Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered a morning hour speech today on the House Floor, highlighting how the Republicans have the wrong priorities in their partisan one-week CR and the Republican budget introduced yesterday. See below for a link to the video and his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Budgets are not simply about dollars and cents: they are about values and priorities. And the debate over spending has revealed Republican priorities in the worst possible light.
“First, Republicans passed a spending plan for the remainder of this fiscal year that would cripple America’s ability to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build its competitors. That spending plan would cut billions in medical and energy research, cut off support for 20,000 research scientists, kick 200,000 children out of head start, put college out of reach for millions of middle-class students, and end vital infrastructure projects in 40 states. A consensus of nonpartisan economists has found that that plan will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. And Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist and an advisor to Sen. McCain’s presidential campaign, estimates the damage at 700,000 jobs.
“In addition to those skewed priorities, Republicans are insisting that any bill to keep the government funded must also include controversial social policy provisions that have little if anything to do with the deficit—even though their own Pledge to America promised to ‘end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with ‘must-pass’ legislation to circumvent the will of the American people.’
“Rather than compromise with President Obama and Democrats, Republicans are threatening to shut down the government. Now, they tell us that they’ll back off on their threat, but only if we pass a partisan, one-week spending bill that triples the ransom to keep the government open: in other words, this bill contains three times the weekly cuts as the last week-to-week bill. It also takes all of its cuts from only a small slice of our budget. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, that makes this latest bill a mockery of fiscal responsibility—especially because it leaves entirely untouched for the rest of the year what the Secretary of Defense himself has called the Pentagon’s ‘culture of endless money.’ This partisan patch contradicts Republicans’ own promises to put everything on the table, defense spending included.
“Listen to their own words. Associated Press, January 23rd: ‘The House’s new majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, has said defense programs could join others on the cutting board.’
“New York Times, January 27th: ‘Representative Chris Gibson, a Tea Party-endorsed freshman Republican and a retired Army colonel…made it clear that no part of the Pentagon’s $550 billion budget—some $700 billion including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—was immune. ‘This deficit that we have threatens our very way of life, and everything needs to be on the table,’ Mr. Gibson [said].’’
“Congressman Mike Pence, January 7th: ‘If we are going to put our fiscal house in order…we have to be able to look at defense.’
“Those words are sounding very hollow today. Why are Republicans breaking their word, Mr. Speaker? Because they know that the only way to get their conference to support this spending bill is to bribe it with a year of defense spending left untouched and a divisive social policy provision. What we need to do is sit down and over the next 72 hours come to a compromise. That is our job. ‘My way or the highway’ is never going to get it done.
“Finally, Republicans showed their priorities in their budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which was just announced yesterday. Their budget ends Medicare as we know it, shifting more costs onto seniors. It dismantles Medicaid, cutting health care services for the poor, the disabled, and the elderly. And on top of that, it includes yet trillions more in tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.
“We can do better. Rather than using our debt as an excuse to pass a nakedly partisan agenda, we need to take a bipartisan approach that puts everything on the table: keeping our entitlement programs solvent; scrutinizing our spending, defense and non-defense, for waste and low priorities; and passing deficit-reducing tax reform. Those are the hard choices and shared sacrifices that Americans have a right to expect."