This afternoon, Speaker Pelosi addressed more than 1,000 young people at the 2009 Campus Progress National Conference late this afternoon. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:
Thank you, Ray. Like so many of you, Ray has come here today because he's a leader on his campus — UCLA.
I would also like to acknowledge David Halperin. By organizing America's young people, you have created a progressive force for positive change that is simply unstoppable.
You have come to Campus Progress to deliver change on the greatest challenges of our time. And your timing is perfect. On President Obama's three policy pillars — energy, health care, and education — Congress is hard at work.
And because we believe health care is a right, not a privilege, we are moving forward with comprehensive health care reform legislation. Our three House Committee Chairmen will soon introduce a bill that will fix health care for the middle class in America.
That means lower costs, greater choice, stability and peace of mind, and higher quality care — for a healthier America. And we will do it with a public option.
I believe that the greatest challenge of our day is the global climate crisis. That is why I have made it the flagship issue of my Speakership.
Young people on college campuses across America understand this challenge and you are in the lead. At Drexel University in Philadelphia, you organized competitions for student engineers to build electric vehicles. At Morehouse College in Atlanta, you helped low-income neighbors reduce their energy use and save money by installing energy efficient light bulbs. And more than 300 of you came to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress for clean energy.
Thanks to your activism, America has awakened to the crisis after years of delay–and is now moving in a New Direction.
Less than two weeks ago, the House passed historic and transformative legislation: the American Clean Energy and Security Act. This legislation will unleash private sector investment in clean energy to create millions of new jobs and make America the global innovation leader. It will promote clean energy technology — made in America. It will put America in the lead in the global competition.
As we rebuild America in a green way, we will create jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. We are creating a framework in which innovation can occur and that gives business certainty that we are moving to a clean energy economy. We will ensure innovation, investment, and venture capital to drive new technologies into the market.
Climate change is a national security issue, an economic issue, an environmental health issue, and, I believe, a moral issue.
To ensure our national security, we must end our dependence on foreign oil. To strengthen our economy, we must invest in science and innovation to create clean energy jobs here at home and new green technologies to compete internationally. To protect environmental health, we must reduce air pollution. And, it is a moral issue, because if you believe as I do that this beautiful planet is God's creation, then we have a moral obligation to preserve it for future generations.
Essential to the future of our nation is ensuring opportunity for higher education. In September 2007, Congress passed the largest increase in college aid since the GI Bill in 1944, boosting college aid by more than $20 billion dollars over the next five years.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that became law in February included more than $15 billion for Pell Grants and increased funding for the work study program to allow an additional 133,000 students to participate.
Just last week, on July 1, all students who receive federal student loans saw their interest rate go down. Those interest rates will continue to decrease until 2011. Also on July 1, a new initiative went into effect that will ensure that those with federal student loans are only required to pay what they can afford. And those of you who choose to devote yourself to public service will receive additional benefits, including accelerated debt forgiveness.
That's just the beginning. Now we are working with President Obama to reform student loan programs so that they are reliable and affordable for you and expand Pell Grants to make sure that they keep pace with inflation.
The enormity of the challenges we face requires the intellectual resources, the imagination, and the idealism of all of you.
Campus Progress has given you the skills. Now you must know your power — and follow your passion. Thank you!