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Press Availability with House Democratic Leadership Following a Democratic Forum on the Economy and National Security

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Location: Washington, DC

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SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I congratulate you for a very excellent issues conference, continuing the tradition of having our pre-inauguration, post-election -- whatever your perspective -- issues conference on our economic security and our national security.

In terms of economic security, now, more than ever, this was a very, very valuable meeting for us. We heard from experts from right -- Mark Zandi, who was the economic advisor to John McCain -- to left -- to Jamie Galbraith -- and everything in between, an array of leaders in our country who have -- economic thinkers in our country who have been an economic resource to us for a long time.

You may recall, on December 7th of last year, we all came together with a number of these same economists and talked about the need then for a strong, robust economic recovery package. The president resisted. We did a rebate initiative. The economy has worsened. We need that economic recovery plan in a more robust way now.

We are pleased that that is the policy of President-elect Obama. We look forward to -- we are working with him so that on the first week of our new Congress, we'll be able to introduce a very smart, modern recovery package for the 21st century. More details on that to follow.

And at lunch we heard from our keynote speaker, Chairman Volcker, who was just -- conveyed such tremendous wisdom to us, and it was great. And in the afternoon, we had the national security discussion, which is very valuable to all of us and to our members, because our first responsibility as elected officials is to protect the American people. And this session was very valuable in that regard.

In the course of the day, Barney Frank was, again, masterfully engaged in discussions about the auto package, which you'll hear from him about. I'm pleased that progress is being made. We don't -- unless he does in the last few minutes -- have an announcement to make.

But suffice to say that it's of concern to our members that this important industry to our country be preserved; that it is essential to our national security that we have a strong industrial and manufacturing base, it's essential to our economy that our workforce is intact; and that as we go forward, the CEOs of the Big Three companies know that we're willing to give them a chance to restructure and turn themselves into viable, accountable-to-the-taxpayer going concerns.

As long as that is the path, we are pleased to monitor it and to support it; but again, if that is not the path, we're not going to be engaged in corporate welfare, so that they cannot succeed.

With that, I'm pleased to yield to the distinguished majority leader, Steny Hoyer.

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