Hoyer: Republicans Adjourn for August Leaving Much Undone

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“Mr. Speaker, we began the July work period with a measure of optimism. With four full weeks of session scheduled, there was much reason to hope this House could make serious headway on appropriations bills and reach a compromise on student loans. We passed that student loan compromise this Wednesday – with just two days left before the August recess.

“But the Majority’s strategy for moving appropriations bills through this House has utterly and completely failed.  The Ryan budget, or the Ryan retreat – as I call it – has failed.  With four full, consecutive weeks in which to get things done, we have not enacted a single appropriations bill that was consistent with either the Budget Control Act of 2011 or this year’s Ryan budget.  In fact, we haven’t enacted a single appropriations bill, period.

“And Republicans have not even had the courage or intellectual honesty to go to conference on the budget to resolve differences.  Of course, that would require compromise, which is anathema to many of our Republican colleagues.  Regular order means, simply, their orders.

“Now we are leaving for the August recess, with just nine legislative days remaining until the end of the fiscal year, and – as I said – not a single appropriations bill has been sent to the President’s desk.  This is not a recipe for responsible governance by the Majority. It is a recipe for another manufactured crisis and threat of a shutdown.

“Mr. Speaker, our economy, our businesses, and our middle-class families cannot and ought not endure further uncertainty as a result of this Congress’s failure to do its job.  The most egregious manifestation of the Majority’s failure to govern has been the irrational sequester policy that they not only refused to prevent but have now fully embraced.

“The Ryan budget passed this House in March without a single Democratic vote – an endorsement in theory by this Republican conference of cuts even deeper than the sequester imposes.  Yet, as I predicted, when theory turns to practice, even Republicans themselves cannot live with the policies that their own Chairman of the Appropriations Committee characterized just the other day as ‘unrealistic and ill conceived.’  And their policy of sequester remains an albatross around the neck of the American people and economy.

“If there were not a single Democrat in either chamber, Republicans still could not complete the appropriations process.  Their pro-sequester, spending-cuts-only approach simply does not work.  And this week’s Transportation-HUD debacle proves it.

“I quote: ‘With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted just three months ago.  Thus, I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration – and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts – must be brought to an end.’

“As I’ve said, those are the words of Hal Rogers, the conservative, Republican Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  Not my words, Mr. Speaker – his words.  And I know that Chairman Rogers is not the only member of his party who is fed up with the Tea Party faction and their extreme agenda.

“But as we prepare to go home to our districts over the month of August and hear their concerns about jobs, our economy, and the pain of the sequester’s senseless cuts, I hope that we can turn the page of the July work period and return in a different spirit.  September need not be July’s second act.

“In the short time we have left – as I said, just nine legislative days before the fiscal year ends – let us take a different path, Mr. Speaker.  Instead of taking the familiar road of partisanship, posturing, and spin, let us embrace a path of compromise and shared accomplishment – one we in this Congress might call, as the poet Robert Frost did, ‘the road less traveled by.’

We have difficult and pressing challenges to address in a short time – passing a budget, replacing the sequester with a balanced alternative, and averting a default on our debt.  We can begin by going to conference on the budget and allowing both sides to sit down and start working on a deal. 

“‘The road less traveled by,’ Mr. Speaker. A road forward, not backward. A road to constructive compromise, not destructive confrontation – and to results that benefit our people and our economy.

“Such a road would surely make ‘all the difference’ – for this Congress and for this country.”