The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York discussing additional help needed for workers and families during the pandemic.
(Chairwoman Nita Lowey of the Appropriations Committee discussed House Democrats’ efforts to support our frontline health care providers and invest in struggling workers and families, in addition to progress on new legislation to foster a strong recovery for every American community in response to the coronavirus.)
As Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, I helped shepherd three coronavirus response bills through Congress.
While these efforts have made funds available to address the health crisis and helped cushion the economic blow, they are not enough.
Right now, House Democrats are writing legislation to further support workers and foster a strong recovery. We must help states and cities on the front lines of the crisis to provide essential services, including education, even as tax revenue dries up. And we can build a more resilient economy with robust investments in smart, safe infrastructure, including bringing clean water and the promise of high-speed broadband to every American community.
House Democrats will lead the way by putting Workers and Families First.
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
“I’m Nita Lowey, a United States Congresswoman from New York, an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
“My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and to people fighting this illness today. I offer my deepest appreciation to those courageous medical professionals who risk their own lives and health to save others. And we owe a debt of gratitude to those in essential service industry jobs who are also risking exposure to ensure Americans have food and other essential items during this time of crisis.
“While I comply with guidance to remain home, I am still working tirelessly with my colleagues in Congress to protect people from this vicious, vicious pandemic and to mitigate the impact on Americans’ financial security.
“As Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, I helped shepherd three coronavirus response bills through Congress. Our first bill provided a vital infusion of funding to procure protective equipment for health care workers and bolster the public health system. It also jump-started the development of vaccines that will one day stop this scourge.
“Just days later, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act made coronavirus testing free, expanded paid leave to American workers and strengthened food initiatives for seniors and the vulnerable.
“And last week, the bipartisan CARES Act was enacted. House Democrats insisted that this bill expand Unemployment Insurance benefits to replace lost paychecks, provide direct payments to families and to offer massive relief to small businesses and non-profits.
“While these efforts have made funds available to address the health crisis and helped cushion the economic blow, they are not enough.
“The Administration must step up immediately to ensure that adequate medical supplies, like protective equipment and ventilators, are available when and where they are needed most.
“And with nearly 10 million Americans having lost jobs in the past two weeks, we must do more to help families who cannot afford their mortgage or rent or food and medicine to stay strong and healthy.
“Right now, House Democrats are writing legislation to further support workers and foster a strong recovery. We must help states and cities on the front lines of the crisis to provide essential services, including education, even as tax revenue dries up. And we can build a more resilient economy with robust investments in smart, safe infrastructure, including bringing clean water and the promise of high-speed broadband to every American community.
“In the hard days ahead, we will keep coming together. We will look out for our loved ones and neighbors, and, together, we will get through this crisis.
“And House Democrats will lead the way by putting Workers and Families First.
“Thank you and stay safe.”
Any bolding has been added.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday which was conducted via a conference call:
Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being on this line today. I don’t know how much longer it will be before we’re together, but this may be the modus operandi, how we operate between now and the next few weeks. Hopefully sooner we’ll be together, but all of you take care. Wash your hands, hydrate, pray, and, as I always say, you can never dance too much, especially when you’re home.
I’m calling to talk to you about how we go forward. As always, I will begin with our concern about our workers. On Monday, in our calls, we focused on the urgent, continued need for personal protective equipment and ventilators. We continue to beat that drum. Across America, men and women are risking their lives to keep us safe because they do not have the basic personal protective equipment they need. Our heroic health care workers are falling ill with the very disease they are working to treat. Not only do they need this, but they need the ventilators to meet the – to care for the people that they are there to serve. It’s not just our health care workers; it’s our first responders, our TSA officers, our grocery workers. Other frontline workers are being put in jeopardy, and then they jeopardize their families at home when they go home. And when these workers are left exposed, if all else, they cannot care for the rest of us. But it’s in their interests that we need this.
I have said again and again: we are unworthy to call them heroes, we are unworthy to thank them, to pray for them if we’re not willing to give them the equipment that they need. That’s why we call upon the President to use the full powers of the Defense Production Act and that we must have a strong OSHA protection for the health of our frontline workers, which we have tried to get in the first three COVID‑19 bills, and we hope that it will be possible in the next bill as people see the urgency.
We’re pushing the Administration to move more quickly and effectively to deliver the benefits of the CARES Act. We’re glad to see the Administration reverse its plan to require seniors on Social Security to file tax returns in order to receive their direct payments. However, the President’s refusal to open the special enrollment period on the ACA exchanges means millions of Americans who are uninsured or are on one of the Trump junk health insurance plans will be left exposed throughout the coronavirus crisis. Without quality health coverage, a coronavirus hospitalization could cost patients tens of thousands of dollars. Democrats will continue to fight for a special enrollment period and for free coronavirus treatment in bill four.
Again, we know that this is an assault on the good health and lives of the American people. It’s also an assault on their livelihoods. Our nation faces a historic health and economic emergency as we confront the coronavirus epidemic. This week, we saw estimates that more than 100,000 Americans could die, and it’s just a heartbreaking figure. We have to do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.
But millions of Americans are losing their jobs at the same time, losing their jobs and wages. More than 6.6 million filing for unemployment last week alone – [last] week alone. If that does not take your breath away – I mean, the virus does too — but 6.6 million filing for unemployment.
Every day we see the need for further action. The coronavirus is moving swiftly, and our communities cannot afford for us to wait. Houses Democrats have continued our work in daily conference calls with our frontline personnel and each other, sharing on‑the‑ground information on the status of the coronavirus response.
Yesterday, we put forward our plan to invest in our infrastructure. Even before knowing the 6.6 million filing for unemployment, when it was [3.3], half of that, we knew that we had to move to recovery as we have said in every presentation. The first couple of – two bills were largely about addressing the emergency. The next bill, the one signed by the President last Friday, was a bill for mitigation, mitigating for the damage to the health system and the health of the American people and to our economy.
We still continue on emergency and mitigation, but in the next bill, our focus will also be on recovery. So that’s why, as I said, we put forward our plan to invest in our infrastructure, addressing some of the most – the critical impacts and vulnerabilities in America that have been laid further bare by the coronavirus. The need for job‑creating action again is even more critical, again, getting back to that 6.6 unemployment staggering figure.
So we’re building on the Moving Forward infrastructure framework with investments that include – and by the way, we announced much of this on January 29th. Some – and you will recognize it. What we did add yesterday was the community health centers. Under the leadership of Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Pallone, we will include an extra investment for the community health centers that are on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.
Clean water – that’s part of our infrastructure proposal, always has been, now more than ever, necessary. Dependable drinking water, clean water, wastewater infrastructure are critical in the effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Broadband – telemedicine, teleworking, tele-schooling, and the increased use of social media and video conferencing by Americans connecting with loved ones during this epidemic have made access to high‑speed broadband more critical than ever. We want to – Mr. Clyburn, again, has taken a big lead on this. He has had a task force on it, working with Mr. Pallone, a major investment in broadband. Even kids who might get a free laptop from somebody’s beautiful philanthropy, they have to go someplace else to be able to connect. We want that to be something they can do all over America, high-speed, always on broadband.
And then mobility. We had $25 billion dollars in the third bill, the CARES Act. We need more. For a strong recovery, we must have smarter, safer infrastructure that is made to last. We can create millions of good‑paying jobs, strengthening commerce and reducing air pollution that harms public health. These are directly related to the coronavirus challenge. We’ll be adding education and housing components related to the virus as well shortly ahead.
House Democrats will continue to work to put workers and families first as we work to respond to the public health emergency, mitigate the damage, and include Buy America provisions as we move forward to recovery.
I wanted to – as we talk about the challenge that we face, as I say, we are calling upon the administration to move quickly and effectively to deal with the opportunities that are available in the CARES Act. And, again, we want to be helpful to them in any way that we can.
At the same time, I am announcing the formation of a bipartisan committee to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. It’s called the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. We’ll be in touch with our committee chairs and our leadership and, of course, the Republican leadership. This is a House Select Committee.
The greatness of our nation is in its ability to rise to extraordinary challenges, no matter how big. Now is the time. We face a deadly virus and a battered economy with millions of Americans suddenly out of work. Congress has taken an important step in meeting this crisis by passing three bills with over $2 trillion in emergency relief. We need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively.
Our country faced a similar challenge 80 years ago in the beginning days of World War II. Billions of dollars were going to be spent quickly to defeat a global menace. Then-Senator Harry Truman immediately recognized the urgency of oversight and accountability and making sure the money did what it was supposed to do. The Senate agreed and put Senator Truman in charge of a Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. That’s what it was called. Years later, President Truman looked back at that time and summarized his view. He said, ‘I knew that, after World War I, the First World War, there were 116 investigating committees after the fact. I felt that one committee before the fact would prevent a lot of waste and maybe even save some lives. And that’s the way it worked out.’
President Truman couldn’t have been more right. The Truman Committee turned into a tremendous investment for taxpayers. Its total cost was less than $1 million, and it saved lives and nearly $15 billion by preventing waste, fraud and abuse, and profiteering and the rest.
What made sense then makes even more sense now. In the coming months, over $2 trillion will be spent on this rescue effort. We have no higher priority than to make sure the money gets to those working families, struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, who need it most. That is why the House will be creating a special bipartisan oversight panel to ensure that the $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this panel and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation are spent wisely and effectively. The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse. It will protect against price gouging, profiteering, and political favoritism. It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation’s best health experts.
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus will be bipartisan and have an expert staff. The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to coronavirus and to assure that the taxpayers’ dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief, and benefit our economy.
We think it is – there are many suggestions about after‑action review, what we do next and the rest, but I’m saying what President Truman said, that the committee is to be acting before the fact to prevent a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse. And that doesn’t mean just from the federal government. We’re looking on how the public sector – the private sector reacts to the funds that they receive as well.
So, again, I want to go back to the need for another bill. I talked about some of the issues that relate to state and local governments. I have spoken to Democratic and Republican governors and mayors, and their own statements call for more funding for state and local government. So important. Hospitals and health care systems are crying out for assistance. And I can further answer your questions about that if you wish.
Again, the OSHA regulation that we’ve tried to get in one, two and three, now in four, all of them were necessary and obvious that we need to protect our workers. Family medical leave needs to be more clear as to who and expand who can take advantage of that opportunity.
Pensions. This is something that the language is agreed to. Even the President agreed, but McConnell, Leader McConnell, didn’t and said we’ll do it in another bill. Well, here is another bill.
SNAP, we did not get all that we wanted in terms of food, nutrition, et cetera, in the previous bill. We have more needs, and so we need resources to feed the hungry.
And, again, I come back to the free treatment. If we’re saying that testing is free, then everything about it should be free, and we don’t want people having to incur costs or have doctors’ visits and the rest to be tested. Testing, testing, testing. I’ll end there because that’s where we began on March 4th with the first bill that we passed. Since March 4th, we’ve had two other bills. We’ve moved to address the needs, and I hope that we will be able to do that with the fourth bill because whether some in Washington realize it or not, this virus is taking its toll very quickly, and we need to be in front of it rather than behind it.
And, with that, I’m pleased to take any questions that you may have.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
This exchange on the post-pandemic investigation deserves to be highlighted:
Moderator. Next, we have Manu Raju from CNN. Your line is open.
Q: Thank you for taking my questions, Madam Speaker. There were several of your Democrats, including chairmen, who wanted to have sort of a 9/11 Commission to investigate what happened in the onset of this crisis. Do you support – I know you say an after‑action review, but would you support some sort of commission to investigate what happened initially, and would you support something like that happening before the election?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I was a member of the House‑Senate 9/11 Commission. I was an author of the legislation to pass the 9/11 Commission – the outside 9/11 Commission, Kean‑Hamilton, Hamilton‑Kean Commission. So, I’m a big supporter of after‑action review.
When I first introduced my bill, it passed in the Intelligence Committee. By the time it got to the Floor, a couple of days later – we were in the minority at the time – the Republicans changed their mind and said it was treasonous to question how this happened. So, it took a little while and the activism of the families affected by 9/11, and then Tim Roemer had the legislation that went forward. So, again, I see the value of that.
I think right now – I respect some of the – I know that at least two of our chairmen have made a suggestion to that effect. That’s something we should discuss. It has to be bipartisan. And, again, anything that affects this many people in our country, their health and affects our economy in such a major way, involves the allocation of so many trillions of dollars, we really do have to subject to an after‑action review, not to point fingers but to make sure that it doesn’t happen again in the manner in which it happened, hopefully not at all.
But as I said, on this Committee, this Select Committee is about the here and now. Right now, we just have to work together to get through this. But as we do, we don’t want to make more mistakes. I heard Dr. Fauci say that when they get the rebound, if this comes back, you know, in the fall or something, then we will have lessons learned and hopefully some therapies, a cure, maybe a vaccine later. But I would like to know what are those lessons learned; that’s an admission that we need to learn from what has happened before.
And without going into that, let’s just go forward with what we’re doing now, but hold everybody accountable for decisions that are made in the here and now as to how we go forward. The best way to do that is with what Michael and I discussed earlier: transparency and accountability.
We need to pay attention to the other terrible things coming from the current “administration” so that President Biden and his team can move quickly on January 20, 2021.
March 31, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on the Trump Administration’s final rule weakening car pollution standards, which is estimated to increase carbon emissions by 2.2 billion metric tons and cost Americans a total of $300 billion:
“The Trump Administration’s anti-science decision to gut fuel standards will unleash massive amounts of pollution into the air at the worst possible time. The American people need and expect strong action to protect public health during the coronavirus pandemic, not corporate giveaways that devastate the air that we breathe.
“This rule endangers economic security as it harms public health, stealing hundreds of billions of dollars out of the pockets of workers and families during a time of massive uncertainty and job loss. The decision weakens America in the fight against the climate crisis, which is the existential threat of our time, imperiling public health, economic security and national security.
“This time of crisis requires smart, strong and science-based leadership, not more senseless handouts to the special interests.”
Speaker Pelosi is putting in place the House infrastructure to manage and monitor the CARES package.
April 2, 2020
The greatness of our nation is its ability to rise to extraordinary challenges, no matter how big. Now is such a time. We face a deadly virus and a battered economy with millions of Americans suddenly out of work. Congress has taken an important step in meeting this crisis by passing three bills with over $2 trillion dollars in emergency relief. We need to ensure those tax dollars are spent carefully and effectively.
Our country faced a similar challenge eighty years ago in the beginning days of World War II. Billions of dollars were going to be spent quickly to defeat a global menace. Then-Senator Harry Truman immediately recognized the urgency of oversight and accountability in making sure the money did what it was supposed to do. The Senate agreed and put Senator Truman in charge of a Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.
Years later, President Truman looked back at the time and summarized his view: “I knew that after the First World War there’d been a hundred and sixteen investigating committees after the fact, and I felt that one committee before the fact would prevent a lot of waste and maybe even save some lives, and that’s the way it worked out.”
President Truman couldn’t have been more right. The Truman Committee turned into a tremendous investment for taxpayers. Its total cost was less than $1 million dollars and it saved lives and nearly $15 billion by preventing fraud, waste and abuse.
What made sense then makes even more sense now. In the coming months, over $2 trillion will be spent on this rescue effort.
That is why, I am announcing the formation of a special bipartisan oversight panel: the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Its purpose is to ensure that the over $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this battle – and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation – are spent wisely and effectively.
We have no higher priority than making sure the money gets to those working families – struggling to pay rent and put food on the table – who need it most. The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse. It will protect against price gouging and profiteering. It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation’s best health experts.
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will be bipartisan and have an expert staff. The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy.
Thank you for your concern for the American people.