Weekly Democratic Address
June 16, 2017
Hello. I’m Congressman Jim Clyburn. I proudly represent the 6th Congressional District of South Carolina and serve as the Assistant Democratic Leader in the United States House of Representatives.
Let me begin by wishing House Majority Whip Steve Scalise a full and speedy recovery. I also wish the same for Matt Mika, the former staffer and volunteer who was also shot in last Wednesday’s senseless and cowardly attack.
I cannot find sufficient words to express thanks and appreciations to Special Agents David Bailey, Crystal Griner and Henry Cabrera, members of the Dignitary Protection Corps, for their brave and sacrificial actions which contained and eliminated a clear and present danger to only God knows how many dedicated public servants. Having spent several years under their watchful protection, I know first-hand of their hard work and dedication. I wish for them speedy recoveries as well. I’m keeping them and their families in my prayers.
No issue is more important to the people of America than their health, and the health of their families. And in my opinion, no issues are more important to the health care of Americans than accessibility and affordability. The ACA repeal legislation recently passed by House Republicans – without a single Democratic vote – would have devastating effects on families all across the country. President Trump pushed hard and relentlessly for its passage. Recently, however, he called the bill ‘mean.’
When President Obama proposed the ACA, he hosted a bi-partisan, bicameral town-hall type roundtable in the Blair House. It was broadcast, in real time, by C-SPAN, and when the bill was introduced in the House, it went to three committees that debated its pros and cons extensively. Republicans and Democrats offered scores of amendments and many of them were accepted.
I was serving as House Majority Whip at the time, and when the bill was debated on the floor, I called it the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century. I gave it that moniker because the ACA outlaws many forms of discrimination in health care. It outlaws discrimination against women who were often charged more for health care coverage than men. It outlawed discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.
The ACA repeal bill that House Republicans passed and sent to the Senate would rip away health care from 23 million Americans, and raise costs and roll back protections for millions more.
Now, Senate Republicans are working in secret on their own Trumpcare bill. They won’t tell you what it is, but they want you to believe it’s more moderate. There’s nothing moderate about undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions by repealing the essential health benefits protections. There’s nothing moderate about gutting Medicaid by $834 billion and in the same bill give $900 billion in tax giveaways to a few wealthy families, and insurance and drug companies. Repealing the ACA would once again institutionalize the kind of discrimination against the sick and aged that has plagued hard-working families for generations. Passing the Republican bill would turn the clock back on civil rights and humaneness.
It does not have to be this way. Democrats are eager to work with our Republican colleagues to deliver accessible and affordable quality health care to all Americans, but Republicans must set aside their repeal efforts. It is my fervent hope that this is the path we choose going forward.
Thank you for listening and God bless.