WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor in support of the Fiscal Year 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill, which passed the House today. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I rise to voice my strong support for final passage of this supplemental appropriations bill. Its provisions are vital to our national security, from its $4.5 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which is $1.9 billion above the request, that can help our troops stay safe in harm’s way; to its $5 billion for stability and security in Afghanistan; to its funding for preparedness against pandemic flu—at a time when the World Health Organization has declared the first worldwide flu epidemic in 41 years. If anyone intends to vote against flu preparedness today, I hope that they will come to the floor and explain the gamble that they are prepared to make with our nation’s health.
“But our Republican colleagues have seized in particular on a provision equally important to our national security: a line of credit for the International Monetary Fund, or IMF. The IMF is the world body that has been essential to the stability of the global economy since the end of World War II—in fact, it was part of the package of reforms that have kept the world economy from sliding into another depression of the kind that once led to world war.
“This line of credit provided by this bill is an insurance policy for the global economy. If all goes well, the money will never leave the United States. But if all does not go well, if the global economy sees another economic shock, this money will help the IMF provide loans to the countries in greatest danger of economic collapse. Collapsing economies have the power to drag the rest of the world down with them and spark unpredictable political turmoil—which could mean more lost jobs at home and a more dangerous world abroad. In fact, the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, told Congress that the ‘primary near term security concern of the United States is global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications’—and he specifically endorsed the IMF as a crucial means of confronting that security concern.
“But recently, Republicans in this Congress have attacked the IMF with arguments that are downright demagogic—arguments that, if taken seriously, would leave the world a much less stable place.
“They are wrong to argue that this money could go to Iran, Venezuela, Burma, Zimbabwe, or even Hezbollah. Iran, Venezuela, Burma, and Zimbabwe do not currently borrow from the IMF, and they have not borrowed recently. Zimbabwe even had its IMF voting rights suspended. And the IMF stated categorically that it has not negotiated with Hezbollah on a loan—an outcome that is, in any case, even less likely after this week’s election in Lebanon. Further, if the IMF were even to consider a loan to one of those unsavory states, the United States and its allies could block it. The U.S. alone controls more than 17% of all IMF votes, a number based on our contributions to the IMF. And legislation like this only strengthens our influence there.
“Republicans are equally wrong to argue that this bill’s IMF provisions are fiscally irresponsible. They claim that our loans to the IMF would be financed by borrowed money, and that the taxpayers will take a net loss. But the truth is that backing IMF loans has repeatedly made money for American taxpayers. “Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, the cumulative gain from our IMF contributions was nearly $2.8 billion.
“So I would say to my Republican colleagues: there will be time enough for politics on this floor. But this time, and this issue, are too serious. I would ask them to remember the responsibility of Ronald Reagan, when he said, ‘The IMF is the linchpin of the international financial system….I have an unbreakable commitment to increased funding for the IMF.’
“Remember the responsibility of the first President Bush, when he said, ‘The IMF and the World Bank are at the crossroads of our cooperative efforts.’
“Remember the responsibility of Speaker Gingrich, when he said in 1998, ‘We have an obligation to work with the International Monetary Fund.’
“And even remember the responsibility of President George W. Bush, when he said, ‘The United States pledges…to help ensure that the International Monetary Fund…[has] the resources to assist countries in crisis.’
“And if those arguments are not timely enough, I would close by quoting a letter written just last month: ‘A stronger and more responsive IMF is essential to the restoration of confidence in the global economy and financial system and thus to our own economic recovery.’ Signed: Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, James A. Baker, Nicholas F. Brady, Colin Powell, Paul A. Volcker, Paul H. O’Neill, Robert McFarlane, Brent Scowcroft, Anthony Lake, Frank Carlucci, and Lee Hamilton.
“Every one of those men and women, from Reagan down to the present, saw that this issue is too big to demagogue. I hope that the Members of this House will join them.
“I urge my colleagues to vote for this legislation, which is so vital for the stability of our economy, for the health of our nation at a time of pandemic, for our national security, and for our troops.”