Fighting Back: “The American people can count on us to be there with them every step of the way.”

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Gary Peters of Michigan – one of the states that is being denied help during the pandemic because their governor was “mean” to the Republican Party’s president*. #VoteTrumpOut #VoteAllRepublicansOut #Nov3rd2020

(Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) Delivers the Weekly Democratic Address)

“As cases of coronavirus are skyrocketing, I, along with my Senate Democratic colleagues, are working to protect the health and safety of people across our nation.

“Families here in Michigan, and Americans all across the country, are struggling. They’re worried about their health and safety, worried about whether they’ll be able to make ends meet and worried about whether help is on the way.

“After working around the clock, and pressing for significantly more funding and federal resources for our heroic health care professionals on the front lines, we negotiated and passed the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – also known as the CARES Act.

“Our work is far from done. We must ensure that the people who need help the most get it. The sweeping legislation we’ve passed is an important step as we navigate this crisis, but it’s not the last action we’ll need to take.

“We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, but you can count on us to be there every step of the way.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: Senator Peters Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“I’m Gary Peters, proudly representing Michigan in the United States Senate. Typically you’d see the Democratic Weekly Address from a studio, but like Americans across the country, I’m practicing social distancing and joining you here from my home in Michigan.

“There’s no doubt that we’re facing an unprecedented public health emergency, and an economic crisis of epic proportions. As cases of coronavirus are skyrocketing, I, along with my Senate Democratic colleagues, are working to protect the health and safety of people across our nation.

“Families here in Michigan, and Americans all across the country, are struggling. They’re worried about their health and safety, worried about whether they’ll be able to make ends meet and worried about whether help is on the way.

“Well after working around the clock, and pressing for significantly more funding and federal resources for our heroic health care professionals on the front lines, we negotiated and passed the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – also known as the CARES Act.

“This package is not perfect, but it will provide urgent relief to the American people, the engine of our economy —small businesses — and to our overstretched health care system.

“It will help Americans who are forced to stay home, and aren’t receiving a paycheck or who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. A record-high 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.

“But help is on the way, and we have your back.

“After leading the charge to expand unemployment insurance, with my colleagues Senator Wyden and Leader Schumer, we secured a historic expansion of these benefits. Through this bill, workers can receive $600 per week in additional unemployment compensation. We’ve also included a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for anyone covered by traditional unemployment insurance, and up to 39 weeks of assistance overall. Workers who aren’t typically eligible for unemployment assistance can get these benefits. If you can’t work or have been laid off, we have your back.

“Whether you’re a small business owner, freelance worker, independent contractor, working in the gig economy, a seasonal worker, or you’ve recently started or were about to start a new job, you can receive unemployment assistance. We also secured federal funding for states, to eliminate the typical weeklong waiting period between applying for and receiving unemployment assistance.

“No American worker should have to wonder if they can pay their rent or put food on the table. No one should have to make these choices.

“And as workers and families face extraordinary personal health and financial challenges, our main street small businesses are reeling too. Some small businesses are at risk of having to close their doors or lay off their employees. They are the backbone of our economy and they need support, now more than ever.

“And that’s why we expanded funding available for small business loans in the CARES Act. This package increases the funding for the popular and very successful 7(a) small business loan program. In fact it expanded it to $350 billion. It provides $240 million for small business development centers and women’s business centers. And it increases funding for minority centers as well.

“This will help enable small businesses to pay their rent and keep the lights on. We worked day and night to make sure this legislation provides drastically more critical funding for our hospitals and health care system than what was initially proposed.

“Many of our hospitals across the country, including in rural communities, are in dire straits. This funding will ensure that our overstretched hospitals can make up for lost revenue, keep their doors open, and make payroll for the selfless, dedicated and brave nurses, doctors and health care professionals who are fighting day and night to stop this pandemic. We must also help ensure they have more resources, supplies, gloves and masks and medical equipment, to protect themselves and their patients from coronavirus.

“Our work is far from done. We must ensure that the people who need help the most get it. The sweeping legislation we’ve passed is an important step as we navigate this crisis, but it’s not the last action we’ll need to take.

“We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, but you can count on us to be there every step of the way.

“For over 200 years, the American people have shown resilience in the face of great challenges. From civil wars, to international conflicts, and yes, pandemics, we have faced these challenges united and with resolve. And like the challenges of the past, together we will overcome the coronavirus pandemic.”

Any bolding has been added.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.

Reporter. Good morning. Happy Birthday!

Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. I am not celebrating, though, until I can hug my grandbabies. I am waiting for that day. Hopefully, that will be soon. But thank you.

Last night, as you know, the Senate passed important legislation. We’re very proud of the product. We think it is a – we did jiu‑jitsu on it and it went from a corporate‑first proposal that the Republicans put forth in the Senate to a workers‑first – Democratic, workers‑first legislation.

But let’s first back up. As I was coming here, I saw that nearly a thousand deaths in the United States. Nine hundred yesterday, so I don’t know what the number is today, but they’re saying nearly a thousand deaths in our country. Tens of thousands of people are – we have tens of thousands of cases. This is a pandemic that we haven’t even seen since – for over a hundred years in our country. It’s really such a tragedy.

So, we had to take important action. We had to take action, though, that puts families first and workers first, and that’s what we did when we did our first legislation. The first two bills were about addressing the emergency directly: $8.3 billion for research for vaccines, for a cure, and that’s of course the light at the end of the tunnel. But funding for testing, testing, testing, very important so that we know – we can take inventory of the challenge that we face and, more importantly, that we can address each family’s concerns about this. The next bill was about masks, masks, masks, so that we can test, test, test, among other things. Emergency.

The bill that was passed in the Senate last night and that we will take up tomorrow is about mitigation. Mitigation for all the loss that we have in our economy while still addressing the emergency health needs that we have in our country. And next, we’ll go from emergency, mitigation to recovery in terms of where we go to grow the economy to create more jobs in light of the reality that we have just been through.

So right now, we have the legislation that will come to the Floor tomorrow. I anticipate – I feel certain that we will have a strong bipartisan vote. And we take some pride in the fact that, as I said earlier, Congressional Democrats in the Senate and in the House were able to flip this over from corporate, trickle‑down Republican version to bubble‑up, worker‑first, families‑first legislation. So, again, we have some other things we want to do, but first we want to take pride in what happens there.

For workers, we were able to get, of course, extended and expanded – extended from what the Republicans wanted and expanded Unemployment Insurance. That is so very, very important. Of course in terms of funds that go to major corporations or companies or anyone, the direct condition is that, for example, at the airlines, that the money – the money that is given to the airlines is given to the workers directly. Just a pass‑through, it goes directly to the workers, and have some conditions on – for other money that goes to any of these companies that they have no buybacks, no dividends, no bonuses. All of those kind of concerns are so offensive, that happened before with federal funds infused into their entities. So we’re very happy about all of that.

One of the differences, as I said, they’re corporate down, we’re bubble-up from workers. I think was demonstrated last night. Can you believe that almost – I think it was every Republican – I think it was 49 Republicans last night voted, in the Senate, to deprive those on unemployment insurance of the additional $600 a week. How could it be that in this time of stress and strain and uncertainty about health and life and livelihood that they would vote that way? But I think it does demonstrate the point that I made, that [they are] not about workers first.

But the bill got to be there. And I thank the Senate Democrats for using the leverage they have with the 60 votes. I take pride in what we had in our House bill that is in the Senate bill now. So for workers and for families, with all three of our bills, we have put families and workers first.

Again, I hope that the UI will – right now we want people to take advantage of all of this quickly. The UI will depend on how the states do it, and they’re not all uniform, but we want people to know exactly how they can benefit from that. And we’re putting that all together so all of our Members, on both sides of the aisle, can know how they can facilitate enabling their constituents to take advantage of the opportunities there.

So, again, the bill last night and tomorrow will be a large infusion of funds for hospitals, health systems and state and local governments. We want more. And this was a big, strong step, but we need more.

Small businesses – I am so proud of the work of all of our Chairmen. They were just dazzling in their knowledge, their strategy, their just – their experience in getting the right kind of bill passed, even though, again, compromised – compromising – not getting everything we want, but recognizing that we won the day. Small businesses wants fast relief. Small business, they have – for rent, mortgage, utility costs, eligible for SBA loan forgiveness. I salute Congresswoman, Madam Chair Nydia Velázquez for what she was able to accomplish there.

Students: we secured billions of emergency education funding. Thank you, Bobby Scott, on our team, and our appropriators, Rosa DeLauro, Nita Lowey, etcetera, doing so much work there. Don’t get me started on naming my Members, I will be talking about all of them. I will, and you will see how they present tomorrow on the Floor.

And we have oversight. You know, there was this idea that they put forth that there would be a $500 billion slush fund for the Secretary of the Treasury with no accountability whatsoever. Are you kidding? For all respect in the world for the Treasury Secretary, that was a complete nonstarter. So, I am pleased that language that was in the House bill and in the Senate bill – it has an Inspector General specifically for that account, and also a Congressional panel of five people appointed by the leaders to oversee how that funding is disbursed.

It comes back down, though, to the fact that people are at risk. As I say, tens of thousands of cases, nearly a thousand deaths in the United States. I said from the start we must have a proposal that is government‑wide, science‑based, so that we can really address the challenge that we face in a scientific, evidence‑based way. That is not necessarily the course that has been advocated by some, but it’s where we must be if we’re going to end this.

From a scientific standpoint, we have the best minds working 24/7, all hands on deck to find a cure, which is of course the light at the end of the tunnel. But, if you do not heed the advice of the scientific community about isolation and not – and avoiding as much communal contact as possible – in fact none, then the light at the end of tunnel may be a train coming at us, the proverbial train. And we cannot – every day, every week that is wasted on not taking that warning seriously is a problem. It’s a problem.

So let us thank our men and women, our health care providers, our first responders, our emergency service people, firefighters and the rest who are not only responding to this but initiating their own efforts, sometimes risking their lives to save others’ lives. We need to get them more personal protective equipment, it’s absolutely essential, and it is a shortfall right now. We would hope that the government production – Defense [Production Act] would be called upon to call upon industry to convert to making ventilators and the rest.

Testing, testing, testing. Masks, masks, masks. Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. What’s the mystery? We need many more. And the ventilators, just for your information, is not about making you breathe easier. It’s making you breathe, period. It is vital to life and death in many, many, many cases. So, we need an unlimited number, let’s think of it that way, endless number of ventilators, just to name one thing.

But everyone: the farmers, the producers, the grocers, everyone who’s keeping America fed, our truck drivers, postal workers, delivery people, everyone who is making this survival possible, we thank. And again, we thank our scientists for striving to find a cure.

So tomorrow we will go to the Floor for this legislation. But as I have said, there are so many things we didn’t get in any of these bills yet in the way that we need to.

So the next step would be – well, among other things, we want to have more – better definition of who qualifies for family and medical leave. I can give you some examples if you wish. Stronger OSHA protections for our workers – essential, essential to life.

Pensions: we had a proposal on pensions in the legislation that, my understanding was and I trust it is true, that the President supported, but Senator McConnell wouldn’t do it, but said we’ll do it in the next bill. So we’re ready for that.

Increased SNAP: one disappointment in the bill was they would not increase – we were asking for a fifteen percent increase in food stamps at this very fragile time for many families. They wouldn’t do that in this bill.

More money for state and local governments: that could be – I spoke with the Secretary this morning about how we we’re just not doing enough for state and local government. That’s just the way it is. We had 200 billion in our bill. We ended up with 150. But neither of those figures is really enough. But we’re hoping, and I mentioned to him that the Fed, and I talked to Chairman Powell about this, that they would expand the opportunity for, shall we say, helping out state and local government, municipalities and the rest.

In the bill we call for that, but really permissively enabling the Secretary to do it, but not requiring him to do it. And the Administration did not want the requirement. But they say that that is what they intend to do. We’ll see. And, hopefully, that is the case. But we’re still going to need to have more money for state and local governments, municipalities and the rest.

Then one of the important things that just, we have to insist upon, we said free testing, free testing, free testing, but with free testing is the visit to the doctor’s office, the treatment that goes with it, and that has to be free as well so that we encourage people to be tested, and if they are and they need treatment, they’re not fearing the test because they can’t afford the treatment.

This is all a public health issue. It’s an everyone’s issue that everyone be tested who needs to be tested. Not everyone, but who qualifies to be tested, but that they do not incur a huge deductible or whatever, a copayment, whatever, for being tested and have the follow‑up treatment.

And then there’s just one other – this came as kind of a – I don’t want to say a surprise because nothing surprises me around here but it was curious that in this bill they decided to treat the District of Columbia in a very discriminatory way. It really makes no sense unless you have some other motivation.

The District of Columbia has always been treated like a State in terms of distribution of funds, and under that formulation they would have gotten well over a [billion] dollars, maybe a [billion] and a quarter or so, and under the formula they just decided to treat them like a territory now.

And they get maybe a half a billion – excuse me, half a [billion] dollars less. I don’t know exact figures, but it’s very significant. Say it’s a third less than what they are getting when they’re fighting this challenge here in the District of Columbia. It doesn’t make any sense and we have to have legislation.

I don’t know if you saw Chris Van Hollen, Senator Chris Van Hollen last night at the – during the debate spelling this out. I know it’s of concern to Steny and to Mr. Connolly and Mr. Beyer and our colleagues from this region, Mr. Raskin – well, the list goes on.

But it is, it’s just – it doesn’t face the realities of the public health crisis that we have in our country, and it goes out of its way to do something so out of the ordinary. Let’s just hope it was – well, it was a decision. It wasn’t an accident. It was a decision. So, let’s make a decision to correct that.

But again, let us all be very prayerful about how we go forward. We want the American people not only to wash their hands regularly and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate all the time, but to understand that we view them as our bosses. They are our bosses. We are responsible to them.

On Sunday morning when we met with the M’s – McConnell, Mnuchin, McCarthy – Chuck and I were there, and I said, ‘Since it’s Sunday morning, why don’t we begin with a prayer’ – my part of it, not their part of it, my part, and I will begin with a prayer. So his Holiness Pope Francis called for a world prayer. I won’t do it justice, but what he did was to pray that those who have the responsibility to care for others would be enlightened to take that responsibility and act upon it.

When I finished my prayer, the Secretary said, ‘Well you’ve quoted Saint Francis,’ – I mean, ’Pope Francis. I’ll quote the markets.’

So that’s kind of how we – God knows we want the markets to succeed. That’s very important. The markets are not going to succeed unless we take care of people and we restore their health, whether there’s a cure or whether there’s behavior that reduces this tragedy in our country.

But let us work together in the most bipartisan way possible to get the job done as soon as possible. It won’t happen unless we respect science, science, science. And for those who say we choose prayer over science, I say science is an answer to our prayers.

Any questions?

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

She added this regarding help for the states:

Q: Do you think the next bill you are going to have to dedicate significantly more, essentially, to bail out state governments who cannot do this on their own and can’t fund the deficit?

Speaker Pelosi: It’s not a question of bailing out states, it’s a question of meeting the needs of the people. And that’s our responsibility to do.

Can we do it through the Fed and some low to no interest lending to the states? Let’s see what they can do. And that was my conversation with the Secretary this morning about, I wish it were more required rather than permissive for the Fed to do that. They preferred this route, which I respect. Now, let’s get it done.

What we did last night and what we will do tomorrow, $2 trillion, is about the cost of the tax scam that the Republicans foisted on the nation to give 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent, whatever it was plus the interest on the loan, on the debt, indebting our kids and their future, paying the bill for tax breaks for the high end. Said it was going to pay for itself. It never does. Said it was going to create jobs. It didn’t.

However, this is an emergency, a challenge to the conscience as well as the budget of our country, and every dollar that we spend is an investment in the lives and the livelihood of the American people.

~

Pelosi Statement on Seriously Belated Progress on Defense Production Act

March 27, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on the President’s much-delayed and limited step to use the Defense Production Act to address shortages of ventilators but not of other key materials needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic:

“The news that the President will finally begin to use the Defense Production Act to mass produce ventilators is an important but seriously belated step.

“Much more must be done. The President must use the full powers of this law to address the dire, widespread shortage of materials required to fight this pandemic, including diagnostic test supplies, masks and other personal protective equipment.

“For far too long, the President has downplayed the need for these supplies and disregarded the evidence, at a grave cost to our country. Just yesterday, the President questioned whether more ventilators were needed – after nearly 100,000 Americans were diagnosed and 1,000 tragically died from coronavirus.

“Our frontline health care workers, hospitals, health systems, local and state governments and the people they serve need to know that the federal government will be there for them in this time of great need.”

~

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  4 comments for “Fighting Back: “The American people can count on us to be there with them every step of the way.”

  1. JanF
    March 28, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Pelosi Statement on President Trump Signing Third Coronavirus Bill

    March 27, 2020
    Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi released this statement after President Trump signed the third coronavirus response bill:

    “Thanks to the leadership of Congressional Democrats, today, President Trump signed a bill that has been transformed from corporate-focused to workers-first. It is the third in a series of bills where Democrats insisted on taking responsibility for families and workers first.

    “For our workers, Democrats dramatically expanded Unemployment Insurance and defeated Republicans’ attempt to claw back the $600 per week in added benefits that will provide essential relief to the record number of Americans losing their jobs. We successfully achieved full direct payments for workers, ensuring that working class American families will be eligible to receive as much as $3,400 for a family of four.

    “We ensured that any taxpayer dollars given to industry goes first and foremost to workers’ paychecks and benefits – not used to pad CEO bonuses or fund stock buybacks or dividends. And we have secured robust, special oversight that will hold the Administration accountable.

    “We are also proud to have secured a truly historic investment of hundreds of billions in hospitals, health systems and state and local governments, ensuring that they have the tools needed to combat the virus.

    “For small businesses, we won fast relief for those in need, including by securing $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 and making payroll costs, rent, mortgage interest and utility costs eligible for SBA loan forgiveness.

    “For our students, we paused payments for federal student loan borrowers and suspended wage garnishment and negative credit reporting during this time.

    “For our veterans, we secured nearly $20 billion in funding to improve VA’s readiness with equipment, tests and additional care.

    Our nation faces one of the gravest health and economic emergencies of the last century. This bill is a downpayment. We must deliver free coronavirus treatment, more help for hospitals, states and local governments, increased SNAP, bigger direct payments, pension assistance and expanded FMLA — without exception.

    “While we thank our heroic health care workers and first responders they must have the personal protective equipment to safely do their jobs and strong OSHA rules to protect them in the work place. Right now they are risking their lives to save lives, and we must get them supplies immediately.

    “We must do more to address the health emergency, mitigate the economic damage, and provide for a strong recovery.”

    Bolding added.

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  2. bfitzinAR
    March 28, 2020 at 11:49 am

    There we are in the middle again. Our team’s doing our best to jury-rig patch repairs on the Ship of State and nudge the helm so we aren’t headed directly for the rocks while the Rs are drilling holes in the hull and steering straight for those rocks – and the Left is stealing our tools, yelling at us, and getting in the way because we haven’t replaced this leaky old tub with a brand-new cruise ship Right Now. Because we have the House and with quarantined Rs enough clout to manage those patches and nudges we’ll survive this round. If it doesn’t go on too long and we don’t hit the rocks or sink before we can get the helm back – and the authority to order at least better patches. Messing with my own spiritual what-have-you here, but it’s getting so bloody tiring needing to save their geedee evil asses if we’re to save our own.

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  3. JanF
    March 31, 2020 at 6:27 am

    Here is a link to a PDF of the COVID toolkit provided by Speaker Pelosi to her caucus.

    Families First – COVID Toolkit

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  4. April 1, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Thanks, Jan! You know, we are extremely lucky to have Nancy Pelosi in charge! Not only does she understand the arcane processes of passing legislation, she also steers it in the direction of the American people rather than corporations. She’s going to go down in history as one of our greatest Americans of all time.

    And her energy! She’s four years older than I and yet she still wears high heels, designer dresses, and keeps going for all hours! I would be incapable of doing that. Words can’t express my admiration of her.

    Thanks for bringing her words and those of Gary Peters to us, Jan.

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