tv House and Senate Democratic Leaders Press Conference CSPAN May 21, 2018 10:37pm-11:11pm EDT
advisedresident [indiscernible] -- >> is a president following through? >> yes. can do that, i want go through specifics. on trade, it is near impossible -- announcer: again, secretary mnuchin and and david carter david kaulter will be going over the 2019 treasury budget tuesday at 10:00 a.m. >> congressional democrats were critical of ethics violations in the trump administration and the
administrations in history. instead of delivering on its promise to drain the swamp, president trump has become the swamp. republicans of the white house and the congress are cravenly beholden to big money interests and the american people are paying the price. from giveaways to dirty energy polluters, our children are paying the price in the air they breathe and the water they drink. the giveaways of tax breaks for wall street and wealthy corporations, shipping jobs overseas, our workers and the middle class are paying the price. to giveaways to big pharma, raising drugs costs, where children, seniors and working families are paying the price every day.
the american people deserve better, but republicans are standing in the way. we want republicans and their corrupt big donor-driven agenda to get out of the way. it has given the american people a raw deal. democrats are offering a better deal for our democracy. to save our democracy we are committed to empowering the american voter, to demand responsive government, protecting every citizen's right to vote and their right to have their vote counted as cast. safeguarding our election infrastructure and ending partisan redistricting. next we are striking america's ethics laws to fight the special interests, ending the revolving door in washington and reining in the influence the lobbyist, big money donors and special interests who drive the republican agenda. fixing our broken campaign finance system to combat big money influence, wiping out the scourge of unaccountable, secret, dark money, and overturning citizens united. republican special interests and donor-first agenda is part of their d.n.a. but democrats have a people-first agenda, to put the power back in the hands of the american people, we're fixing
our broken political system and ensuring government works for everyone. not just the wealthy and well-connected. we are restoring the confidence of the american people in our political system, restoring government of the people, by the people and for the people. and a champion of that statement of our democracy is next. our distinguished leader of the united states senate, on the democratic side, senator chuck schumer. you are here, thank goodness. [applause] mr. schumer: thank you, leader pelosi. and want to thank you and all my colleagues for their leadership. happy monday to one and all. now, president trump campaigned as a populist. he promised to drain the swamp and clean up washington. democrats welcomed this promise when he made it. all of us here today have been working for years to promote
ideas and legislation that would loosen the grip of special interests on so many arms of the federal government. but president trump, when it comes to draining the swamp, has been a complete and total disappointment. president trump has embraced the most egregious establishment republican norms, and appointed the most conflict of interest-ridden cabinet in my lifetime. the swamp has never been more foul or more fetid than under this president. every day it seems there's a new story about the swamp cabinet. just look at the swampy actions that finally forced out h.h.s. secretary tom price. e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt's almost daily scream of corruption. or o.m.b.'s mick mulvaney caught on tape saying access to him had to be bought. he wasn't even ashamed. even the president's personal attorney, michael cohen, who doesn't work in the white house,
was cashing checks in exchange for access and influence into the trump white house. michael cohen's pay to play scheme is a stark reminder of the glaring need to take real action. not just rhetoric, but action, with actual teeth. to bring accountability and transparency to washington. so, the question becomes, what are democrats going to do about it? as leader pelosi mentioned, as my colleagues will detail, the american people deserve a better deal for our democracy and democrats plan to make that happen. you've heard from us since last july about our bold, sharp-edged economic agenda. put simply, real progress and actually delivering for the hardworking men and women of this country won't come until we're able to finally loosen the vice grip that special interests have over washington republicans
and the trump administration. we need to strengthen our nation's ethics laws because the needs of middle class and working class families in america shouldn't be put on the back burner while those who paid millions of dollars to the president's personal attorney are seen to first. we're going to close the cohen loophole so that the president's cronies can't sell access to the highest bidder. we need to get big money out of politics because the koch brothers shouldn't have more influence over our public policy than two brothers who run a pizza parlor in buffalo. and we need to protect every citizen's right to vote. to safeguard our election infrastructure from hostile actors, and out if an end once and for all to partisan gerrymandering. congressman sarbanes. mr. sarbanes: thank you, senator.
good afternoon, everybody. this place behind us, the capitol, where the house and senate is located, this is an institution that our public wants to work, people want this place to work. but they lack confidence anymore that it will work for them because they see the influence that special interests have, that big money has, that lobbyists have. and they worry that this institution, this democratic institution, that our government works for somebody else. and not for them. and they know what happens when a culture of corruption takes hold. they understand the consequence of special interests ruling the roost. and taking hostage their governmental institutions. when wall street calls the shots on tax policy, it has a consequence in the everyday lives of americans out there. when scott pruitt is carrying polluted water for the oil and gas industry and the chemical
industry, it makes a difference to the daily lives of americans all across this country. people understand this. they feel it viscerally. and they resent it. they want to see their voice again in their politics and in their government. they want to believe that they matter. the polls keep coming back, 90%, 95% of americans think that washington works for somebody else and not for them. but we need to move on from diagnosing the problem. because we know what it is. and americans know what it is. we have to just stop talking about how money and special interests have too much influence in washington and we have to do is being it. we have to put a reform agenda out there that aligns with every other agenda that we're presenting. when you go out, when a member of congress goes out and talks to people in their district and
talks about the better deal for america, the economic agenda that democrats are putting forward, people want that. they respond to that. they want to see that better deal for our economy. the problem is they look at you and they say, there's no way you can make it happen because the special interests in washington will stop it. and that's why we're saying, we're also going to bring along with that economic message a reform message. to show people that we're serious about fixing this institution. so all the things that we want to see happen and that they want to see happen can actually occur here. that we can get that kind of policy through. we can make the democracy work again. we can strengthen ethics and accountability. we can protect access to the ballot box. and we can fight back against big money and special interests. we have what it takes and that's what a better deal for our democracy is all about.
a better deal for our democracy means lobbyists won't call the shots. a better deal for our democracy means that big money and special interests won't be the ones that get their phone calls returned, but it will be everyday americans who get access to people here in washington. a lot of people in our country have fled the political town square over the last few years. they feel powerless, they feel defeated, they're cynical. they don't believe their voice matters anymore. and they fled the political town square and they've gone up into the hills. and a lot of them are saying to us, fix this broken system and then we'll come back. and what we're saying is, we need to you come back and help us fix this system. this has to be a partnership. and if everyday americans reach out and partner with democrats as we put this reform agenda forward, we can fix the democracy. we can banish the special interests. and we can return to a
government of, by and for the people. and now it's my pleasure to introduce a crusader on reform for many, many years, senator sheldon whitehouse. mr. whitehouse: thank you, john. and thank you all for being here. one donor gave speaker paul ryan $24.6 million for a super p.a.c. one donor gave $17.9 million to influence this election of our latest supreme court justice. and this election, phony front groups with names like rhode islanders for puppies and peace and prosperity are going to show up on our televisions and pour their smear ads into our living rooms.
and all of it is anonymous. the donor behind the $24.6 million to speaker ryan, the donor behind the $17.9 million to judicial watch, and the donors behind those smear advertisements will all be anonymous. people in this country feel like they're not being listened to by government. it's because they're not. academic studies prove almost zero statistical correlation between what the public wants and what gets done in congress. and the reason is the unlimited money and the dark money that are the scourge of our politics. the scourge of unlimited money open the door to the worst scourge of dark money, which open the door to the even worse scourge of private threats and promises to deploy that dark money.
that is a recipe for corruption. the founding fathers who our republican colleagues claim to venerate would be disgusted by this. they would not put up with it. that legendary clean house teddy roosevelt would take that big stick up and go to speaker ryan's office and do something about the $24.6 million anonymous contribution. and we can all pull together to end the power of the anonymous megadonors and return this great country to the people. thank you very much. and it's my pleasure to give the microphone to the outstanding congresswoman bustos from illinois. mrs. bustos: good afternoon, everyone. thank you, senator.
since i was first elected to congress, when i go home, i do something that we call supermarket saturdays. so on most weekends you will find me walking the aisles of a grocery store. and i ask people, almost every person i run across, what do you want me to fight for? what do you want me to fight against? what do you want to make sure that i'm getting done? and more and more i am hearing this deep skepticism and this disgust over whether we can get anything done in washington, d.c. wondering if those folks elected in washington care more about their donors than they do about the people that they were elected to serve. you know what. i think increasingly they're exactly right. to wonder that. look no further than the hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars that congressional republicans gave away to billionaires and to corporate special interests. and how is wall street reacting to this tax scam? well, by rewarding themselves. with more than $1 trillion in corporate buybacks. these guys are laughing all the
way to the bank. and this has got to stop. we're here today because we know, all of us standing up here, know that americans deserve a better deal for our democracy. and one of our corner stones of this better deal for our democracy is tough new ethics laws that work for everyday americans. not for the greedy special interests. everybody knows that there's an influence economy in this city. and there's no bigger revolving door than right down the street at trump international hotel. president trump in his first year in office pocketed $40 million off of that hotel. and by the way, if you want to lease the franklin suite, it will only cost you $5,500. and to put that in perspective for the people that i serve, that's about a month and a half worth of income for a family of four. they're working hard for that.
and what does that $5,500 buy the people who are staying in that room? well, they get to turn around and jack up your prices on prescription drugs. they get to help write a tax scam that will help their closest buddies. and we're here to say that it is time to slam that door shut on pay to play politics. it's time to hold government officials accountable. because when working folks sit down at their table at night, when they're home, they're wondering, why are their health care going up 20%? at the same time that the former secretary of health and human services racked up more than $1 million in taxpayer funded private jet? how do republicans stand tripling the rent for the poor at the same time that the housing and urban development secretary just went out and bought a $31,000 dining room set? and just why would the secretary of commerce take his wife to go fly off in a military plane so
he can see the eclipse? they're left wondering, why are they in the dark and wondering, when will their economic prosperity see the light of day? we're saying enough already. enough of paul ryan. enough of mitch mcconnell ta turning a blind eye to corruption. not questioning what's going on here. enough of the president turning america into a nation of the rich, by the powerful, and for the lobbyists. we are here to commit for a better deal and starts with proper oversight, transparency and real accountability to our nation. thank you very much. with that, i would like to introduce senator udall. thank you. [applause] senator udall: thank you very much and it's an honor to be standing here with such champions of reform. we are here today because too many americans feel like they
are no longer in charge of their democracy. the voices of ordinary americans have been completely drowned out by secret donors who can spend unlimited money. they have hired an administration and a republican congress that will do whatever they say. people who will betray the public trust in a heartbeat for their own personal gain. last week, scott pruitt was here testifying before congress. i asked him a very simple question, how many investigations are you currently under? well, i thought it was a simple question, but mr. pruitt couldn't answer it. he is under so many investigations for his
self-dealing swampy behavior that he couldn't give a number. the answer is at least 15, at least 15 investigations and now we have a sitting cabinet member raising money from an outside legal defense fund, and we don't even know who is paying. scott pruitt was hired for a reason. his big polluter backers put him in charge because they knew he would put their profits first. he is selling away our clean air and clean water to the highest bidder, as long as he can keep his first-class seats and 24/7 security, as long as the special interests continue to bank roll his political future. americans look at people like scott pruitt and they see a washington that is not just hopelessly out of touch, but fundamentally broken. democrats have a plan to fix it, with historic reforms to put the american people back in charge
and restore faith in our democracy. and it starts with ending the strange willhold of big money on of big money on our electoral system. our plan will take the power out of the hands of billionaire donors and put it back in the hands of ordinary americans. we'll create a 21st century system that truly empowers small donors and shine a light on dark money so american people aren't in the dark. we'll pass the democracy for all constitutional amendment to reverse the disastrous citizens united decision and rein the flood of unlimited money into our elections. american democracy shouldn't have a price for entry. that's not the deal the american people were promised. it's time we took back our democracy and returned it to the
hands of all americans. that's the better deal that democrats are offering here today. and now i turn over the microphone to congresswoman jayapal. she's from washington state, a freshman and breath of fresh air to this congress. thank you. [applause] ms. jayapal: thank you, senator udall and thank you to the group of leaders who have been championing these efforts. the american people know that this democracy is not working for them. and they know that the reason is because of the scourge of big money in politics, of donors who can give millions of dollars without us knowing who they are and being able to buy votes in the united states congress. that is wrong. and democrats have a plan to end that and to return our democracy
back to the people. the nation's wealthiest and special interest groups have funneled millions to influence votes and there is little competing with large-scale corporate pac money. it is pretty tough to outfinance billionaires if you are busy teaching our nation's children. and it's hard to beat back against these interests to make sure all the voices of working people are heard and frankly it's unjust that they should have to. we know that big donors, the n.r.a., the koch brothers and these special interest groups own republican members of congress. they throw resources into tight races and in return they return
-- receive a not so secret promise from republicans to slow or shred any meaningful legislation to address our nation's biggest problem. and until we can get this big money out of politics and push for the kinds of real reforms we mentioned today, we are not going to see the kind of reform that really allows democracy to work for the people. we are supposed to be the people's house. and it's time that we started acting like it. when i ran for congress, i had 82,000 individual donors who gave me $21 each and there was a $7 million race. but people want to know that their voice is as important as anyone else's and they don't have to buy their way into office. in our better deal proposal, we are pushing historic reforms to campaign finance, to multiply the power of small donors which increases and multiplies the ability for new diverse candidates from our neighborhoods and candidates to win.
congress has to improve campaign finance laws and end dark money into politics. it's time to take our government pack and we know people across the country are ready to do that as we institute these historic reforms. when we have control of congress, that is what you will see and americans across this the country want a better deal and want government to work for them. thank you. and with that, i turn it back to our leader. ms. pelosi: thank you very much. when they send gratitude to leader chuck schumer, john sarbanes, senator white house, representative bustos, senator udall and representative jayapal.
i acknowledge other members who are working hard on this issue of the government for the people, congressman david price of north carolina, delegate sablan and congresswoman sewell who worked on the voting acts of alabama. members wanted me to acknowledge that what we do on the inside here is only one part of our reaching success, the inside maneuvering, very important. the outside mobilization, essential. what we tried to do today is present the american people a road map how to weigh in and the difference they can make and helping us do that is the leadership of groups who are here today. wave your flags when your name is called and we should all be waving our flags. democracy 21.
public citizen.\ centers for american progress, common cause, c.w.a., every voice, people for the american way, sierra club, naacp. if anyone else is there please give a shoutout. center for popular democracy. anyone else. thank you all for what you have done over the years for the promise that we are making to the american people together to work with them to have a government of, by and for the people, a better deal for the american people. god bless america. let's all wave. [applause] ms. pelosi: thank you all very much. [captions copyright national
also, talking about the division among democrats seeking to impeach president trump heading into the 2018 election. then we will look at funding of arts programs. watch c-span's washington journal live tuesday morning. join the discussion. announcer: here's a look at live coverage for tuesday. on tuesday, the houses and that 10:00 a.m. after that, they will work on authorization of defense programs. vote forthe house will the nominee on the consumer safety commission. is --vengeance eight fox
former mexican president for -- vicente fox. then, an update on border security on c-span3. now, an update on how money is used by special interest groups. later in the event, senator sheldon whitehouse spoke about how to deal with what he called the influence of dark money. >> good afternoon. welcome to the center for american progress. i'm the senior vice president. we would like to remind you this event is being filmed and streamed live.