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Transcript of Pelosi, House Democrats Press Conference Following Pro-Forma Session on House Floor

Press Conference

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, and House Democrats held a press conference after House Republicans blocked Democrats from speaking on the House Floor today. House Democrats called on Republicans to cancel recess until the Congress fulfilled its responsibilities to the American people. Below is a transcript of the press conference:

Leader Pelosi. Well, it is baseball season but it's also a season for us to be in session. As you know, at the beginning of the year, this first week in October was scheduled to be a week of work -- where we would come together to do the work of the American people who sent us here to do exactly that. In addition to having the shortest session since 1961, the fewest days in session, they've now cancelled this work week. Which means that from August, the first week in August until the middle of November we will have been in session eight days. Why is that important? It's important because if we were here we could pass a jobs bill, we could pass middle income tax cuts, we could protect Medicare from the Ryan-[Republican] budget by demonstrating clearly that that will not prevail. We could be passing the Violence Against Women Act, we could be passing the Farm bill. We have work to do.

We are Representatives, each of us represents a constituency that comes to the House to seek compromise, to create jobs, to reduce the deficit, to make life better for the American people. And what happens at their kitchen tables is really what we should be thinking about here. And what that is, is their economic survival. And so, apparently, that is not an important priority for the Republicans. It's most unfortunate of them to plan a very short session to begin with and then to cut it even shorter is totally irresponsible. It is totally irresponsible.

And so, of course they are a Do-Nothing Congress. In their view, they have succeeded in doing nothing, but in my view they are a failure in not passing middle income tax cuts, the jobs bill -- which as Mr. Hoyer indicated on the floor, which would create a million and a half jobs immediately -- jobs that the American people need and we've talked about the rest of the agenda that has passed -- some of it in a bipartisan way in the United States Senate -- but is unacceptable to the extremists in the House of Representatives. So, we are here and many more of us, we're about to go into a hearing about Medicare and protecting Medicare for the American people. We'll be visiting with you all at one o'clock after that hearing for any questions that you may have. But in the meantime we are here to say to the Speaker, and to the Republican majority: "let's get back to work. Call us back to work. We have important work to do for the American people."

With that, I'm pleased to yield to the distinguished Democratic Whip of the House, Mr. Hoyer.

Whip Hoyer. I thank the Leader for yielding and I want to simply say that once again we have this morning a demonstration of the Republicans walking out on the American people. Not on us. The Speaker gaveled us down without so much as allowing even an inquiry or a statement to be made. They walked away, not from us again, they walked away from the American people. They walked away from the issues that the Leader has referenced. They walked away from dealing with jobs in America. They walked away from dealing with middle class tax cuts. They walked away from Farmers who are suffering from the drought. They walked away from postal reform to make sure that our postal service is solvent. They walked out on the American people, not on us. They shut the microphones off, but they're not going to shut us up. We're going to continue to talk to the American people and we are here to work -- as the Republican leader scheduled us to be at work, not us, they said they were going to be working the first week in October. Have they left because they've accomplished their work? Absolutely not. The least productive Congress in my lifetime.

And so we're here. We're here to work. We're here to do the people's business. We're not here to walk out on the American people.

***

Leader Pelosi. Yes, ma'am?

Q: Leader Pelosi, wanted to pose a political questionÂ…

Leader Pelosi. We'll save that for one o'clock. Right now we're here to talk about the fact that we're asking them to return to work. But will be happy to answer any question you have about [that].

Q: This is a work question, but it is a foreign policy question. The House Oversight Committee has scheduled a hearing on the 10th -- they've written a letter, Chairman Issa has written to the Secretary of State with a list of questions about the attacks on Benghazi here. Do you think it's appropriate for her to come and testify? And do you think it's appropriate for Republicans to be asking these questions? Are there questions unanswered about the Benghazi attack and what questions do you have?

Leader Pelosi. Well I think that it would be appropriate for the Republicans if they have important work to do -- call the House back into session and come here and deal with the full array of questions domestically and internationally. So, I think it's kind of curious that they want the House to be functioning but they don't want it to be in order. Functioning when they want to challenge the Administration but not in order to do the work of the American people.

With that, we'll see you at one o'clock. I want to thank our colleagues who joined us. Mr. Johnson who spent his birthday with us, but's he's been here challenging the Republicans on the Floor, week in and week out. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania talking about Medicare on the Floor, Congresswoman Barbara Lee talking about building our economy from the middle out on the Floor of the House, Congresswoman Judy Chu talking about fairness and how we go forward in getting the job done and ending the fiscal crisis. Congressman Sam Farr, an appropriator talking about those bills that passed the committee -- why can't they come to the Floor? Why aren't we here to do that important work for the American people? Congressman George Miller, as always, fighting for jobs on the floor just now. And that's been his life's work. But jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs -- why can't we pass a jobs bill? Why can't we pass a job bill? And Congressman Rush Holt from New Jersey talking about the full array of failures on the part of Republicans to get the job done for the American people. And we all thank the Democratic Whip, whose here practically every week calling them back into order for the agenda that he has put forth, that we are all supporting, that President Obama is putting forth.

So, again, we're now going to a hearing. I hope you all join us -- on Medicare and what is at stake. Because while all of our names are on the ballot in the election, and the President's name is on the ballot in the election, Medicare is on the ballot too. They want to destroy it, they think it should "wither on the vine.' Come join us at eleven o'clock to hear our expert witnesses, and some of those expert witnesses are ordinary, everyday seniors who benefit from Medicare as we know it and who would lose if we go forward with the Republican proposals.

So, thank you for being here now. Let's get to work.


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