Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to the GOP's year-end extenders package. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
"I rise in opposition to this bill. We are now in overtime. The scheduled date for ending this session was December 8. That date, of course, was substantially later than we normally suggest ending the session. Notwithstanding that fact, we did not meet that deadline.
"In the Pledge to America, our Republican colleagues, when they were running for office to seek the Majority, which they got, they pledged to America that they would not put non-germane items in must-pass bills. That apparently was a campaign pledge not to be honored in practice.
"In the Pledge to America, they also said that we needed to do appropriation bills one after another. That, apparently, was a pledge to be honored during the campaign but not in practice. And so we have ourselves been confronted with a bill that must pass.
"We must not leave this city and our responsibilities without extending unemployment insurance. We must not leave Washington, DC, for this holiday season to deliver a block of coal in the stockings of our constituents by failing to continue the tax cut from their payroll taxes. And we must not leave Washington, DC, without affecting a continuation of the proper reimbursement of doctors to ensure that Medicare patients will be able to get their doctors' services. So we have three items to focus on to get done and nine appropriation bills.
"Now, one of those appropriation bills has not even been reported out of subcommittee in this House. The Labor-HHS bill hasn't been considered by subcommittee, hasn't been considered by full committee, hasn't been considered by this House. And so we have a lot of business to do in essentially the next 72 hours.
"And so what are we confronted with? We're confronted with a bill of over 350 pages filed just a few days ago. We heard a lot about reading the bills. I'd be shocked if any member has read this bill – shocked. By contrast, the bill that was so criticized, the Affordable Care Act, was up for review for over a year, hundreds of hearings and thousands, essentially, of meetings around this country. This has not had a single town meeting, a single hearing. So my Tea Party friends, I’m sure you lament the fact and think this bill ought not to be passed. But I haven't seen you. I haven't heard you. I haven't gotten a letter from you.
"I tell my friends on the Republican side of the aisle, I have demonstrated throughout this year that when we had the opportunity to work together, I worked to get the votes so we could pass legislation together necessary to run this country. So I don't take a back seat to anybody in this chamber willing to work together in a bipartisan fashion. But this bill was not worked together in a bipartisan fashion. This bill seeks to poke the fingers in the eyes of the President of the United States who has said, ‘I will veto this bill.’ Not because of the three things that I said were absolutely essential to pass, but because of something not essential to pass.
"Now, the Majority Leader lamented last week that this was 5,000 jobs if we passed this Keystone pipeline. But a bill that would create at least a million jobs, the American Jobs Act, lays languishing in the bowels of the Committee. Yes, the gentleman asked for regular order – I lament the fact that we're not pursuing regular order. We could act in a responsible, bipartisan fashion to accomplish the objectives I set forth and the appropriation bills. But no, we are playing politics. We're uppandering to a base. We're having a pretense that this bill could pass. It cannot.
"Let us defeat this bill and then let us come together in a responsible fashion as the American public wants us to do and act on their behalf, not on the behalf of our politics."