Washington, DC— Yesterday, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz addressed the Women’s Leadership Forum issues conference presented by the Democratic Women’s Alliance in Washington, D.C. Below you will find excerpts as prepared for delivery:
“Of course, what we’ve achieved at DWA would not be possible without the effort of the Women’s Leadership Forum continuing to bolster Democratic women leaders and issues, and we should be proud of our collective efforts these past two decades.
“But we must be clear-eyed about the task at hand and the work ahead of us these next 12 months.
“Because make no mistake – it is women voters who will put our Democratic nominee over the top to become the 45th President of the United States!
“Women voters make up more than half of the electorate, and with more and more women serving as the primary breadwinner in their household, or being single parents, or holding stressful or multiple jobs, many of the issues in the public discourse today are women’s issues.
- Equal pay in the workplace;
- An increase in the minimum wage;
- Access to affordable, quality health care and child care;
- A solid education; and
- Paid family leave;
“Those are real issues that mean something to American families. This is about affording every single person dignity.
“Now, on paid family leave let me say something to this group. As Paul Ryan exacts concessions and tries to cobble together enough of his conference to become the next Speaker of the House, he was very clear about his concerns on his family time, particularly because of his young children.
“Isn’t it great that Paul Ryan can have that conversation in public and not be criticized for daring to ask for more time with his family? I wonder if his name was….Paula Ryan, if it would have been so easy for him to speak out?
“Congressman Ryan, you deserve quality time with your family. I especially know how precious that is. But every mother and father in America deserves that time too, and we Democrats will be loud and clear in calling on you to make paid family leave a priority at the outset of your Speakership.
“You don’t have to be a brain surgeon, or even a political scientist for that matter, to know which party is talking about advancing this and other important issues, and which party is talking about rolling back progress and taking us back to the failed policies of the past.
“Democrats, of course, are the party of inclusion, empowerment, and opportunity for all, and our candidates walk the walk on a number of issues important to women and families. For example:
- Bernie Sanders has made passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act a pillar of his campaign.
- Martin O’Malley has been a strong advocate for making paid leave available to all moms and dads.
- Hillary Clinton is fighting hard to protect women’s comprehensive health care.
- And Lincoln Chafee has highlighted the importance of early childhood education and environmental integrity, which we all know have significant impacts on the health and wellness of families.
“Republican presidential candidates, of course, want to bring back the tired, old trickle-down economic policies that benefit the well-connected at the expense of women and working families. Just look at their rhetoric and actions on equal pay for example!:
- Jeb Bush doesn’t think more laws are necessary to ensure equal pay, and didn’t even know what the Paycheck Fairness Act was when he was asked about it.
- Chris Christie vetoed equal pay legislation, calling it “senseless bureaucracy.”
- Marco Rubio said the Paycheck Fairness Act was about “scoring political points,” “wasting time,” and was a “show vote.”
- Rand Paul compared the Paycheck Fairness Act to the Soviet Politburo.
“And that’s just one issue!
- Ted Cruz was all about shutting the government down over Planned Parenthood. He of course would know how to do this since he was the architect of the 2013 shutdown that cost the economy $24 billion and put thousands of families’ immediate economic security at risk.
- Marco Rubio has indicated he’d ban all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.
- Jeb Bush actually boasted about his record of defunding women’s health care.
- And the front runners, Donald Trump and Ben Carson? Don’t get me started…I mean, what are they even talking about, anyway?
- Trump with his outright misogyny and Ben Carson’s offensive comments that have sought to shame and blame women on issues like abortion and violence.
“Bottom line: we can’t let the Republicans get away with their distortions and their warped vision of women’s rights in America in the 21st century, and I know if this crowd has anything to do with it, they won’t!”