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Transcript of Pelosi, Clyburn, Slaughter and Walz Press Availability Calling for House GOP to Stop Obstructing STOCK Act

Press Conference

Location: Washington, DC

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, and Congressman Tim Walz held a press availability in the Capitol today calling on House Republicans to bring the STOCK Act to the floor next week.

Leader Pelosi. Good morning. It's morning in California. It's a great morning though, isn't it? The jobs numbers coming out, being so, so significant. The decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to reverse their decision about Planned Parenthood, just goes to show you: when women speak out, women win. Women's health had a big victory this morning.

We're here to talk about the STOCK Act. I'm very pleased to be standing with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, whose been working on the STOCK Act for over six years. And Congressman Tim Walz, whose been a leader since he came to the Congress, on this important issue. I'm here with our distinguished Assistant Leader, Mr. Clyburn, who will speak, and Mr. Hoyer, when he's finished, will be joining us, so we don't need any introductions beyond that.

But I will say this. And you remember, that last week the President said in his State of the Union address: "send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow.' Since the President said that, when we came back the beginning of this week, Congresswoman Slaughter, Congressman Walz, gained many more signatures. On the Republican side, nearly a hundred--I think there are 98 co-sponsors on the Republican side--and huge, within a matter of hours, a huge number of people have signed the discharge petition for the House STOCK Act. That was a remarkable legislative achievement for them, to advance the ball down the field that much.

As you know, last night, the Senate passed their version of the STOCK Act. We're here today to call on our Republican majority, the leadership, to bring the STOCK Act, the House STOCK Act, to the floor. Our colleagues will tell you, the support that it has, the purpose of sending it to conference with the Senate bill. So, I am here to congratulate them on their work yesterday. Yesterday, I mentioned, first and foremost the STOCK Act in my comments, with the idea that we wanted the majority, the Speaker, to bring the bill up. Since then it has passed the Senate, all the more reason for them to bring up our House version. We have a discharge petition, we have nearly 300 co-sponsors, and I want to congratulate and yield to Congresswoman Slaughter and Congressman Walz for their exceptional leadership.

Ms. Slaughter.

Ms. Slaughter. Thank you. I think that every American, from the President to all the rest of us, wants this bill passed. It has been gratifying to me, after six years, to see the kind of action that its gotten. How we're pleased that the Senate passed their bill last night. I was particularly pleased that they put political intelligence back in, because I've said many times, it is my belief, that that's the most important part of the bill.

Now, everybody knows where we're going, except for those of us in the House. Our leadership is the one question remaining. What are they going to do? We are telling them today, that because of the number of people who have signed on this bill, in a bipartisan manner. And, you know, the Speaker mentioned how many signatures we got, 167 on a discharge petition in less than two days, a day and a half. That by itself is thoroughly remarkable. So, we are asking our leadership, at once, to please bring up the STOCK Act. Heaven knows, that in six years, it has been very well vetted. Everybody knows about it. Everybody knows what's in it. Everybody understands how critical it is that we get it passed. We could do it next week, it is as easy as all get out. We're all ready to go down and do our part to vote, on what I think is a very important part of restoring the integrity of this House and this Congress.

And I want to thank very much, the Leader, who has been such a strong supporter of this, from the very beginning. Helping to push, and if we flagged a little, she was always there for the next step. So, I really appreciate, very much, all of the great work that's gone on. I appreciate my Republican co-sponsors, more then I could tell you. I appreciate the bipartisan--they signed on, to the discharge petition. And I believe that, 282 of us, are going to be pretty mad, if we can't this pass bill, that we have here in the House--It's perfectly fine, Members have all said so, they want this bill to pass--try to get that done, and to really give a clear message to the leadership, that this does not need to lag here another year. Or, another week. So, we would like very much, to see action on it next week, on the STOCK Act, from the House.

Mr. Walz. Well, thank you all for being here. And, thank you Leader Pelosi, for your leadership. Leader Clyburn. And, of course, my good friend, and dogged supporter of good government, and making sure this institution gains the respect from the American people, that the democracy deserves. So, I have to tell you, five years ago, I came, first had my walk in this building, short weeks before that I was a high school teacher teaching civics. And, after I saw for a while here how things were done, I felt like I needed to go back and explain to them everything I taught them about how a bill becomes a law, give them a refund, because it wasn't the way it worked.

But, I have to tell you, on this piece of legislation, it certainly was. You had the American people asking for their government to live up the ideals they do: playing by the rules, playing fairly, and making sure there is an accountability. And, when Brian Baird and Louise Slaughter approached me, as a new Member, and said: "we came here on a mandate, to make government different, to make government more accountable. We've got something that'll help do that.' And, when they explained it to me, I, like the American public, could not believe that that loophole of finding our fiduciary responsibility--of course we're responsible to our constituents--but, it didn't include the knowledge we gained, and how it influenced investments. And, that trust that was undermined, as we see it in our approval ratings, it's hard to get the nations' business done if they don't trust what we're doing.

So, I'm so proud of how this moved forward. I'm so proud of Members on both sides of the aisle. Walter Jones has been a champion on this from the very beginning, as our Republican lead sponsor. The Senate did something that people said they couldn't do--they took up a call from the President in a bipartisan manner, got their work done, did it in an open fashion, contained themselves on their amendments, and took our base bill and improved it a little bit to make it better. The reason that happened was: the base bill had been vetted for six years. Good government groups, from Common Cause, to CREW, to others, have weighed in on this, asking us to make us more accountable. So, I'm really pleased. I'm pleased for the American public, that they can believe that the system can work, they can believe we can do something, and we are this close. We stand on the edge of making this work. What I would implore, Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor is: don't write something behind closed doors over there and bring it here. And don't use something that can't pass the Senate. We've been down that road. We've seen that song and dance. The House wants you to address its will. If, it can't pass the Senate, be signed by the President, we're not doing the will of the American public. So, this bill is simple, its ready to go, the President said tomorrow--I wish we would of stayed today and taken it up and we could interrupt his Saturday morning and have him sign it. But that's how close we are.

So, I want to thank everyone involved with this. Thank the Leader for standing with us, and making this a priority. And now we can get down to, as the Leader started out with is, the real issue at hand here is creating jobs for Americans. That's going in the right direction. Let's keep this trust and the momentum going forward.

So, Mr. Clyburn.

Assistant Leader Clyburn. Thank you very much. I want to thank Leader Pelosi. And my two colleagues, Louise and Tim, for their tremendous work on this effort. I think that, short of maybe a suspension bill, you aren't going to get much more bipartisanship, on a piece of legislation, then you get on this one. 282 co-sponsors, and as Louise said, in a day and a half we were able to get 167, it may be a little more than that now… people just signed onto the discharge petition. Two more? Now, 169. So, I think this is indicative of the fact that people do wish to join hands, especially when the President makes a call, and so many of the so-called watchdog groups have weighed in on this piece of legislation.

I think it would be a great way, to start next week, and to help build on the momentum that we are closing out this week on, to have the 23rd consecutive month of private sector job growth, as was announced today. To see unemployment drop to 8.3 percent, that, in and of itself, those two things are just outstanding. And today, the President is announcing his Veterans Jobs Corps effort. That we have been pushing for, for a long time. And Tim, I know how happy you are to see that. To see our returning men and women, from Afghanistan, from Iraq, being able to come home and expand the COPS Act, in order to accommodate their employment. Moving into the National Parks, sort of a twenty-first century Civilian Conversation Corp program. This is the kind of stuff, of which, American tenacity is made. And I'm pleased to be here today, and to join with my colleagues in calling for the Speaker to bring this bill to the floor. Let's get it passed. Let's keep this moment going.

Thank you.

Q: Majority Leader Cantor said last night that they were going to bring the Senate bill up to the House floor next week. Why do you need to ask him to bring it to the House floor if he's already said he is going to do it?

Leader Pelosi. We're asking him to bring the House bill up on the floor, so that we can go to conference. I did not hear that he said he is bringing the Senate bill up. I don't know. If you say that, I believe you. But the fact is, we think, this is a bipartisan product, developed in the House of Representatives, overwhelming support. We would like to go to the conference table, to conference on this bill, so we have the best possible bill as we go forward. If they bring up the Senate bill, that would be a good thing too. We think it's better to bring up the House bill.

Q: Leader Pelosi, do you think that the Susan G. Komen Foundation, are they going to have any long term problems based on this public relations debacle this week? Or do you think that you and others will be able to support them in the same way that you have in the past?

Leader Pelosi. Well, we certainly will be able to support them as we have in the past. But, that is a question of what other people in the country think about it. It was an unfortunate situation, but it was dealt with in a short period of time. I commend the Susan G. Komen Foundation for seeing the light on this. But, I more especially salute the women who spoke out on behalf of women's health, they showed their power, and made a difference--women will be healthier.

Q: On the Komen decision, many of your Democratic colleagues came out very forcefully in a letter saying that this was a politically motivated decision. Do you think it was a politically motivated decision? What do you think was behind what the Komen Foundation did? And, of course, their reversal today?

Leader Pelosi. Well, I haven't seen those letters that characterize it that way. I know that there were strong feelings and thinking on this subject. But, let me say, I can only take the Susan G. Komen Foundation at its word. It said that it was changing its policy toward Planned Parenthood, because Planned Parenthood was under investigation. And if that was their standard, then, I think everything they do should be subjected to that standard. As I said yesterday, at our press meeting, when we came together. So, they made one decision, now they have reversed it. We have a good outcome, I think we should just go forward with that outcome, and focus on improving women's health.

Q: Thank you, thank you. And maybe Ms. Slaughter can weigh in on this as well, both of you here. But, on the discharge petition, so if Cantor, Mr. Cantor, brings up the--he conceivably wants to change this a little bit, are you saying that we will go back to the discharge petition, if, you know, this bill is all perfect, or do you think that the fundamental bill that you guys created is the best bill to go forward?

Ms. Slaughter. Well, we don't intend to give up on the discharge petition because somebody said, somewhere that they're going to bring a bill to the floor. We're going to stay with that. We believe sincerely that our bill is the best. It's very close to the Senate bill. The Senate bill, it would pass 96-3, for goodness sakes, it would probably unanimous over here.

And the idea of fooling around with it, and not getting it out to the floor, is absolutely, I think, a disservice to the people we serve.

Q: And do you feel, what is your concern about what Mr. Cantor and others might do with this?

Ms. Slaughter. I'm concerned that they might dilute it in some way. I'm concerned that they might do away with enforcement. I really don't know--I'm just speculating on that, because obviously they've not told us anything that they're going to do. But, you know that, we had a hearing 60 days ago. And, I think it was the first time that any of us heard that they were going to modify that bill. That they didn't care for it and they were going to use a different bill.

We're asking them now, in the face of 282 Members of this House, not to do that. There's no necessity for it. For a change, we can have some wonderful bipartisan vote here. It has been, as I say, every American, from the President on, through all the rest of us, are really looking forward to this passage.

Leader Pelosi. 98 Republicans are cosponsors of this legislation. That's as bipartisan as you can get here.

Ms. Slaughter. 98 Republicans. And the last one who signed on this morning was Michelle Bachmann.

Leader Pelosi. Thank you all very much.

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