7:22 PM EDT
Charles B. Rangel, D-NY 15th

Mr. RANGEL. I want to thank Majority Leader Hoyer, the Speaker, certainly Chairman Obey, Mr. Lewis and my good friend, John Boehner, for inviting me to participate in just one part of this very complex problem that we have faced.

I just want to make it abundantly clear that what we were fighting for when we were talking about providing resources for those people that have lost their jobs was not a Democratic position or a Republican position, but it was a position that I'm glad that the minority leader understood, that affected not only the ability of Americans to put food on the table or to clothe their children or to pay their bills, but it really involved the dignity of the middle class.

And I will speak briefly to that, because Jim McDermott has the passion and truly understanding that we're not talking about being liberal or being conservative. That Statue of Liberty is up there for people all over the world, for centuries, for people to dream the American dream.

And what is it? It certainly isn't to be some type of tycoon that gets preferential tax treatment, and we know that it's not those people who are jobless and homeless. But it's those people that really think that they can have some dignity and pride in providing for their family, sending their kids to school, and maybe buying that first house.

When I heard that they were excluded from the stimulus package, because if you give these people money they might be inclined not to seek jobs, that struck me to the heart just as much as if someone snatched the flag and threw it in the street because it's these people that are the consumers. It's these people that dream for a better America. It's these people that everyone does and should aspire to be.

And for them to be ignored at a time when, through no fault of their own--and I stress that, through no fault of their own--find themselves without disposable income, find themselves losing the dignity in their communities and in their families, it would have just seemed to me that it would not have been a partisan issue, that we all should just come there and not to give a handout, since there's $35 billion that they paid into, but to be able to say, ``there but for the grace of God goes me.''

And so I want to thank John Boehner, because he never pushed that point in terms of we can't afford to do it. It was just a question of how much can and should we do.