Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at a press conference with Democratic Leadership on the need for a balanced, bipartisan deal to prevent the fiscal cliff. Below are his remarks:
“I thank the Leader for her comments, I certainly agree with her. Last night’s vote showed us that resolving the challenge that confronts us with the fiscal cliff cannot and will not be done with a partisan vote. It showed us that we must work together in a bipartisan way and that we must preclude going over the fiscal cliff by a balanced agreement that Republicans can support, that Democrats can support, that the President of the United States will sign, and that can pass the United States Senate. It is absolutely incumbent upon us to do that.
“We should not see taxes go up on working class Americans. We should not see doctors put at risk in terms of their delivery of services to seniors. We should not see the alternative minimum tax put at risk. We need to lend confidence to our country and to our economy.
“Some years ago we confronted partisan gridlock. Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton got together to reach an agreement. It was very controversial. And Newt Gingrich said – and this is October 20, 1998 – ‘So I would say to each and every member of this House, unless they have a plan that they think can get 218 votes over here, can pass through a filibuster in the Senate, and get signed, there is no responsible vote but yes.’
“America expects its Congress to get to yes. The Leader has indicated we are prepared to work with the Speaker, with the Republican leadership. And we all need to be willing to work with the President of the United States to get to yes - for our country and for our constituents.”
In Response to a Question About Republicans' Failed "Plan B"
“I think we were united in opposition to a bill that we thought that had no chance of passage through the United States Senate and was not going to be signed by the President of the United States. And therefore, we were concerned that we were wasting 72-96 hours, perhaps 120 hours, at a time when the cliff confronts us in just a few days, and where action on behalf of working Americans is essential. And in order for action to occur – that’s what I referred to Mr. Gingrich’s comments – in order for action to occur we’re going to have to have a bill that can get through the Untied States Senate and be signed by the President of the United States. We didn’t want to waste another 96 hours.
“So I am pleased that this was defeated. It was defeated not on the House Floor but in the Republican conference – apparently a pretty heated conference. I would urge Speaker Boehner to again sit with President Obama and reach a compromise that will be a reasonable one and that will confront the fiscal challenge that confronts our country – which this has all been about – and confront doing some of the things that are essential for us to do between now and January 2. Nobody wants the sequester to go into place. Nobody wants – or most of us do not want – to see unemployment insurance lapse for those who are relying on it to support themselves. And the other aspects that you know about that need to be addressed.
“So I think the opposition was that a partisan bill was being put forward. A partisan bill that in my opinion was more to give Republicans a place to stand than it was to give legislation that would give relief to America and help our economy.”
In Response to a Question on the National Rifle Association Press Conference
“Let me say that I do not believe those remarks represent anywhere near a significant portion of America. I don’t believe frankly that they represent necessarily the majority of views of responsible members of the National Rifle Association who want guns to hunt, want guns to protect their home and their house, and yes, their children.
“But the recommendation of an arms escalation in America is not, I think, the solution that the American people believe makes common sense. I am very hopeful that we will go in a direction which will say that these weapons of mass killing capability will be limited, the magazines will be limited, and that, yes, we will make sure that people who have access to dangerous weapons are mentally healthy to the extent that we can get there.
“But I do not think that those remarks, which I think were unfortunate, represent even the majority of his own members. I would be surprised if that were the case. Certainly do not represent the views of the overwhelming majority of the American public.”