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Washington, D.C. March 10, 2020 – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined a bicameral press event with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House and Senate Democrats marking one year since the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the For The People Act, to restore ethics and transparency to government, and calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to finally bring the legislation to the Senate Floor for a vote. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. It’s pretty exciting to be here to celebrate democracy. That’s what this legislation is about, and so, we have Democrats from both sides of the Capitol to accelerate the fight to put people first, put power back into the hands of the people.
Of course, it’s always a privilege to welcome back the distinguished Democratic Leader of the Senate, our former colleague for many years, Chuck Schumer, but also, to welcome back Congressman – excuse me – Senator Tom Udall, a Member that we’re very proud of from the House and Debbie Stabenow. Debbie Stabenow, when she was a Member of the House, she would have the most – the strongest message of her position with the biggest smile, and we thought, ‘Why can’t we all be that way?’
Leader Schumer. Has stayed true in the Senate.
Speaker Pelosi. And then, of course, Senator Merkley.
Leader Schumer. A non-House Member.
Speaker Pelosi. A non-House Member, but nonetheless –
Leader Schumer. But speaker of his state legislature.
Speaker Pelosi. Distinguished legislature.
Leader Schumer. So, he is a Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Who knows of what he speaks.
For our side – you know – on the House side, we’re so proud of the work of Paul – Paul’s son John Sarbanes. He is the godfather of this legislation. He is the Chair of our [Democracy] Reform Task Force and just our spiritual leader of H.R. 1. And what was exciting about it is it really caught fire with our Freshmen. Well, they were our red to blue, at the time, our candidates. One hundred candidates sent me letters saying H.R. 1 should be the first order of business. And two of them are with us today: leader in the Freshman Class, Colin Allred of Texas.
Woo woo, okay. Is that a Texas calling?
And Sharice Davids. We’re so proud of her as one of the two in our class, two first women – both first women from Indian Country to be in the Congress, in the House of Representatives.
But, you know, all that we talk about in terms of our Members and the work they did, that inside maneuvering is essential to our success. But nothing more essential than the outside mobilization. So we thank all the groups who are here with us today. Your outside mobilization – ongoing outside mobilization – is so essential to our success.
So, in the Constitution, in our Preamble, it says ‘We the People.’ And our agenda is For The People.
For The People we took out the specter of dark, special interest money in politics, which suffocates the airwaves and therefore suppresses the vote. We voted to end voter suppression and foreign interference in our elections. Just this morning it was reported that Russians are accelerating their election interference in order to cause disarray here, focusing on white supremacist groups and the rest. So, all the more need to pass H.R. 1. And to clean up corruption and return integrity to Washington.
Again, that will enable us – and gives people confidence that – with their voice, as important as anyone else’s, as big dark money – that we can lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, bigger paychecks and building the infrastructure of America in a green way because we are, H.R. 1, For The People.
And Senator McConnell, we’d hoped that he would pass this legislation. In friendship, we have sent it to him. He has said the problem is not that there is too much money in politics, but not enough money in politics. He is proud of that statement.
We believe that government needs – America needs a government of the many, not a government of the money.
And, with that, I am pleased to yield to the distinguished Democratic Leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Debbie. Congratulations on the great work in Michigan and all that absentee balloting and also same-day registration, removing obstacles of participation. That is what we should all be committed to doing instead of increasing them, as the Republicans have done here.
Over this weekend, Senator Udall and his family, and Sharice Davids and I were in Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham. And we – the weekend culminated on Sunday morning when we crossed over the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis, and it was the Bridge to the Ballot. That’s what that was all about. That’s what that was all about: the Bridge to the Ballot.
People risked their lives. One of the people who was there, Mary Liuzzo – her mother, Viola, had risked her life coming down from Detroit to Alabama to march with the marchers and her life was taken. And when they asked her family, ‘Do you ever wonder why your mother went down there, to make that fight?’ And she said, ‘No, our family doesn’t wonder that. We wonder why everyone doesn’t go to fight that fight.’
The fight for the ballot, democracy, the fundamentals of that. So again, because of what is in our Constitution and what people have risked their lives for, some have lost their lives, we have an obligation in this Congress to make sure that policy exists that empowers the people. Again, to weaken the stranglehold of special interest dark money and instead of it being for special interests, it’s for the people’s interest.
So I thank all of our distinguished colleagues, House and Senate, for their leadership on all of this and their presence here today. And I thank all of you, outside, whose mobilization made all of this possible. We are not going to give up until we get the job done and pass H.R. 1, For The People.
Thank you all very much.