House Democrats pushed back this week at Republican obstruction and the likelihood of a transportation bill having any chance of being passed, something that used to receive bipartisan support and at the Republican Party's unwillingness to do anything to solve the problems with job creation in the United States if it might mean that heaven forbid President Obama is reelected.
Blaming GOP obstructionism for the lingering jobs crisis, Democratic leaders on Friday called on House Republicans to bring a long-term highway bill to the floor.
The Democrats — led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — noted that Friday's dismal jobs numbers included a steep decline — by 28,000 jobs — in construction employment. Reauthorizing transportation spending for two years, they argued, would help put those workers back on payrolls and stabilize the economy.
"With today's jobs report, it's clear that we have work to do," Pelosi said at a press briefing in the Capitol. "We have an answer to this, and that is to pass the [Senate] transportation bill."
Hoyer echoed that message, noting that the Senate-passed highway bill was supported by 75 senators — a rare show of bipartisanship in an upper chamber that's practically defined by gridlock.
"That bill has the votes on the floor of the House of Representatives," Hoyer said. "But unfortunately the Republican leadership won't put it on the floor."
The Senate approved a two-year transportation reauthorization proposal in March, but a number of House conservatives have objected to its size, and GOP leaders have declined to consider it on the floor. Instead, House Republicans passed a short-term extension to authorize highway funding through Sept. 30 — a bill President Obama has vowed to veto because it would automatically approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline that's currently under environmental review. [...]
Both Pelosi and Hoyer noted that the Senate bill was backed by a broad range of senators, highlighted by its sponsors, the liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and the conservative Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
"You'd almost have to be a contortionist in order to cover the expanse of opinion between Sen. Boxer and Sen. Inhofe, and yet they've come together in a bipartisan way," Pelosi said.
Full remarks of their statements in the clip above via Pelosi's site:
Leader Pelosi. Good morning. Nice to see you all here – you missed the crowd of visitors to the Capitol. It’s pretty exciting when they come where, what a thrill.
With today’s jobs report it is clear that we have work to do. Although this is the 27th month of increased, continued job increases in our economy it is certainly not enough. It’s clear from that jobs number that we have work to do. We know it and the American people know it and American families across the country know it. It’s clear that one way we can help is to pass the transportation bill. I think it was instructive to read the jobless numbers this morning, the job loss in the construction sector was the largest of them all, once again, if we can – we have an answer to this and that is to pass a transportation bill, the bipartisan transportation bill. The Republicans will say they sent 30 bills over to the Senate, they sent 30 pieces of message over to the Senate, we don’t need 30 message bills, we need one good bill, one good bipartisan bill and that’s the transportation bill. It passed in a bipartisan way in the Senate a while ago. We’re calling on the Speaker of the House to bring the transportation bill to the floor. This is a bill that historically has been bipartisan for 35 years of current record, it has been bipartisan. The Senate bill is a good bill that will create two-million jobs, let’s get on with it. Let’s get our work done.
Additionally, I’m calling upon the Speaker to bring a middle-income tax cut to the floor which will build confidence in our economy, grow our economy and will create jobs. We need to get this done and the time is long overdue.
With that I want to yield to my distinguished colleague, the Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.
Whip Hoyer. Thank you Madam Leader. There cannot be an American who wasn’t disappointed with the jobs numbers that were reported out today. The private sector gained 82,000 jobs. The public sector lost 13,000 jobs. We have a net growth in jobs of 69,000. Now the good news is that we have 27 months straight of job growth, 11 quarters of economic growth in our country, but progress is too slow. In part progress is too slow because of the gridlock and lack of substantive agenda that is being pursued by our Republican colleagues in the Congress of the United States.
Gridlock in terms of a highway bill that was passed with 74 votes – half of the Republican Caucus in the United States – 75 votes if you count Frank Lautenberg who was for it, but wasn’t on the floor. Three-quarters of the Senate passed a highway bill. That highway bill was sponsored by one of the most liberal Members and co-sponsored by one of the most conservative Members, a Republican, Jim Inhofe, they came together because they knew that we needed to invest in infrastructure, to create and grow jobs, and to invest in making our country more competitive.
Unfortunately, that bill could not get through the House of Representatives, notwithstanding the fact I urged Majority Leader Cantor to put that bill on the floor. In my view, that bill has the votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. But unfortunately the Republican leadership won’t put it on the floor. So, we find ourselves, now 30-days from the highway bill expiring, which would create jobs, make us more competitive, create economic growth…
Leader Pelosi. …And “Make It In America.”
Whip Hoyer. In the Conference Committee and that is part of, as the Leader says, our “Make It In America” agenda. We believe that we need to grow this economy, invest in our people, invest in creating jobs and if we do so we’ll create jobs. Unfortunately, in the Bush Administration, we lost some eight-million jobs, four-million jobs were lost in the last year of the Bush Administration. Seven-hundred and eighty-seventy thousand jobs lost in the last month of the Bush Administration, the month that Barack Obama became President of the United States. We’re growing the economy. The recession is ended but we’re not growing it fast enough and if you don’t have a job this is a depression for you, if your home is underwater this is a depression for you and we need to take bold, vigorous action and we need to give confidence to the market. And one way we should give confidence to the market is not put at risk the creditworthiness of the United States, not pretend that we’re going to play another political game with the debt limit of this country and undermine, again, economic growth and confidence. So, I’m hopeful that we will move ahead cooperatively to create consensus, create jobs, pass the highway bill, invest in our economy and grow our jobs.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Whip.
Q: Madam Leader, how would you assess the ways in which House Republicans have been working with the Senate to try to resolve final differences on the transportation bill, on student loans, on the Violence Against Women Act? How are things going?
Leader Pelosi. Well the proof will be in the pudding and that will be when they’re ready to bring a bill to the floor. I’m concerned that I’m hearing rumors of another extension and that would just be completely inappropriate. From the standpoint of Senator Boxer, the Chairwoman of the Committee in the Senate, she is optimistic because they have bipartisan support in the Senate. As Mr. Hoyer said, from right to left, you’d almost have to be a contortionist in order to show the expanse of opinion between Senator Boxer and Senator Inhofe and yet they, again, have come together in a bipartisan way on a bill to create two-million jobs. This is so important to our country. This is about the infrastructure of America. This is about how our people travel. How commerce is moved. How water is supplied. How broadband can transmit. It’s about our infrastructure and our transportation and they have neglected it.
It’s time for the Republicans to stop stalling, to stop stalling on the transportation bill which will create jobs. Stop stalling on the middle income tax cut and stop implying that there is any thought that we would not honor the full faith and credit of the United States of America. This is about confidence. This is about growing the economy. This is about creating jobs. It’s time for them to stop stalling and until they can come forward with a bill – that’s how I view their performance.