Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today during Pro Forma session to urge House Republican leaders to call the House back into session. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
“We are in Pro Forma session. Pro Forma session is a session without substance or solutions.
“We have much to do, Mr. Speaker. Millions of Americans returned to work yesterday, millions more returned to work today after taking off time for their holidays.
“Mr. Speaker, we have, as you well know, a long list of expiring items this House must complete before the end of the year or it will have adverse consequences to our people. First, I want to say, Mr. Speaker [Rep. LaTourette], that you are one who has been working very hard to assure that we reach solutions, and I want to thank you for that.
“Some of us are here in this chamber today, but very frankly, all of us ought to be here in this chamber today – all the Republicans and all the Democrats – working so that our people have confidence that although our challenges are tough, that we are at least here trying to reach a consensus on solutions to those challenges.
“Mr. Speaker, as you well know, on January 1, middle-class taxes will rise; indeed taxes on all Americans will rise. Mr. Speaker, you are also aware that we have legislation that has passed the Senate overwhelmingly on a bipartisan 68-to-31 vote to address the issue of violence against women. Postal Reform legislation passed the Senate on a bipartisan fashion. We have a Farm Bill, Mr. Speaker, that has passed through the Senate on a bipartisan fashion and passed out of the Committee in this House in a bipartisan fashion.
“We are facing sequestration on January 2 that every Member of this House believes is an irrational alternative. We have many of our fellow citizens battered by [Hurricane] Sandy, one of the largest storms to hit the Northeast ever. The Senate is now considering a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - piece of legislation to keep our country safe and secure. We have doctors who are worrying about whether they are going to be reimbursed for their medical expenses that they deliver to senior citizens. We have an Alternative Minimum Tax that will expire on December 31, resulting in a tax increase to many of our citizens, tax extenders that have not been extended, [and] a jobs bill that the President has asked for has not been considered much less passed.
“Mr. Speaker, we ought to be here, working, addressing these challenges. Everywhere, Mr. Speaker, that you and I go, I know that we hear, ‘what are you doing on the fiscal cliff,’ or ‘I hope you're working hard on the fiscal cliff.’ And Mr. Speaker, lamentably I must tell them we're not working. We're not here. We're not addressing the challenges that I have just mentioned.
“Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the Speaker of the House would call us back immediately to address these challenges. We have four days left to go before the end of this year, before all of those items that I spoke about expire. The sequester happens the second day of January.
“We ought to be here working, Mr. Speaker. We're not. This is a Pro Forma session. As I said in the beginning, a Pro Forma session is a session that is without substance and without solutions.
“I would urge the Speaker of this House to call us back in session to do what America expects us to do: address the challenges, find solutions, come to agreement, make compromises, make democracy and America work, and give confidence to our people and to our economy. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that the Speaker [John Boehner] will do that and will do it today.”