Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this morning in opposition to House Republicans' fiscally irresponsible, unpaid-for tax extender bills. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here for the video.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill, but I am constrained to respond to the remarks, the emotional remarks, the perplexed remarks of the Gentleman who preceded me.
“I have a voting card too, and I don't know whether either Tom or Judy Price have been unemployed or whether their brother or their sister have run out of unemployment insurance and have been left twisting in the wind, but this voting card could give them extended unemployment insurance. I don't know whether Tom and Judy Price have employees who are making the minimum wage and living in poverty. This card could change that and up the minimum wage, but it hasn't been brought to the Floor. I tell my friend from Ohio, [Rep. Tiberi]: this card could fix what everybody agrees is a broken immigration system, but we're not using this card, I tell my friend from Ohio, because we are dabbling in the unrealistic.
“This card – this card – could pass Export-Import. [Rep. Tiberi] wants to grow jobs. Export-Import is absolutely critical, and it phases out, and you will not bring it to this Floor. This card and your card, joined together with 216 other cards, could pass all of those pieces of legislation. This card could make sure that Tom and Judy Price have an economy that's more resilient.
“Our friend from Ohio is distracted, but I tell my friend from Ohio, this card helped pass the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, without which Tom and Judy Price may not be in business today, because your tax policies of 2001 and 2003, unpaid for, which were supposed to grow this economy, resulted in more loss of jobs than any policy since Herbert Hoover.
“This card ought to be used today for fiscal responsibility. This card ought to be used to say to your Chairman, that you praised, David Camp: ‘Yes, we want to do comprehensive tax reform, not just little item by little item by little item,’ which destroys tax reform, which exacerbates our deficit and will destroy investment in education, infrastructure, and growing our economy.
“This card I urge my colleagues to use responsibly this day.
“All of us here support helping small businesses expand operations so they can hire more workers. All of us. Our tax code ought to encourage small businesses to do so, but the Republican Majority's approach to tax policy, evidenced by the two bills on the Floor today, is simply the wrong path. Do not use your card – given to you by the American people, trusting that you'll do the responsible, common-sense thing – don't use this card irresponsibly today.
“The bills we're considering today are the latest examples of Republican hypocrisy, Mr. Speaker. Hypocrisy on deficits, as their approach would raise deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars. There is no free lunch. This pretends there's a free lunch. Hypocrisy on tax policy as they represent a rejection of the comprehensive approach to tax reform Republicans' own Ways and Means Chairman, Mr. Camp, that the Gentleman from Ohio just praised, put on this Floor – or at least put on the table, not the Floor. And the response of the Speaker of this House was, and I quote, ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah.’ What a shame. How unserious.
“While I have serious concerns about some of the policy changes that Chairman Camp's proposal contains, it made the difficult choices, and it was paid for. It was responsible.
“Republicans and Democrats all say we want a comprehensive tax reform. This undermines tax reform. So if you say you're for comprehensive tax reform, don't do little itty-bitty pieces that exacerbate the deficit and undermine tax reform. These bills today reject that approach and instead take the easy way out by irresponsibly adding their cost to the deficit, a deficit that my friends on the other side of the aisle, with whom I join, lament on a daily basis but somehow disconnect their policies from their lamentations. In doing so, these bills will put even more pressure on a discretionary budget facing the return of sequester next year, undermining our ability to invest in critical priorities like veterans' care, highways, education, bills to make sure we grow our economy and create jobs.
“Democrats are ready to make the hard choices so that we leave America a better country, not a poorer country, not a deeper-in-debt country, but a better country for our children and our grandchildren. Rather than waste our time on these individual bills, Congress ought to debate and amend comprehensive tax reform, allowing us to face up to our responsibility to make the tough decisions the American people expect from their representatives.
“Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't live in a perfect Congress – none of us do – or in a country that always makes the right decisions. So I’ll vote for [a motion to recommit], which says we're not going to permanently exacerbate our deficit, but we will make sure that business does have the opportunity to have these tax benefits, as we have on a bipartisan basis done in the past. So I’ll vote for the [motion to recommit].
“I'll vote to make sure we extend these for two years, as the Senate suggests. I don't think that's the best policy. It's not the policy I would choose. The policy I would choose is comprehensively giving permanent long-term R&D, paid-for so we don't exacerbate the deficit, but we do give confidence so businesses can grow. So I tell my friend from Ohio, we both have a card. The responsible step for us to take is to vote ‘no’ on temporary [Note: Hoyer mispoke, he meant permanent] and come with fiscally responsible legislation to this Floor.”