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Pelosi Post Electrification Press Conference At 2010 Detroit Auto Show

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Transcript of Bipartisan Delegation Press Conference at Detroit Auto Show Yesterday

Washington, D.C. January 12, 2010; Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Chairman Emeritus John Dingell, and Congressman Fred Upton held a press conference yesterday afternoon at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Below are their remarks, followed by a brief question and answer session.

Chairman Emeritus Dingell. Good afternoon everyone. We’re here at a great event in Michigan. One of the finest auto shows ever. And I’d like to tell you how pleased I am to welcome my colleagues who have come here. Madam Speaker, you have done us a great honor by being with us. And I want to express the thanks of all of us to you and the delegation that you have brought with you — to not only see and learn what we are doing — and we’re doing wonderful things . But also to help us to show the remarkable technology that is going forward and to help inspire our people to realize the great work that is being done here in Michigan and in the United States to produce wonderful new automobiles with new technology.

I want to say thanks to you, my dear friend Steny Hoyer, for your presence. And to the others who were here — not all of whom are here at this time — John Larson of Connecticut, Xavier Becerra, our colleague John Conyers, our colleague Dale Kildee of Flint who is here, our friend Sandy Levin, and Fred Upton who does so much good work for the industry and for all of our people here, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Tim Ryan of Ohio who has come some distance through bad weather, and Betty Sutton from Ohio — one of the really great young members, Gary Peters, Mark Schauer. And then our three senators who were here — Debbie Stabenow, Byron Dorgan, and Tom Harkin.

My remarks will be mercifully brief, but the good news is that it’s a great show. The better news is it shows that we’re coming back here and that the American automobile industry, with the cooperation of everyone — including the federal and the state government here — is really producing extraordinary automobiles and has even more extraordinary models and new technology here to get this country going again and to show them how we make cars. We’re very proud that the delegation was here and I want to thank all of them for being here.

As I said, my remarks are to be mercifully brief, but they are not going to be so brief that I don’t tell you how grateful we are to the Speaker for her presence, for her leadership, for her help, and also for the work which she has done with this delegation and in an important bipartisan way to restore and to bring back the American manufacturing industry — especially the automobiles which are so important to all of us. We’ve seen some great ones which were made by wonderful American workers and wonderful American clients and run by wonderful American companies and executives. So with those words of gratitude, Madam Speaker, and appreciation and commendation, thank you for being here — the podium is yours.

Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much Chairman Dingell, for your invitation to be here, for the hospitality extended, but more importantly, for your many decades of service to our country. And now you will be on the forefront of innovation and growth for this very important industry in the Congress of the United States and in our country.

We’re pleased to have the delegation be bipartisan, bicameral — House and Senate, and that we were also joined by members of the Administration. Two members of President Obama’s Cabinet — Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. We were honored to be welcomed by Mayor Bing. We were honored to be received and really shepherded through the show — in large parts of the show by the governor of Michigan and we thank her. We thank Governor Granholm for her leadership in bringing together public-private partnerships to have the innovation and entrepreneurial thinking to make the advances that have been made in a short period of time.

I will be happy to report back to our colleagues in the Congress and we will do that in a bipartisan way what we saw here. We came to listen, to learn, to observe, to measure, to judge — what has happened to the investments that were made. First, the investment to lend money to some of the — to two of the automakers. But it wasn’t about lending to automakers, it was about the survival of an industry. The survival of the auto industry is essential to a strong, industrial, technological, and manufacturing base in our country. And that industrial base is essential to our national security. So when we were making those loans, we were looking for viability in these particular companies to sustain this great industry. What we saw here today was a vibrant, optimistic leadership to leapfrog over the competition and to begin making America — keep America number one. It’s about America’s innovation, it’s about our entrepreneurial thinking, it’s about our competitiveness worldwide. What we heard over and over in the presentations was, again, that this was about innovation, it was about American jobs, and it was about protecting our environment.

In addition to what we did in the lending to GM and to Chrysler — and although Ford did not borrow money, they understood how important that was to sustaining an industry. In addition to that, I’m really proud to see the utilization of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Over and over and over today, we heard small business people, academicians, or others tell us how grants from the Recovery Package — let’s call it by that name — have spurred research investments and progress — technologically. All of that comes together, of course, in the auto industry, but it goes beyond that as well.

We’ve come to Michigan, we’ve come to Detroit to see and listen and observe, and we will go back with the message of optimism. It was a great auto show, but presentations beyond the auto industry and about wind and solar. Honoring our President’s commitment when he stood on the steps of the Capitol one year ago and said “We will use our soil and the wind — harness the soil and the wind and the sun to fuel our factories and to grow our economy.” That’s what we see happening here in Michigan.

So what I said today is: “We’ve come, we’ve been impressed, we’re optimistic.” As we go back we have confidence in what has been accomplished and we’ll be back next year again. So I thank the Chairman, again, for his invitation. I’m very proud of this delegation and I think it’s important to note that almost the entire House Democratic Leadership came to this trip — made this a priority. And we will report back. More important than that though is the bipartisan nature of the trip and I’m so glad that Fred Upton will be able to add to that discussion as we go forward. And now, it is my pleasure to yield to the distinguished Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, a close friend of Mr. Dingell and an associate of his in fighting for jobs in Michigan and across the country, and he will speak for himself about his enthusiasm for what he has seen today. But I am very glad that he was part of this trip — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Majority Leader Hoyer. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, thank you for responding to Mr. Dingell’s invitation and Chairman Dingell, I want to thank you for the leadership you have shown through the years in terms of the commitment to manufacturing capability in the United States of America — particularly the automobile industry — but in manufacturing and jobs in general. You have been a strong voice, as was your father preceding you, for well over a half a century. America is a better place because of John Dingell’s leadership. So we were pleased to respond to his invitation to come to Detroit, to come to the auto show.

As I was growing up, the symbol of America’s greatness was the automobile. There were a lot of other symbols, of course, but we were all very proud of the American automobile, which was the envy of the world. And I can remember a reporter asked me, he said: “What’s it like to be here?” And I said, “Well, much like when I first went to an auto show when I was 16 years of age. So like a kid in a candy shop.” And you walk around this mammoth convention center and you see some extraordinary workmanship — quality products, beautiful products that we all would like.

But much more important than that, you see part of the vital national security interest of the United States of America. The Speaker mentioned the manufacturing capability. When we met with the auto leaders, some year and plus ago, and we met with Ron Gettelfinger, who represents the workers in the automobile industry, and we met with others. All of us agreed that the vitality and success and continuation of the automobile industry was of central interest to the national security of the United States of America. In addition to that, we have made it clear that we believe that environmental interests are at stake with respect to our national security. And one of the things that you have become very aware of as you walk around this floor is that we were working on both of those interests in the automobile industry — cleaner cars, more fuel-efficient, more consumer friendly, but also more environmentally friendly. And friendly to America competing with the rest of the world.

I want to thank John Dingell for his leadership, but also want to thank Fred Upton, a Republican who works with us and we with him — hand in hand, step by step — to make sure that the American Congress is a partner in making sure that this vital capacity is maintained in the United States of America. I want to thank Dale Kildee for his leadership over the years as Chair of the Auto Caucus, along with Fred Upton. I want to thank Tim Ryan from Ohio for being here, Mark Schauer — a new Member of the Congress — but like Gary Peters, who is behind me, extraordinarily focused on making sure that a state that has lost half of the manufacturing jobs that we’ve lost in America — one of every five manufacturing jobs in America has been lost — half, Governor Granholm said, in Michigan. I want you to know that your delegation has been working very, very hard and I also want to mention directly behind me my colleague in Congress for almost all my career. I think I’ve been in Congress two years longer than Sandy, but Sander Levin. The Levin family have, of course, represented this state extraordinarily well. Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is in Afghanistan as we speak — looking after our national security. His brother is here in Detroit looking after our national security with this industry. And Sandy, I want to thank you for your leadership. John Larson, the Chair of our Caucus, is here as well.

Fred Upton is going to speak right after me. I’m going to briefly introduce him, but let me say that what I said before. This is of bipartisan interest. There is not a Republican nor a Democratic decision on the success of our industries in America of which the automobile industry is one of the very key industries. There is no partisan position with respect with wanting to keep jobs. There is no partisan position in the Congress of the United States of not wanting to uplift this city and this state, which has seen such a very, very challenging time. Mayor Bing was with us earlier. Bringing a new vitality to this city — Governor Granholm. A new vitality to this country in what we have seen today — in talking to the executives of the automobile companies, talking to all the people on this floor — a revitalization of this industry and a re-commitment of this industry, not only to compete, but to win in terms of worldwide competition.

So let me yield now to a gentleman from Michigan, a member of the Republican Party, but as I said, in this effort, there is no party, this is national bipartisan interest — Fred Upton of Michigan.

Congressman Upton. Thank you, Steny. Thank you Madam Speaker for helping to lead this and really give great credit to John Dingell — this was his idea. We’re able to put this weekend aside to make sure that we’re here and if you didn’t hear already, the Speaker said she was coming back next year, which is terrific. Although some of us, we’ll I won’t go there. [Laughter.] I am a Republican. I am a Republican.

And I am excited — I’ll tell you, the buzz that I get from being here again is so many winners. You look at the autos on the show floor, think about the jobs that are here, the announcements that were made this afternoon about jobs coming back to Michigan — so very, very important to happen. But so is the winner — the American taxpayer who is going to get paid back and was one of the issues that both GM and Chrysler talked about with us on the delegation — with the delegation on the floor earlier today. Also, the winner is obviously the consumer, who is going to have a car which is going to be more fuel-efficient. We are going to rely less of foreign oil, which is a good thing. And from the Auto Caucus’ point of view, that is going to be a big win for all of us.

As Steny said, we have lost in America, one in five manufacturing jobs over the last two years — almost half of them just from our state. Our delegation to a person — Senate and House, Republican and Democrat — have worked together, to do all that we can and to bring that manufacturing back to Michigan. We’re encouraged about the future, we’re delighted that so many members could be here.

I think at this point we are going to turn back to John Dingell for questions we may have before some of the delegation needs to get back to D.C.

Chairman Emeritus Dingell. I’m not going to answer questions. I’m going to let my colleagues answer, beginning with questions for our distinguished Speaker, who again, we thank for being with us. Thank you Madam Speaker.

Speaker Pelosi. Have we anticipated all of your questions or does anyone have one?

Q: As you’re looking at cutting greenhouse gases, why is an idea of a gas tax off the table? Even some of the people in the U.S. auto industry think that a measured, steady increase in the federal gas tax could give consumers an incentive device — some of the smaller cars they are investing so much in.

Speaker Pelosi. Well there certainly has been advocacy for such a position. It does not certainly have a majority in the Congress of the United States at this time. So we want to approach this in a way that is comprehensive, that certainly keeps in mind of concerns of the consumer, the concerns of the industry, and of the environment. This is not to say one idea is better than another — it’s just to say that at the present time, there are other initiatives that we have. I had the occasion to visit with Senator Stabenow earlier today about the prospect of the climate change/ energy bill in the Senate of the United States and we’re hopeful that some of the initiatives that are in that legislation — when it passes and is signed into law — will address some of the same concerns that a gas tax would.

Let me say this — because I’m getting the signal that I do have to go — and that is that this issue of climate change and energy independence is a flagship issue for many of us in the Congress. It all comes together in the auto industry and in the related technology — whether it’s battery technology, which has applications beyond the auto industry, whether it is wind and solar, etc. We saw so much of that today, as I said, beyond the auto industry, but related to it. It is a national security issue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is an economic issue for America to be number one.

President Kennedy, when he watched the moon campaign said: “If we honor the vows of our country we must be first, America we intend to be first.” Because we must be first in terms on international competition. Third, it is a health issue: reduce the emission in the air. And fourth, it is a moral issue if you believe, as many of us do, that this planet is God’s creation and we have a moral responsibility to preserve it.

So we will put many options on the table to accomplish those goals. The gentleman suggested one of them. We will have and have built a more comprehensive legislation to honor those four principles, again in our national interests of security and economic interests as well as our health and moral responsibility to the next generation.

Essential to all of this is the success of the auto industry, and in that regard, I leave by saying our hopes our riding on the auto industry succeeding in our country, and we thank all who are making the progress possible and again acknowledging significant leadership of Chairman Dingell.

Just want to make one more point, and that’s about Cash for Clunkers, since I have the podium. The Cash for Clunkers is part of our climate change legislation, but Mark Schauer and Gary Peters from Michigan as part of the delegation and Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton who was with us but had another appointment — were insistent that we separate the bill off the climate change bill because that’s because it takes some time to get through the Senate — which we did and passed this summer, as you know with great success and we did it again. So I want you to know that the determination of individual Members of Congress representing this region because the auto industry, as you know, goes beyond Michigan, but even though it is headquartered here. Their determination made a difference in the public policy which made a difference in the industry and I thank them for their leadership.

So we applaud them because it was important to Michigan, it was important to the industry, it was important for the country. This is an important visit for us. We consider it a major threshold. We made the investment. We see the consequences of it. We report back to our colleagues and we look forward to seeing these cars in showrooms before the year is over. Again, our hopes are riding on the auto industry.

Thank you all very much.

Chairman Emeritus Dingell. The Speaker has an airplane to catch to Washington. We wish her and my colleagues who were gracious enough to come here a safe and happy trip. As the Speaker said, we look forward to having her back next year. We will have an even better auto show – an even better time. Thank you all for being here today.