Waters: ‘I have the gavel and I’m not afraid to use it’

Congresswoman Waters receives the NAACP Chairman’s Award during the 50th NAACP Image Awards.

LOS ANGELES — On March 30, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (California), the first woman and first African American to chair the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, received the 2019 NAACP Chairman’s Award – a highly coveted award that is “bestowed in recognition of individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms to create agents of change.”

The award was presented to Congresswoman Waters by Leon W. Russell, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, during the 50th NAACP Image Awards.

Her remarks as prepared for delivery follow.

“To the Chairman and Board of the NAACP, I cannot overstate my gratitude for this recognition.

“After a long career journey, tonight, I stand before you as the first woman and the first African American to chair the powerful U.S. House Financial Services Committee.

“It is an honor to now hold the Chairwoman’s gavel. Yes, I’ve got the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it.

“This month, the CEO of Wells Fargo — one of the largest banks in this country with an egregious track record of defrauding customers – testified before my Committee. We lit him up. Two days ago, that same CEO resigned. I have the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it.

“This week, I was able to pass out of my Committee a comprehensive bill for $13.27 billion in emergency relief to end homelessness in America. Don’t despair. I have the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it.

“On that same day, my committee also passed “The Consumers First Act.” Fraudulent payday loan operators, title loans companies, and student loan servicers, we know who you are. I have the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it.

‘New day in America’

“I have the honor of being adopted by millennials as their Auntie Maxine, and I am proud of their growing influence and representation. It’s a new day in America. Women, people of color, LGBTQ Americans, and millennials have growing power – and my Committee is a testament to it. We have the gavel, and we’re not afraid to use it.

“To America’s institutions that have historically overlooked women and minorities – the jig is up. I have created the first Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion in the history of the U.S. Congress. I have the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it.

“As for those ultra-right wing, White supremacist haters who have threatened to kill me, my family, and my staff: four of you have been convicted. If you come for me, I am coming for you. I have the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it.

“No, I haven’t forgotten about 45. He’s appointed an attorney general who thinks he can withhold the Special Counsel’s report from the American people. I still think he needs be impeached. I have the gavel – and subpoena power – and I am not afraid to use it.”

Serving 15th term

Waters has emerged as one of the strongest legislators, community organizers, and champions for women, children, seniors, veterans, people of color, and the poor.

She was elected in November 2018 to her 15th term in the U.S. House of Representatives where she proudly represents California’s diverse 43rd congressional district.

With more than 20 years of experience and expertise on financial services issues, she recently made history as the first woman and first African American to hold the chair’s gavel of the House Financial Services Committee, where she leads the Democratic Caucus in the effort to pass meaningful legislation to protect consumers and safeguard the economy.



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