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  • Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.J. Res. 59, Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014

    by Senator Nancy Pelosi

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    PELOSI. I thank the gentlelady from New York for yielding, our ranking member on the Rules Committee, and thank her and our colleagues on that committee for trying so hard to have this rule contain an amendment that will allow us to vote on the extension of unemployment insurance for over 1.3 million Americans who will lose those benefits if we do not pass that extension. I would particularly salute Congressman Sandy Levin of Michigan, the ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, for his relentless championing of this issue of fairness to the American people.

    Mr. Speaker, we come here to talk about a bill that is to end the sequester, and end the sequester it does. I commend the conferees. I am very proud of the work of Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member on the Budget Committee on the Democratic side; Nita Lowey, the ranking member on Appropriations; and our assistant leader, Mr. Clyburn, representing the leadership in those negotiations. I thank them for taking this to a place, fighting it to a draw, so that we come to the floor to fight some and end sequestration.

    But the opportunity was so much greater. Apparently, the Republicans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity when it comes to creating jobs. Mr. Van Hollen had in his bill just a few points in terms of priorities. One was to create jobs and economic growth for our country in the short term and in the long term.

    If we close a loophole, build the infrastructure of America; close a loophole, build a bridge; close a loophole, special interests, tax loopholes for special interests, invest in the human infrastructure of our country, early childhood education, long-term economic growth; close a loophole, pay for unemployment insurance. I don't think it has to be paid for because it is emergency spending; but, nonetheless, let's have an opportunity to vote to extend unemployment benefits.

    When we do ignore those investments in the future, we are not reducing the deficit; we are increasing the deficit. Nothing brings more money to the Treasury than creating jobs and the revenue that produces. Nothing brings more money to the Treasury than the education of the American people starting with early childhood education.

    [[Page H7709]] As far as unemployment benefits are concerned, the economic impact is clear: every dollar spent on unemployment benefits grows the economy by $1.52, according to Moody's Analytics--a dollar and a half for every dollar we spent, and that is a conservative estimate.

    Failing to extend unemployment benefits will cost us 200,000 jobs over the next year. We can't do that. A recent report shows that extending UI instead would produce 300,000 jobs.

    So again, this money, if spent immediately, injects demand into the economy, creates jobs, grows the economy, as well as honoring our social compact that we have with the American people.

    {time} 1330 People work hard, play by the rules, and lose their job through no fault of their own; insurance is what they have. We should honor that insurance.

    So it is disappointing, yes, because this package is so limited. But as I said, it was a fight to a draw, and I recommend that our colleagues vote to support it so we can take it off the table and make way for the discussion we should be having about comprehensive immigration reform. The votes are here. Give us a vote, Mr. Speaker.

    Passing a farm bill, that is very important to the economy of our country.

    Raise the minimum wage. Nearly two-thirds of the people making the minimum wage are women. Paycheck equity, have fairness in the workplace for women.

    The list goes on and on. ENDA, ending discrimination against the LGBT community, people in the workplace. There are so many items on the agenda that have the support of the American people in large numbers.

    Yesterday was the anniversary of Newtown. Pass the Brady background bill. All of these things are on an agenda we have neglected. Up until now we just haven't had time for it. I guess they haven't been priorities for this Congress, but they are priorities for the American people and for the Democrats in Congress.

    So again, one reason to vote for this package, even though you may think it is meager and you may not like all of its priorities, as the gentleman said, is to at least have an agreement on the budget that enables us to move forward for bigger fights that will improve policy and improve the lives of the American people and honor our responsibilities to them.

    I urge our colleagues to vote for the budget, but to vote against this rule because this rule says ``no.'' It says ``no'' to the Congress; we are not even going to allow you to speak or vote on unemployment insurance benefits extension. It says ``no'' to the American people that if you work hard and play by the rules and lose your job through no fault of your own, the safety net is not there. And that safety net is not there just for individuals; it is there for the system. Our beautiful free market system grows in cycles, and sometimes unemployment is higher than others and there are some outside forces at work that people lose their jobs because of. And so it is a safety net for our economic system as well as individuals.

    Why would they not allow us to bring this up and extend the extension? Is it the money? If it is the money, we will find it. Is it the price? Do you think the price is to high to give people dignity, to allow them to keep their homes and meet the needs of their children? Two million children would be affected by this. Tens of thousands of veterans will be affected by this. We care about veterans here. We care about children here, but apparently not enough to extend unemployment benefits.

    So why, my Republican colleagues, would you not allow us to have a vote on this? I know the support is there on the Republican side. I know that the Democrats would vote 100 percent for this. Do you not believe that these people are worthy of receiving unemployment insurance? I say ``insurance,'' that is something paid into, a benefit check. If so, let the American people know that.

    But this debate will not end today. While you may not give us a vote on the floor to extend these benefits so we see where everybody is on the subject and why, this fight will continue because this is about the morality of our country, the respect that we have for people, the value that we place on work, the pride we take in the great work ethic of the American people. But sometimes it just seems the harder they work, the forces are in a deck stacked against them, and this Congress is saying this deck is not going to include you as we deal out the cards.

    So I can't explain it to anybody except to say it is a values decision; and, apparently, there is not enough shared value on the subject of the respect we should have for our workers to even honor the subject with a vote on the floor of the House. It is an outrageous rule to come to the floor. I thank you, Madam Chair, for fighting it, and I urge a very strong ``no'' vote on the rule. Vote ``no'' on the previous question, which would allow us to bring the issue to the floor.

    What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the vote? Are you afraid of working people who are out of a job? What are you afraid of? Let us have a vote on the floor.

    With that, Mr. Speaker, I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule, and a ``yes'' on the bill.

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