Last week House Democrats unveiled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, #ForThePeople legislation to build on the Affordable Care Act to lower health costs. It will be brought to a vote on Monday.
(House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), along with freshmen and veteran lawmakers, unveiled a new proposal to lower the cost of health care. The speaker intends to put the bill on the House floor, arguing the legislation is a priority during the coronavirus pandemic. She also criticized Republicans and the White House for filing legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to put an end to the Affordable Care Act. “It was wrong any time. Now, it’s beyond stupid. Beyond stupid.” )
“I always like to quote Mr. Clyburn, who always likes to quote Martin Luther King, who said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane because it also often results in physical death.’ Well, that is true, generally speaking. It is also true at the center of this pandemic, where there is a disproportionate number of deaths in communities of color because of inequality of access to health care. So, that is what we are here to talk about.
From our Freshman Class we have here Lauren Underwood, Colin Allred, Andy Kim, Angie Craig, who, from day one have taken the lead on this and in terms of asserting Congress’s right to fight in court against the President*’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act, repeal of the pre-existing benefits condition, the repeal of [health care opportunities] for people.”
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
Representative Sean Maloney gave the Weekly Democratic Party Address.
In this week’s address, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York discussed the celebration of Pride Month and the critical legislation passed by House Democrats to ensure equality for the LGBTQ community, people of color and all Americans, including the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and the Equality Act.
Full text at the link.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:
Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning.
So this has been quite a week. What a historic evening we had last night with the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
We couldn’t be prouder of our Congressional Black Caucus, the work of Karen Bass, the Chair; the work of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler; and the fact that it was bipartisan, both in rejecting the Senate bill, which was their motion to recommit, and by passing our legislation, which will make a tremendous difference in people’s lives.
And justice served also by what is happening on the Floor right now, in terms of statehood for the District of Columbia, long overdue. First time Congress will pass legislation for admission of Washington, District of Columbia as a state: Washington, Douglass [Commonwealth] – Frederick Douglass. That would be the name of the new – the 51st State.
And, of course, yesterday being the seventh anniversary of the Shelby v. Holder, horrible decision on gutting the certification – Section IV of the Voting Rights Act – Title IV. And so, this morning, some of us were gathered in this very place to talk about the fact that we had passed H.R. 4, Voting Rights [Advancement] Act, that we hope that the Senate will pass.
All about justice. You know it is about the vote. It is about our democracy. It’s about fairness. And we know that there is a wish to suppress the vote and voting rights for the District and the rest. But we will make our mark. We will stand our ground.
And what is really important about all of this right now is the health of the American people. Martin Luther King said, ‘Of all,’ he said exactly, ‘Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman,’ he said, ‘and the most inhuman, because it also – it often results in physical death.’ Of all forms of injustice, inequality, health care, the most inhuman.
So, it is unfathomable, unfathomable, that as we gathered here, late at night, last night, in the midst of a pandemic, the White House, the Administration, in the dark of night, filed their brief in the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, saying to the American people,  million families, if you have a pre-existing condition, you will no longer have the benefit of access to quality care. And the list goes on of the benefits that it would overturn. Lifetime limits that they support, that we want to overturn; that, if you have a pre-existing condition, that there is no lifetime limit on the amount of coverage that you would receive.
Midst of a pandemic, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose ACA’s life‑saving protection, 23 million Americans will lose their health – access to quality, affordable health care. The ACA’s ban on annual lifetime limits, young people staying on other people’s – being a woman no longer a pre-existing condition. Forget about it. The Administration wants to do away with all of that.
As bad as that is, they think they can get away with saying, ‘Oh, we support a benefit for a pre-existing condition,’ when they don’t. So, when they say that, understand they are in court to overturn that now. They continue to be, and now they have filed their briefs. And all of this as the ACA enrollment has increased by 46 percent by a similar period last year, showing an increased need during the coronavirus.
So many people have lost their jobs, and, hence, in some cases, their insurance benefits. Therefore, they are turning to the Affordable Care Act. Again, in the middle of a pandemic, the President is saying, ‘We want to slow down the testing.’ The testing.
I just was thinking during the night about all of this, thinking of being in school and learning about the scientific method, thinking about legislation we have passed over time here to say we should have evidence‑based legislation. And what does the scientific method say? The scientific method is a systematic method of research involving the recognition and formulation of a problem. You have to do testing to recognize the fullness and the formulation of the problem. The collection of data through observation. You have to do testing to observe the data, and the formulation and testing of how you go forward.
This Administration and the Republicans in Congress have two things going against the will of the American people: they are against science, they do not accept science, and they do not accept governance. Now, none of us wants any more government than we need, but they are against governance. So, look at all the issues we are faced with: health care, a pandemic. And they resist – they resist the insistence, the imperative that the scientists are putting forth, that we must test, trace, treat and separate, wear masks, wash our hands, keep our distance. They resist that.
And governance? They don’t want to have – they are overturning the Affordable Care Act. They don’t believe in a public role. And some of their supporters say, ‘Hey, government, keep your hands off my Medicare.’ Well, what do they think Medicare is? What do you think Medicare is? It’s governance.
So, anti‑science, anti‑governance. If you deny science or ignore it and you don’t believe in governance, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to do anything about climate. You’re in denial. You don’t accept the science. And you don’t want to punish polluters or have regulation of pollution in our atmosphere, which is a health issue. If you don’t believe in science, you won’t take the measures to protect the health of the American people. The list goes on and on.
And so we have the legislation that we have passed, and part of the CARES Act called for a GAO report, and this is what it said. In the middle – the GAO report said: ‘In early February, the sole FDA‑authorized COVID viral tests were deployed by the CDC to state public health laboratories, but they experienced accuracy and reliability issues, resulting in significant delays in testing nationwide in the critical early weeks of the outbreak.’ It went on to say the absence of complete and consistent COVID‑19 testing data reported through May 31st, 2020,’ a few weeks ago, ‘has made it more difficult to track and know the number of infections, mitigate their effort and inform decisions on opening communities.’
We have a pandemic. The last couple – two days ago, what was it? 36,000 cases, a record. Yesterday, 40,000 cases, a further record. And the President is saying, ‘Slow down on the testing. If we didn’t have testing, we wouldn’t have these cases.’
So, my purpose here this morning is about health care. This is about health and the ignoring of science, the resistance to all of the advice we are getting from scientists. The early denial, delay caused deaths – caused deaths. And now, with the spike that we are seeing, the President is saying, ‘Slow down the testing.’ Others said he was joking. He doesn’t say that. And, by the way, this is not a laughing matter. It’s a matter of life and death.
And, as I said, many more people are signing up for the Affordable Care Act. And, so, I am so pleased that on Monday we will be putting forth our Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act. It will lower health care costs, negotiate lower prices, expand coverage and push hold-out states to adopt Medicaid expansion, combat inequity in health coverage, combat junk plans. The list goes on.
Now, let me say this. As I said earlier, many people who have lost their jobs have turned to the Affordable Care Act because their job – their health care was tied to their job. So, hopefully, they will get their jobs back, but, in the meantime, they have that access. That’s what the President is trying to overturn in the courts. So, God-willing, the courts will do the right thing, but we just don’t know. So, we are getting prepared for what comes next in all of this – in all of this.
But let me tell you this about the ACA enhancement. It has – why we have some things in it and some things aren’t that were saved for another day, because the President said he would support these things. He said he would support negotiating for lower prices. That is what he said during the campaign.
That has been for years our – one of our priorities that we have never been able to get 60 votes in the Senate and get it passed into law. But the President said during the campaign he was going to, ‘Negotiate like crazy.’ Crazy, that is a good description of his actions throughout. But, ‘negotiate like crazy’ apparently means not negotiate at all. That is the only way you are going to get the prices – the lowered prices.
And, in the bill – the Affordable Care Act – it brings down the cost of prescription drugs, which we are promising to the American people, and the savings to the Federal government from not having to pay those prices will go to expand, in a way – bigger expansion of Medicare since its inception. Benefits for hearing, for visual and for dental. It’s quite remarkable. It has other advantages for seniors in terms of cost of prescription drugs as well. But we are very, very proud of that aspect, very understandable about everyone.
And so, it is really important, as we quote the GAO, and what is lacking in terms of what the White House is doing on testing, and we comment on the President’s – I don’t know how you would even describe them – anti‑scientific comments, we have a better idea. It started March 4th with the first bill we passed on the coronavirus. Testing, testing, testing. In April, we passed the enhancement, the further PPP bill, and we had a big investment in testing, testing, testing, not really embraced fully by the Administration, as you know.
In The Heroes Act, one of the pillars of The Heroes Act is open up our economy, testing, testing, testing. Testing, tracing, treatment, separation, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance. Testing, tracing, treatment. It has a big investment for that and the health care institutions that would implement that. It goes a long way, to get back to my first point about justice and Martin Luther King.
The coronavirus has demonstrated very clearly the injustice of how a pandemic hits, the disparity of deaths that is so clear in communities of color. The disparity among groups and the big impact on communities of color requires that we do this testing. As Mr. Clyburn, our distinguished Whip, has said, we need to have mobile units to go out into communities so that people will be tested and then traced and the rest. Why should there be more deaths in the communities of color? Because there hasn’t been testing and tracing and treatment to prevent those deaths from happening.
So, it’s really important for the Senate to pass The Heroes Act for what it does for our heroes who are risking their lives to save lives, and now may lose their jobs because of the coronavirus and the revenue lost to communities, state and localities that are footing that bill. That’s one part of it. But the second pillar is about testing, tracing, treating. It’s evidence-based. It will provide us with the analysis of what the magnitude of the problem is and the data to say how it is affecting communities of color and everyone in our population and help us defeat this virus.
God-willing and science granting it, we will have, hopefully, a vaccine at some point, a cure, therapeutics and the rest, but we don’t now. We don’t now. But we do have the tools to kill the virus – testing, tracing, treatment, separation, mask, sanitation. And, in our bill, we have the resources to do so, and they respect the role that the States play in all of this. So, I’m hoping that the Grim Reaper will not be responsible for even more dangerous behavior that causes more deaths in our country, because we’ve ignored science, we haven’t acted in an evidence‑based way.
Can’t help but say, that on this – in this election in November, science, science, science and science are going to be on the ballot. That is what is at stake here, and it’s a matter of life and death.
With that, I would be pleased to take any questions you have.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
(+4 for Speaker Pelosi responding to a badgering reporter about the “partisanship” of the DC Statehood Act: “forgive me for not valuing your question to the extent that you are valuing it.”)
More on DC Statehood: WPelosi Floor Speech in Support of the Washington, D.C. Admission Act
June 26, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I thank the gentlelady for yielding and for her tremendous leadership over time to remove obstacles of participation to our democracy. Whether it’s Voting Rights Act for all, or whether it’s observing the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote, and whether it is about giving full participation in our democracy to the District of Columbia, I’m proud to join her in wearing this mask. It says 51st, and that’s why this legislation is H.R. 51, D.C. statehood, which I will talk about now.
But Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has been brilliant, relentless, persistent, dissatisfied about the lack of full participation for her constituents in the work in Congress. So, I salute her, as the patron saint and guiding star of D.C. statehood, even before she came to Congress, but since she came to Congress. And she has worked tirelessly and relentlessly to build historic support for this bill. And you give us the honor of participating in this historic vote when the House of Representatives, for the first time, will vote on statehood for the District.
D.C. statehood, Mr. Speaker, is an official and personal priority for me. My colleagues have heard me say this, but I’ll say it again: when I was born, my father was a Member of Congress from Baltimore, Maryland. He was on the Appropriations Committee, and he served as the Chair of the D.C. Appropriations Subcommittee. At the time, they tell me, that person would be regarded as the mayor of – unofficial mayor of Washington because that Appropriations Committee made all the decisions, so many decisions for the District of Columbia.
He was a big supporter of home rule – seeing from that perspective the unfairness of it all, a big supporter of home rule. So, in any event, he did his job in a way to try to make a path. A path: later home rule, and later a mayor and the rest and, now, to where we are now.
So, yesterday, someone said, ‘Can you find middle ground?’ This is middle ground, the status quo is. We have to go forward.
And I, later, had the privilege of serving on the Appropriations Committee, on the District of Columbia Subcommittee, and I saw the obstacles to home rule that some in our Congress would put forth, diminishing – diminishing the self-determination that the people of the District of Columbia should have.
Statehood for the District is about showing respect for our democracy. It’s not just about the District. It’s about our democracy, for the American people and for our U.S. Constitution. The Constitution begins with our beautiful Preamble: ‘We the People,’ setting out our Founders’ vision of a government of, by and for the people of the United States. It doesn’t say, ‘Except for the District of Columbia.’
Yet, for more than two centuries, the residents of Washington, D.C. have been denied their full right to fully participate in our democracy. Instead, they have been dealt the injustice of paying taxes, serving in the military and contributing to the economic power of our nation while being denied the full enfranchisement that is their right. Serving in the military, fighting, risking their lives for our democracy; fundamental to that democracy is representative government. They were willing to risk their lives for a principle, for a value, for our democracy, while where they live was being denied that full opportunity.
Today, by passing H.R. 51, Washington, D.C. Admission Act, to admit the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth – State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth to the Union. That would be Frederick Douglass, from Maryland, who lived in District of Columbia, an abolitionist and a suffragist, actually. He was in Seneca Falls at the conference of women, coming together for women having the right to vote. So much about our democracy and voting for all Americans.
In doing so today, we will bring our nation closer to the founding ideals that all are created equal and all deserve a say in our democracy. With that, I urge a bipartisan vote, I hope, but a strong vote in the House for this very important legislation, legislation important to our democracy, to our Constitution.
And I thank, again, and salute, Eleanor Holmes Norton for her leadership, working with our distinguished leader, Mr. Hoyer, who has brought this as a priority. We’re proud that this is on the Floor today.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back
The bill passed with 218 Democratic votes and no Republican votes.