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Pelosi Remarks at Press Event Adding Rebuild America’s Schools Act to Democrats’ Moving Forward Infrastructure Framework

Contact: Speaker’s Press Office,
202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Members of Congress and national education leaders for a press event adding H.R. 865, the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, to House Democrats’ Moving Forward infrastructure framework.  The bill makes a $100 billion investment to help repair and improve the physical and digital infrastructure of public schools across the nation.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you all for being here.  

In the 2018 election, we talked about a For The People agenda.  For The People, we would lower the cost of – health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and protecting the pre-existing condition [benefit].  For The People, we would build the infrastructure of America and we would raise paychecks by building the infrastructure of America.  And building that infrastructure, central to it, is building the physical infrastructure of our schools.

We tell children that education is important to them.  That it is important that they study.  It’s important for their own personal aspirations, but it’s important for our communities, it’s important to the country for our competitiveness.  The most important investment a family can make is in the education of their children.  The most important investment a country can make is in the education of our children and that future.  

And nothing brings more money to the Treasury than investing in education: early childhood, K-12, higher education, post-grad, lifetime learning for our workers, workforce development, so much a part of America’s competitiveness and our economy.  

So, here we are today saluting our Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott for his years of leadership on behalf of America’s students and workers.  

Thank you to Representative Don Norcross, a champion for working Americans on the Education and [Labor] Committee, as well.

Jahana Hayes brings her experience as a legislator, as well as a Teacher of the Year, nationally.  A super star.  

We’re honored to be joined by Randi Weingarten, of the American Federation of Teachers and Lily Eskelsen García of the National Education Association.  And we welcome – they are regulars here as you probably know – and we welcome Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers here to speak about what this legislation means in the lives of students and families.  

So, when we talk to those children and we say education is important, we send them a mixed message – when we send a message that education is important, and then we send them to a school that is dilapidated, that is not wired for the future.  If this is so important, why aren’t you respecting me, a student, by having facilities that are worthy of it?

The crumbling schools are not meeting the needs of our children.  Nearly one-quarter of America’s schools are rated substandard.  The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our school infrastructure a D+ on its last report card.  A D+ for our schools, for our children.

We cannot send our children into schools with broken heating, contaminated water, toxic mold, poor technology, and expect them to thrive.  All students must have access to a secure, modern, high-quality school that gives them the tools to succeed.

That is why we are proud to advance this legislation, which is a bold – investing $100 million, excuse me, billion dollars – 

[Applause]

$100 billion in meeting critical physical and digital infrastructure needs for schools.

It is job-creating.  It is future-focused and will help secure justice and equality and education for all of our children.  Every child, regardless of zip code, family income, should have a chance to succeed.  

Thank you, Chairman Scott, for making that possible with your leadership, in so many ways and on this school-infrastructure legislation today.  

May I – I now am pleased to yield to the $100 billion man, Bobby Scott.

***

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Jerry, Lily, Randi, to the presidents of the unions.  And thank you, Jerry, and others, for calling attention to the challenges that our teachers face.  

We are talking about the children.  The teachers always talk about the children, but our teachers are the custodians of our children for a large part of the day.  They speak for our children’s interest, but they are not always sharing with us the sacrifices that they have to make.  Jerry, you pointed that out as a matter of life and death in terms of your colleague.  Thank you for doing that. 

So, we have three great union presidents here.  One of the Philadelphia Association of Teachers and NEA and AFT.  We also are blessed to have a national teacher of the year who is now a Member of Congress to address this challenge, Congresswoman Hayes.  Thank you for the knowledge and the passion and the brilliance that you bring to this.  And again, Mr. Norcross – he’s always fond of saying, when it comes to schools, we have our children who are learning, our teachers who are teaching in them, we have our builders who are building the schools and we have those who are defending our schools.  

So, this – we’re all a part of the education of our children.   And of course, we have our distinguished Chairman who sees the direct connection of the education of our children to the success of our nation, as well as the creation of jobs.  

So, this as important as it is.  And I would say to our colleagues, who might think $100 billion dollars sounds like a lot of money – that’s over a period of time.  Would you like to send one of your children to one of these schools?  

Well, all of America’s children are all of our children, and we don’t want any of our children going to substandard schools.  Because we know that they are our greatest – as President Kennedy said, our greatest resource – our children are our greatest resource and our best hope for our future. 

So, to our teachers here, thank you for being custodians to our best hope for the future.  Everything we do should be about the future and the well-being of our children.  This is important.  It has the full support of our House Democratic Caucus.  We hope that the support for the Rebuild America’s School Act will have bipartisan support.  We’ll work to do that. 

But we want the children to know – we want the children to know that we are in this for them, again, as the future of our country. 

Thank you very much for your tremendous leadership.  Upward and onward to bringing this legislation to the Floor very soon.  

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for making that possible. 

[Applause]

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