Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) held a press conference this afternoon, where he was joined by House Democrats to announce and discuss new jobs legislation being added to the Make It In America plan to strengthen manufacturing and bring jobs back to the U.S. Below is a link to the video and a transcript of his remarks, along with the question and answer session at the end:
Click here to see the new bills added to the Make It In America plan.
Click here to see the full list of bills included in the Make It In America plan.
Click here to see quotes of support for the Make It In America plan.
Click here to watch the video.
“This reason we’re having this press conference today is because we know that everyone in the press corps is focused on Make It In America today. This Congress we launched the Make It In America plan with an important premise in mind: every American who wants to work hard and take responsibility ought to have a job that pays well and opens doors of opportunity to the middle class. Now I was joking at the beginning, but I guarantee you, the overwhelming majority of Americans are focused on exactly that premise. Not the politics of Washington. Not what’s happening to any member of Congress, but what’s happening to jobs in their families, for their husbands, for their wives, for their children. The way to make sure that happens is by supporting a robust manufacturing sector and ensuring that manufacturing businesses can innovate, build, and hire right here in America. That is supported by Democrats, by Republicans, by Independents, and by everyone I talk to.
“Make It In America is an ambitious plan to invest in manufacturing jobs and competitiveness both in the immediate term and over the longer term. It does so by focusing on four key action areas that not only have bipartisan support but that also are common sense.
“First, as any successful leader in business will tell you, we need a plan, which is why the first component of the Make It In America agenda is to adopt and pursue a national manufacturing strategy. A bill that did that passed in the last Congress with over 350 votes. It passed out of the committee unanimously, and it hasn’t been brought to the floor. We need a plan.
“Secondly, more exports. More exports means more jobs for American workers, who have always built the products that make our world run.
“Third, we have to do more to encourage businesses to bring jobs and innovation home to America to create jobs for our people. America has always been an innovation hub and ought to continue to be for generations to come – and businesses are increasingly locating innovation labs near manufacturing floors, so we need to make sure that those manufacturing floors are here in America.
“And, fourth, we must invest in training and securing a twenty-first century workforce that can attract jobs to our communities and form the core of the next generation of our middle class.
“That’s what Make It In America is all about: ensuring that our businesses can make ‘it’ in America, on the premise that if they do, Americans will be able to ‘make it’ in America.
“Today I am proud to be joined by some of our most outstanding Democratic Members. The Chairman of our Caucus, [Rep.] Xavier Becerra. They you, Xavier, for being here. The Vice Chairman of our Caucus, [Rep.] Joe Crowley, is here with us. And there are a lot of other leaders here with us as well. I won’t mention each one of them by name, but I am pleased that our Caucus is well represented here because this is a Caucus issue.
“This is what Democrats believe in, and that’s what we want to focus on. Like the fifty bills that have already been introduced, these new bills, some of which you’re going to hear about right now, are focused on these action areas to help grow jobs here at home and maintain our country as the manufacturing leader of the world.
“That is not a partisan issue; that is America’s issue. Make It In America is a blueprint for the job creation, and it has the support of business, labor, economists, and – yes – even a large number of Republicans. As a matter of fact, I can go the most conservative district in America, the most Republican district in America and talk about making it in America, and heads will shake. And I can go to the most liberal district in America, the most Democratic district, the most blue district, and talk about Make It In America, and heads will shake. It is a unifying agenda in a country that is crying out for unity of purpose and focus.
“There is a broad public support for these ideas, and there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t be able to take up Make It In America bills and pass them with bipartisan support in this Congress.
“Now it is my great privilege to yield to my distinguished colleagues who are here to talk about the Make It In America legislation they have introduced, and we’ll start with dear friend from California, Representative Julia Brownley, former member of the California Assembly. She’s going to talk about her Manufacturing Jobs for Students Act.
Q: Congressman, you may have heard about the Cantor loss. I just wanted to see, how do Democrats leverage that to push for Democrats’ priorities, to get legislation done this year before the election.
Hoyer: Well, look, I don’t think the election has changed our focus or our energy in trying to focus on the things we think that will help people make it in America. As you know, we are very strong proponents of putting the unemployment insurance extension on the floor. We think that helps struggling Americans but also helps our economy overall. We also think the minimum wage needs to be raised. We think that helps the economy and individual Americans. We think we need to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, which COB scores at $900 billion positive to our budget deficit over the next twenty years, and the overwhelming majority of American people reflect that they’re for all of those. There are a number of others. We need to pass a voting rights act. None of that has changed by the election yesterday. All of those are priorities that we are strongly for. We think we need to pass an end to discrimination in employment, a piece of legislation that the Senate has passed. So the election didn’t change our priorities. This press conference about Make It In America, that’s what people sent us here to make sure that they could do. That’s why people came to America because they thought they could make it and seize opportunity. We need to make sure that is available to them.
Q: Are those prospects brighter or darker today given last night?
A: Well, look, these prospects are supported by the overwhelming majority of the American people who sent all of us, Republicans and Democrats, to the Congress of the United States. If we want to represent them, that’s our title, Representative, if we want to represent them, all of the issues that I just mentioned are supported by an overwhelming majority of them, including Democrats, Republicans, and anyone else who might want to designate themselves as some other category. The fact of the matter is that we still have a responsibility, just as much as we had Monday, we have a responsibility on Wednesday to represent the American people and do the best we can do to make their country the best it can be and make sure that they can, in the context of our policies, make it in America.
Q: Just a quick follow up on that, you’ve had a good relationship with Eric Cantor, actually worked with him passing some bills. Do you think his loss would be bad for Democrats? Maybe actually cause more gridlock?
Hoyer: It’s hard to figure out how you can cause more gridlock than we’ve had. We’ve unfortunately focused on doing mostly negative things… or messaging. Secondly, I think we have seen on display over the last three years, a party that is deeply divided and dysfunctional. I think that last night was an evidence of that, but I’ve been asserting that for a long period of time. The American public want us to work together. As I’ve just said, the issues that we have made priority items are overwhelmingly supported by the American people, and in respect to the election last night, we’re hopeful that we can move ahead now, not in the next Congress, not ten years from now - now, on moving legislation that is important to the American people.
Q: I know reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import bank is on your agenda, and that’s something you’ve been working with Mr. Cantor with, hoping to get around Chairman Hensarling who opposes it. Does Mr. Cantor’s loss change the dynamic in terms of getting Export-Import…
Hoyer: Well, I’ve called Mr. Cantor this morning. I have not yet talked to him, but I certainly intend to work with him on… we’ll have to see what the context is. I’ll continue to do that. I’ll make the observation that, you know, I’ve worked with a lot of leaders on the other side. I’ve worked with Trent Lott. I worked with Tom Delay. I worked with Roy Blunt, a good friend of mine. I’ve worked with Eric Cantor. They just can’t get rid of me. It seems that we have a lot of people. I’m going to work with whoever’s there because the Export-Import Bank, the reason it’s part of the Make It In America agenda, if we’re going to be competitive, if we want people to manufacture things here, creating American jobs here for our constituents, then we want to make sure we are competitive worldwide, and without the Export-Import Bank we won’t be. Mr. Cantor believed that, and I am hopeful we can continue to work on that. And by the way, when it came to the Floor and we voted on it, you know, it got over 300 votes. It got the majority of Republicans and every Democrat voting for it when we authorized it. I think the reauthorization would get a large number of votes too. I hope we can get it to the Floor soon.
Q: Mr. Hoyer, similarly, you said yesterday you were meeting with Mr. Cantor on the Voting Rights Act and have continued to do so. Where do you see that going at this point because he was a pretty powerful ally in terms of trying to get that through?
Hoyer: And I hope he will continue to be an ally. It hasn’t been brought to the Floor yet, and it hasn’t had committee hearings yet, which we’re concerned about. We’ve had meetings as recently as yesterday, as you know, with many of the bipartisan, nonpartisan groups who are trying to ensure that Americans not only have the right to vote but are facilitated in casting that vote. We think the Supreme Court decision in Shelby very substantially limited the protections that Americans have, and we want to see the Sensenbrenner bill pass. Sensenbrenner, Republican, former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan fashion. So, I’m going to continue to work with whoever is wiling to work with us to get that bill passed.
Q: So you don’t think his loss would slow down…
Hoyer: It wasn’t moving very fast, so whether it will slow it down or not, we’ll see. I’m still hopeful that Mr. Cantor will be a leader in this effort. He could be very helpful.