U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a crowded ballroom outside of Baltimore on Saturday night that America’s democratic future is at stake in 2020.
“There is an assault on our democracy coming right out of the White House,” Pelosi told the crowd at the Maryland Democratic Party’s annual gala.
While party activists may be weighing different candidates now during the presidential primary election, it’s imperative that everyone come together to support the party’s nominee in 2020, she implored the crowd.
“We as Democrats, despite our exuberances and our differences, have so much more in common than we differ on,” Pelosi said. “And we are so very, very different from the other party.”
The speaker touched on a chief concern among party voters by saying this week that she was “not a big fan of Medicare for All.”
“Let’s all agree that we want health care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege,” Pelosi said. She suggested that the party needs to “put it all on the table, and figure out what the best solutions are.”
Pelosi was honored at the Maryland Democratic Party’s annual gala with a Defender of Democracy Award.
U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th District, presented Pelosi with the award. He called her a “Maryland’s favorite daughter,” who has led the House’s impeachment effort with “skill and a backbone of steel.”
“She will be an historic figure that our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will learn about.,” Hoyer said.
Democratic leaders also stressed the need to support Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate across the country.
Pelosi rebutted criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that the House is too consumed with the impeachment process to focus on legislating.
She listed bills that have been passed through the House but haven’t been taken up by the Senate, including measures to raise the minimum wage, address money in politics, and extend protections to immigrants, among others.
“We send them over to the Senate … and they just sit on the grim reaper’s desk,” Pelosi said. “And he, Moscow Mitch, has the nerve to say to the public that all Democrats in the House want to do is talk about impeachment and not do the people’s work.”
It was Pelosi’s second appearance at a political event in Maryland Saturday. Earlier in the day, former Baltimore County executive Ted Venetoulis hosted a fundraiser at his home for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Pelosi and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the DCCC chairwoman, were the featured speakers.
Part of the Maryland Democratic Party event Saturday night was spent remembering the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who died last month.
Pelosi said the party will soon bring a prescription drug affordability bill named in honor of Cummings to the House floor for a vote.
She reminisced about a speech earlier this year in which Cummings asked House members what they would be able to say they’ve done to protect democracy once they’re “dancing with the angels.”
“To keep our democracy intact, House Democrats are legislating, we are investigating, and we are litigating,” Pelosi said.
Several of the speakers, including Pelosi, had kind words for his widow, Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings.
“In recent weeks, Maya has shown immense grace in her grief,” Pelosi said.
Rockeymoore Cummings spoke of the encouragement Cummings had given her when she considered running for party chair. “You better win,” he said simply to her.
The race to succeed Cummings in a special election wasn’t addressed, though several potential successors were in the crowd for the evening. Rockeymoore Cummings is among them.
Rockeymoore Cummings did address the 2020 elections elsewhere in the state and the country.
“2020 is a watershed year. It is our zero moment as a nation. We have work to do. Everything is at stake,” she said. “These people are evil and they are seeking to take us back 100 years. And with that, they are seeking to basically destroy the democracy that has been a beacon of light for the world.”
Tom Perez, the national party chairman, encouraged attendees to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot across the country.
In the last election, the party flipped eight legislative chambers and Perez has his eye on more. He encouraged attendees to mobilize across the Potomac in Virginia, where Democrats could pick up legislative majorities on Tuesday.
One of the party’s first priorities if that happens will be to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment first approved by Congress in 1972.