Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 90th Winter Meeting. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mayor Suarez of Miami, for your kind and generous introduction. I wish you much success as you begin your new term as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
As Speaker of the House, it is my great honor to bring greetings from the Congress to America’s mayors for your 90th Winter Meeting. It’s a special privilege to join today’s program, alongside Secretary Mayorkas and the newly elected Mayor of New York, Mayor Adams. Isn’t it exciting to have a new mayor in the midst?
All of the mayors here, though, all of the mayors here – I thank you for your strong, steadfast leadership over the last years on the frontlines of the pandemic. Our nation remains in awe of how you all turned the anguish in our communities into action to save lives. While she could not be here with us today, I’m proud of the Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, for her work to keep our city safe. And, to all of you, we need to work together to continue to battle the virus.
How wonderful it is that we can safely gather for this meeting in-person.
And, that’s thanks to the leadership of your CEO and my friend of many years, Tom Cochran, and the than terrific work of the entire Conference team. Thank you to the staff.
Today, I come here officially, officially, on behalf of the House of Representatives: a body that boasts more than 30 former mayors in our ranks. I also come here personally as the proud sister and daughter of the mayors of – two mayors of Baltimore: Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., Thomas D’Alesandro III.
So, I have seen first-hand how your success is the foundation of America’s success. With no buffer between you and your communities, you have an intimate understanding [of] the problems people face. Hearing their concerns, whether in the grocery store or attending church services.
Many people know who the President of the United States is, and the only other public official they know is who is the mayor of their city. Nothing in between. So, you are the one they turn to. In doing so, you are the stewards of the hopes of our families, the talents of our workers and the dreams of our children.
Indeed, it is a testament to the experience and expertise of America’s mayors that President Biden chose four former mayors to serve in his Cabinet.
Secretary Marcia Fudge, Secretary Marty Walsh, Secretary Tom Vilsack, Secretary Pete Buttigieg. And, another former mayor, Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans – he’s leading in bringing the benefits of our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to communities across the country. And, by communities I mean cities and towns across the country.
Today, today, we mark a proud anniversary: one year ago today, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States.
Since that historic day, we have seen one of the most impactful first years of a presidency in modern times. In modern times. Getting shots in the arm of millions of people, putting money in pockets, delivering the best year of job creation on record.
Working together, President Biden and the Democratic Congress – working with all of you – built a strong foundation for much of this progress with our American Rescue Plan. And, it is my privilege to bring you the immense gratitude of our House Democratic Caucus for your committed partnership in helping enact this life-saving, law-changing bill, which changed, released, delivered directly to – now, I was telling Tom Cochran and other mayors back stage that when we were doing the bill the first time last year – the year before, 2019 and 2020. So, when we were doing 2020, the first bill, the Senators would say, ‘We have been governors, and we think this should go through the states.’ Really? ‘Well, we’ve been mayors, and we think it should go through the cities.’
Thank you for your advocacy. Thank you for your advocacy. Because we can maneuver all we want and can in the Congress, but without the mobilization outside, it’s very hard to do the very best job.
Indeed, working closely with America’s mayors, we fought for and won – as was mentioned by Mayor Suarez – $65.1 billion exclusively for America’s cities.
$65.1 billion for America’s cities is really a good applause line, I’ll admit that.
As you know, this was historic. For the first time ever, we delivered individual allocations to every city in the nation – from the coastline to the heartland, from the largest metropolitan area to the smallest town. And, we secured more – ensured more flexibility, because you know best how to support your first responders, your transportation workers, your teachers, your food workers and the rest. The people who make our society function.
These initiatives have paved the way, again, to shots in the arms for over 200 million Americans, fewer families on the streets with rental and homeless assistance – and we have to do more – support for schools to get children learning, parents earning, and more.
Meanwhile, this law put nearly $1 trillion – over and above what we’ve talked about – $1 trillion directly in people’s pockets through direct payment, enhanced unemployment insurance, and the Biden Child Tax Credit, which has lifted millions of children out of poverty.
As Congress remains laser focused on crushing this virus, we remain committed to working with you to support your efforts in your and our communities. Thank you for your leadership, again.
In November, the Congress took another step to empower our strong economic recovery with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will rebuild our nation’s infrastructure as we transform our middle class.
As you see every day, decades of underinvestment have left our roads and bridges crumbling, ports and airports languishing, public transit and broadband lacking, water systems and power grids behind the times. Imagine – we weren’t getting the lead out for our children to drink water.
With this new law, we will create millions of good-paying jobs – I say union jobs – with the largest investment –
– think of this: the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. The largest investment in bridges since the Interstate Highway System. The largest investment in public transit ever, ever. As well, again, as clean water for our children, getting the lead out; broadband across the country; and much more. Broadband money going to the states to come to the communities as well – so let’s make sure that happens.
For our cities, the funding will be – will also keep families safe with our Safe Streets for All initiative. And, it will advance President Biden’s focus on promoting equity by reconnecting communities harmed by infrastructure projects in the past that divided community. The investment will create good-paying jobs in your communities, with turbo-charging America’s competitiveness, boosting small businesses, cutting commutes and helping ease supply chain bottlenecks.
This law is already delivering for the American people. In recent weeks, the Administration has announced new funding for – to improve airports across the nation, to rebuild and repair bridges, including off-system bridges. And, again, I keep talking about it, getting the lead out of the water system, especially in underserved communities.
As we implement the infrastructure legislation, Democrats remain hard at work to Build Back Better – better than it was before the virus even struck. We are committed to passing legislation to bring down everyday costs burdening working families, from health care to child care to family care and more.
We must also work together to combat the urgent climate threat, which is already impacting cities across the country. How many times have I been here when I thanked you, mayors, for your innovative initiatives over the years to protect the planet? The mayors have been in the lead in America on this subject – especially at the national level, when we have been in denial. Not we – somebody.
This will make an immediate and enormous difference to Americans – this initiative to save the planet. So, Democrats cannot stop fighting to Build Back Better. We hope it can all be bipartisan. That would be our goal. But, we cannot, as the President said – he said, ‘I want to do everything I can to work in a bipartisan way to build the infrastructure where we can find our common ground working together. But, I cannot confine my vision for America to just that. We must Build Back Better.’
Our work doesn’t end – just what I talked about. We must also carry on the fight to build a stronger, more inclusive democracy where every voice is heard.
Last week, as you may know, the House passed the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act to stop voter suppression and election subversion, end partisan gerrymandering, empower the grassroots and end dark money in our politics. While Republicans in the Senate blocked the bill yesterday, Democrats will never relent in our fight for our democracy, and we will find a path forward. Nothing less is at stake than our democracy.
As President Kennedy so rightly observed, ‘We will neglect our cities to our peril – for in neglecting them, we neglect the nation.’ That is why, for nine decades, America’s mayors and the United States Congress have worked together to forge progress for the American people.
So, as we face the many challenges and opportunities ahead, let us continue to strive, working together to advance opportunity for every American in every zip code; to strengthen our democracy from, city halls to Capitol Hill; and build a better, brighter future for generations to come.
Because, we know in Congress, we know what you know: to get the job done, listen to our mayors!
Thank you, mayors, for all that you do. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. Thank you all so much.
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