Nancy Pelosi came out swinging against House Speaker John Boehner’s $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, right after President Barack Obama urged Democrats in the House to vote for it.
“I was so really heartbroken–I don’t think I’ve ever said that word on the floor of the House, heartbroken–to see the taint that was placed on this valuable appropriations bill from on high,” Pelosi said in a House floor speech ripping into the bill.
“The taint I refer to is what the president described in his letter today as ‘a rider that would amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and weaken a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk,'” Pelosi said, quoting the president’s criticisms of the bill despite his endorsement of its passage.
So when people are talking to you about what’s in the bill or this or that, I am going to say to you what you are putting your name next to if you choose to vote for this bill and why I’m so appalled. Well, I’ll tell you why. It was September 2008. Things were happening in the financial services industry. Lehman Brothers, down. Merrill Lynch, down. AIG, whatever. It all happened within a matter of days. I called the Secretary of the Treasury and I said, “how can we be helpful? What is going on?” He said it’s terrible. I said, “is one of the major financial institutions going down?” He said “it’s bigger than that. We’re in a serious meltdown.” Well, “why am I calling you Mr. Secretary [Hank] Paulsen?” The White House wasn’t ready for Congress to know about this.
She noted that then-Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and several top administration and congressional officials met in her office that night, and Bernanke told her if they didn’t act “there wouldn’t be an economy come Monday.”
By the policies that were in place at that time, we were taken to a place where we wouldn’t have an economy. No commercial paper, no economy by Monday. And here we are, 2014, going down the same path. Earlier today, the Republicans put a bill on the floor that would make certain tax incentives permanent and unpaid for. We should be doing revenue reform but not that way because the revenue policies of the Bush administration contributed to the Great Recession close to a Depression. So their tax policy jeopardized our economy. And then their laissez-faire attitudes of no regulation, that took us to a meltdown of our financial institutions.
Pelosi called the bill “blackmail” too.
“Here we are in the House being blackmailed to vote for an appropriations bill,” Pelosi said. “I’m not asking anybody to vote one way or another, I’m just telling you why I would not put the name of my constituents in my district next to a bill that does as the president says ‘weaken a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk.'”
Pelosi also called the bill a “moral hazard.”
“This is a moral hazard,” she added later, while agreed with Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) that the bill is a “quid pro quo” for Wall Street. “We’re being asked to vote for a moral hazard.”
She said it’s not right for Wall Street to get gifts in appropriations bills.
“Why is this in an appropriations bill?” she asked. “Because it was the price to pay to get an appropriations bill. I was told we couldn’t get all these other things that have been described here so beautifully unless we gave Wall Street this gift.”