Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) on Thursday argued in favor of allocating more taxpayer funds to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) district than other districts, sparking immediate pushback from Republicans.
Cohen made the argument as House lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Committee continued to clash on day two of the budget reconciliation markup meeting.
Cohen’s remarks came during the debate over one of Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) amendments to the committee’s $30 billion-plus title, which is just a fraction of the $3.5 trillion spending bill approved by the House on Aug. 24.
Boebert’s amendment would have limited funding to the Presidio, a park in Pelosi’s wealthy San Francisco district that is slated to receive $200 million under the current spending package.
“The original plan, laid out by the Presidio Trust in 2018, was to find a wealthy philanthropist to come in and fund this $200 million project,” said Boebert.
“It is clear that that never materialized—and yet the trust has found a new philanthropist to fund this liberal ‘place for change,’” she continued, referring to the ways the Presidio Trust’s CEO, Jean Fraser, described the language in her initial 2018 appeal for funding to local media. “And that is the American taxpayer.”
“This is an obvious giveaway to Speaker Pelosi and the powerful elite in San Francisco that support her,” said Boebert, who added that the amendment restricts funding until the National Park Service has addressed all of its deferred maintenance needs.
“The Presidio is a national place of honor—a beautiful location that the nation appreciates,” responded Cohen, adding that San Francisco is “one of the great American cities.”
“Sometimes I kind of think in a little bit of a selfish—in a very selfish way, that Speaker Pelosi gets maybe a little bit more, and some of the leaders get a little bit more, on some of these bills,” Cohen continued. “The truth is, they should. If it weren’t for her working 24/7, and she does to keep this place going, we wouldn’t be going. And she does more for America than any other member, I would submit, of this Congress times ten.”
Cohen’s comments drew swift rebukes from Republicans on the committee, along with a defense from Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
“Last I checked, [Nancy Pelosi] took the same oath of office that I did, and I’m a member of Congress just like she is, so no she should not. No leader should get more added to a bill and should be able to spend more of the taxpayers’ money just because they are Speaker or Leader or whatever leadership role they are in,” said Boebert.
“Now you have a payoff to the Speaker just because she’s the Speaker? It was just admitted here that that’s what’s going on, because of the enormous time that she gives,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wisc.)
“The focus on deferred maintenance doesn’t have to postpone other priorities, which is exactly what this amendment would end up doing,” said Grijalva. “I oppose the amendment. It’s a poison pill to derail our effort to do the agenda that is before us today.”
Correction: A previous version of the article noted the incorrect party affiliation for Grijalva, who is a Democrat. The Epoch Times regrets the error.