Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at a press conference with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn to discuss a letter, led by Rep. Peter Welch and signed by 186 House Democrats, in support of President Obama's call for a clean debt ceiling increase that ensures that America pays its bills and does not default on its debts. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“Thank you very much Congressman Welch for your leadership and tenacity on this issue. Peter Welch has been raising his voice and the voice of others for years now on behalf of fiscal responsibility.
“Taking your country hostage, damaging your country, should not be an option. That is what’s being done by our Republican colleagues. Any attempt to hold our debt limit hostage would be reckless.
“Those of us who signed Representative Welch’s letter are committed to a clean debt limit extension to prevent a default and forestall another downgrade of our credit. That is not an easy vote, because it will be mischaracterized as incurring additional debt. As Mr. Welch has so correctly pointed out, the debt limit is for that debt which we have already incurred.
“It was shameful when Republicans brought us to the brink in 2011, leading to the only downgrade of America’s credit in history, when Standard & Poor's downgraded us one point.
“The bill Republicans propose to put on the Floor this week is nothing but a wish-list of unrelated and partisan policies they know won’t go anywhere. As a result, they are taking their country’s credit hostage to their own small agenda.
“To provide certainty to our markets we should act now rather than wait until October 17. Now the Republicans apparently may do that this week. [But] we ought to do a clean debt limit extension. We ought to stop demagoguing one another. It is the policies the Congress and the President have adopted. We shouldn’t be playing political games with our debt, risking severe fiscal and economic consequences.
“Federal [Reserve] Chairman Bernanke put it bluntly, and I quote – this is September 18, just a few days ago: ‘a failure to raise the debt limit could have very serious consequences to the financial markets and for the economy.’ Now, one could shrug off Mr. Bernanke as perhaps not partisan, as overly concerned.
“But Moody’s analyst, Steven Hess, wrote yesterday, 9/24: ‘The US treasury bond is the benchmark of the world’s financial markets. To default on that would create a global financial problem.’ Now you may say, well, he’s just a bond rater or something of that nature.
“Let me call your attention to this quote - former Bush Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Chairman of the Gingrich-led Congress’ Budget Committee Jim Nussle said this: ‘Markets will react. There will be repercussions that our economy right now doesn’t need and doesn’t deserve.’ He went on to say it would be a dangerous and damaging process to pursue.
“So we urge our Republican colleagues to act responsibly. Put country above party. And end their partisan games which threaten our nation’s fiscal health and which will have real-world repercussions to our economy.
“The letter that Mr. Welch has put together echoes the President’s statement that Congress must act for America to pay its bills. I thank Representative Welch for his leadership on this issue. We’re standing with him today to send a strong message that we must prevent a catastrophic default.
“And I now yield to the Assistant Leader of the Democratic Caucus in the House – my good friend from South Carolina, Jim Clyburn.”