Rosen Delivers First Senate Floor Speech, Calls for Senate Leaders to Take Up Her Resolution to Defend the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) delivered her first floor speech as a member of the United States Senate. In her speech, Senator Rosen called for an immediate vote on her resolution with Senator Manchin (D-WV) to allow the Senate counsel to intervene on behalf of the Affordable Care Act in the federal court case Texas v. United States.

“There’s no issue that matters more to Nevadans than access to affordable, quality health care. I’ve met with countless parents, grandparents, and families who rely on access to health care to keep themselves and their precious loved ones healthy,” said Senator Rosen. “Nevadans sent me here to protect their health care. That’s what I’m doing and what I’ll continue to do.”

BACKGROUND: As her first action in the Senate, Senator Rosen joined Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) in introducing a resolution that would authorize Senate Legal Counsel to intervene in Texas v. United States – a pending lawsuit in federal court, on behalf of the U.S. Senate, in order to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and its coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Just last week, the Trump Administration filed a brief in this case calling for the courts to strike down the ACA in its entirety. 

Last Congress, then-Congresswoman Rosen introduced the same resolution in the House. Rosen’s House resolution was co-sponsored by the Ranking Members of all House committees of jurisdiction in addition to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. The resolution had nearly 190 co-sponsors by the end of the 115th Congress.

In March, Senator Rosen also helped introduce a resolution that would provide the sense of the Senate that the Justice Department should reverse its policy of refusing to defend the constitutionality of the ACA, including the law’s coverage protections for those with pre-existing conditions, in Texas v. United States.

Watch video of Senator Rosen’s speech here, or read full text of the Senator’s speech as prepared below:

Mr. President, I am honored and humbled to address this distinguished body as the newest Senator from the great state of Nevada, and to stand alongside an exceptional group of colleagues with a shared commitment to public service.

I am especially honored to hold this seat, as it once belonged to a great Nevada public servant – Senator Richard Bryan…Senator Bryan served in just about every position in government from Assemblyman to Governor. 

He worked tirelessly to advance civil rights, empower women in government, and defend Nevada’s public lands. 

I’m honored to carry his values with me to move Nevada forward.

As I take up this mantle in the Senate, I’m prepared to continue Senator Bryan’s legacy and work for Nevadans, while also building towards a new legacy of our own. I stand here as Nevada’s 28th Senator — and for the first time in history — as one of two women to represent our state in the Senate.

I’m proud to be part of such an incredible movement of strong, passionate, trailblazing women like Senator Cortez Masto, who became the first female Senator to represent the great state of Nevada and the first Latina elected to serve in the Senate.

Everywhere, we’re seeing women who are stepping up to lead, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to empower women who are looking to break barriers along the way.  

By bringing more women to the decision-making table, we can open doors and make progress on issues that affect us and our hardworking families on a daily basis.

Because when women put their minds together, there is no new ground that we cannot break, and there is no glass ceiling that we cannot shatter.

I stand here today to share my vision for how we can work together – on both sides of the aisle – to lay down a framework for progress — because Nevadans and Americans everywhere, are counting on us to go above and beyond, to overcome the obstacles before us, and to find commonsense, forward-thinking solutions for the challenges of this new era.

Challenges like immigration reform that protects our Dreamers and TPS recipients,  Challenges like a changing 21st century economy, climate change, and of course, an issue that is so important to hardworking families everywhere: the challenge of access to affordable, quality health care. 

But before I discuss where we are going, let me tell you just a bit about where I come from; my values; and the ways in which my story has helped to shape who I am and how it will shape who I’ll be as Nevada’s newest Senator.

I am the proud granddaughter of immigrants; a first-generation college graduate, working my way through college waiting tables; and I’m a former member of the Culinary Workers Union, who saved her tip money to pay for that college tuition. 

I’m a computer programmer and a systems analyst who worked her way up in what’s been long considered a male-dominated industry…

I’m a wife to my husband, Larry, a radiologist, who I can always count on to be by my side, and I’m a mother to my wonderful daughter Miranda, who I am so proud of, and who inspires me every day to build a better future for this country.

I’m a former President of my synagogue, the largest Synagogue in Nevada.  And during my tenure, I witnessed the beauty of our country’s religious diversity and how community engagement strengthens America. 

I also learned the importance of working together to fight against anti-Semitism, which we are seeing now once again, rear its ugly head here at home and around the globe.

Remembering where I come from; my story; my roots, this is what guides me every day to make decisions to help working families. When it comes to issues like college affordability and education, equal pay for equal work, labor rights, combatting hate and anti-Semitism, and standing up for Israel, I can speak from personal experience.

And I’m reminded that my story is just one of many, From Las Vegas to Reno, from Searchlight to Lovelock, and everywhere in between. 

I hear from Nevadans who share some of the same stories –from every part of the rich, vibrant fabric that makes up our diverse state… including Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, tribal communities, and beyond…

When I think of the shores of Lake Tahoe and of Lake of Mead, the majestic canyons of Red Rock, the open skies across the desert, and the mountains that shine below them like jewels in the sun, I think of home. And nothing rings more true than the saying home means Nevada to me.  

We’re a state that was born to take on challenges. We come together from every walk of life to make cities that shine from out of the desert. We’re battle born and battle tested, and it’s our grit, our perseverance, and our diversity that truly captures who we are, and it’s those same qualities that will help change the face of our nation. 

Remembering where we come from – that philosophy — is the driving force behind my support for environmental policies that will protect our states’ treasures, including our mountains, rivers, and lakes. 

I’m honored to represent the most beautiful state in the country.

But there’s one environmental issue that threatens Nevada’s beautiful landscapes and the families that call our state home – it’s Yucca Mountain. 

Nevada has made it clear time and time again: we will not become the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste. Yet, we continue to see relentless efforts to turn our state into the nation’s sole nuclear waste repository without our consent, even after we have made our voices heard even though Nevada does not create nuclear waste. Congress must respect our will and our right as a state…because our voice matters. 

I stand prepared to use every tool at my disposal to defend our state from attempts to revive this project.

And I will continue the fight to keep our state beautiful by standing up for clean air and clean water… by protecting our public lands and investing in clean energy, and by taking real action to address climate change, I know we can leave the world a better place for future generations.

We also know that there are commonsense ways to address our climate challenges, including investing in renewable energy at home. In Nevada, solar energy is both creating jobs and helping us lead the way toward a clean energy future. 

That’s why last year in the House I led the charge against harmful solar tariffs that threaten to roll back the progress we have made, and why I introduced legislation to train our veterans for good-paying solar jobs that can both support families and reduce our carbon footprint. 

I will continue these efforts here in the Senate because our energy independence and the future of our planet should never be partisan issues. 

In Nevada, we care for one another, and we believe in looking out for one another, and that’s especially true for our veterans, who make up a significant part of our state. 

Over 226,000 veterans call Nevada home. Our heroes in the armed services and their families risk everything to protect our nation. One way we can honor them is by helping our heroes successfully transition to civilian life once they’ve completed their military service. 

After talking to countless veterans and military families across Nevada, I introduced the Hire Student Veterans Act as my first bill in the Senate. 

This bipartisan legislation incentivizes businesses, to hire our student vets who are currently using their GI benefits to study. 

We made a promise to take care of our veterans when they return home, and the last thing they should have to worry about is not being able to obtain an education or a good-paying job. 

I know this commonsense legislation will further ensure that our student vets are on the pathway towards success, and that Nevada, and our nation, will benefit from their continued contributions.

We’re leading the way, doing right by hardworking families – in areas like clean energy and technology. 

As a former computer programmer, I’m so excited about our state’s growing tech industry, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Small Business Committee, to provide our tech startups the tools they need to succeed and create jobs; and on the Commerce Committee, where we are tackling important issues, like cybersecurity and privacy, and for our rural communities, critical access to broadband.

In all of these efforts, I look forward to bringing new stakeholders to the table. 

We can all gain so much insight when we listen to our constituents and embrace bold ideas to improve lives.

We have also grown our economy and created good-paying jobs by legalizing recreational marijuana in our state. This industry is bringing millions of dollars in revenue to Nevada. 

Yet, our marijuana businesses continue to operate as cash-only as a result of outdated federal laws that are blocking their access to important financial services.

We can’t expect these businesses to succeed when the federal government refuses to keep up with the times. That’s why I’m supporting bipartisan legislation to give marijuana businesses access to our banking system, so that they can safely operate and continue contributing to our economy.

It’s through bipartisan action that we can encourage economic growth in every corner of our country. Since coming to Congress, I’ve consistently made it a priority to reach across the aisle on issues where both parties can find common ground. 

At a time of increasing political division and partisan gridlock, it’s even more important for both sides to come together, to make progress on the issues that are impacting Americans at home.

I’m so proud of the work I’ve been able to do with my colleagues from both parties. Last Congress, I was named one of the most bipartisan freshman members during my first term, and was one of a few Democrats to be recognized with an award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for supporting pro-growth policies. 

I’ll continue to take every action to fight for Nevada’s hardworking families.

We must also act boldly and do more to provide opportunities for our children through improving our education, and working across the aisle to invest in our children’s future.

Earlier this year, I introduced the Building Blocks of STEM Act in the Senate, to make investments in early childhood STEM education. 

My bipartisan, bicameral bill will give our kids the opportunities to explore STEM-related fields at an early age and set them up for success.

Because, we need a 21st century education if we hope to succeed in a 21st century economy… and it’s only through robust, quality education that we can build a strong workforce that will grow our nation’s economy, and ensure that our children and our nation will succeed.

Protecting our environment and public lands, embracing clean energy, honoring America’s heroes and their families, supporting economic growth, and investing in our children’s education. These are just a few of the ways we can work together across the aisle. 

We can improve lives by listening to the voices of those that sent us here to represent them; and by working together to create a healthy, educated, and economically-empowered future for all, and, most importantly, by agreeing everywhere we can, especially on the issues that matter most to families at home. 

And there’s no issue that matters more than health care. I’ve met with countless parents, grandparents, and families who rely on access to health care to keep themselves and their precious loved ones healthy. 

One of the reasons why Nevada ranks near the bottom when it comes to access to care, is because we continue to face a shortage of physicians, particularly in primary care.

This is especially true for Nevadans living in rural and tribal communities, with many of our state’s residents having to drive hundreds of miles to seek medical care, or they just simply go without care.

And we know that many other states face similar problems. 

We need forward-thinking solutions to make sure that states like ours have enough doctors to serve our population. 

We need to help communities in rural and underserved areas gain access to telehealth programs, so that we’re able to provide greater access to critical services, not to just Nevadans — but to all Americans — no matter where they live. 

We need transparency when it comes to drug pricing, because no person should be forced to decide between paying their bills or for life-saving medicines. 

And let’s not forget that we need equal access to health care for women, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented communities.

We must protect our health care system from sabotage by this Administration. 

This month, the Trump Administration made yet another move to take health care coverage and critical protections away from millions nationwide, instructing our own Justice Department to refuse to defend the Affordable Care Act in court.

We’re no longer just talking about stripping away protections for those with pre-existing conditions—as if that wasn’t enough?

We’re in even more dangerous territory than before.  If our health care law is completely wiped out, we’ll see an end to the tax credits that make coverage affordable for middle-income families; an end to preventive care without co-pays, like health screenings and contraceptives; an end to the ability for young adults under the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s insurance; and, an end to Medicaid benefits – which has helped over 200,000 Nevadans get coverage. 

If this Administration has its way with invalidating our health care law, it would spell disaster for primary care providers and for the millions of Americans who rely on its protections for access to quality, affordable care. 

Health care is one of the top issues at every kitchen table in communities like Winnemucca and Henderson.

I cannot even begin to count the number of Nevadans who have shared how they would be affected by this disastrous decision, and who tell me what it means to their personal lives not having to fear being denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

Over 1.2 million Nevadans live with a preexisting condition. We all know what’s at stake if these individuals are denied access to care.  
There are plenty of ways that we can work to improve the Affordable Care Act and lower health care costs, but destroying the law and leaving our loved ones at risk is simply unacceptable.

As a member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions here in the Senate, I’m working on solutions each day to bring resources, accountability, and relief to our health care system, including, supporting legislation to bring down skyrocketing drug costs and programs that bolster telemedicine in our rural and underserved communities, because health care is a personal issue that affects each and every one of us. And we all know that just one diagnosis can change your life in an instant. 

The Senate today faces many challenges, none more so than the polarization and division that prevents us from coming together in pursuit of the public interest.

In his farewell address, Nevada Senator Richard Bryan stated “If we can restore civility in our public discourse, as we debate the great issues and policy differences of our time, if we can apply the rules that govern the process by which we conduct the Senate’s business fairly to all, and if we can work together for the common good, I am confident that the future of the Senate can be as bright as the past.”

So, this is my pledge to you: I will be an independent voice for all Nevadans by agreeing where I can and fighting where I must. There’s nothing more important to me than taking care of my home, our home, your families, and our families, because home means Nevada to me. 

During my first few weeks as Senator, I joined Senator Manchin in helping lead the effort to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. 

Our resolution would direct the Senate legal counsel to intervene in the federal court case where our health care system is under attack, to defend our current law, including protections for pre-existing conditions.

That is why, as my first action while holding the floor of the United States Senate, I would like to ask you this Mr. President. As in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent that the Rules Committee be discharged from further consideration of Senate Resolution 18, and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration, that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.

Nevadans sent me here to protect their health care; that’s what I’m doing and what I’ll continue to do.  

Thank you, Mr. President.

I yield the floor.