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Pelosi Remarks at Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association Brunch

For Immediate Release: August 14, 2019

Pelosi Remarks at Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association Brunch

Springfield, Illinois – Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered the following remarks at the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association Brunch:

Speaker Pelosi. Thank you all. Good morning! Happy IL Dem Day!

[Applause]

Isn’t it wonderful to have a friend in the Senate like Senator Dick Durbin?!

[Applause]

Assistant Leader in the Senate, Dick you are too generous with your remarks. I appreciate them; I accept them on behalf of our House Democrats who are instrumental in making so many of the things you talked about possible. I thank you for your leadership in the Senate. It was also a privilege to serve with you in the House, where I tell you, my friends, we saw first hand his leadership in making a tremendous difference for our country, whether it was stopping smoking on transportation systems in our country – no small order –

[Applause]

I tell you, up against the biggest interest in our country. To a list of issues that relate to working families in our country. For all of his years there, his focus on children. When people ask me, ‘What are the three most important issues facing the Congress?’ I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children.

[Applause]

And Dick Durbin has been a champion for our children. As he is now a champion for our Dreamers as well, all of our children. Thank you, Richard Durbin, for your leadership.

[Applause]

And to you and to Loretta for your great leadership representing Illinois.

He’s a hero around the country for so many reasons. I know you know that here, I want you to know the high regard he is held in the rest of the country, as he speaks out for Illinois, for Illinois, his priority. Thank you Richard Durbin.

[Applause]

It’s an honor to be here with Governor Pritzker, how proud we all are. You think big, you get big things done. Congratulations for being a model to the nation.

[Applause]

I was a friend of the Governor’s mother, so I knew him when he was a little boy. You can just imagine it brings tears to my eyes to see him in command the situation here, command the issues, command of the issues, command of the process, getting things done. We’re very, very proud of you, all of us.

Thank you Governor Pritzker for your leadership.

[Applause]

And to you, and to the Lieutenant Governor and to all the other statewide elected officials. Congratulations on your great work and Leadership. President Cullerton, thank you for your warm welcome. It’s an honor to be here with you and with the Speaker. It’s wonderful to be here with all of you Madame President! That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

[Laughter]

Kristina! So impressive. The first woman to hold this position. A mother of five, teaches you a little bit about managing things. But you do it so well and that’s not all!

Thank you for your wonderful victories in the last election and what you have planned as we go forward. You and all of your associates here should know that you are the VIPs in all of this. I myself was a regional Chair in the California Democratic Party before I became the State Chair and we called our volunteers and our State Chair, our County Chairs, our volunteers in politics: our VIPs, our VIPS.

Nothing can happen unless you own the ground, and you cannot own the ground without a message, a message of aspiration, and hope for the future. And you make that connection about what we believe in as a party and what that means in the lives of the people who’s doors you are knocking on and the rest.

So thank you, because you are the ones, as the Governor said, who made all those victories possible in 2018 and will be the source of hope in 2020 and you are.

[Applause]

Take pride in who we are as Democrats. You know what people say to me sometimes, ‘I don’t vote for the party, I vote for the person.’ I say, ‘That’s good, what does a person believe in? Do you believe in our public policy that works for people?’

Take pride in this Democratic Party, despite some of its failings, and over time it has been the source of more new ideas, more challenges to conscience, with greatness for our country than any organization you can name. In fact today is the 84th anniversary of Social Security.

[Applause]

When President Roosevelt signed the bill.

[Applause]

And, and, it’s not just about signing that bill, that was important and remains important in the lives of the American people. It was about the spirit of it all: persistent, bold experimentation. So we don’t come out rolling out what we have done, that’s evidence of what we can accomplish, but it’s what we will do. Persistent bold experimentation, that is the vitality of the Democratic Party. And those priorities the emerge come from you, from listening to people.

So I am so thrilled to be here for many reasons, to pay my respects to all of you, to bring a message from our Democrats in the Congress. But also to catch the spark of Illinois, to catch the spark of the heartland of America, where our victory in 2020 will spring from, will spring from.

[Applause]

As you can see from what the Governor presented in the presentation, showed us a mainstream agenda, can also be a progressive agenda. It has been proven in Illinois, let’s make that happen for the rest of the country.

[Applause]

Now, I bring you greetings from the Democrats in the Congress. We are very proud of who we are. As the Governor said it should be, we should look like America. Sixty percent of the House Democrats are women, people of color, LGBTQ. We’re very proud of that.

[Applause]

Secondly, of the 106 women in Congress, 91 are Democrats.

[Applause]

Because we made a decision, we made a decision. There is so much I want to share with you, but in the interest of time, I’ll just share how honored I am to receive this award with Glenn Bouchard, my former colleague. Thank you Glen and Joe for your leadership.

We passed all these bills. Cheri Bustos, and we’re so proud of her. She’s the Chair of our Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and she acknowledged already Robin Kelly, a champion in fighting in the gun violence prevention world. Thank you, Robin Kelly of Illinois.

[Applause]

I wish you could see Lauren Underwood in action, fighting for health care for all Americans.

[Applause]

Sean Casten, a champion on addressing the climate crisis. They’re so fabulous thank you to Illinois for sending them. And of course, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, circling back for that victory, she’ll make us very proud.

[Applause]

Yes, I had the privilege of serving also with Tammy Duckworth in the House – such an inspiration she continues to be. She has been an inspiration to country the entire time.

[Applause]

Thank you for sending her to the United States Senate.

So, we passed all these bills in addition to what has been mentioned. I just want to emphasize Climate Action Now. That’s very important to build. And issues that relate to LGBTQ: our Equality Act to end discrimination against LGBTQ people in our community.

Right now, we’re in the middle of Cheri’s guidance and leadership and insistence – our 200 days. We’re 200 days into our Majority and we’ve accomplished great things, many people have referenced that. Several people have referenced them so I won’t go into them all but just to say – they are under the rubric, under the framework of “For the People.”

For the People. We’ll lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and retaining the pre-existing medical condition. For the people we will build the infrastructure of America in a green way – under Davis Bacon. Any labor folks in the house?

[Applause]

For the people, we passed H.R.1.

Lower health care costs. Bigger paychecks. Cleaner government. And all of the other legislation falls under that.

In addition to what we passed though, since there are some labor people in the house, we passed the Butch Lewis bill which we’re very proud to protect pensions in our county.

But you see it’s about build, build, build! The governor has been a champion. Build the infrastructure. Build the personal infrastructure: education, health, and all the other things. And congratulations on your most recent signature yesterday regarding health care.

Invest in infrastructure for America’s – personal, human infrastructure of America. And we all want to invest in building our democracy and saving it from any enemies, foreign and domestic.

So, we’ve sent our legislation to the Senate. We sent our legislation to the Senate.

Moscow Mitch says that he is the ‘Grim Reaper.’ Imagine describing yourself as the Grim Reaper? That he’s going to bury all this legislation. Well we have news for him. All this legislation is alive and well in the general public.

And since I’m in Springfield, I’ll just quote a Republican president: Abraham Lincoln. He said public sentiment is everything. With it you can accomplish almost anything; without it, practically nothing. And that public sentiment is what you will help us make sure he is aware of.

I have on my desk a beautiful sort of bronze little plaque with Lincoln and that expression written on it. Cheri Bustos gave it to me. I said, ‘I can’t accept it but I will borrow it, for a while.’ She said that it was on the desk of her father Gene Callahan. How about that connection? How about that connection?

Her proud tradition of values from which she springs, connected to her father – revered in this community – connected to Abraham Lincoln. Public sentiment is everything.

Well we have a lot at stake and I hope that the charge I leave with you as we leave here – three things. One is we must we must have a national conversation about stopping the role of big dark money in politics and empowering the grassroots. H.R. 1, the first bill we [introduced], H.R. 1. reduces the role of dark money in politics, empowers small donors, ends voter suppression – John Lewis’s provisions there – and we’ll pass the Voting Rights Act and end so many other abuses of the system. H.R. 1, For the People.

Secondly, a challenge – we must meet the challenge of climate. The climate crisis in our country.

It’s important not only – it’s important in every way. It’s important to our farmers. It’s important to our workers. It’s important in every way. And we want to build the infrastructure in a Green-Blue way: with our men and women from labor taking the lead on how we rebuild a green America. Working with our environmental community, unifying not dividing.

And then those are what we have to do as we go forward in the near future. But in the near, near future we must pass gun violence prevention legislation. Every day we lose lives. Gun violence prevention.

So, we need to do that and we need to do it soon. We’ve sent the bill over to the Senate. It was passed in February – just a couple of – a few weeks after we attained the Majority. It was one of the first bills we passed. H.R. 8, designated 8 because it was eight years then from the time of the Gabby Giffords – the assault on her life and when other people were killed.

And so we’ve been waiting since February, and now public sentiment must weigh in to save lives to pass our bill and to look at high capacity magazines that should be eliminated as well.

So here we are. I’m don’t even talk very much about the person down the street but I will say this: that we take an oath of office to protect our country from all enemies foreign and domestic. And we will do so. And we will do so. No one is above the law. No one is above the law. We all must be held accountable for our actions.

But it’s about America. As Glenn said and others have said already, it’s about America. And what is America?

America is our Constitution, with our great system of checks and balances. Our freedom. Our Bill of Rights and the rest that is in it. And the president continually undermines our Constitution.

What is America? It’s this beautiful land from sea to shining sea and then beyond that God has given us. Our natural patrimony which he regularly degrades – in fact, including just this week. He has no respect for God’s creation. The land of America.

What is America? We are a land of immigrants. A nation of immigrants unless you’re born to be a Native American which is a blessing to you and to our country. A nation of immigrants which he disrespects as well.

Our immigrants who come with their hopes and dreams and aspirations and courage and determination to make the future better for their families. Those are American traits: making the future better for the next generation of our families. These immigrants make America more American when they come here.

And what is America? As the Governor said so eloquently, it’s our values. Our values. Our budget should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation should be what we prioritize in our budget – not to give a tax, a budget that has a tax bill, scam really! A tax scam that gives 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent in our country. That’s just plain wrong. As Dick Durbin said, heaping mountains of debt onto our children and our grandchildren with that. That’s not a statement of our values.

And the Governor also said about investing in education and into our future, the well-being of the American people. Now I get a lot of credit for unifying the Democrats. But I don’t. Our values unify us, and our values are centered on the kitchen table concerns of the American people.

So thank you for what you do for making America more American. For focusing on our families, America’s working families. Rewarding and respecting work, not giving tax giveaways to the richest people in our country and calling that fair. It’s simply not fair.

But as we go forward we do so with a responsibility to the Founders. Our Founders, in all the courage they had to establish this country, this Constitution, this future. To our men and women in uniform who fight for freedom. Any veterans in the crowd? Thank you so much for your service to our country.

And to our children, the aspirations of our children. Again, I end where I began with Dick Durbin. His focus on children. Thank you, Richard. So, in order to do the best for our country we must win the election.

[Applause]

Now are you ready for us to expand our Majority in the House by electing Betsy Dirksen Londrigan?

[Applause]

Are you ready to have Tammy Duckworth and Assistant Leader Dick Durbin be Chairmen of committees and leaders in a Democratic United States Senate? Electing a Democrat – that means a big vote for Dick Durbin in this election. You may not think he needs it, but we all need it for a big vote to change who is in the White House!

[Applause]

Are you ready to elect a Democratic president, with Illinois coming in very, very strong for whomever. Any one of our candidates would be a better president. We all know that! But the fact is I saw a button I loved here earlier: Democrat for president. Democrat for president!

Are you ready to elect a Democratic president, Senate, House of Representatives, members of your state legislature as well?

[Applause]

I thought you were. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you for this award and the opportunity to share some thoughts with you today.

Let’s again hear it for Kristina, isn’t she a wonderful Madam President? Thank you.