Fighting Back: Rep. Eric Swalwell: “Democrats are committed to expanding your family’s freedom to dream”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

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The Weekly Democratic Party Address is by Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, speaking about the Republican Party’s education budget and its devastating effect on the American Dream.

Congressman Swalwell:

Today, and especially with President Trump’s proposed budget, the American Dream is becoming further out of reach.

For too many Americans, college’s cost has grown too prohibitive. And for those who get to and through college, the crushing burden of debt leaves millions in financial quicksand, making it harder to start a family, buy a home, or turn a good idea into a business. […]

In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt outlined four freedoms on which every man, woman, and child should be able to rely: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.

Our challenge in Congress now is to restore a fifth, uniquely American freedom: the freedom to dream. The dream that our parents dreamed for us, and that we all dream for our own kids.

With all of our hands and all of our hearts, House Democrats are committed to expand your family’s freedom to dream.

(Complete transcript below)

Congressman Swalwell formed a House caucus called “Future Forum”:

#FutureForum, chaired by Congressman Eric Swalwell, is a group of 26 young Democratic Members of the House of Representatives who are focused on issues and opportunities for millennial Americans. #FutureForum is a pillar of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), an initiative overseen by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The millennial generation is facing challenges that Congress can’t afford to ignore. From the crisis of ever-increasing student loan debt to the decline of entrepreneurship among young Americans compared to previous generations, these challenges are impacting the overall health of our economy.

#FutureForum believes Congress can’t just talk to millennials but needs to talk with millennials to create solutions to our growing challenges. Through opportunities on the Floor of the House of Representatives and visits to cities across the country, #FutureForum is crowdsourcing ideas and meeting members of our generation where they are: community colleges and universities, workforce training centers, start-ups and established companies.


(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Complete transcript of Congressman Swallwell’s address:

Hello – I’m Congressman Eric Swalwell and I wanted to talk to you about the devastating effects President Trump’s education budget will have on the hopes and dreams of all Americans.

I’m at Dublin High School, in the heart of my California Congressional district, where I chased my own dreams growing up.

I’m the son of a father who was a police officer and a mother who worked multiple jobs to raise four boys. My parents’ dream was that of most parents: that their children do better than they did.

My parents chased that dream across America — I lived in 11 different houses and attended nine different schools before settling here. I saw them work hard, sacrifice constantly, and save religiously because they wanted me and my brothers to attain something they never did: a college education.

I achieved that dream for them and racked up a lot of student loan debt I still owe today. But I went on to become a prosecutor, a city councilman for my hometown, and a Congressman.

This dream of a better life for our kids through education and hard work is at the heart of our national identity. It’s in our DNA. It’s what unites us and defines us, no matter who we are or where we come from.

Yet today, and especially with President Trump’s proposed budget, the American Dream is becoming further out of reach.

For too many Americans, college’s cost has grown too prohibitive. And for those who get to and through college, the crushing burden of debt leaves millions in financial quicksand, making it harder to start a family, buy a home, or turn a good idea into a business.

That’s why, two years ago, I started Future Forum: a group of 26 young House Democrats, focused on issues and opportunities for millennials – America’s largest, most diverse, and best-educated generation.

We’ve visited almost 40 cities across our great country to listen to young people where they gather: at community colleges and universities, workforce training centers, start-ups and established companies.

We’ve learned that the issues facing our generation — from college debt to not having enough good paying jobs — affect every branch of the family tree.

At one of our events, we met with 200 brilliant young biotech scientists. To my surprise, the first question came from a woman in her 50s – she said she felt like a party-crasher at our millennial listening tour, but she had come to the event for her daughter.

She told us her daughter, with the help of loans, was first in the family to go to college. After graduating, she told us her daughter couldn’t find a job, and her daughter’s debts started mounting. Her daughter had to move back home. And the kicker, this happened at the same time that her daughter’s elderly grandparents were ailing and had to move in, too.

Too many families like hers are squeezed from both ends. Too many families are struggling not even to get ahead, but just to get by.

So we’ve proposed ideas like free community college; letting student loan borrowers refinance their debt like you can do with a home loan; and doubling the tax deduction on student-loan interest.

But as we strive to move forward, President Trump’s education agenda raises barriers.

The Trump budget ends loan forgiveness for teachers, social workers, police officers, firefighters, nurses and others serving our communities, often in low-paying jobs.

This budget freezes Pell Grants without indexing them for inflation, making it harder for low-income students to get the aid they need.

And it would nearly cut in half the work-study program which makes college more affordable for millions of students while giving them valuable job experience.

On our tour, we’ve seen the hopes and aspirations of the next generation rising in classrooms like this. President Trump’s budget deflates those dreams.

Fortunately, we in Congress are not powerless to save them.

In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt outlined four freedoms on which every man, woman, and child should be able to rely: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.

Our challenge in Congress now is to restore a fifth, uniquely American freedom: the freedom to dream. The dream that our parents dreamed for us, and that we all dream for our own kids.

With all of our hands and all of our hearts, House Democrats are committed to expand your family’s freedom to dream.

Thank you.


Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.

Today I’m up here wearing orange to observe that on January 21st, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a high school student from the South Side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after, Hadiya’s childhood friends commemorated her life by wearing orange. They chose the color because hunters wear orange in the woods to protect themselves from others. And so this day, which would have been her birthday, is the day that we wear orange.

Every day, more than 90 Americans are killed due to gun violence. That’s why, again, so many of us are wearing orange to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

I thought it would be important for us to come together today, because yesterday, President Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. It was a stunning abdication of American leadership. Walking away from the agreement is extremely dangerous.

When I was Speaker of the House, this was my flagship issue. We all wanted to pass health care, that’s for sure, but specifically, the issues of climate and energy independence are a challenge to our generation in a very important way. I formed a special Select Committee on Climate and Energy, chaired by Ed Markey, a very distinguished leader, and the panel was bipartisan. Some believed in the climate change initiative; others did not. All of us heard the testimony about why this was important.

The generals came and they talked about it being a national security issue. And just even now, Secretary of Defense General Mattis told the Senate in written testimony in January that ‘climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.’ The climate crisis has triggered droughts, famines and other devastating environmental changes that have sparked political turmoil and a mass movement of refugees. That’s my statement. Even Trump’s team knows that climate change is a national security threat.

Again, we have the testimony of generals. This goes back to 2007, 10 years ago, we have known that.

It’s an economic issue. Hundreds of businesses and executives support the accord, including energy companies, like ExxonMobil. Several members of Trump’s business council, as you know, resigned yesterday in protest of his decision.

Trump says that he’s putting America’s jobs first, but the accord would have created an explosion of green energy jobs for the future. To keep America preeminent and number one for the jobs of the future, it was essential that the world move to a place that recognizes the danger of a climate crisis. It’s a health issue. It’s a national security issue. It’s an economic security issue. It’s a personal security issue. Families’ health is affected by this.

This agreement creates safeguards that reduce the pollution that sickens and kills tens of thousands of people each year. That’s why these countries are joining in. This is a matter of environmental justice, a big matter of environmental justice. Lower-income and minority families are disproportionately vulnerable to the ravages of the climate crisis. It’s a civil rights issue, environmental justice is.

And we have a moral responsibility. In addition to our national security, our economy and the good health of our children, we have a moral responsibility. We must leave future generations with a healthy, sustainable planet. Faith leaders, starting with His Holiness Pope Francis, to the evangelical community, have urged us to be responsible stewards of the beauty of God’s creation. They believe, as do I, that this planet is God’s creation, and we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it.

When we worked with the evangelical community to put forth put together our climate legislation 10 years ago, 9 years ago they had their literature, which said that we had a moral responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation. And in doing so, we must pay special attention to the needs of the poor. They saw it as an environmental justice issue as well, the evangelical community.

When the Pope went to the White House, he talked about the dangers of air pollution when he was here. And just last week, the Pope met with President Trump and gave him a copy of his encyclical, Laudato Si, which made the case for strong urgent action to halt the climate crisis. The Pope wrote, ‘The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.’

The Bible tells us that to minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us, and that is just what we are doing by walking away from this accord.

The question I have for Donald Trump, as a mother and a grandmother of five and a grandmother of nine, how is he ever going to explain to his grandchildren what he did to the air they breathe, assuming they breathe air. And I have to assume that that is the case. We all do, right?

I was reminded of when we went to Selma for the 50th anniversary of the march, the Selma to Montgomery march. It was a very moving time when George Wallace’s daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, made remarks on the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery. She talked about taking her son, Burns, to visit some of the sites of the civil rights movement. Burns stood still, she said, as the truth of his family’s past washed over him. He turned to me, his mother said, and asked, ‘did Poppa do those things to other people?’ This is when she took him to where the hoses were and all of that. ‘Did Poppa do those things to other people?’ I realized, she said, ‘at that moment I was at a crossroad in my life and the life of my son.’ The mantle had passed, and it was up to me to do for Burns what my father never did for me. It was the first step in my journey of building a legacy of my own. I drew him close to me and said, ‘Poppa never told me why he did those things, but I know he was wrong so maybe it will be up to me and to you to make these things right.’

I kept thinking of that yesterday when I was seeing President Trump make his statement. Almost every schoolchild in America knows more about the climate challenge than apparently the President of the United States. He lives in a fact-free zone. His speech was based on a White House counsel memo that was incorrect. It was false. He does not know anything about the agreement that he is walking away from.

He cited an Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study that the agreement would slow global warming by a ‘tiny, tiny amount,’ but MIT officials rejected that statement today, and they have said actually the reverse, that without the agreement, the acceleration of global warming would go forward. They said that Trump misunderstood – that’s a generous word – their study.

So, I mean, I could just go through some of the things that he said yesterday and why they are wrong, but perhaps if you ask me I will tell you. But when you look at what he said in the statement, based on false and faulty representations by his own general counsel so let’s give the President a break on that. His general counsel didn’t know what he was talking about.

And then look at his budget and how he wants to ransack the EPA, clean air, clean water. When he said in the campaign, we’re going to have clean air, clean water; ransack it. It’s just a stunning thing. So it’s about, again, our national security, our economic security, keep America number one, the good health of the American people, to prevent air pollution, clean air, clean water. It’s about our moral responsibility to future generations, to hand over this planet in a responsible way. And we have the evidence and the testimony to support that.

Again, how do you explain this to your grandchildren, President Trump? All the money in the world cannot change the fact that walking away from this agreement is a disservice to your children, to your grandchildren, and to future generations of Americans.

Any questions?

Press questioning followed (see transcript)




  1. Leader Nancy Pelosi issued this release about the decision by the Republican Party’s president to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement:

    “Pulling out of the Paris Accord defies the overwhelming support for action from credible scientists, the governments of 194 different countries and many religious groups. Faith leaders from Pope Francis to the evangelical community have urged us to act to preserve the beauty of God’s creation.

    “By walking away from this pact, President Trump is abandoning America’s leadership position in the fight against the climate crisis and is sending a strong message to the rest of the world to create, design and manufacture clean energy solutions and create jobs elsewhere. If President Trump wants nations like China and India to take stronger and swifter action on climate, then he should do so through the accountability and enforcement provisions in the Paris Agreement, not by breaking our word and storming out of the room.

    “Democrats will join with states, cities, local groups and the private sector to fight to protect the future of our climate and our planet, regardless of the reckless and short-sighted actions that the White House takes.”

  2. And look! A national leader who noticed that it is Pride Month. Leader Nancy Pelosi:

    “As we mark LGBT Pride Month, we honor the LGBT leaders who have striven to build a more just society for all, and recognize the struggles and sacrifices they have endured in the fight for equality. This month, we celebrate their triumphs and remember that our Founders’ creed – that all are created equal – is not inevitable; that we must work every day to forge a more just, inclusive and perfect union.

    “Tremendous progress has been achieved, but the journey is far from over. LGBT Americans face an assault on their rights from the White House and House Republicans, who are gutting HIV prevention and treatment initiatives, dismantling protections for transgender children in public schools and conspiring to render LGBT Americans invisible in the census. These hateful, discriminatory attacks dishonor our nation’s most sacred ideals of liberty and make passage of the Equality Act – which would bring the full force of the Civil Rights Act to secure equality for LGBT people – even more urgent. This bill is about respect and pride, not mere tolerance, and House Democrats will not relent until it has been made law.

    “The slain San Francisco Supervisor and civil rights leader Harvey Milk once said, ‘Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.’ In that spirit, let us raise our voices – in city halls and state capitols; in Congress and the Supreme Court – to fight for the equal dignity that every American is entitled to under our Constitution. And let our voices never falter or fall silent, until we have built a safer, more just and more hopeful future for all.”

    Gosh, I wonder why the Trump Administration refused to acknowledge it? Here is how it is done:

    Presidential Proclamation — LGBT Pride Month, 2016


    – – – – – – –



    Since our founding, America has advanced on an unending path toward becoming a more perfect Union. This journey, led by forward-thinking individuals who have set their sights on reaching for a brighter tomorrow, has never been easy or smooth. The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society. They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment — under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics. This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.

    Last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 States was a historic victory for LGBT Americans, ensuring dignity for same-sex couples and greater equality across State lines. For every partnership that was not previously recognized under the law and for every American who was denied their basic civil rights, this monumental ruling instilled newfound hope, affirming the belief that we are all more free when we are treated as equals.

    LGBT individuals deserve to know their country stands beside them. That is why my Administration is striving to better understand the needs of LGBT adults and to provide affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to aging LGBT Americans. It is also why we oppose subjecting minors to the harmful practice of conversion therapy, and why we are continuing to promote equality and foster safe and supportive learning environments for all students. We remain committed to addressing health disparities in the LGBT community — gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color are at a particularly high risk for HIV, and we have worked to strengthen our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce new infections, increase access to care, and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV.

    Despite the extraordinary progress of the past few years, LGBT Americans still face discrimination simply for being who they are. I signed an Executive Order in 2014 that prohibits discrimination against Federal employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I urge the Congress to enact legislation that builds upon the progress we have made, because no one should live in fear of losing their job simply because of who they are or who they love. And our commitment to combatting discrimination against the LGBT community does not stop at our borders: Advancing the fair treatment of all people has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and we have made defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT individuals a priority in our engagement across the globe. In line with America’s commitment to the notion that all people should be treated fairly and with respect, champions of this cause at home and abroad are upholding the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.

    There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts — that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, as Americans wave their flags of pride high and march boldly forward in parades and demonstrations, let us celebrate how far we have come and reaffirm our steadfast belief in the equal dignity of all Americans.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2016 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


  3. Fighting Back: Stacey Abrams, Georgia House Democratic Leader …

    Stacey Abrams will launch her campaign for Georgia governor on Saturday, a widely expected step for the first woman to lead a party in the state’s legislature.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Abrams said her pitch to voters is creating a state where residents can thrive rather than simply survive. She’s making a clear effort to reach voters outside her metro Atlanta base by kicking off her campaign in the south Georgia city of Albany on Saturday.

    “I think whatever challenges there are, we should imagine ourselves to be capable of employing every single Georgian,” Abrams told the AP this week. “We should imagine ourselves capable of eliminating generational poverty. We should imagine ourselves capable of prosperity, where we are not talking simply about a living wage – we’re talking about wealth.”

    Abrams has been the top Democrat in the Georgia House since 2010 – the first woman and the first African American to hold the post. She would make history again if voters choose her as term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal’s successor: She would be the first African-American woman to become a governor in the U.S. […]

    Abrams, a Yale-educated attorney who also writes romance novels under the pen name “Selena Montgomery,” has represented portions of metro Atlanta since 2007.

    The Mississippi native formed a web of national connections since founding a nonprofit in 2014 that focuses on registering minorities to vote that is expected to boost her fundraising base. Georgia, like other southern states, has rapidly become more diverse but not all Democrats agree they can win statewide by focusing on newly registered voters and de-emphasizing suburban or rural white voters.

    Abrams said this week that a winning campaign will require a broad “coalition” but maintained that registering new voters is also a critical task.

    “I plan to bring it home and close the gap completely by not deciding that you can only do one or the other,” she said. “You’ve got to walk and chew gum at the exact same time.”

    Abrams said she’ll highlight her ability to compromise with GOP lawmakers who control Georgia’s legislature and all statewide offices and a willingness to work with anyone.

  4. I am proud to say my little blue dot city in the bloody sea of AR joined the Climate Initiative last January. Not that we’re big enough to show up on the nightly news or anything, but we’re one of those unnamed cities in the growing total of state and local governments working for the life, health, and future of our nation and the only planet we’ve got. (And piddly though it is, I am proud that my personal PV system has already kept 9 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere in the 4 years its been online. )

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