The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, denouncing Trump’s treatment of our Kurdish allies.
(In this week’s address, Chairman Eliot Engel discussed the overwhelming bipartisan passage of the PACT Act, to impose sanctions on Turkey for its invasion of northern Syria and reject the President’s dangerous and reckless decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in the region.)
The House will not stand for President Trump endangering the American people with his reckless foreign policy. Our victory in passing this legislation will help keep Americans safe, showing the true meaning of American leadership.
True leadership means standing with our friends and partners, keeping our promises. It means supporting our military, making sure we are doing our part as they put their lives on the line. It means protecting human rights and human dignity, speaking out and pushing back against injustice and terror.
True American leadership is keeping our country safe. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with this legislation, and what we are doing in the House every single day.
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
“I’m Eliot Engel, Congressman from New York.
“As Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I spend a lot of time focused on America’s role in the world.
“And, we know that our foreign policy can and should be a force for good; rooted in our values, like supporting human rights and human dignity, and built on the power of partnerships and alliances.
“Our country is strongest when we are standing with our friends around the world. And that’s especially true when it comes to combatting some of the greatest global threats we face, like terrorism.
“So, what the President has done in Syria over the past few weeks is devastating. He handed a gift to Russia, Iran and ISIS, making us less safe.
“He started by giving Turkey’s thuggish leader, President Erdogan, the greenlight to invade Syria and attack America’s loyal partners, the Kurds. This went against the advice of our national security experts and military advisors, and it was a stab in the back to our faithful Kurdish partners, who fought side-by-side with us against ISIS.
“What followed was a horrific campaign, with Turkish forces slaughtering our Syrian Kurdish partners. Already, nearly 200,000 people, including women, children and families, have been forcibly driven from their homeland.
“And as they fight to survive this onslaught, the Kurds have been forced to abandon their watch over the prisons holding thousands of ISIS fighters. Over a hundred terrorists have already escaped, as a result.
“Now, the situation in northeast Syria is a humanitarian and national security crisis. In a region already rife with conflict, Turkey’s military operation is wreaking even more havoc.
“And when it became clear that the Turkish military was destabilizing the region, spreading bloodshed and chaos, creating an opening for America’s enemies to regroup and thrive; what did President Trump do?
“He walked away.
“Rather than contain the national security threat to our country and hold Turkey accountable for how they’ve carried out this bloody campaign, President Trump gave them a free pass.
“And in doing so, he sent a message to the rest of the world – there’s no longer real leadership coming from the Oval Office.
“Now, it’s on Congress to step in.
“So, this week, House Democrats held Turkey accountable and countered the national security threats created by President Trump.
“On Thursday, the House passed my bill, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act.
“The PACT Act underscores the devastating consequences of Turkey’s invasion and President Trump’s decision to step back and let it happen. It employs smart sanctions to press Erdogan to halt violence against Syrian Kurdish communities and withdraw from Syria. And, it ensures that Syrians who partnered with American forces and worked with NGOs and humanitarian organizations can be safely resettled in the United States.
“The bill also requires the Trump Administration to develop a thorough strategy to combat ISIS. Because right now, Trump has no strategy to ensure ISIS doesn’t regroup and threaten the U.S. and our allies once again. One after another, Trump’s disastrous decisions have made it all the more likely that ISIS will reemerge as a grave threat.
“The House will not stand for President Trump endangering the American people with his reckless foreign policy. Our victory in passing this legislation will help keep Americans safe, showing the true meaning of American leadership.
“True leadership means standing with our friends and partners, keeping our promises. It means supporting our military, making sure we are doing our part as they put their lives on the line. It means protecting human rights and human dignity, speaking out and pushing back against injustice and terror.
“True American leadership is keeping our country safe. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with this legislation, and what we are doing in the House every single day.”
Any bolding has been added.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday was shortened because the House was still in session.
Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference
Speaker Pelosi. What are you doing here? I said there’s probably nobody here because the gallery, uncharacteristically, uncustomarily, is full. But, I just said I’d be here, so I’m here. Usually, if I say I’m going to be some place, I am.
So, here we are. Democrats have been hard at work legislating, investigating, litigating.
And we’re happy this week that we did something we’ve been trying to do for a very long time: hold the – just – the Ottoman Empire responsible for an Armenian Genocide. Very strong bipartisan work, vote – and then – 403-16, something like that.
We voted sanctions on Turkey, again, reaffirming our opposition to the President’s action that he took vis-a-vis Syria and Turkey. Again, that was 354-60. So, we’ve had strong bipartisan votes on these issues that relate to what happened in Turkey vis-a-vis Syria.
Our For The People agenda: we said we were going to first lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and that is what we are doing with H.R. 3, now named The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now legislation. We invite our Republican colleagues who keep saying they want to do something to join us to do that. And, when we pass it, we urge Senator McConnell to stop saying all we’re doing is impeaching when we sent him scores of very important bills, hundreds of pieces of legislation, which he, as the ‘Grim Reaper,’ has refused to act upon.
We are moving with the U.S.‑Mexico‑Canada Trade Agreement, making progress every day. I’m optimistic that we are still on a path to ‘yes’ and that we’ll come to a conclusion soon on that. And then, again, building the infrastructure of America and the rest, we’re hoping for strong bipartisanship in that regard.
So, we are legislating, and yes, we are investigating.
Today, we move further down the path in our inquiry by putting forth our procedures, which are very transparent and open and, frankly, more transparent and more open, giving more privileges to the President and his argument than were given in the past. So, the argument that they’re making on the Floor is not real.
This is a sad day. It’s a sad day, because nobody comes to Congress to impeach a President of the United States. No one.
We come here to do the work, to make the future better for our children, for America’s future. We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and that’s what we cannot ignore and will not ignore when the President’s behavior indicates that that investigation, that inquiry is necessary.
As the inquiry proceeds, we’ll decide whether we’ll go forward with impeachment. That decision has not been made, but here we are.
Again, our Founders, September 17th, 1874 – excuse me, 1787, they came forth with a Constitution, the genius of which was a separation of powers, three co-equal branches of government, a balance of power, and when Franklin, Benjamin Franklin came out, they said, ‘Mr. Franklin, Mr. Franklin, what do we have, a monarchy or a republic?’ And he said, ‘A republic, if we can keep it.’
And, here, this – right in the here and now, we are keeping the republic from a President who says, ‘Article II says I can do whatever I want.’
Not so. And, if so – if you think that’s so and you act upon that belief, that is in violation of the Constitution of the United States. And, so we will proceed with the facts, the truth. It’s about the truth, and it’s about the Constitution, and we’re very working hard to defend our democracy.
Because, if we don’t have a system of checks and balances, we might as well all just elect a president and go home, because, it will be that unitary form of government that our Founders did not want us to have.
The times have found us. We feel – all of us, all of you as messengers, as guardians of our democracy, the guardians of the gate of our democracy, as messengers about revealing the facts and the truth to the American people. ‘The times have found us,’ as they found us, Thomas Paine said. Our Founders, to declare independence, to fight a war, to win it, to write our founding documents in a way that made us a republic.
The times have found us now, to have a republic and to keep it, as Benjamin Franklin admonished.
Nobody is – this isn’t about anything personal with the President. It isn’t about politics. It isn’t about [partisanship] — it isn’t about partisanship. It’s about patriotism. It’s about patriotism, and I would hope that rather than protecting the President personally, all of our colleagues would choose to honor their oath of office to protect and defend, not the President, but the Constitution of the United States.
Just a few questions because we’re on the Floor.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
Speaker Pelosi’s floor speech on the Impeachment Inquiry vote.
October 31, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H. Res. 660, which establishes the procedure for the next phase of the House’s impeachment inquiry. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
And, Madam Speaker, thank you for the recognition.
I want to begin my remarks [with] some of the most beautiful words in our country’s history: ‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity to ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States.’
It goes on, immediately, to establish Article I, the Legislative Branch; Article II, the Executive Branch; Article III, the Judiciary. The genius of the Constitution, a separation of powers: three co-equal branches of government to be a check and balance on each other. And, it’s to that that we take the oath of office. We gather here on that opening day with our families gathered round to proudly raise our hands to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. And, that is exactly what we are doing today.
Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn, that is something prayerful. And, that we had to gather so much information to take us to this next step.
Again, this is a solemn occasion. Nobody, I doubt anybody in this place, or anybody that you know, comes to Congress to take the oath of office, comes to Congress to impeach the President of the United States, unless his actions are jeopardizing our honoring our oath of office.
I’m grateful to our Committee Chairs for all the careful and thoughtful investigation they have been doing as this inquiry has proceeded. Today, the House takes the next step forward as we establish the procedures for open hearings, conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, so that the public can see the facts for themselves.
This resolution ensures transparency, advancing public disclosure of depositions transcripts and outlining the procedures for the transfer of evidence to the Judiciary Committee to use in its proceedings.
It enables effective public hearings: setting out procedures for the questioning of witnesses and continuing the precedent of giving the Minority the same rights in questioning witnesses as the Majority, which has been true at every step of this inquiry despite what you might hear.
It provides the President and his counsel opportunities to participate, including presenting his case, submitting requests for testimony, attending hearings, raising objections to testimony given, cross-examining witnesses and more. And, contrary to what you heard today, we gave more opportunity to the – to his case than was given to other Presidents before. And, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for making that point so clearly.
These actions, this process, these open hearings, seeking the truth and making it available to the American people, will inform Congress on the very difficult decisions we will have to make in the future as to whether to impeach the President.
That decision has not been made. That’s what the inquiry will investigate and then we can make the decision, based on the truth. I don’t know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth. Every Member should support allowing the American people to hear the facts for themselves. This – that is really what this vote is about. It is about the truth.
And, what is at stake? What is at stake, in all of this, is nothing less than our democracy.
I proudly stand next to the flag, and I thank the gentleman from New York for providing it for us. This flag, so many have fought and died for this flag, which stands for our democracy.
When Benjamin Franklin came out of Independence Hall – you heard this over and over – on September 17, 1787, the day our Constitution was adopted, he came out of Independence Hall, people said to him, ‘Dr. Franklin, what do we have a monarchy or a republic?’ And, he said, as you know, he said, ‘A republic, if we can keep it.’ If we can keep it.
And this Constitution is the blueprint for our republic and not a monarchy. But, when we have a President who says, ‘Article II says I can do whatever I want,’ that is in defiance of the separation of powers. That’s not what our Constitution says.
So, what is at stake is our democracy. What are we fighting for? Defending our democracy for the people.
You know in the early days of our revolution, Thomas Paine said, ‘The times have found us.’ The times found our Founders to declare independence from a monarchy, to fight a war of independence, write our founding documents and thank God they made them amendable so we can always be expanding freedom. And, the genius, again that genius of that Constitution was the separation of power. Any usurping of that power is a violation of our oath of office.
So, proudly, you all, we all raised our hands to protect and defend and support the Constitution of the United States. That’s what this vote is about.
Today – we think the time found our Founders, the times found others in the course of our history to protect our democracy, to keep our country united. The times have found each and every one of us in this room and in our country to pay attention to how we protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – honoring the vision of our Founders who declared independence from a monarch and established a country contrary to that principle, honoring men and women in uniform who fight for our freedom and for our democracy and honoring the aspirations of our children so that no President, whoever he or she may be in the future, could decide that Article II says they can do whatever they want.
Again, let us honor our oath of office. Let us defend our democracy. Let us have a good vote today and have clarity, clarity as to how we proceed, why we proceed, and again, doing so in a way that honors the Constitution. We must honor the Constitution and how we do this. We must respect the institution we serve. And, we must heed the further words of our Founders, ‘E pluribus unim,’ from many one. They didn’t know how many we would be, or how different we would be, but they knew we needed to always be unify.
Hopefully, as we go forward with this, the clarity of purpose, the clarity of procedure, a clarity of fact, a clarity of truth about the truth – it’s about the Constitution – we will do so in a way that brings people together that is healing rather than dividing. And, that is how we will honor our oath of office.
I urge an aye vote and yield back the balance of my time.