House Democrats Call For Action On Jobs
WASHINGTON – Today, House Democrats joined together on the Capitol steps to call for Congressional action on jobs. Below is the transcript and video:
Chairman John B. Larson (D-CT): I am proud and honored to be joined by my colleagues, who, after doing a tour de force across America, conducting over 1,400 forums, town hall meetings and rallies, have come back with a clear message from the people all across this great nation of ours, and that’s that America needs to go back to work.
We carry a theme of ‘Making it in America’, because we fervently believe that when we make things in America, every American indeed will make it.
We stand here on these steps in support of President Obama’s call to action. A call to action that will put America back to work, and what is the request that the American people have asked of their government: the simple dignity that comes from having a job.
Fourteen million Americans are unemployed. These are not faceless people. These are not statistics or data. They’re our neighbors, our friends, indeed our family members.
President Roosevelt said that this country had “a rendezvous with destiny,” in the depths of the Depression. President Obama has evoked the same sense of urgency, except he has laid out that this is a rendezvous with reality. A daunting reality for fourteen million people who are out of work, who need Congress to act. Fourteen million people do not have fourteen months to wait. We don’t need to be standing here. We need to be back in there voting the President’s bill on this Floor and putting America back to work.
Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have good ideas as well, and we want to embrace them. But if we can embrace a time frame that will deal with the deficit – with its restrictions, and with its triggers – we can embrace job creation in the same time frame.
The urgency is now. Rise up America. Call upon Congress. Get us to work here. Let’s roll up our sleeves, much like we saw over this past weekend, when everyone came together again in remembrance around the unity that brought us together, that is ever-present in the character of this country, as witnessed most recently as we persevere through the storms, through the hurricanes, the tornadoes, the earthquake, that ravaged the country, but not the character of the American people.
The American people expect of their Congress the same kind of character that they have. The kind of character that rolls up their sleeves and gets back to work to provide our people with the simple dignity that only a job can bring.
And now, I introduce Jan Schakowsky, our great leader from Illinois.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): Thank you Chairman Larson, the great Chairman of our Democratic Caucus.
We are all gathered here to say: we are ready to pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act now. We are gathered to enlist the American people in every congressional district to help us pass the American Jobs Act.
If you agree, we say to the people, that getting Americans back to work is your number one priority then contact your member of Congress today, so that we can have the jobs we need tomorrow.
That American Jobs Act is based on a simple, common sense idea: if you want to create jobs, create jobs. Create good jobs. Jobs that will rebuild the middle class, jobs that will jump start the economy, public sector and private sector jobs. Jobs that need to be done like repairing and modernizing 35,000 American schools, from kindergarten to 12th grade schools to community colleges.
Too many children from districts in every corner of our country, urban and rural, sit in classrooms with crumbling ceilings, dangerous asbestos, leaking heat and insufficient wiring for new technologies. And at the same time we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed construction workers and engineers, maintenance staff and boiler repair and electrical workers who stand ready to provide these children with the schools they deserve.
The President has made it very clear that we have choices to make. And to me those choices are obvious: should we keep tax loopholes for big oil companies and tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put Americans back to work making our schools safer and healthier and our students and our country equipped to successfully compete in this 21st century world?
For the sake of our working families, our students and our future, we are committed to passing the American Jobs Act now.
And now my colleague from the great state of Vermont, Peter Welch.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT): Let me be blunt. America has a budget deficit. It’s real, it’s large and it has to go. We know how we got here: Iraq on the credit card, Afghanistan on the credit card, Medicare part D on the credit card, the Bush tax cuts on the credit card. We swung from creating 20 million jobs in the Clinton presidency to losing 700,000 jobs in the Bush presidency. And then we had a financial collapse and the worst recession since the Great Depression.
But you know what? A confident country doesn’t complain about its problems, a confident country faces them and solves them. And the best way for America to reduce its deficit is to put America back to work.
We have in this country 23 million American workers looking for full time work – firefighters, carpenters, masons, plumbers, pipe-fitters, software engineers – folks who want to go to work and we got to put them back to work.
We know that the best benefit program for an American is not unemployment relief, it’s a good job. The best deficit reduction program in America is putting Americans who want to work back to work. There are roads to build, schools to repair, there’s water and school systems to construct, and we have Americans out of work and who want to do the work that needs to be done. And we have now the bill in Congress to get them to work. And our message today is pass this bill, pass it now. Don’t delay. Put those Americans back to work and bring that deficit down.
Thank you, I know turn this over to my colleague from New Orleans, Cedric Richmond.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA): Thank you. We’re here today to express our unwavering support to this comprehensive plan to put the 14 million Americans that wake up every day searching for a job, a way to get a job. The American Jobs Act will provide us with a path of how to get people back to work to sustain a family.
We’ve talked about the crumbling infrastructure in this country. Our own engineers rate our infrastructure as a ‘D’. I represent a district that has been a victim of our crumbling infrastructure when the levees collapsed around Katrina. We have bridges collapsing. We are in a physical decay in this country which gives us an opportunity to do two things: invest in our future and put people back to work at the same time.
It is morally incomprehensible that our children go to school every day in the schools that they do when we have the ability to fix them, and put people to work doing it. You can’t defend the fact that things that we build are not up to par to protect our neighbors, our children, and our parents.
We have an opportunity in this country to do some great things, but I’ll tell you right now what we can’t do is stand on the morally bankrupt obstruction of the Republicans. Because at the end of the day this is about purpose. It’s not about politics. This is not about what side will win and what side will lose. There’s 14 months until the next election. People are trying to figure out ways to provide for their families, buy clothes for their children, put books in book-packs, food on the dinner table. That’s the fight that’s going on in this country.
It’s about which side is going to stand up and invest in this country. And we’re on the side that’s willing to do that. We have the bill presented before us. We’re hitting the ground all across this country to talk about the urgency of doing it now. We don’t have the luxury to debate this for fourteen months. We don’t have the luxury to sit back and be obstructionist. There are people hurting in this country, and we’re here today, standing on the steps of the Capitol, to say we will not let them continue to hurt as long as we’re here representing this great country and the great people of America.
So we will leave you with this message. And that is: we are going to improve our infrastructure. We’re going to invest in our children. We’re going to cut the deficit all at the same time. But what we’re going to do is continue to fight to pass the Jobs Act right now!
Chairman Larson: And we’re going to continue to make it in America, so that every American can make it! This is about a cause and a purpose – as Cedric said – the simple dignity that comes from providing a job. It’s what our citizens are demanding of us. We owe the common courtesy to the President of the United States to take up his legislation, but we have a moral obligation to 14 million fellow Americans to make sure, on their behalf, we put this country back to work.
Thank you so much for joining us.