Weekly Democratic Address
November 16, 2018
Hi, I’m Congressman Gerry Connolly from Virginia, and I serve as a Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
This week, I helped welcome many of the new Members of Congress, including three incredible women from the Commonwealth of Virginia – Jennifer Wexton, Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria. They are among the record number of women who will serve in the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress. Theirs is a dynamic and historic freshman class that promises to bring new talent and fresh ideas to the Congress.
I am thrilled by their diversity. Women and people of color who make up a majority of new Democratic Members, who include the first Muslim and Native American women ever to serve in Congress.
I am encouraged by the wealth of experience these new Congressmen and women will bring. They are veterans, teachers, business owners and community activists who represent the fabric of America.
And I am also humbled by their desire to serve their constituents and their country.
The new House majority was elected to get things done for all of us and provide a constitutional check on the Trump administration.
Democrats campaigned on a clear vision to deliver a Congress that works for the people:
To make health care more accessible and prescription drugs more affordable, and to protect those with pre-existing conditions;
To invest in priorities like infrastructure and education that will grow our economy and raise wages in America;
And to clean up corruption here in Washington.
Americans rejected the Republican plan to deprive millions of Americans of health care and to allow health insurance companies once again to deny families health insurance simply because of a pre-existing condition.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 20 million Americans now have gained access to health insurance.
Rather than dismantle and sabotage Obamacare, House Democrats want to work to make it better by creating more competition, bringing down prescription drug costs, and expanding access to health care.
I was proud to work with my Governor – Governor Ralph Northam – in Virginia to expand Medicaid to 450,000 new recipients of Medicaid this year. And thanks to voters last Tuesday, a half a million more individuals across America will now also have access to Medicaid.
37 states have now joined the Medicaid expansion, but every state should expand Medicaid and provide millions more Americans with affordable health care.
We Democrats also recognize that to be competitive in the 21st-century global economy, we need to make strategic investments that grow our economy and raise household incomes. Rather than fighting for a wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for, let’s start rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges and rail systems and sea ports and airports.
Today, public investment in infrastructure accounts for just 1.5 percent of our gross domestic product – a reduction from 4.2 percent in the 1930s. That amounts to $130 billion to 520 billion in cuts, that is to say money we are not investing that we should be to maintain our infrastructure.
Without investments in infrastructure and research and education, no nation can be great. Our own history tells us that.
And House Democrats are also committed to fight the influence of money in politics, we want to strengthen ethics rules, and we want to ensure that the sacred right to vote is just that: sacred and available to every American – regardless of race, color, creed or religion.
Your vote must always count.
Last week, Americans made clear they want a constitutional check on the rampant abuses of the Trump administration. The scandals, lack of transparency, and self-dealing must stop. Congress is a co-equal branch of government and we have a constitutional duty to provide that oversight.
Our Oversight Committee has requested more than 64 subpoenas to seek documents and compel testimony from witnesses involving government ethics or wrongdoing. But House Republicans granted zero of those 64 requests.
The American people deserve greater accountability from their government.
The new Democratic majority will carry out judicious, methodical, and fact-based oversight. Our investigations will go wherever the facts lead us, and we will act decisively when we find violations of public trust.
It’s time for a Congress that works for all of the people, instead of a rubber stamp for special interests and President Trump.
These are the promises we Democrats made to the American people, and these are the promises we will redeem.
Thank you, and God bless.