Government and Politics
August 12, 2022
“Today will be the culmination of the meeting of promises that President Biden made to the American people, resulting in some 7 million to 8 million more people voting for President Biden than the incumbent president.
“My colleagues, we have just heard from the leader of the party of ‘you're on your own.’ The leader who just spoke voted against the American Rescue Plan that put money in the pockets of American families, put American children back to school, and resulted in us not wearing masks today, with some exceptions – by putting vaccines in arms. The leader who just spoke voted ‘no,’ as did every one of his colleagues. They said ‘no’ to money to help families not fall through the cracks, to help them afford their groceries, to help them afford to pay their mortgage and send their kids to school. They voted ‘no’ to [making] sure those vaccines were in arms. They voted ‘no’ to help small businesses, restaurants, and others be lifted up. The party of ‘you're on your own,’ America.
“And, yes, when they came to office what did they try to do? In 2017: repeal health-care support for the American people. We are doing the opposite. We plead guilty.
“The leader of the Republican Party who just spoke voted ‘no’ on the infrastructure bill to respond to build roads and bridges, to make sure they're maintained and safe. [It] responded to broadband to make sure that rural areas are connected; airports; make sure we had a grid that made us competitive. The gentleman who just spoke voted ‘no.’
“The chips bill. The gentleman talked about China. China was lobbying against the chips bill. The Minority Leader voted ‘no’ on the chips bill, which is a bill to make America competitive and create hundreds of thousands of jobs that was bipartisan in the House, by a small degree, and in the Senate as well. But the Minority Leader voted ‘no.’
“So, I must say I’m not shocked that he's voting ‘no’ on this bill, which is aimed at helping Americans with their health care, one of the greatest reasons for inflation. And I’m not surprised he mischaracterized the reaction on this side of the aisle when he said gas prices were high and hadn't come down. In fact, in the last forty days they've come down 20%. The gentleman is shaking his head: no, no, they haven't. I don't know where he's buying gas, but they've come down from $5 to $4 and in some cases less than $4. Is that too high? It is. Should we be concerned about that? Yes, we should be.
“We passed two bills: one was a bill to make sure that we didn't have price gouging. No American wants to see price gouging. The Minority Leader voted ‘no’ on that bill. We offered another bill that dealt with food and fuel prices to try to make sure we had delivery systems and supply chains that worked. The Minority Leader and his colleagues voted ‘no.’ Not everyone.
“We had a bill on this Floor that tried to help – and is going to help – millions of veterans who had been exposed to toxic burn pits – cancer, heart disease, lung disease. The Minority Leader, it will not shock you, voted ‘no’ [on the bill] to help veterans.
“We had another bill on the Floor to make sure that we could preclude and try to help women who had violent acts committed against them. It may not surprise you that the leader of the party of ‘you're on your own’ voted ‘no’ on the Violence Against Women Act.
“It's time to say ‘yes.’ Yes to the people. To focus on people, not on politics of eighty-seven days from now. That's what this is about: politics, pure – well, impure – and simple. It's time for us to say ‘yes,’ to bringing prices down.
“Now, I want to add just a couple of things, and I want to talk about the four pieces of legislation that are changing America for the better. One is – he wrings his hands about the awful situation that America is in!
“In January of 2021, before Joe Biden became President of the United States, unemployment was 6.4%. During the course of the Trump Administration we lost 2.8 million jobs. Net loss after four years. Net loss. Over the last eighteen months, we have created 9.5 million jobs. That's almost a 12-million job turnaround to the best, to the good, to the appreciation of ability of Americans to get jobs.
“And he mentioned something about gas prices. Are they high? They are. Let me tell you when they were higher: July of 2008, they were higher. Hear me! Go check the records: $4.14, which, in real terms, real dollars today, would be $5.62, under George Bush. Are prices too high? They are. Do we want to bring them down? Yes, we do. That's why we put price gouging and the food and fuel [bills], both of which the Minority Leader voted against.
“Unemployment, as I said, in January 2021: 6.4%. It's now 3.5%, halved. Is inflation too high? It is. We passed a bill. Some people said: ‘well, that's going to cause inflation.’ What it caused was people didn't fall through the cracks. They were able to pay their bills. They were able to send their kids back to school. That's what it did. That's what the American people are going to remember: that the Democratic Party was there for them and the Republican party was not.
“And then we talk about this money that we're going to give the IRS, which has been reduced 20% under the Republican leadership, when they were in charge. What did they reduce? Enforcement. Why? Because they didn't want their big, fat-cat people to be caught not paying their fair share. Yes, Mr. and Ms. America, you're paying a higher price because some people pay nothing. You don't think that's fair, and we don't think it's fair – and, yes, we want to make sure the rules are followed. In order to have the rules followed, you need referees. And when you have 100 and some-odd million taxpayers, you need a number of people to find that out and make sure you obey the law. Yes we support that.
“We believe in facts, and we believe in truth. There was a Republican leader, no longer a leader, who believed in facts and truth. And Liz Cheney was fired from her position because she told the truth and confronted a former president who promotes lying.
“Madam Speaker, when President Biden took office with a Democratic Congress, we promised the American people results. We are delivering. We promised we would make progress on the issues where progress had been stalled for far too long. We promised, in short, responsible government that gets things done for the people. People, not politics. Responsible government that puts the needs of our people over politics.
“Over the past eighteen months, many have questioned whether that would even be possible. Our country is too divided, they said, to achieve big goals and enact really consequential legislation that benefits the American people and our economy. Nine and a half million new jobs in eighteen months. Over the same eighteen months, however, our Democratic majorities and the Biden-Harris Administration have proven those doubters wrong.
“The legislation we will pass today and send to the President's desk is the fourth leg of a table of support and opportunity Democrats have built for the American people.
“The first leg was the American Rescue Plan. That law put more than 200 million shots in arms and made it safe again for workers to go back to their jobs, for students and teachers to go back to school, and for entrepreneurs to take risks and invest in their businesses. It worked. Since then, we've seen record job growth – as I have said, 9.5 million jobs created since last January – That's the largest number of jobs created in eighteen months in the history of our country and the lowest rate of employment in half a century.
“Only Republicans could call that failure, because it wasn't their success.
“More Americans are working today than at any point in our history. We also cut child poverty in half. Perhaps that's not seen as a success by the other side of the aisle.
“Next, we brought Democrats and Republicans together in a historic effort to enact the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which is already rebuilding roads, bridges, transit systems, seaports, and airports in every corner of our country. After President Trump said in ‘16 that he was going to do a trillion dollars [for infrastructure]. In ‘17, didn't happen. In ‘18, didn't happen. In ‘19, didn't happen.
“Republicans were in charge of the House, Senate and the presidency of the United States. Inattention to disrepair. For years we heard people talk about ‘infrastructure weeks.’ Remember that? The Minority Leader and others: ‘we're going to have infrastructure week.’ It never happened. Last November, we put people over politics and got it done. That decision was so successful that even many of the Republicans who voted against it are cutting ribbons that will facilitate commerce and improve the lives of their constituents – even though they didn't support the bill.
“One side effect of the pandemic was to magnify the cracks in our economic system and our reliance on the unreliable in our supply chains. Any family trying to buy a new car or trying to budget for a new appliance in the last year or two understands what that means. And by the way, on inflation, Europe didn't have the Rescue Plan. Asia didn't have the Rescue Plan. Other nations didn't have the Rescue Plan. Guess what? All of them are experiencing inflation, half of them greater inflation than is present in the United States of America. Does that mean we have to stop our efforts to reduce it? Of course not. Is it hurting our people? It is. Are empty shelves in grocery stores troubling? They are. And rather than blame one another, perhaps we ought to look at the real villain, and that was the pandemic.
“Earlier this week, President Biden signed the Chips and Science Act, the third leg of our table of support and opportunity, into law. That bipartisan legislation will ease inflation by bringing manufacturing and sourcing of critical components and products back to the United States so that we make them in America and our workers make it in America. It means that we won't cede the next century of innovation to China or anybody else. China, let me repeat, lobbied against that bill, and almost every Republican voted against that bill, just like China wanted. Instead, American labor and American innovation will continue to lead the world in research, innovation and advanced manufacturing, continue to draw the brightest minds from around the world. That also will mean lower costs for American families.
“The Chips and Science Act was another significant piece of legislation in the Make It In America agenda. It's hard to think that somebody would vote against all four of these bills. A promise made to America and a promise that they relied on and they voted for. In an election, not a poll, not a survey, not a focus group. In an election. Because it gets to the heart of what government is supposed to do: help provide our workers and businesses and people with the tools and confidence to make it in America.
“Today we're going to send to President Biden the legislation that represents the fourth leg of our table of support and opportunity: the Inflation Reduction Act. As its name suggests, it will further help lower costs for Americans. First, it will lower health-care costs by extending cost-saving premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act that we included in the American Rescue Plan, which has gotten us to 92% coverage in America – and, very frankly, it would be higher if there weren't twelve states who had refused to provide the Medicaid opportunity for citizens who fell in the middle of the income spectrum. We included that, of course, but our Republican friends in the United States Senate would not agree to it.
“This bill will provide for quality, affordable health care to almost every person in the United States, irrespective of their income. The national uninsured rate has fallen, as I said, to an all-time low of 8%, with 5.2 million Americans gaining coverage since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, in large part due to our having made those cost-saving premium credits more widely available. But my understanding is our Republican friends are going to vote against this bill, and millions of people will be unable to afford their insurance. That's extended by three years.
“Next, it brings down the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare for first time ever – but not uniquely, because the Veterans Administration does that, makes sense – to negotiate lower prices from manufacturers. Democrats have been working for decades to achieve this goal and, as I mentioned at the outset of my remarks, our Majority is delivering on that promise.
“The bill also caps the cost of insulin at $35 a month. That would have been extended to everybody, but our Republican friends refused to support that alternative, so it's only going to apply to Medicare at the beginning. But we're not going to stop. And we also capped the cost at $2,000 per year for seniors on Medicare. We want to extend that to the private market as well, and we'll work on that. This, ladies and gentlemen of this House, is an historic achievement that will save lives and allow more seniors to access life-saving and life-sustaining medications.
“Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act is the largest single investment in addressing the climate crisis that any nation has ever made. I don't know where it was in your place, but ninety-five, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, high humidity. We have a climate crisis, and the deniers have undermined our ability to respond. This bill responds, and it responds consistent with the desires of the American people and will bring down the cost of energy for Americans by investing in developing and deploying cleaner, more-sustainable energy technologies like electric vehicles and solar panels.
“At the same time, we're doing it without raising the deficit. In fact, the legislation reduces the deficit by closing loopholes so the largest corporations with profits over $1 billion will pay a minimum tax rate of just 15%. Now the rate is 21% on corporations, but if they get over $1 billion they're going to pay at least 15%. Why? Because we protect their shipping lanes with our navy. We protect their roads that they transport goods across. They get a lot from their taxes. Just as we all do. Maybe that's why the Republicans don't like this bill. That is well below the regular 21% tax, as I said, and we do it all while ensuring that individuals and families earning less than $400,000 a year won't see a single tax increase. Let me repeat that: nobody making less than $400,000 a year will see a tax increase.
“Those four legs – the Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill, the chips bill, and now this reduction in inflation act – will provide for growth, opportunity, and competitiveness for our economy and for our people. There is, however, another critical piece of legislation that helps keep that table sturdy. So, let us recap this list of major enactments.
“Getting Americans back to work from the pandemic: that's what we did.
“Securing long-overdue infrastructure investments: that's what we did.
“Easing inflation by helping American companies build more chips, semiconductors, and other critical components here instead of importing them from unreliable countries – over 100,000 new jobs? That's what we did.
“Reducing inflation by lowering prescription-drug and energy costs while combating the climate crisis? That's what we did, and we'll keep on doing it for the American people in the next Congress.
“In addition to all these, the Democratic-led House has passed many, many more important bills that have yet to be considered in the Senate – blocked by Republicans.
“Today the Inflation Reduction Act will answer any who still doubt whether we can deliver on our promises. Today Democrats and this Administration are showing that we can and will continue to put people over politics and ensure that our people can make it in America.
“Vote for America. Vote for the American people. Vote for this bill.”