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Public Statements

Do What's Right for the American People

Floor Speech

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Date:
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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, America has always been known to rise to the occasion--the American people, our values--when there is a need for us to come together. Just a few minutes ago, I sat in for a moment on the recapturing of the enormous bravery of those who were on Flight 93, Americans who came together and made a sacrifice. So although all my remarks will not speak to the issue of sacrifice, some of what I say this morning speaks to the values of the American people who always, when called upon, have said: Send me.

But first I'd like to speak to an issue of just basic fairness. Let me give great respect to the constitutional premise that the Senate has the right to advice and consent. Of course that comes with the Presidential right to nominate persons to serve in his or her administration--either at the Cabinet level, under Secretaries, various appointees--throughout the administration, administrations from years gone by. So I rise today to query the character assassination of Ambassador Susan Rice. She has not been nominated.

We are so fortunate to have such a dynamic Secretary of State in Hillary Clinton, who has indicated her desire to leave the administration at the end of her term, but has also indicated her willingness to continue her work--recently in Syria, possibly even today in that devastating area.

Certainly, her partner at the United Nations for 4 years in diligent, excellent, astute, thoughtful and patriotic service has been Susan E. Rice, a daughter of Washington, D.C. and parents who loved America, a graduate of Stanford University, where of course she earned department honors and university distinction, became a Harry S. Truman scholar, Phi Beta Kappa and a Rhodes scholarship, certainly a beginning that did not warrant the kind of personal attacks that we have seen.

I think we should leave politics and campaigns and won or lost races to November 6, 2012, for you cannot debate a political and Presidential campaign around a patriotic public servant. If there is a nomination for Ambassador Rice, the Senate has every right to advice and consent, and the votes need to be taken on up and down.

I can assure you that if she is nominated by the President she will serve this Nation well, as she has done in the past. I know her well as the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs under the Clinton administration, dealing with very difficult issues involving African countries such as Ethiopia and Eretria, responsive and detailed. Why in the world, with others who may have been equally culpable in misunderstanding what actually occurred on that day--the tragic day where we should be speaking more to the loss of brave Americans in Benghazi, Libya--why is she the one that is pinpointed, pinpointed, pointed, and with, I think, inappropriate accusations, casting aspersions and doing damage to a reputation of service that is undeserving?

So my words are simply this: let's be fair. Let's carry on our rights as Members of Congress to speak to the issue of what a tragic incident occurred in Benghazi. If there is a nomination--which I hope there will be--among the many talented people that the President has, it will be his choice. Senators that are eager, friends of mine, Senator Kerry and others, may have this opportunity. But let us hold to the premise that you are innocent until proven guilty, that someone's great service is deserving of respect--and she is deserving of respect. Susan Rice is deserving of respect.

Let me move quickly to this idea that America cannot settle its issues of financial concern before the fiscal deadline. See, there is no cliff, because as we all well know, the simple premise of making sure that we have tax cuts for those making $250,000 and below have the right to follow through on the President's premise because this is what the American people voted on.

Vote for the tax relief for $250,000 and below, Mr. Speaker, and move forward in reconciliation on doing the right thing for Medicare holders, Social Security, and Medicaid. None of that has anything to do with the deficit; therefore, we need to know that we are in a nonstarter position, Mr. Speaker. We need to go forward and reconcile to do what is right for the American people.


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