker Pelosi sent this Dear Colleague letter to her members celebrating the Mazars ruling and discussing the impeachment inquiry:

    Dear Democratic Colleague,

    This morning, we won a major victory in the D.C. Circuit in the Mazars case. The Court rejected the Administration’s defiance of Congress’s oversight authority, writing in the majority opinion that “Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply.” As you know, this case is a product of the excellent work of Chairman Elijah Cummings and the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

    As we proceed down the path of following the facts for the American people, I wanted to call to your attention the statement issued yesterday from 17 former Watergate special prosecutors, which takes us to a higher level of patriotism and a deeper level of concern for the Constitution. As they write, “The Constitution establishes impeachment as the proper mechanism for addressing these abuses; therefore, the House should proceed with the impeachment process, fairly, openly and promptly. The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty.”

    This week, we have seen increased outside validation of our efforts to hold the President accountable and these statements speak to the heart of the Constitutional challenge that we face. Also yesterday, conservative lawyers from past Republican Administrations issued a statement in support of an “expeditious” impeachment inquiry into the President’s abuse of the office of the presidency for personal political objectives, and his violation of the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

    I look forward to hearing from you on our Democratic Caucus conference call today at 4:15 p.m. E.T. I thank all our Members for their patriotism and seriousness of purpose in honoring our oath of office. The President’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution and undermine the integrity of our elections.

    No one is above the law. The President will be held accountable.

    Thank for your leadership.

    [Speaker Pelosi’s signature]

    Bolding added.

  4. JanF
    October 12, 2019 at 6:58 am

    The Weekly Democratic Party Address for October 11th was by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

    “We can protect our constitution and do things average working families need at the same time,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “And Democrats are intent on pushing for working families. From the very beginning, Senate Democrats have been committed to doing the people’s business. And while the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has passed hundreds of bills dealing with health care, infrastructure, gun violence and much, much more, the Republican Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has turned our chamber, the Senate, into a legislative graveyard… So as Congress comes back into session next week, Senate Democrats have a plan to jolt the Senate into action on several important issues.”

    Transcript: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

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