Fighting Back: “We must keep fighting to protect the sacred right to vote.”

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) declaring that an attack on our right to vote is an attack on our democracy and advocating for passing H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020.

(Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan discusses the lasting legacy of women’s suffrage and the urgent need to continue the fight against voter suppression efforts that undermine our democracy and disproportionally impact communities of color.)

Seventy years later, women were still denied the right to vote. But women of that time did not wait for change; they demanded it. For generations, they marched, picketed, protested and mobilized in the face of overwhelming challenges and adversity, to be heard as a full and equal citizen in our democracy. Decades of hard work, passion and dedication resulted in the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Women of color, particularly black women, faced discriminatory practices, such as literacy tests and poll tax, preventing them from exercising their right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted, and we commemorate the 55th anniversary of that act being passed this week. […]

Together, we must carry on the suffragists’ fight for access to the ballot box and combat the ongoing voter suppression efforts that undermine our democracy and disproportionally impact communities of color. […]

As we celebrate this 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let us continue to protect – fight to protect and exercise the sacred right to vote.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

Good afternoon, I’m Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and Representative of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District.

On August 26th, 2020, the United States will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees and protects the constitutional right for women to vote.

To commemorate this historic centennial, the House and the Senate passed resolutions designating August 2020 as the National Women’s Suffrage Month. One-hundred and seventy-two years ago, 300 women and men gathered at Seneca Falls Convention to make the declaration ‘that all men and women are created equal.’ That meeting initiated a generational struggle to secure the sacred right to vote. The roots of this movement stem from the fight to abolish slavery, where many of the early suffragists were active in that revolution.

Seventy years later, women were still denied the right to vote. But women of that time did not wait for change; they demanded it. For generations, they marched, picketed, protested and mobilized in the face of overwhelming challenges and adversity, to be heard as a full and equal citizen in our democracy. Decades of hard work, passion and dedication resulted in the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Women of color, particularly black women, faced discriminatory practices, such as literacy tests and poll tax, preventing them from exercising their right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted, and we commemorate the 55th anniversary of that act being passed this week.

Similarly, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans and many others were impacted by threats related to voting. As a Black woman, I am proud to say that the women of yesterday led the struggle for the voiceless in order to have a more perfect union. These women made a change.

But, we know this fight for equality is not over. For women of color, the fight continues. Our civic duty is to vote, and our power as an American is in our vote. An attack on our right to vote is an attack on our democracy, which is why we passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. This bill passed the House months ago, but unfortunately, Senator McConnell still refuses to hold a vote on this issue.

Together, we must carry on the suffragists’ fight for access to the ballot box and combat the ongoing voter suppression efforts that undermine our democracy and disproportionally impact communities of color.

Today, more than 68 million women vote in elections because of the courageous suffragists who never gave up the fight for equality. And as we celebrate this 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let us continue to protect – fight to protect and exercise the sacred right to vote.

Thank you, and be safe.

Any bolding has been added.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s weekly press conference on Thursday included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They answered questions about the ongoing negotiations with the White House over the next cornonavirus relief package.

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.

We gather here today in the midst of our negotiations on how we can defeat the virus, how we can keep people employed, how we can put money in the pockets of the American people, to do so in a way that is values‑based and can be done with the most, shall we say, what would be the word, bipartisanship possible. That is our goal. It’s what we have done four times already with COVID bills; four times, all bipartisan. Of course, we need that, because we have to have a signature from the President and a vote in the United States Senate.

But we stand by our Heroes Act, the Heroes Act, which does just that, keeps people working, our heroes: health care workers, first responders, sanitation, transportation, et cetera, teachers, teachers, teachers. Next is to end the virus, contain the virus by testing, tracing, treatment and masks, separation, et cetera. And, third, putting money in the pockets of the American people. Those are the pillars of the Heroes Act.

We have a few other pillars. That is – it’s about protecting the lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy. And on that score, we have some issues in terms of the Census, in terms of the Post Office, Postal Service and in terms of voting at home, we say, but if you want to say vote-by-mail, whatever the terminology, voting in a way that does not make people have to choose between their health and their vote. It’s, again, the health of our democracy in more than one way.

We have been making some progress, proceeding in a positive way. We’re not there yet. I have said I see a light at the end of the tunnel; we just don’t know how long the tunnel is. But we have to move quickly, more quickly, because the light at that end of the tunnel may be the freight train of the virus coming at us if we do not act to contain it.

We’re concerned because we think that this Administration and the Republicans do not understand the gravity of the situation and, hence, have not taken the actions to stop the spread of the virus to, again, open the economy, have our schools open safely and have us return to some normalcy.

I am very honored to be here with the distinguished Democratic Leader of the Senate. We’ve worked in sync on this with shared values, but with shared understanding that we want to come to agreement.

And, with that, I’m pleased to yield to the distinguished Leader of the United States Senate, welcome him back to the House side, where he served with distinction. I can speak firsthand on that, because I served on the Banking Committee where he was like in the top row and I was in the bottom row, and now he’s the Leader in the Senate. I yield to Mr. Schumer.

Leader Schumer. Thank you, Madam Speaker. And it’s great to be here.

Now, it’s 83 days since the House passed the Heroes Act. At that point, Speaker Pelosi and I called on the Leader, McConnell, to start negotiations on COVID, and we called on him three weeks before all these July deadlines. But for two months, Leader McConnell has said, ‘Pause, wait and see, let’s assess the situation.’

So, what is keeping us apart? Why haven’t we come to an agreement? It’s because our Republican friends don’t seem to see the gravity of the situation, the great crisis that we’re in, the greatest economic crisis for 100 years – for 75 years, since the Great Depression, the greatest economic – health care crisis for 100 years.

The bottom line is this: The Trump Administration and Senate Republicans have badly mauled the body politic, the American economy and American health care and we believe the patient needs a major operation while Republicans want to apply just a Band‑Aid. We won’t let them just pass the Band‑Aid, go home and leave America bleeding. It’s that simple.

That’s the difference. That’s the difference. There are huge problems out there, but so many of the Republicans don’t want to do anything, ‘Let’s not spend any government money, when people are hurting so badly.’

The President just dithers. This is the greatest crisis we’ve probably had in so many, so many years, and one of the five or six greatest crises America has ever had, and there is no leadership from the President. He says one thing one day and another thing another day and another thing another day. He’s not focused on this. No leadership. History will regard this as one of the most appalling performances by any chief executive anywhere in the world in all of history. It’s true. It’s that serious.

So, the reason our negotiations with the White House have been so arduous is they just don’t see the needs out there and they don’t want to do anything about them. They want to get away with as little as possible so their right wing ideologues, who don’t want to spend any government money, will not be angry with them. They don’t understand the crisis in the country. They don’t understand its depth. They don’t understand its breadth. They don’t understand the suffering.

Our Republican counterparts refuse to acknowledge that Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs, might need some help, some money to help pay the rent. The Republican Leader thinks the biggest threat to our country is an epidemic of lawsuits that hasn’t materialized. What will materialize soon is an epidemic of evictions unless we extend the moratorium and pass rental assistance. You can’t extend the moratorium without giving people some help. Between nineteen and 23 million households – that’s one in five rental households – will be at risk of eviction by September. And when the moratorium ends and they owe three months’, four months’, five months’, six months’ rent and they don’t have money, there will be massive evictions.

Our Republican colleagues refuse to acknowledge that state, local, tribal governments, who the Trump Administration abandoned in the early days of this crisis for ideological reasons, might need federal support to prevent teachers and firefighters and bus drivers from being laid off. Over a million have already been laid off and the number, from all they tell us, will greatly increase.

Our Republican counterparts refuse to acknowledge running an election in the middle of a pandemic is difficult when so many more people will vote by mail and voting, excuse me, in person is also more difficult.

Yesterday, the Republican Leader scoffed at the idea of extending enhanced unemployment benefits because he said it would mean that Americans without work would be paid more than essential workers. Well, in our bill we say pay the essential workers more. They reject it. If our friends are worried about how little essential workers are making, join us in supporting our frontline pay provisions.

When it comes to our schools, food assistance for the hungry, hungry children, for the Post Office, for the Census, and mind‑bogglingly, when it comes to health care, testing, the great shortage of testing and tracing, they want to pinch pennies. Again, they’d like to get away with passing the skinniest, most minimal bill possible and go home and wash their hands of it. We can’t do that, because it will make, it will leave Americans hurting and not get us out of the crisis, which is our job.

We’ve had huge problems brought on by a failed President who tries to sweep the problems under the rug and deny they exist. We Democrats will not give up on America. We’re not walking away. Speaker Pelosi – yesterday, evidently, Mr. Meadows said at the Republican lunch he’s going to quit as of Friday. He got such heat for that, he backed off. Well, we’re not quitting. We’re ready to work. We will keep working. And as long as it takes, as the Speaker said in her tunnel analogy, as long as it takes to reach an agreement, we will keep working and working and working until we get it done.

Democrats have been ready to work. Republicans have stalled for four months. If Republicans in the White House want to throw up their hands, walk away from the table, that’s on them, but we don’t want them to do it. The American people are going to remember who was ready to meet their needs and who was ready to continue negotiating in good faith.

Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Leader.

As you can see, the Democrats in the Congress are unified in our commitment, values‑based commitment to America’s working families. At the same time, the Republicans are in disarray. Probably half of them won’t vote for anything, not one dollar.

I always see everything, as you know, through the eyes of the children. And through the eyes of the children, this is what we see and say to the Republicans: Don’t nickel and dime our children. Don’t say, ‘We want to give a tax break to a business lunch and not give more money for children to have food stamps and the rest.’ Don’t talk about saying that if they go to school – only if school is open will we put federal dollars there. No, we have on authority and documented that doing virtual, actual and hybrid for education is approximately the same – it’s within range of the same cost. So, why should you demand that our children take a risk in a community of high incidents of the infection that they have to go to school in order to get federal dollars?

Families, millions of children are food insecure. That’s why we make such an issue of how can they possibly – what did we have, over $60 billion for food in one way or another, whether it was women, infants and children, whether it’s one form of food nutrition or another, including food stamps? They had $250,000. $60 billion, $250,000. I don’t know how many people they think live in America, but that doesn’t even begin. They’re nickel‑and‑diming us.

And then when you talk about children and families who are in fear of eviction. This means a great deal to children to be insecure about their housing. Some of them will become homeless because the Republicans are nickel‑and‑diming our children. These families are crying out for the $600. They’re nickel‑and‑diming the economic security of children’s families. The list goes on and on.

We are saying in our bill: children learning, parents earning. If we want parents to be able to go back to work, we need children to be going to school safely. And if they can’t and parents have to work, we want them to have child care in a significant way. Don’t nickel and dime us, our children, on the child care issue either.

So this, again, if you look at it and hear how people are affected by this, the families of our heroes, as I said earlier, health care – you know who they are, health care workers, first responders, transportation, sanitation, teachers, teachers, teachers. Probably five million of them will lose their jobs if we do not – it’s already a million and a half, projected to be 3.6 million. More people will lose their jobs if we do not honor our responsibilities to state and local governments.

These are people with children, with families. And what happens? They go on Unemployment Insurance. So what is saved there? What is saved there? What is lost is the dignity of work that these people have. Many of them risk their lives to save lives in this pandemic and now they’ve lost their jobs. Why? Why? Because Mitch McConnell calls this a, what, progressive wish list.

Well, I do wish that we can protect our workers, we can feed our children, we can house our people, that we can have elections that enable people not to make a choice between voting and their health.

With that, any questions you may have.

Yes, ma’am.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

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2 Comments

  1. From Nancy Pelosi to her House Democratic caucus. Dear Colleague: Update on Coronavirus Relief Negotiations

    August 7, 2020

    Dear Democratic Colleague,

    Twelve weeks ago today, we passed The Heroes Act to honor our heroes, to safely re-open our economy and schools by defeating the virus and to put money in the pockets of the American people. But Mitch McConnell pushed the pause button – waiting until last week to come forward with inadequate, piecemeal legislation, which would only prolong Americans’ suffering.

    Since the passage of The Heroes Act, while Republicans insisted on their pause, 3.5 million more Americans were infected by the coronavirus and 70,000 more have died.

    In the past two weeks of negotiations, we have strived mightily to find common ground. However, many critical differences remain.

    Lives:

    Defeating the Virus: It is clear that the only way we are going to end the economic crisis in our country is to defeat the virus. In The Heroes Act, there are significant resources for testing, tracing and treatment. The Senate bill has $15 billion and we have $75 billion. We absolutely need to find common ground in this area, especially as it relates to communities of color who have disproportionately suffered from infections and deaths.

    Livelihoods:

    Honoring Our Heroes: Democrats have fought to protect heroes in state and local government who have risked their lives to save lives and now may lose their jobs, by providing $915 billion in desperately needed funds. Republicans have offered only $150 billion, which would guarantee mass layoffs of health care workers, first responders, transit workers, sanitation and food workers and teachers.
    Safe Schools: We are a couple hundred billion dollars apart on the amount of money needed for schools, and Republicans want the education money to only go to schools opening in-person. Meanwhile, school districts across the country are overwhelmingly announcing that they can only open virtually or hybrid.
    Housing Insecurity: Millions of families are on the verge of eviction. While the President may issue an eviction moratorium, without money it is grossly insufficient for renters and their landlords – who will only see their debts rise higher and their housing insecurity intensify.
    Food Insecurity: Another critical difference in our bills is that we have $67 billion for food, water and utility assistance, while Leader McConnell provides only $250,000 for food.
    For the Children: Children should not be hungry, homeless or afraid to go back to school – and if at home, we must provide sufficient childcare. In addition, Republicans are insisting on keeping their CARES Act $135 billion tax break for the wealthiest, while rejecting funds for the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit, which are so necessary at this time.

    The Life of Our Democracy:

    Postal Service, Census, Voting: Central to the life of our democracy is support for the Postal Service, the integrity of the census and the protection of our voting system. While we hope to make some progress in the Postal Service, much more needs to be done regarding the census and voting.

    When we passed the CARES Act at the end of March, it was hoped that the Administration would take seriously the spread of the virus and respect science to end it. Instead, the Administration’s failure has enabled the virus to pick up steam. It is coming like a freight train, and the GOP response is like a convoy going only as fast as the slowest ship.

    In our discussions, Republicans’ have demonstrated their disdain for working families, but we must find common ground for the children.

    Thank you for your leadership.

    best regards,
    Nancy

  2. Thanks for this, Jan. Thank GODDESS we have Nancy as Speaker! And thank Goddess women have the right to vote, all women. Safeguarding that right is one of the most important tasks facing us today.

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