Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at a press conference urging House Republicans to pass a Senate bill to fund the government and provide disaster aid for those affected by recent disasters. Below are his remarks and a link to the video.
"I am pleased to join Senator Reid, Senator Durbin, and Senator Schumer in urging our Republican colleagues to reach compromise.
"Last night we had a debate on the House floor. Republicans and Democrats rose – particularly, some very compelling statements from a Republican from Pennsylvania and a Republican from Mississippi talking about people who have been ravaged by floods and tornadoes in particular. There are people ravaged by hurricanes and fire and drought as well. The stories were wrenching, and the debate was that we need to help and we need to help now.
"We suggested last night that what the House was going to pass would not enjoy majority support in the United States Senate. Notwithstanding that, we waited for the House to send that bill, knowing full well it would not enjoy majority support.
"I want to read two statements made by Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor within the last 12 days. 'We know the parties will not agree on everything, but the American people want us to find common ground, and I will be looking for it,' said Mr. Boehner on September 8, 2011, just a few days ago. The same day, Mr. Cantor, Majority Leader, said this: 'We have to focus on areas of commonality and try to transcend differences.'
"Today, Leader Reid offered unanimous consent, which essentially adopted the agreement we made in very tough negotiations over the debt limit and an agreement that emergencies like natural disasters needed additional headroom. There was an agreement that we would have additional spending if we were faced with a disaster. In the House debate, clearly everyone understood that we were faced with the disasters.
"I would urge our Republican friends in the Senate and Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to do exactly what they suggested 12 days ago, what we all ought to do: seek common ground. In our view, we want a higher level of funding which the Administration and FEMA says is necessary. But because Republicans do not agree on that figure, we have come to their figure in Leader Reid’s proposal, and we suggest that we move forward on a number we agreed to to fund government. Everybody said yes yesterday on the House floor and Senate floor that we do not want to shut down the government. At a time of crisis in our economy, shutting down the government would be a job destroyer.
"So I want to commend Senator Reid, Senator Durbin, and Senator Schumer for their leadership and urge our Republican colleagues on the House side, Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor: yes, you said you wanted to reach common ground, this is common ground. Let us do it so that our people can have confidence their government is there when a disaster puts them at risk. I thank the senators for allowing us to join them in this important statement."