Pelosi Address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors
From the Office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
January 27, 2006
Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors today at their annual
winter meeting. Below are her remarks as prepared:
"Thank you for that kind introduction, Mayor Beverly O'Neill.
Thank you for your leadership as President of the U.S. Conference
of Mayors, and for your stewardship of this conference to improve
the state of America's cities.
"As a Californian, I am especially proud of the 35 California
Mayors here: including Mayor O'Neill and also Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
of Los Angeles, who Mayor O'Neill named to chair the Poverty Task
Force. I am also particularly proud of my mayor, Mayor Gavin Newsom
of San Francisco.
"As I have followed the work of this conference, I have
been impressed by its ambitious agenda, and the work of the Poverty
Task Force and so many other initiatives. As you know best, our
cities face truly complex issues. I'd like to take a moment to
recognize the mayors of the Gulf Coast, who this year are facing
the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
"I must also recognize the unflagging work of Tom Cochran,
Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"Some of you may know that both my father and brother were
Mayors of Baltimore, so I come here today with a healthy respect
for the close relationship you have with your constituents, and
the integral role you play in the civic life of America.
"Just as your theme, 'Cities for a Strong America' suggests,
cities are America's centers of commerce - traditionally, they
have also been our centers of opportunity, and they must continue
"Today I want to talk to you about an important initiative
by House Democrats to ensure that America's cities, and America
as a whole, remain pre-eminent in the world. For over a year,
House Democrats have been working in a bipartisan way - with leaders
in business and the academic community to put together an aggressive
plan to maintain America's leadership in innovation, and unleash
the next generation of discovery, invention and growth.
"This is our Democratic Innovation Agenda - our commitment
to competitiveness to keep America #1.
"Nothing less is at stake than America's economic leadership.
The dynamic cycle of investment, leading to innovation, leading
to jobs, is what has secured our status as world leader. That
status has remained unchallenged, until now. As our competitors
copy our blueprint for preeminence - with investments in education,
long-term research & development, and cutting-edge technologies
- we are departing from it.
"Our innovation agenda begins with a serious, sustained
commitment to America's schools. Nothing could be more important
than providing opportunity for our children, and to secure America's
leadership in the world. In a globalized, knowledge-based economy,
America's greatest resource for innovation and economic growth
resides within America's classrooms.
"We've pledged to create a new generation of innovators
by calling for a qualified teacher in every math and science K-12
classroom and by issuing a 'Call to Action' to engineers and scientists
to join the ranks of America's teachers. Along with other Democratic
proposals such as the Teach Act and the Strengthen our Schools
Act, we intend to make sure young children have qualified teachers
and supportive environments in which to learn.
"We recognize that independent scientific research provides
the foundation for innovation and future technologies. That is
why we pledge to double federal funding for basic research and
development in the physical sciences.
"High-speed, always-on broadband will create millions of
good jobs. Our agenda guarantees that every American will have
affordable access to broadband - within five years.
"We also need to direct America's entrepreneurial spirit
and creativity toward one of our greatest national challenges
- the need to free ourselves from our dangerous and unhealthy
reliance on foreign oil. Americans agree - we should be spending
our energy dollars in America's Midwest, not in the Middle East.
Only innovation and technology can lead America to energy independence.
Democrats have proposed the development of clean, sustainable
energy alternatives, such as bio-based fuels, as well as new engine
technologies for flex-fuel, hybrid, and bio-diesel cars and trucks.
Our economic future and our national security both demand that
we achieve energy independence, and we intend to do so in 10 years.
"Essential to our competitiveness is a healthy environment
for small businesses, so they can turn entrepreneurial ideas into
marketable products, and create good jobs. We propose helping
small businesses succeed by providing more financial support and
technical assistance, reducing regulation, and helping them overcome
one of the greatest challenges they face: the cost of health care.
"Taken together, our Democratic innovation agenda - education,
R&D, public-private partnerships, energy independence - is
a decision in favor of the future.
"That's what House Democrats are proposing in our Innovation
Agenda, a Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America Number
"I am very proud that my hometown of San Francisco is soon
to be 100% wired. But in order for our country to be truly innovative,
we must embrace broadband from coast to coast, and from home to
"That's exactly what Mayor Graham Richard, of Fort Wayne
Indiana is doing in America's heartland. Under his leadership,
Fort Wayne is the first city in the Midwest to have fiber optic
broadband services for nearly 100,000 households, small businesses
and schools. He is taking the lead to use high tech, high performance
public private partnerships to improve city services and save
taxpayers millions of dollars. As he said to you this week - Fort
Wayne is 'Wired and Inspired to Compete in a Flat World.' Mayor
Richard has made Fort Wayne a national model for innovation, and
a strong city for a strong America. Mayor Richard: thank you for
"For America's cities to be strong, they must first be safe.
"The 9/11 attacks revealed numerous security vulnerabilities.
Nearly four and one-half years after the attacks, too many of
those vulnerabilities remain. As Hurricane Katrina challenged
the conscience of our country, it also exposed even more of those
"At the end of this year, the 9/11 commissioners released
a final report card on the implementation of its recommendations
- and this Administration received 17 grades of D or F. As you
know, they found a lack of attention in areas as diverse first
responder communications, sharing of information between government
agencies, and airline cargo screening - to name a few. And yet,
in his budget request for the current fiscal year, the Bush Administration
recommended the following homeland security cuts:
· 10.5% from the Office of State and Local Programs, the
main agency responsible for aiding first responders
· 7% from the State Homeland Security Grant Program
· 30% from FIRE Act programs to equip, train, and staff
local fire departments
· Eliminate the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention program
which assists local law enforcement agencies share information,
harden targets do security planning and make communications interoperable.
· 6% from the Emergency Management Performance Grants
that help state and local emergency managers improve disaster
"These budget cuts make it harder to protect our homeland
and our hometowns, and do not represent the priorities of America's
cities. We need the help of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to fight
for homeland security funding in the 2007 budget that truly addresses
the needs of our cities.
"But it is a fight we can win - just like we did last year
when the Administration tried to dismantle Community Development
"You - a broad coalition of Republican and Democratic mayors
stormed Capitol Hill to defeat this effort, and to make the case
that we need CDBG. It is one of the few remaining initiatives
that get direct federal funds to our cities, who know how to make
the best use of them. You succeeded, but we will have to continue
the fight. We can expect more cuts and unfunded mandates when
the Administration unveils its new proposals on community development
and housing in the next few weeks.
"I know that many of you are facing the complicated problem
of affordable housing. But we have an opportunity for a real solution
if we enact the Affordable Housing Trust Fund that is now a part
of the Government Sponsored Enterprises Reform bill.
"As you know, Congressman Barney Frank has been a tireless
champion of building affordable housing in this country. His success
in initiating and pushing through the House this important provision
could bring the first affordable housing resource created, without
using federal dollars, in seventeen years.
"Unfortunately, this program was hijacked at the last moment
with crippling language that limits access to non-profit organizations
and churches if they offer services that include helping people
fulfill their right to participate in their government. But the
Senate has not yet acted. If we organize again - working with
Senator Reid and applying pressure, the Senate could strike the
gag-rule restriction on the trust fund and send the bill to the
"Though the challenges we face are formidable, you are a
powerful force for progress. We have seen clearly in the budget
battles of the past years what can happen when the mayors and
local officials of our towns and cities unite on a common cause.
"I look forward to fighting with you for the Affordable
Housing Trust Fund, for full funding of Section 8 vouchers and
the HOPE VI program, for better tools to provide safety in public
housing, and for ending chronic homelessness.
"Throughout our nation's history, cities have always been
the places where people go for opportunity and new potential.
When your cities elected you as mayor, they affirmed their hope
in this future, under your leadership. In you, they placed a sacred
trust -- that you will help educate their children, keep safe
their neighborhoods, and foster an environment where businesses
will thrive and create good jobs.
"But you will agree that if there is only new hope and new
potential in some of our cities - that will not be enough. We
must reach out to each other and work together until this hope,
this opportunity, this potential are available to those living
in all of our cities - and then to all Americans - all across
our country. Let us work together until this dream is a reality.