Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee held a hearing today on the issue of women's health. The committee heard testimony from Ms. Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, who was blocked from testifying at a recent Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Below is the Leader's opening remarks:
"Good morning everyone. Our meeting will come to order. This is a hearing of the Steering and Policy Committee of the House Democrats. It is my honor to be here with our Ranking Member on the Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives, Congressman Elijah Cummings, senior Member of the committee, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and Congresswoman from the District of Columbia, and long-term Member of the Committee, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton.
"We're gathered here today with a very special guest, Ms. Sandra Fluke, who we'll hear from in a moment. But, first I want to say that the purpose of this meeting is one that I wish didn't exist. I wish that in the hearing that was held last week, the Republican majority on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would have heard from Sandra Fluke. Instead of just hearing a panel of five men. Seeing that panel before her, our colleague, Congresswoman Maloney, put it best, asking: "where are the women?" Indeed, in this debate, nothing could be more critical than hearing the voices of our nations women.
"Democrats are prepared to hear from a single witness today, a Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, to testify before the committee. She was invited by the Democrats to be at the panel that was called together last week. But the Republicans did not want to hear from her. And so we do today.
"We are proud to bring Sandra before our Steering and Policy Committee to deliver the testimony she was denied last week, to stand firm in the cause of women's health. To no longer be held silent. Sandra is a bold and passionate leader for young women, and all women, at Georgetown and across the country. She understands that this issue that we're discussing is a matter of women's health, plain and simple. She has stood on the frontlines of this debate at Georgetown University Law, dedicated her time and energy to the battle against other issues: human trafficking and domestic violence, and served as the President and Secretary of the Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Sandra will continue to serve women and our committees as a leader in the field of public interest law.
"I think it's important, as I yield to the distinguished Ranking Member of the committee, to inform you, Sandra, that following your rejection by the Republicans from the panel, which the Democrats had suggested you as their witness, that we've heard from over 300,000 people, saying: "we want women's voices to be heard on the subject of women's health," and urging the Republican leadership to make sure that that happens. Having no reason to believe that they will, we're having our own hearing today. I know you will persuade them with your testimony.
"With that, I thank you for joining us this morning, and yield to the distinguished Ranking Member, Mr. Cummings, and thank him for his leadership and the important role he played in last week's hearing."