Fighting Back: “Democrats believe that the halls of Congress should reflect our highest ideals as Americans.”

 
 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the removal of portraits of the former House Speakers who were members of the Confederacy stating “there is no room in the hallowed halls of Congress or in any place of honor for memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy.”

There is room in the halls of Congress for celebrating #BlackJoy, brought to you by Senator Kamala Harris of California in her Juneteenth tweet:

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Speaker Pelosi’s letter:

Dear Madam Clerk,

Tomorrow, Americans will mark Juneteenth, a beautiful and proud celebration of freedom for African Americans. Very sadly, this day comes during a moment of extraordinary national anguish, as we grieve for the hundreds of Black Americans killed by racial injustice and police brutality, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others.

To appropriately observe Juneteenth this year, I write today to request the immediate removal of the portraits in the U.S. Capitol of four previous Speakers who served in the Confederacy: Robert Hunter of Virginia (1839-1841), Howell Cobb of Georgia (1849-1851), James Orr of South Carolina (1857-1859), and Charles Crisp of Georgia (1891-1895).

As I have said before, the halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy. There is no room in the hallowed halls of Congress or in any place of honor for memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy. We cannot honor men such as James Orr, who swore on the House Floor to “preserve and perpetuate” slavery in order to “enjoy our property in peace, quiet and security,” or Robert Hunter, who served at nearly every level of the Confederacy, including in the Confederate Provincial Congress, as Confederate Secretary of State, in the Confederate Senate and in the Confederate Army. The portraits of these men are symbols that set back our nation’s work to confront and combat bigotry.

Our Congressional community has the sacred opportunity and obligation to make meaningful change to ensure that the halls of Congress reflect our highest ideals as Americans. Let us lead by example.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this request.

best regards,
NANCY PELOSI

Speaker of the House

CC: The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, Chairperson, Committee on House Administration

You can watch the removal here.

The Weekly Democratic Party Address is below the fold.

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

(“Democrats in the Senate have been working hard to pass legislation to address racial injustice and get the American people the resources they need,” said Senator Durbin. “I just hope the Republican Party will stop its misguided attack on the Affordable Care Act and join us in a bipartisan effort to address the challenges America faces.”)

Transcript: Senator Durbin Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“We face so many challenges today. This pandemic, COVID-19, the state of the economy and systemic racism in law enforcement. Americans across the country are asking for leadership and action and sadly, this president, this Administration is failing them.

“To date, we’ve lost more than 115,000 American lives to COVID-19, more than two million people have been infected nationwide.

“While Congress has passed several bipartisan bills to help those affected by the pandemic, we’ve not done nearly enough to help the American people—many of whom are trying to figure out how they’re going to pay for that mortgage or that rent, put food on the table, educate their kids, or find the needed health care for their family.

“Over the duration of this pandemic, more than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs, tens of millions also have lost their health insurance.

“I have heard from hundreds of constituents about their personal stories about losing health insurance in this pandemic – they’re scared to death for their families’ safety and asking for the peace of mind we all want.

“Emily from Oak Park, Illinois, wrote to me about how she recently lost her job and is not eligible to enroll in the Affordable Care Act plan because the federal government has not created a new special enrollment period.

“Jon from Yorkville, Illinois, told me he lost his job and can’t afford health care coverage for himself and his family. He’s worried about losing his wife if she catches the virus at work.

“I was once a young father of a child with a serious health condition and I didn’t have any health insurance. I know how terrifying that experience can be, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic.

“At a time of great uncertainty, the last thing people need is for their government to rip health insurance away from them.

“The last thing we need is President Trump trying to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including the 2.2 million Americans who have now been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Yet, that’s exactly what the Trump Administration wants to do in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“After years and years of trying and failing to undo the Affordable Care Act in Congress, the Trump Administration and Republican officials are fighting in the Supreme Court to strike the law. There is a case pending just across the street from Congress in the Supreme Court right now that could be handed down any day.

“And this week, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has scheduled votes on two judicial nominees with records of open hostility to the Affordable Care Act. Think about that. In the midst of a national health emergency, Senator McConnell is looking for judges for lifetime appointments who want to do away of the one guarantee of protection for millions of Americans.

“The Affordable Care Act has provided 20 million Americans with quality health insurance, protecting people with pre-existing conditions from the abuse of insurance company.

“We need it now—more than ever— to ensure that all communities, especially families of color, continue to have access to critical health care coverage.

“Perhaps those most hard hit by this Administration’s mismanaged pandemic response are the communities of color.

“Black and Latinx families are bearing the brunt of this virus crisis, once again reminding us of the unacceptable and devastating inequality in our nation’s health care system.

“It’s a system that too often sees communities of color left behind without any health insurance, without access to affordable health care, and with higher rates of chronic conditions.

“Not only that, but the devastating killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black Americans have reminded us yet again how the crushing effects of racial injustice weigh on communities of color every day.

“Today, as we celebrate Juneteenth and the end of chattel slavery in the United States, we must also acknowledge just how much more work there is to be done.

“Democrats in the Senate have been working hard to pass legislation to address racial injustice and get the American people the resources they need—more testing, additional resources for health care providers, financial security for struggling families and small businesses and improved access to health insurance coverage.

“I just hope the Republican Party will stop its misguided attack on the Affordable Care Act and join us in a bipartisan effort to address the challenges America faces.”

Any bolding has been added.

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

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning.

And a good morning it is: the Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s wonderful action to support our Dreamers. The DACA decision is something that supports our values as a country.

The Dreamers across the country enjoy more popularity than almost anyone. Overwhelmingly, it’s something like 75, 80 percent of the American people – three‑quarters of the people who vote support the Dreamers. Three‑quarters of – large number of Republicans, Independents. People who – over 60 percent of people who support President Trump, support the Dreamers.

So, this is really – we were in such dread about what could possibly happen at the Court up until last night, just if it goes this way, if it goes that way. But this way is the American way and we are very proud of it. So, that was this morning.

Last night, in the Judiciary Committee, late last night, the Committee overwhelmingly passed out the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which will now go to Rules and then come to the Floor before the Fourth of July. We are very proud of the work that was done by Chairwoman Karen Bass, the Chair of the [Congressional Black Caucus], but also the Chair of the Crime Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.

This morning, the Supreme Court and DACA; last night, the Judiciary Committee and the Justice in Policing Act.

Tomorrow is Juneteenth, a day that we observe as a day of freedom in our country. It was the day that people in the west found out about the Emancipation Proclamation. In observance of that, I have sent a letter, that you will see, to the Clerk of the House directing the Clerk to remove the portraits of four previous Speakers of the House who served in the Confederacy.

We didn’t know about this until we were taking inventory of the statues and the curator told us that there were four paintings of Speakers in the Capitol of the United States, four Speakers who had served in the Confederacy. So tomorrow, Juneteenth – the Clerk will oversee removal of those Confederate Speakers from the House.

As I have said before, there is no room in the hallowed halls of this democracy, this temple of democracy, to memorialize people who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy. You have to see the remarks that they had made and how oblivious they were to what our Founders had in mind in our country. We must lead by example. So, we are glad that that is gone.

I will take some questions in a moment about the Justice in Policing Act, but we are very proud of the legislation that was put together. It was the work of decades. These bills have been in the hopper for a while. But in terms of the public sentiment to get the job done in a strong way, the moment is now. As we take action on the Justice in Policing, we also have to recognize other injustice in our country, whether it is injustice in health care and the economy, environmental injustice that exists, the list goes on.

And one manifestation of it right now is the coronavirus impact having a disparate impact on people of color in our country. And so we are hoping and pushing and advocating for the passage of The Heroes Act, to open our economy; testing, tracing, treating, isolating. Get the job done. We don’t have – we don’t have a vaccine, and we don’t have a cure. Hopefully, we will and that science will be the answer to our prayers in that regard. But we do have testing, tracing, treatment, and we want to address that in a way that takes the data that shows the disparate impact on people of color in our country so that we can save their lives, so that we can save their lives.

The legislation also has an impact on our economy. And yesterday and the day before, the Chairman of the Fed, Jerome Powell, urged Congress not to take our foot off the brake. ‘I would think it would be of concern to Congress if Congress were to pull back from the support that it is providing too quickly. I do think it would be appropriate to think about continuing support for people who are newly out of work and for smaller businesses who are struggling. The economy is just now beginning to recover. It is a critical phase, and I think the support would be well placed at this time.’

He is not the only one. Moody’s yesterday, the economic forecasting firm, Moody’s, published an analysis that highlights the need for The Heroes Act, ‘Without additional help from Congress and the Administration, prospects are for double digit unemployment through the end of next year, and even this assumes nothing else goes wrong, like a serious second wave of the virus. How well the economy does in the next several years depends critically on what lawmakers decide to do in the next few weeks.’

And in the next few weeks we are hoping that – as you have seen, they went from, ‘Never, we’re not doing another bill,’ to, ‘Well, maybe, but not so big,’ and ‘Maybe, but not so soon.’ And you see they’re having their own internal debate about the size and scope and timing of what happens next. But we must help our – honor our heroes, help our state and local governments.

I have told you before, Speaker.gov/HeroesAct, to see what it means to you and your community. Open our economy; testing, tracing, treating and isolation; and direct payments. It has been said by economists, including Chairman Powell, that improvement that was viewed in the May employment numbers was largely because of the Unemployment Insurance and the direct payments. We must do that again. And, of course, we want our voting, vote-by-mail money, in there as well.

So, later today, not here, but in the Rayburn Room, House Democrats will unveil H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, taking bold, transformational action to build the infrastructure of America, while again addressing key injustices, justice of transportation and transit and the rest.

Sadly, the COVID‑19 crisis has laid bare many vulnerabilities and disparities in our nation in terms of health care, financial security, housing, transportation and more, which we will combat with this legislation. Democrats’ plan will protect families’ health, create jobs, grow the economy, invest in clean energy and climate resilience and ensure that America’s infrastructure is the envy of the world. We will bring this bill to the Floor and pass it before the Fourth of July.

And with that, you know, the three things we said when we ran For The People: we would lower the cost of prescription drugs – lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the pre-existing condition. That bill, once again, will be on the Floor on June 29th, the Affordable Care Act Enhancement – Affordable Care Enhancement Act. The next day, and maybe it will take two days, we will vote on lower health care costs, bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America. That will be the next two days. And, before then, making our government better with the Justice in Policing Act, which will be the end of next week.

With that, any questions?

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

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Pelosi Statement on Amicus Brief in District Court ACA Special Enrollment Case

June 19, 2020
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the House of Representatives filed an amicus brief in the District Court for D.C. in the case of City of Chicago v. Azar, supporting a challenge by the city regarding the failure of the Trump Administration to provide a special Affordable Care Act enrollment period in light of the coronavirus pandemic:

“Across the country, communities are being devastated by the staggering impact of the coronavirus on Americans’ lives and livelihoods. As the threat from this crisis grows, the Administration has ignored the advice of health experts and the law, and refused to reopen Affordable Care Act enrollment to ensure millions of uninsured workers and their families get the affordable, lifesaving coverage they need.

“Even in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, the Trump Administration is doubling down on the outrageous Republican lawsuit to dismantle the entirety of the ACA, including essential protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. As we combat this deadly virus and the Administration’s dangerous agenda, House Democrats will always fight to uphold the law and ensure the ACA can continue to provide its vital protections for all Americans.”

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Meanwhile, House Democrats continue to legislate: Pelosi Remarks at Press Event Unveiling the Moving Forward Act

JUNE 18, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined House Democrats for a press event unveiling H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, House Democrats’ bold legislation to rebuild America’s infrastructure. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being here.

This is a great day for us. Of course, it began well in the Supreme Court of the United States when the Constitution was upheld, and that was a beautiful thing. And now we are here to talk about how we go into the future.

When we won in 2018, we said to the American people that, For The People, we would lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the pre-existing condition, lower health care costs. Bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green and resilient way. And third, we would have cleaner government. Cleaner government by improving, enhancing the voice of small donors and the grass roots in our political process.

Between now and Fourth of July, we will bring the ACA enhancement legislation to the Floor on June 29th. Next week, we will bring the Justice in Policing Act, part of our democratization bill – initiatives to the Floor. And then, before we leave for the Fourth of July, we’ll bring this important legislation we have, the Moving Forward Act.

And I want to salute mightily the Chairman of the [Transportation and Infrastructure] Committee, Mr. DeFazio, for being our maestro in all of this. For decades, he has served on that committee. He knows the territory. He knows the roads and bridges. So, for us to say our hopes are riding on you is an easy thing to say, and in that orchestration are many other aspects of building the infrastructure. And that’s why I’m so honored that Chairman Richie Neal, the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee is with us in person. It’s a very important part of the legislation, to make real the promise of building the infrastructure in a green and resilient way.

Joining us virtually is the Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Chair of the Education Committee, Bobby Scott, Frank Pallone and Maxine Waters, and I’ll get to them in a moment. But first, let me just say that when we talk about building roads and highways and bridges and transit and rail and airports and ports and harbors, that is so important for our country. It’s job-creating in its essence, but it’s also commerce-promoting. So, it grows the economy of our country. And then again in this legislation, we’re ensuring that all – and I thank you, Mr. DeFazio for that. I thank Mr. Pallone for ensuring that all communities have clean drinking water, invest in new wastewater infrastructure as well as expanding affordable, high speed internet, which is in this bill, which is part of Mr. Pallone’s committee.

And then when we talk about rebuilding and reopening our schools, I thank Mr. Scott of Virginia, the Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. We tell children that studying is important. It’s important in their personal lives. It’s important to keep America preeminent in the world, and yet, we send them to schools – let’s give them a different message, if they’re not up to par, to respect the learning of the children. Thank you, Mr. Scott.

Housing, affordable housing challenges the conscience of our country right now, homelessness and access to affordable housing. We thank Maxine Waters for her leadership as Chair of the Financial Services Committee for serving the underserved – so many in our community with the housing legislation that is contained here.

And again, we have something for the Postal Service, the infrastructure piece of the Postal Service. Connective tissue of our country, our Postal Service. Over 90 percent of the medicines received by veterans are through the Postal Service. The list goes on. I thank Carolyn Maloney for her strong role in all of this.

So, for these and other reasons, this is a just a happy day for us to be able to put forth something so comprehensive, so well thought out, so job-creating, so economically – growing of the economy, preserving of our planet, respectful of our children, meeting the needs for housing in our country and, again, preserving, probably, one of the most popular entities of government, of federal government, the Postal Service.

Link to CPAN briefing on the “Moving Forward Act” is here.:

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Pelosi Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on DACA

June 18, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Trump Administration acted capriciously and illegally in its effort to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative:

“Eight years ago, our nation took a momentous step to advance equality and opportunity in America when President Obama launched the DACA initiative, empowering courageous young Dreamers to come out of the shadows and pursue their American Dream. Our Dreamers are the pride and the constant reinvigoration of our nation.

“Today is a joyous and proud day for our country, as the Supreme Court has rejected the Trump Administration’s illegal, immoral assault on young immigrants who make America more American, which the Court rightfully found to be ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ The Court’s decision upholds our values, the law and the will of the American people. Dreamers have the overwhelming support of the public, with more than three out of four voters saying Dreamers should be allowed to stay – including more than two-thirds of Republicans.

“Our Dreamers need and deserve real, permanent action by the Congress to ensure that they can continue to bless, enrich and strengthen our nation. The House will continue to be relentless in demanding that the Senate take up H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS and DED recipients.

House Democrats will always work to fix our broken immigration system and to fight for our Dreamers, to ensure that America remains a nation of hope, freedom and opportunity for all.

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  2 comments for “Fighting Back: “Democrats believe that the halls of Congress should reflect our highest ideals as Americans.”

  1. JanF
    June 20, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Pelosi Statement on the 155th Juneteenth Celebration

    June 19, 2020
    San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement today in recognition of the 155th celebration of Juneteenth, which marks June 19, 1865 when federal officials arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation:

    “For 155 years, Juneteenth has stood as a beautiful and proud celebration of freedom for African Americans. Sadly, this Juneteenth comes during a moment of extraordinary national anguish, as we grieve for the hundreds of Black Americans killed by racial injustice and police brutality, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others.

    “This Juneteenth must be a day of reflection that moves our nation to finally confront and combat its long and shameful history of systemic racial injustice targeted at communities of color. That is why, this week, I have ordered the removal of portraits of Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol and, earlier this month, renewed my call for the removal of statues of Confederate soldiers and officials displayed in this hallowed space. The halls of Congress are the heart of our democracy and should reflect our highest ideals, not memorialize men who embody racism, bigotry and hatred.

    “At the same time, House Democrats, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, next week will pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with unprecedented reforms to curb police brutality, end racial profiling and hold law enforcement accountable. As we mark this important day, we must insist on real, meaningful action to achieve justice and save lives.”

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  2. bfitzinAR
    June 20, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Thanks Jan. (& thanks Nancy Pelosi. The amount she manages to get through the House is amazing. And I know she’s got every single one of those bills McConnell’s sitting on ready to re-introduce “day one” next January. When hopefully we’ll have a Dem Senate to pass them with.)

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