Fighting Back: – Rep. James Clyburn: “Passing the Republican bill would turn the clock back on civil rights.”

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 was delivered by Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn

Senate Republicans are working in secret on their own Trumpcare bill. They won’t tell you what it is, but they want you to believe it’s more moderate. There’s nothing moderate about undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions by repealing the essential health benefits protections. There’s nothing moderate about gutting Medicaid by $834 billion and in the same bill give $900 billion in tax giveaways to a few wealthy families, and insurance and drug companies. Repealing the ACA would once again institutionalize the kind of discrimination against the sick and aged that has plagued hard-working families for generations. Passing the Republican bill would turn the clock back on civil rights and humaneness.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Transcript: Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“Hello. I’m Congressman Jim Clyburn. I proudly represent the 6th Congressional District of South Carolina and serve as the Assistant Democratic Leader in the United States House of Representatives.

“Let me begin by wishing House Majority Whip Steve Scalise a full and speedy recovery. I also wish the same for Matt Mika, the former staffer and volunteer who was also shot in last Wednesday’s senseless and cowardly attack.

“I cannot find sufficient words to express thanks and appreciations to Special Agents David Bailey, Crystal Griner and Henry Cabrera, members of the Dignitary Protection Corps, for their brave and sacrificial actions which contained and eliminated a clear and present danger to only God knows how many dedicated public servants. Having spent several years under their watchful protection, I know first-hand of their hard work and dedication. I wish for them speedy recoveries as well. I’m keeping them and their families in my prayers.

“No issue is more important to the people of America than their health, and the health of their families. And in my opinion, no issues are more important to the health care of Americans than accessibility and affordability. The ACA repeal legislation recently passed by House Republicans – without a single Democratic vote – would have devastating effects on families all across the country. President Trump pushed hard and relentlessly for its passage. Recently, however, he called the bill ‘mean.’

“When President Obama proposed the ACA, he hosted a bi-partisan, bicameral town-hall type roundtable in the Blair House. It was broadcast, in real time, by C-SPAN, and when the bill was introduced in the House, it went to three committees that debated its pros and cons extensively. Republicans and Democrats offered scores of amendments and many of them were accepted.

“I was serving as House Majority Whip at the time, and when the bill was debated on the floor, I called it the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century. I gave it that moniker because the ACA outlaws many forms of discrimination in health care. It outlaws discrimination against women who were often charged more for health care coverage than men. It outlawed discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

“The ACA repeal bill that House Republicans passed and sent to the Senate would rip away health care from 23 million Americans, and raise costs and roll back protections for millions more.

“Now, Senate Republicans are working in secret on their own Trumpcare bill. They won’t tell you what it is, but they want you to believe it’s more moderate. There’s nothing moderate about undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions by repealing the essential health benefits protections. There’s nothing moderate about gutting Medicaid by $834 billion and in the same bill give $900 billion in tax giveaways to a few wealthy families, and insurance and drug companies. Repealing the ACA would once again institutionalize the kind of discrimination against the sick and aged that has plagued hard-working families for generations. Passing the Republican bill would turn the clock back on civil rights and humaneness.

“It does not have to be this way. Democrats are eager to work with our Republican colleagues to deliver accessible and affordable quality health care to all Americans, but Republicans must set aside their repeal efforts. It is my fervent hope that this is the path we choose going forward.

“Thank you for listening and God bless.”

Any bolding has been added.


Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.

Over the weekend, I had the great privilege of accompanying a CODEL to Galveston, Texas, to witness and be part of the commissioning of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. This is so exciting.

The ship of course, honors Gabby’s service in Congress, but it’s her bravery and the triumph of the human spirit that have made her one of the most respected figures in our country – as I said in my remarks there, one of the most beloved, respected and admired people in our country.

In honoring that triumph of the human spirit, we need to call on the same kind of courage as we address the tragedy that happened yesterday in Washington, D.C. Our hearts are broken over the assault that was made, really, on all of us, but personally heartbroken over the of what happened to [Whip] Steve Scalise, our colleague.

Our thoughts and prayers are with him and Matt Mika as they continue with the care that they need but also to, as we do pay tribute to them, identify with them, use all of our energy, just like sports, Chad [Pergram]. You have all your energy for them to get well. We all have to pray and identify with their concern.

The sorrow in this House is matched by our endless admiration for the heroism of the Capitol Police, especially Special Agents Crystal Griner, David Bailey and Henry Cabrera. As you know, we had a tragedy in 1998 in the Capitol when two of ours, Capitol Police, lost their lives.

But every single day, they risk their lives to protect us, the Members of Congress; you, the press who covers us; our staff; and also our visitors, probably most importantly, our visitors to the Capitol, to come to this great temple of democracy, an icon of democracy in the world. And so we thank them.

I always reference our Founders because they were so God-blessed us so with their leadership, and they knew that we would have our differences and disagreements – they certainly had their own – that we would debate with passion and intensity. They certainly did.

But they knew at the end of the day, we had to stand not as Democrats and Republicans or as they were then, Federalist and Democratic Republicans, but as Americans. In their wisdom, they chose this creed for America: E Pluribus Unum. Our goal, always striving to reach that goal.

Yesterday was a difficult day for us here for sure, but not long after the shooting in Alexandria, there was news of a shooting at a UPS facility in my district, in San Francisco, killing Benson Louie, Wayne Chan and Mike Lefiti, and wounding two others.

Monday marked the one year anniversary since the Pulse shooting that killed 49 in Orlando. Saturday marks 2 years since nine people were shot to death at the bible study of Mother Emanuel, in Charleston.

On average, more than 90 people lose their lives to gun violence in America every day. Within many families and communities across America, the anguish that we are feeling personally in Congress today is altogether too familiar. We hold everyone in our thoughts and prayers.

Our most important focus right now from a substantive and policy standpoint is to defeat the Republican healthcare bill in the Senate. It’s very curious to see that they are writing their bill in private; they are keeping the bill secret from the public, trying to keep the American people in the dark about the consequences.

The secret Trumpcare bill would be just as destructive as the bill that passed the House, from what we’re hearing. Senate Republicans aren’t making Trumpcare any better; they’re just working harder to obscure the consequences families across America would face.

Big issue: Preexisting conditions. Senate Republicans planning to gut essential health benefits is just a more insidious way to charge a fortune to American families with preexisting conditions.

Medicaid: Senate Republicans are just coming up with a new timeline to destroy the Medicaid expansion and inflict suffering on all of those depending on Medicaid coverage. I remind you that this is a middle class benefit for those seniors in nursing homes. It’s tremendously important to our veterans. Between one million and two million veterans depend on Medicaid.

And in the House bill, and we’ll see what’s happening in the Senate bill, Medicaid excuse me, Medicare, Medicare, Medicare. As the Republicans said in the 1990s, and this has been their path, ‘Medicare should wither on the vine.’ That’s their plan.

And one path to that is the [Paul] Ryan budget, which takes away the guarantee of Medicare and replaces it with an inadequate voucher. Seniors, now you go shop for your care. This is a deconstruction of something that means a great deal to the health and financial well-being of America’s families, not just the seniors, but the families that they are a part of.

And so, as I mentioned what it means in the Ryan budget to make it a voucher, but in the bill, the House-passed bill, and we’ll see what the Senate comes up with, they shorten the solvency of Medicare. They take it in the wrong direction after we, in the Affordable Care Act, extended it for so many, many years.

Again, so Trumpcare means higher healthcare cost, tens of millions of hard-working Americans losing health coverage, gutting key protections, a crushing age tax, and stealing from Medicare. You know that very well. Millions will lose their care; for others, cost will go up, benefits will go down; a crushing age tax, if you’re 50 to 64 years old; and undermining Medicare, Medicare, Medicare.

Meanwhile, insurers are saying that the Trump administration sabotage is driving up America’s health premiums and cost. Let me just read to you some of them. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan said, ‘There has been a discussion in Washington about whether to continue cost share reduction funding or not.’

This is one way that the Trump Administration is sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. It is the law of the land. There are Republicans who are saying we must fund the cost-sharing reduction. We must do that. Not to do it means, predictably, premiums will go up. That’s just unfair to the American people, wrong to do.

Anthem in Ohio said, ‘An increasing lack of overall predictability simply does not provide a sustainable path forward to provide affordable plan choices for consumers.’ And so we’re just saying to the President, do what you did for the first month of May, and now let us continue with the funding of that.

And for these and other ways, they’re trying to have a self-fulfilling prophecy as they undermine the Affordable Care Act, not extend reinsurance, not deal with the cost share reductions. They’re making bad things possible for the American people, even in the absence of their repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Just by saying they want to repeal it admits that it is the law.

So I thank you for your interest and welcome any questions you may have. The good news is, it’s all over. The Warriors won so beautifully. The bad news is I can’t go to a game because I’ve been here. And people said, wouldn’t you like it to go to seven games so you can see a game? I said, no, we want to win. We want to win. And how wonderful we win on the home court.

Any questions? Yes, sir.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)


Surprise! Secret Senate Trumpcare Bill Just as ‘Mean’ & Destructive

As Senate Republicans work secretly in back rooms on their version of Trumpcare, no one seems to know what’s in it. It’s being crafted with such secrecy, even HHS Secretary Tom Price has not seen the bill. And it turns out, we’re not the only ones who think the American people deserve to know what’s in the dangerous bill, and how it will affect American families:

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) when asked about the secrecy of the bill: “Well join the crowd. I’m in the same category.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) when asked about comfort level with secret health care bill process: ‘None.’

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): ‘I think it’s being written, uh, by someone somewhere but I’m not aware of who or where … If you get a copy of it, will you send me a copy?’

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA): ‘Would I have preferred a more open process? The answer is yes.’

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): ‘I hope they start sharing with Members.’

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich: ‘Mistake’ to write health bill in secret.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): ‘Do I think that’s the best way to go? No, I’m a process person.’

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI): ‘This is, unfortunately, a fact-free zone around here … Around here, the last step is getting information, which doesn’t seem like necessarily the most effective process.’

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN): ‘I would have liked to have seen a public process – get buy-in from the public … but that’s obviously not what’s going to happen.’

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS): ‘Everybody ought to be at the table.’

Yeah, we agree. Here’s what we know for sure: Senate Republicans aren’t making Trumpcare better. They are just working harder to obscure the disastrous consequences Trumpcare will have in the lives of hard-working families across America – with soaring costs for less coverage, gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and destroying Medicaid.

As the destructive Trumpcare legislation moves through the Senate, Democrats will continue to fight with all our strength to protect the American people Trumpcare’s assault on health care.




  1. Pelosi Statement on Fifth Anniversary of DACA

    Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement to mark the fifth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, established by President Obama on June 15, 2012:

    “Our nation’s DREAMers want nothing more than to earn degrees, join the workforce and openly contribute their talents to make our country a stronger and better place. Five years ago, President Obama made that dream possible with the DACA initiative, which sent a strong message to the world that, by bringing their hopes, courage and determination to succeed to our shores, immigrants make America more American.

    “Yet, for years, House Republicans have tried to dismantle DACA, while at the same time refusing to work toward responsible reform of our broken immigration system. Now, the Trump Administration, with its harmful anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, has joined their efforts. DREAMERs – neighbors, friends, students and family members – are being targeted, rounded up and, in many cases, arbitrarily deported. Families in immigrant communities are forced to live in fear and, too often, heartbreak.

    “DACA honors our founding creed – ‘E Pluribus Unum’ – and our fundamental belief that America is a land of opportunity for those who work hard, abide by our laws and dare to dream. House Democrats will never forget that in diversity lies strength, and we will never stop fighting to protect our nation’s children from the Trump Administration’s mass deportation agenda.”

    • The administration “announced” that they would leave DACA intact but then realized they need to pander to their deplorable base:

      The Trump administration said Friday it still has not decided the fate of a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation, despite a statement a day earlier that the program will continue.

      The mixed signals reflect the political sensitivities behind the Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. As a candidate who put tough immigration policies at the core of his campaign, Donald Trump denounced the program as an “illegal amnesty” and said he would immediately end it.

      Since taking office, Trump has expressed empathy for the participants often called “dreamers,” many of whom have no memory of living anywhere but the United States. Cancelling the program could mean trying to deport more than 787,000 people who identified themselves to the government in exchange for temporary protection.

      It appears to be another way to get on record for both “compassion” and “toughness”. And Democrats, sadly, fell for it:

      Continuation of the DACA program had won widespread praise from critics of Trump’s overall approach to immigration.

      Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said keeping DACA in place was “common decency” and expressed relief that the dreamers “now have the certainty they deserve.” Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said continuing the program would “maintain protection for the thousands of talented young Mexicans enrolled.”

      It. Is. Just. A. Press. Release. Stop believing what you hear from anyone in the Trump administration.

  2. Pelosi Statement on President Trump’s Job-Killing, Isolationist Cuba Policy

    Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after President Trump announced that he would roll back several key elements of the Obama Administration’s historic opening to Cuba:

    “Today, President Trump announced a job-killing Cuba policy that chokes off vital, growing commercial links between the U.S. and Cuba. This short-sighted decision is a disaster for American workers, destroying newly-created American jobs, freezing future business deals and hurting American farmers and agribusinesses who want to export to Cuba.

    “Two years ago, America decided to break free of the past and build new bonds of friendship with Cuba – a decision strongly supported by business leaders, human rights activists and a vast majority of the American public in both parties. President Trump should be listening to the American people and strengthening those ties, not dragging us back to 55 years of failed isolationist policy.”

    • Not all Republicans are happy about the new policies:

      Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., said Trump’s shift is more than just a missed opportunity for rural America, which would benefit from greater access to Cuba’s agricultural import market. He said Trump’s policy may put U.S. national security at risk as strategic competitors move to fill the vacuum the uncoupling could create.

      “Further U.S. disengagement opens up opportunities for countries like Iran, Russia, North Korea and China to gain influence on an island 90 miles off our coast,” Crawford said.

      Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a frequent critic of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, said in a statement that any policy change “that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people.”

      Flake has been among the most outspoken lawmakers opposed to rolling back Obama’s outreach to Havana. He’s warned that returning to a “get tough” policy hurts everyday Cubans whose livelihoods are increasingly rooted in travel and tourism.

  3. WaPo: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to investigate civil rights enforcement under Trump

    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted Friday to investigate federal civil rights enforcement under President Trump, with the majority expressing “grave concerns” about the Trump administration’s proposal to cut spending and staffing on civil rights efforts at multiple agencies.

    “Along with changing programmatic priorities, these proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination,” the commission, an independent watchdog created by Congress, said in a statement of concern approved on a 6 to 2 vote.

    The cuts in staffing are signalling the Trump Administration’s priorities:

    The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division would lose 121 positions, and its stated priorities do not mention fighting discrimination against LGBT people or people with disabilities, according to the statement, which also identifies deep cuts to programs at Housing and Urban Development, Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal aid for low-income people.

    It also singles out a significant — 7 percent — staffing cut at the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, saying the proposed staffing reduction is “particularly troubling in light of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s repeated refusal in congressional testimony and other public statements to commit that the Department would enforce federal civil rights laws.

  4. The Secret Trumpcare Bill, hidden in Mitch McConnell’s pocket along with the shredded copy of the Constitution that he often fondles, should be an embarrassment to all Republican Senators. Except that they are from the Party That Feels No Shame.

    Senate Republicans were asked what they like about Trumpcare. They came up with nothing.

    The lawmakers who are trying to repeal and replace Obamacare can’t answer basic questions about their health care vision for the country.

    This week, a group of Vox reporters asked eight Republican senators to detail which specific features of the the American Health Care Act (AHCA) they support and how they think those provisions would benefit their constituents. None of them could cite a single thing, falling back on generalities about how Obamacare is bad and freedom is good. […]

    The only Republican senator interviewed by Vox who explicitly criticized the AHCA was Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who said of the House version of the bill, “I want greater access and lower costs. So far, I’m not seeing that happen.”

    “The plan the House laid down does not help Alaska. It does not help decrease their costs, and it does not help increase their access,” she continued. “I can’t show to my constituents back home anything concrete because we don’t have anything. We’ve been talking about ideas.”

    Sen. Murkowski was not included on the committee writing a secret bill that will impact 1/6th of our country’s economy and take healthcare away from 23 million Americans. I wonder why?

    • Lemieux on McConnell’s nihilism working:

      Mitch McConnell is a hugely consequential figure in American political history because of his recognition that you can violate longstanding norms of decent conduct while paying no political price at all. The process he’s using to ram through a horrible and incredibly healthcare bill is a grotesque assault on democracy. It also appears to be very effective. […]

      It’s worth noting here, however, that the media is making a choice, and a very bad one, by mostly going silent on this. It could be treating McConnell’s antidemocratic behavior as a major scandal.

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