The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon decrying the heartless policies proposed by Senate Republicans as millions will soon face eviction, hunger, and an inability to get health care.
(With enhanced unemployment benefits set to expire Friday and after months of Republican inaction, Senator Wyden (D-OR) delivers this week’s Weekly Democratic Address.)
“The bottom line is what Republicans are proposing is heartless and it’s just unthinkable. There is no time to waste on these kinds of partisan proposals. Supercharged unemployment benefits are going to lapse, and then all of the Americans who lost work through no fault of their own could face eviction, could go hungry, may not be able to fill their prescriptions and their message to us is clear. It’s time to renew these benefits and help the unemployed now.”
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
Transcript: Senator Wyden Delivers Weekly Democratic Address
“Hello, I’m Senator Ron Wyden from the wonderful state of Oregon.
“I’ve talked a lot recently with Oregonians who are walking an economic tightrope every day, having lost jobs or hours at work during the pandemic, trying to figure out a way to make rent, pay groceries, medical bills and car insurance. But one conversation in particular has really stuck with me.
“I was speaking with a mom in Portland. She knew that supercharged unemployment benefits that we pushed so hard to achieve — the $600 weekly boost that was passed in the CARES Act – she knew those benefits were set to expire at the end of July. She told me that for her money was already awful tight, and with benefits expiring, she didn’t know how much food she could afford to buy for August. She said that she’d already started telling her kids they might have to eat less.
“Imagine for a moment how difficult it’s got to be for a parent to have that conversation with her kids. And she’s just now dealing, alone, with that kind of hardship.
“Supercharged unemployment benefits have been an economic lifeline for 30 million Americans during this pandemic. Democrats have been calling on Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans for months to work with us to extend the benefits to keep all these families in a position to make rent, pay for groceries. Republicans on the other hand just sat on their hands throughout the spring and the summer. And now because of them, benefits are going to lapse.
“When Republicans finally brought forward a plan this week, they began by slashing this vital lifeline by two thirds – costing workers $400 per week. And then incredibly, they made it even worse, and they did so in the midst of the biggest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. They’re calling for complicated new regulations that according to those who are expert at the state level, the Republican ideas would make it impossible to get benefits out anytime soon. This is just out-and-out sabotage, just throwing sand in the gears.
“And Republicans are inflicting all of this pain on the economy and the unemployed, just when we’re getting reports that the economy is cratering. If Republicans get to slash unemployment benefits drastically when our economy is in freefall, the Republicans will be taking away one of the best tools for economic relief for our working families that can keep a struggling economy afloat.
“And furthermore, while the Republicans shortchange the unemployed, Republicans’ have a priority to protect the multinational corporations from COVID-19. What they want to do is protect them from lawsuits with a federal liability shield. And on top of that, the Senate Republicans are proposing new money for defense contractors, new taxpayer subsidies for corporate power lunches, and a sweetheart real estate development deal that would benefit the Trump Hotel. They’re even trying to create a backdoor for cuts to earned Medicare and Social Security benefits.
“The bottom line is what Republicans are proposing is heartless and it’s just unthinkable. There is no time to waste on these kinds of partisan proposals. Supercharged unemployment benefits are going to lapse, and then all of the Americans who lost work through no fault of their own could face eviction, could go hungry, may not be able to fill their prescriptions and their message to us is clear. It’s time to renew these benefits and help the unemployed now. And I know I speak for all my Democratic colleagues when I say that we’re going to keep working and working around the clock to get folks the help they need from sea to shining sea.
“Thanks everybody for watching, and I wish everyone the best.”
Any bolding has been added.
On Thursday, the normal day for the weekly press conference, Speaker Pelosi was in Atlanta at the funeral of Rep. John Lewis (transcript of remarks is below).
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Friday:
Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning.
Well, our dear John Lewis has been laid to rest. I don’t know if you saw the double rainbow over the Capitol on Tuesday night. It was quite a remarkable sight to see. It wasn’t even raining and there was a double rainbow. As I said yesterday at his service, on the night he died, the flags that were waving over the Capitol were saying goodbye to him as he made his transition. And on the last night before he would be leaving the Capitol, he said his goodbye to us with a double rainbow, saying, as he would say: I’m home in heaven. I’m with Lillian. May he rest in peace, our dear John.
We mourn him as a death in the family, but now we’ve passed 150,000 Americans who are dead from the coronavirus. Many of them were not necessary to have met that fate. Today, on the floor of the House, we’ll have a moment of silence to observe the loss of 150,000 Americans.
Ten weeks ago, we passed The Heroes Act – more than ten weeks ago, we passed the Heroes Act, which had a path to containing this virus with testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, sanitation. The Republicans said they wanted to ‘take a pause.’ Well, the virus didn’t.
Since then, over 65,000 Americans have died, 300,000 – just a huge number of Americans have – three million Americans since then have become infected. So much for the ‘pause.’ And now the beginning of this week, the Republicans in the Senate came back with a piecemeal approach.
Clearly, they, and perhaps the White House, do not understand the gravity of the situation. 150,000 Americans died, almost, nearly half of them since we passed our bill. Several hundred thousand – no, three million. You know how it goes. The first million took a hundred days. To get to two million took 43 more days. To get to three million took 27 days. And to get to four million, it took 16 days.
We’re now approaching 4.5 million. This is a freight train that is picking up steam and picking up speed. That acceleration is not a good thing. It must be stopped, and we have a plan in the Heroes Act to do just that. Science-based, science-based testing, tracing, treatment, distancing, mask wearing and the rest.
And that is the way to open our economy, to more safely open our schools, to reduce the number of infections, instead of an accelerating pace of infection spreading across our country. Children are – it’s really sad to even say. Children are food insecure. Families are food and rent insecure.
Nineteenth straight week, this week, the nineteenth straight week of people applying for Unemployment Insurance. Thirty million people doing that. We really need to, again, stop the spread. That’s first and foremost. To do that, we need the people to work and have the equipment to do it.
That’s why the Heroes Act has the funding for state and local government, to honor our heroes, our health care workers, our first responders, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers, our transportation workers, our sanitation workers, food suppliers and the rest, meeting the needs of the people in our cities and states.
That’s why we have our strategic plan for testing in our bill, The Heroes Act, and that’s why we have a robust, a robust – put money in people’s pockets that the consumer economy that we are can continue to be and to curtail the deepening of the recession we’re in.
And so in this time of all of that, what are the Republicans proposing? Cutting the benefit to America’s working families. Put $200 on the [Senate] Floor, yesterday. $200 from $600. They want to make it sound like, well, we’d be up for $600; they don’t have the votes for $600. And why don’t they? Because they’re too busy – look, in the CARES Act, just think of this, in the CARES Act, they had $150 billion benefit to high-income people to, shall we say, high rollers, had nothing to do with the coronavirus. It was retroactive in terms of tax benefits to certain high rollers in the economy.
And yet, they resent America’s working families getting the $600, which is essential to their needs. So, they’ve offered $200. We’re saying we have The Heroes Act. Respond to us on that and we’ll go forward. But the $600 is essential in the lives of these families, and they question: ‘Well, maybe somebody’s staying home making more money than they would.’ Well, why don’t you subject those high rollers to that same scrutiny as to whether that money was justified. We have the data – they say, ‘Oh, we have data showing that people stay home.’ I said, well, we have data, we have data showing that that is not the case.
Anecdotally, if you want to name somebody, name them. And we’ll anecdotally name some of your people. The plural of anecdote is not data when it comes to millions of American families benefiting from this. So, that’s where we are on the negotiations. We’ll be talking again today.
I think it’s important to note that Chairman Powell, once again, said this week, the – I’ll read his words: ‘The path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part in our success in keeping the virus in check…This pandemic and its fallout represents the biggest shock to the U.S. economy in living memory.’
And then, of course, he has called upon us to do more. So, again, we stop the spread, open the economy, reduce the infection rates in communities so you can open schools. Recognize that the biggest spread now is among – has been among people of color who haven’t had the access to testing.
So, it all comes back down to what I’ve talked to you about before. It’s about equipment. We don’t have enough tests because we don’t have enough equipment. We don’t have results soon enough because we don’t have enough equipment to get the results of the tests soon enough.
We have our health care providers at risk and others who come in contact, early contact with people who are infected at risk because we don’t have the PPE, the personal protective equipment. We once again call upon the President to get serious about this. No, testing is not overrated.
Now he’s come to see about masks. If he had done that months ago, we would be in better place right now. Then it was a hoax. Everything he says is really about him: hoax, overrated. He projects.
With that, I’ll take any questions you may have.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
Speaker Pelosi’s remarks at Rep. John R. Lewis’ Funeral:
Good day. I’m not sure morning, afternoon. Whatever it is, it’s an honor to be here with each and every one of you.
Reverend Warnock, thank you for enabling us all to be here in the Ebenezer Baptist Church to honor and celebrate the life of John Lewis with three Presidents of the United States.[Applause]
Isn’t that exciting? President Clinton, President Bush and, soon, President Obama here with us.
On behalf of my colleagues, as Speaker of the House, I’m pleased to bring greetings to each and every one of you. I’m sad to bring condolences to the family. To John Miles, to the entire Lewis family, thank you for sharing John Lewis with us.
I’m pleased to be here with so many Members, 50. We would have had more except coronavirus prevented the church from allowing us to bring more. But I hope they will all stand, Members of the House of Representatives.[Applause]
Senators Harris and Booker who are with us as well. Senators Harris and Booker.[Applause]
Among them, Mr. Hoyer, Steny Hoyer, Mr. Clyburn, Jim Clyburn and I served with John Lewis for over 30 years, for over 30 years.[Applause]
And, in our group, we have senior Members and we have Members of our Freshmen class. John convinced each one of us that we were his best friend in Congress.
And we come with a flag flown over the Capitol the night that John passed. When this flag flew there, it said goodbye. It waved goodbye to John: our friend, our mentor, our colleague, this beautiful man that we all had the privilege of serving with in the Congress of the United States.
So again, we all bring our condolences to the family and to Michael Collins and John’s staff who meant so very much to him. Thank you for your service to John Lewis.[Applause]
There are many things we’re grateful to the family for, and to the staff for, and we commend them for, but let’s acknowledge the stamina they have had to keep up with John, even as he passed on: from Troy to Selma to Montgomery to Washington and, now, to Atlanta to be at rest.
When John Lewis served with us, he wanted us to see the Civil Rights Movement and the rest through his eyes. He told us so many stories. He taught us so much. And he took us to Selma for two decades. Mr. President, he took us to Selma; you referenced 25 years. Some of us were there many times, including the 50th anniversary where President Bush was as well as President Obama. And he wanted us to see how important it was. How important it was to understand the spirit of nonviolence.
I hesitate to speak about nonviolence in the presence of the master himself, Reverend Lawson, who we’ll be hearing from shortly. We were together just recently in Selma when he and John spoke at church, and he taught the world, really, about nonviolence. But I just want to say this: the word satyagraha is a word that in Sanskrit means two things. It means nonviolence and it means insistence on the truth. And that is what John Lewis was all about: nonviolently insisting on the truth.
He insisted on the truth in Nashville, in Selma, in Washington, D.C., at the Lincoln Memorial. He insisted on truth wherever he went, and he insisted on the truth in the Congress of the United States. Every time he stood up to speak, we knew that he was going to take us to a higher place in our understanding, what our responsibilities were and what our opportunities were.
And he insisted, no matter how, shall we say, offended someone might be, that he would insist on the truth. What he said, he said, ‘In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now, it is your turn.’ He says in this article that the President referenced, ‘to let freedom ring.’ He always talked about truth marching on. He always worked for a more perfect union.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, I had the privilege of visiting with John, and I brought him this flag pin that I wear, one just like it. Why I did so on that Fourth of July weekend was because it is engraved with something that says, ‘One Country, One Destiny.’ Now, wasn’t that what John Lewis was all about? ‘One Country, One Destiny.’
I mention it because this was sewn into – embroidered into the lining of Abraham Lincoln’s coat that he had on the night that he left us. I think he had the coat on all the time, but also that night. And John Lewis and Abraham Lincoln had so much in common.
John, we got to know him first and foremost in front of the Lincoln Memorial when he made that beautiful, beautiful speech. John lay in state under the Rotunda – in the Rotunda of the Capitol, under the dome of the Capitol, on a catafalque, a platform that was made in 1865 to hold the casket of Abraham Lincoln.[Applause ]
Abraham Lincoln, John Lewis. John Lewis. So, they had lots of connections. And by the way, just incidentally, they were both wonderful and spiritual and saintly, but they were both very good politicians. Think of John Lewis that way. You who know him, know that.
He always was about a more perfect union, and he was always about young people. That’s why, Mr. President, that article you referenced in The New York Times today, his message that would be delivered at this time, as he left us, was about young people. He said to them, ‘Together you can redeem the world.’ Together, always, perfect union, together, one nation, one destiny. And he says in the article, ‘Answer the highest calling of your heart, and stand up for what you truly believe in.’ Wasn’t that just like John?
We were very proud to have his voice in the Rotunda, speaking about all that he cared about and believed in, in such a beautiful way, starting in Troy.
I started my remarks by talking about the flag that waved over the Capitol to say goodbye to John as he began his passage. But what I want you to know, in addition to how revered he is in the Congress, so revered that, you know, he was a bit mischievous. You know, when he would say, ‘Let’s make some good trouble,’ he always had sort of a twinkle in his eye and a kind of a spark about it all.
And my colleagues can tell you that when he cooked up having the sit-in to get the Republican leadership to put the gun violence prevention bill on the Floor, when he did that, and all the Members followed him, the Floor was covered with people. And we thought, for a moment, that perhaps the police might – because it was disruptive, good trouble. It was clear to them that if they were to arrest John Lewis for doing that, they were going to have to arrest the entire House Democratic Caucus.[Applause ]
So, when he spoke, people listened. When he led, people followed. We loved him very much. As his official family, we mourn him greatly. He shared so much, his love for his district, his family, the sadness when Lillian was sick, the joy he had in John Miles.
But as I said, we wave goodbye to this person, our leader, our friend, this, shall we say, humorous – he loved to dance, he loved to make us laugh, sometimes while he was dancing. He said – my granddaughter Bella said to him, ‘Did you ever sing in the Civil Rights Movement?’ He said, ‘They asked me to sing solo one time, so low so that nobody could hear me.’
But anyway, getting back to that flag waving goodbye to this person we just loved, officially, personally, in every way, politically too. The last night he was at the Capitol, it wasn’t raining, thousands of people were showing up to pay their respects. A little bit after 8:00, there was a double rainbow. A double rainbow, but it hadn’t rained. It was just a double rainbow over the casket. And for us, it was – we waved goodbye when he started to leave us, he was telling us, he was telling us: I’m home in heaven. I’m home in heaven with Lillian.
We always knew he worked on the side of the angels, and now he is with them. May he rest in peace.