Speaker Nancy Pelosi was joined by Members of the House Democratic Caucus, Cathy Johnson, a retired schoolteacher from Columbus, Ohio, Loris Welch, a teacher from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and Stella Edwards, President of the President of Chesterfield County Council of PTAs/PTSAs from Chesterfield, Virginia at a ceremony in the Capitol this afternoon to sign H.R. 1586, the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 247 to 161, and was sent to President Obama for his signature into law. Below are Speaker Pelosi's opening remarks, closing statement, and selected quotes from each of the other participants:
Speaker Pelosi Opening Remarks:
"Good afternoon. This is really a very happy afternoon for us because the House just passed legislation that has a direct relationship to the strength of our communities, the education of our children, the safety of our neighborhoods, the stability of the economy of our states, and really points directly to our prospects for the future.
"We voted to keep over 300,000 teachers, police officers, firefighters, and private sector workers on the job. Members of Congress rushed here today. As soon as we heard that there was a prospect that the Senate might be able to pass this legislation last week, word went out. Members were here in full force in support of those hundreds of thousands of jobs. We passed a bill last December. We passed it again in the spring. And we are pleased that the Senate finally took the action that they did.
"This legislation was necessary not just from a legislative standpoint, but because we heard from Americans like those who join us here today: Cathy Johnson a school board member from Columbus, Ohio, who knows the impact this investment will have on the education of the next generation of teachers; Loris Welch from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, who has worked on behalf of the education of our children for 24 years and understands the heartbreaking impact this economy has had on teachers and students; Stella Edwards, President of the Chesterfield Virginia County Council of PTAs and a powerful voice on behalf of keeping America's teachers in their classrooms. I know there are many PTA families here, if you can all raise your hands so we can acknowledge the presence of some of the PTA families in the audience. And Officer Dave Stokes of the Annapolis Police Department who understands what this investment will mean to the safety of our communities.
"And we are joined here by today by children, our nation's future leaders and our innovators, our most eloquent example of why we need to act. President Kennedy called them "our greatest resource and our best hope for the future.' I would like to thank all of the advocates for children and their families who are here today. And why don't you give yourselves a nice round of applause.
"Today, again, we will create over 300,000 jobs or save them--not just any jobs, but jobs that are the most significant in our country, a sense of community that our teachers, our police, and our firefighters, and our health care workers bring.
"And we will do it in a fiscally responsible way that by closing costly tax loopholes that allow corporations to ship American jobs overseas. This is part of what our distinguished Majority Leader, Mr. Hoyer calls our "Make it in America' agenda. Make it, manufacture it in America, and make it so people can make it on their own in America. And we believe that repealing that provision that enables businesses to ship jobs overseas is a very important step in that direction. I acknowledge Mr. Hoyer, our distinguished Majority Leader, the two chairmen who brought the bill to the floor today. Lead off, Chairman David Obey, the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Thank you, Mr. Obey. Then, the bill was passed on to the Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Chairman Levin who has brought this tax provision to the bill on a number of occasions as has Mr. Obey brought the education and first responders piece a number of times as well. And we are joined by our Chair of our Policy Committee but also Chair for the Education and Labor Committee who has been a fighter for keeping these teachers on the job--Chairman George Miller. He is joined, before you applaud for him, I want to also acknowledge a Member of his Committee, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood Education, Elementary, and Secondary Education, Chairman Dale Kildee of Michigan. Now, I am pleased to introduce Cathy Johnson who will tell us what this legislation means to her school district in Ohio. Cathy.
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"The House's passage of the education jobs fund today will enable school districts, like South-Western City schools, to maintain key services that help advance student achievement. For example, my district can benefit from today's legislation as we look to hire teachers and school personnel to implement intervention programs and other reforms for students who need added support to ensure they receive that will allow them to be successful."
"Sadly, only after only two years of teaching in school, I myself, along with 86 other teachers in the district, were given pink slips not to return in September. When teachers get laid off, class sizes grow, students get no one-on-one attention, schools go without librarians and school nurses, and important programs are cut."
"The money approved by the House today will allow our district to rehire and bring more of our colleagues back into the classroom where they actually belong. I am thankful to our representatives for passing this bill, which is shot in the arm for public education across the country. Thank you for putting our children first."
"I commend the Members of the House for coming back into session to pass this education funding passage and finish their unfinished business--the business of children's education. Our children, my children, your child, and your neighbor's child I want to thank Congress for protecting these teachers, for protecting the jobs, and protecting our children from overcrowded classrooms which we all know will negatively affect their learning."
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Speaker Pelosi Closing Statement:
"In her remarks, Stella asked the question: "What does this all mean?' What this all means, as she described, is that this is good news for children. When people ask me: "What are the three most important issues facing the Congress?" I always say the same thing: "Our children, our children, our children.'
"Many of the leaders that you see have been champions for our children; their health, and that is affected by the health care workers who will be put back to work; their education, we have heard our distinguished speakers, Cathy Johnson, Loris Welch, and Stella Edwards, speak so eloquently to what this will do for our children's education; safe and clean neighborhoods, they can thrive. I am so please that we have Officer Dave Stokes here representing our first responders, the people who keep our neighborhoods safe and have us have an intact sense of community. So our health, our education, the safety and security of their homes and their neighborhoods, and the economic security of their families.
"And the offset that is in this bill--to repeal a provision in the law that enables businesses to send, gives a tax break to send jobs overseas; we repeal that. And we want to, as Steny says "Make it in America' and we want to manufacture it in America. Let's bring those jobs home. Well, that speaks to the economic security of our children.
"I want to commend Senator, Leader Reid and the Members of the Senate for the action that they took. I am so proud of what the House of Representatives has done today, and I am very honored now to sign this important legislation, so relevant to the lives of America's families, so important to our sense of community.
"I just want the children to know, after I sign the bill, our distinguished Clerk of the House, will make sure that the signatures are in order in the House and the Senate, and then she will personally deliver it to the President of the United States for his signature, which I believe will be later this afternoon. So before you all probably get home this evening, this will be the law of the land--cause for celebration."