Flanked by his education secretary and two teachers, who the White House says would otherwise be out of work, the President pushed the House to pass a $26 billion emergency aid bill to guarantee the jobs of teachers, fire fighters, nurses and first responders around the country.
“If we do nothing, these educators won’t be returning to the classroom this fall, and that won’t just deprive them of a paycheck, it will deprive the children and parents who are counting on them to provide a decent education,” the President said, “It will deprive countless cities and towns of the law enforcement officials and first responders who risk their lives to keep us out of harm’s way. It will cost us jobs at a time when we need to be creating jobs.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced lawmakers back to Washington from their August recess for a special one-day session to vote on the measure, which the Senate passed last Thursday. The money for the bill comes from closing tax loopholes and reducing food stamp payments. Republicans say the former amounts to a tax on businesses, while some Democrats say cutting food aid will hurt the neediest Americans.
The President called the measure non-partisan, though the floor debate on the Hill this morning has been anything but, with Republicans chastising the majority party for what they call another example of unbridled government spending. On the other side, Democrats accuse Republicans of ignoring the needs of kids as they get ready to return to school this fall.
“I heard the Republican leader in the House say the other day that this is a special interest bill. And I suppose if America’s children and the safety of our communities are your special interest, then it is a special interest bill,” the President said, “America is watching, and America is waiting for Washington to act. So let’s show the nation that we can.”
- Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller