Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks this morning at the 79th Annual Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Capital Hilton. During the three-day session, more than 230 mayors from across the country join together to discuss job creation and other key priorities for the nation. Below are the Leader's remarks as prepared for delivery.
"Thank you, Mayor Kautz, for your generous introduction.
"Your top priority -- "saving and creating jobs' -- is our top priority too, and our country's most critical challenge. We look forward to working together, with your Vice Presidents, Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Michael Nutter, and your Executive Director Tom Cochran, to get our economy moving again.
"I am proud to celebrate the historic appointment of my hometown's first Chinese-American Mayor and to recognize San Francisco's new leader, Mayor Ed Lee.
"On behalf of all Democrats in Congress, it is my pleasure to bring greetings to all of our nation's mayors.
"Today, as you honor the presidency of John F. Kennedy, we remember what he said before Congress in 1962: "A strong America depends on its cities.'
"Half a century later, we must uphold the legacy of President Kennedy by acting to strengthen our cities and invest in our neighborhoods. To do so, we must partner with local governments and leaders.
"Four years ago, the U.S. Conference of Mayors called on us to enact a plan for: "Strong cities strong families for a strong America.'
"Democrats heard your priorities; with your leadership, we acted upon them.
"This year, with your 2011 Metro Agenda for America, we have heard your priorities once more. And working with you, we will again act to advance your agenda -- because, as President Kennedy said and as you know, we need strong cities to build a stronger America.
"To reach our goals, Mayors recognize that we must work together. We must seek the common good. We must be problem solvers.
"Here in Washington -- and in city halls nationwide -- our first job is to fight for American jobs. In tackling our most pressing issues, Democrats will judge what comes before Congress by whether it creates jobs, strengthens the middle class, and reduces the deficit.
"When the new Republican majority puts forth solutions that meet these standards, they will find in us a willing partner.
"For America's cities, Democrats will fight to preserve the investments we've made in our infrastructure and in the safety and well-being of our communities.
"We will make clear what is at stake when pledges are made to roll back these investments -- including funding for:
* Police and fire departments;
* School construction and teachers;
* Road repairs and highway construction, affordable housing and community development block grants;
* Energy efficiency initiatives that create clean energy jobs.
"Just yesterday, instead of focusing on jobs, House Republicans voted to repeal critical patients' rights and hand power back to insurance companies.
"I thank the U.S. Conference of Mayors for supporting health reform. You know what repeal would mean:
129 million Americans under 65, and 17 million children, could lose their health insurance because they have pre-existing conditions.
More than 165 million Americans with private insurance coverage would again find themselves subject to lifetime limits on how much insurance companies will spend on their health care.
More than 4 million small businesses would lose the opportunity to receive tax credits to provide health insurance to their employees.
The 32 million Americans who have the opportunity to receive health insurance because of reform would again face being without health insurance.
Over 2.7 million Medicare beneficiaries would again fall into the donut hole and Medicare would no longer pay for an annual check-up for 44.1 million seniors.
"In our cities, repeal means less support for community health centers and fewer investments in an expanded health care workforce.
"Beyond the impact on American families, consider the cost to our federal budget: according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, repeal would add $230 billion to the deficit over the next decade.
"At this critical time, we need America's mayors to stand by our side as we work for jobs and fiscal discipline.
"We will be your partners -- and we need your leadership to advocate for our cities and strengthen our country.
"'A strong America depends on its cities' -- and together, with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, we can extend opportunity for every American -- and move forward toward the promise of a better tomorrow."