Floor Statements

March 7, 2012
On this day in 1965, 600 men and women marched from the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, on their way to the state capitol in Montgomery.  They marched for freedom and the right to vote that had been denied them.  As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on their way out of town, they were met with the violence borne from bigotry and forced to turn back.  My friend and esteemed colleague, John Lewis, who led the march along with Hosea Williams, was beaten nearly to death.  However, their determination to be heard and to participate in our democracy could never be turned back.  The sad events of that day, which became known as ‘Bloody Sunday,’  were broadcast across America, opening the eyes of millions to the injustices of Jim Crow.  Later that month, thousands gathered in solidarity and with faith in the promise of America, setting out from that same place and together they walked across that bridge, to the state capitol in Montgomery, and into the pages of history. 
March 6, 2012
Donald Payne was an extraordinarily conscientious member of this body. But more than that, he was a man who cared about his fellow men and fellow women. Donald Payne was a serious member of this body. That does not mean he was always serious. He had a sense of humor. He was a wonderful, engaging person. But he was serious about what he did, and it reflected how deeply he cared about those whom he served and about his country.
February 17, 2012
I know that everybody on my side would have supported the agreement that Mr. Van Hollen and I put forward. That agreement would, as the current agreement would say, that the only individuals paying for this bill out of 315 million Americans are the two million civilian workers who work for us, who work for all of us, who day after day, week after week, month after month make sure we give the services to the people of the United States, protect the United states, ensure that our food is safe, ensure that we have FBI agents on the job, make sure at the Defense Intelligence Agency we know what other people are doing, these are all civilian employees. Highly skilled, highly trained, highly educated and, yes, highly motivated. And every day they give outstanding service to the people of the United States. We talk here and we pass laws here but none of that talk and none of those laws make a difference unless somebody implements what we say and the policies that we set. This Congress is on the path to be the most anti-federal worker Congress that I have served in.
January 18, 2012
According to a new poll by The Washington Post and ABC News, 84% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job. I don't know that the other 16% are paying attention, because we're not doing our job well. And this certainly is not doing our job well. The reason it's not doing our job well is because it is a pretense. A sham. This legislation is to pay bills that we've already incurred. Whether it was incurred with your votes or our votes, we have incurred those expenses.
December 13, 2011
We must not leave this city and our responsibilities without extending unemployment insurance. We must not leave Washington, DC, for this holiday season to deliver a block of coal in the stockings of our constituents by failing to continue the tax cut from their payroll taxes. And we must not leave Washington, DC, without affecting a continuation of the proper reimbursement of doctors to ensure that Medicare patients will be able to get their doctors' services. So we have three items to focus on to get done and nine appropriation bills.
December 7, 2011
The Republican Leader and I may debate vigorously on many issues, but one area where we strongly agree is on making Congress more transparent and accessible. Recently, Congress took steps to open up the Capitol building, this Visitor’s Center, so citizens can meet with their Representatives and see the home of their legislature. In the same way, Congress is now taking steps to update how it connects with the American people online.
November 16, 2011
Last year, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, said that – and I quote: 'Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.' We must do something to start paying down the debt, and that something is in the hands of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
November 14, 2011
"With a crucial election less than one year away, I am very pleased Rep. Conyers held this forum today to examine the impact of new state measures that put the voting rights of millions of Americans at risk," said Whip Hoyer. "The right to vote is fundamental to our entire system of government and we must do everything in our power to ensure that every eligible American has the right to participate in our democracy and make their voices heard.”  
November 2, 2011
Community banks, Mr. Speaker, are the lifeblood of our local economies. They are locally owned and operated. They know their local businesses and residents intimately and lend to them not just because it's a sound business decision, but also because it benefits the community. With the credit and lending crisis we have experienced over the past couple of years, the small banks that operate in our local communities face numerous challenges just to stay afloat.
October 14, 2011
On Tuesday, the Senate sent us a bill that would help American workers and businesses who are facing unfair competition as a result of other countries manipulating their currencies. It passed with strong bipartisan support, but the House Republican leadership has refused to bring it up for a vote – even though it passed the House last year by a wide bipartisan margin.
September 23, 2011
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.
September 23, 2011
This is a legislative arena, not a coliseum to attack one another. It is a legislative arena to try to come together and do what the American public expect us to do.
September 21, 2011
I rise in opposition to this bill. Now, all of us are for a Continuing Resolution which keeps the government in business. In the past on both sides of the aisle we have talked about clean CR’s. Clean CRs in the short-term, this going until November 18, to keep government running. I was hopeful we would have such a CR this time. So that we would not continue to give to the American public the feeling that we can't come to agreement.
September 15, 2011
My friend has been recently quoted; I’m sure, accurately, perhaps, correct me if I’m wrong, in saying that during the first eight months we focused on ‘cut’ of [Republicans’] ‘cut and grow’ [plan], and now we need to focus on ‘grow.’ I would tell my friend, assuming that quote is accurate, that in fact here we are again focused on ‘cut,’ not on ‘grow.’
September 15, 2011
First of all, the issue here has been raised by a case that is not yet concluded. Let me state that again. The issue raised in this legislation is referenced to a case that is not yet concluded. And seeks to either pose our judgment for the finder of fact and law's judgment. Normally we believe that's a bad practice, in a nation of laws not of men.
September 14, 2011
I rise, Mr. Speaker, to urge my colleagues to vote down this resolution of disapproval, which is transparently political and which will do nothing to secure our nation's fiscal future. In fact, this resolution is premised on the assumption that the American people are ignorant – I don't believe it – ignorant about America’s fiscal challenges. As often as some in this House attempt to falsely persuade the American people that raising the debt ceiling means taking on more debt, we are here to repeat the truth: this is about paying the bills we have already incurred. The American people understand that fact, as evidenced by their disgust with the partisan brinksmanship that almost brought America to the brink of default.
September 14, 2011
This week, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction began work on a roadmap to bring down our nation’s deficit and restore our fiscal health. They heard from Doug Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, who reiterated once again what we already know: our nation’s current fiscal position is not sustainable. We also know that the problem we’re facing stems in part from buying things without paying for them, including two wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, and a prescription drug program.  
September 12, 2011
 The Congressional Black Caucus did two things. It said, we hear and we say ‘ouch.’ We understand the pain you're experiencing. We feel your pain. But if all we do is empathize and feel pain, that's not enough. Our President addressed us this last week. He said we can shrug our shoulders and say, there's 14 months until the next election but the people in pain can't wait 14 months. That's what the Congressional Black Caucus did. Tens of thousands of people showed up throughout this nation because somebody offered hope and not just hope but real deliverables. Jobs were gotten. Interviews were set up. Training sessions for how you apply, how you dress, how you talk to prospective employers - those kinds of seminars were given. A difference was made by the Congressional Black Caucus traveling throughout this country.
September 8, 2011
While I would prefer for us to be addressing a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, today’s legislation reflects bipartisan support for innovation in public schools and improving educational opportunities for students who still lack access to a high-quality education.
August 1, 2011
We have missed, in my opinion, a wonderful opportunity. An opportunity to make a ‘grand bargain,’ as the Speaker wanted to do, as Leader Pelosi wanted to do, as Leader Reid wanted to do, as the president wanted to do, and as the vice president wanted to do.
July 30, 2011
Our neighbors, our friends sent us here to be responsible and to come to the aid of our country at a time of crisis. Our country is at such a time now. Our people confront uncertainty and fear and they're looking to us for the courage to compromise and act to prevent default and gridlock and irresponsibility.
July 28, 2011
We find ourselves at an unprecedented place today. America stands on the brink of default. It stands there, my friends, because the leadership of this House has failed to act in a timely and responsible way. This is an unprecedented status for America, an intolerable place. And Americans are understandably outraged at the politically-caused impasse that confronts us, the consequences of which have been correctly characterized as catastrophic.  
July 21, 2011
This legislation puts the special interests ahead of the public interest by weakening the entity that shields responsible consumers from financial abuses. Last year, Congress passed an important Wall Street reform bill in order to prevent a job-destroying financial crisis from happening again. And one of the most crucial parts of that bill was the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog that would look out for the interests of ordinary Americans who want to sign mortgages, apply for student loans, and start businesses on honest and fair terms. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is empowered to ensure that lenders provide clear, plain-language explanations of loan terms—and to stop the kind of abusive and deceptive loan practices that helped drive our economy off a cliff. If such protections had been in place in the last decade, the odds of a crisis would have been significantly less.
July 21, 2011
In this very important debate, do we need to bring down spending? We do; but one of the interesting facets of every report that's been issued in a bipartisan way—the so-called Gang of Six, the Simpson-Bowles Commission, the Domenici-Rivlin Commission—is the premise that we must not take action that undermines the most vulnerable among us. I know my friends on the Republican side of the aisle, who pride themselves on being the party of Lincoln, understand Lincoln's message of healing, of bringing us together, of making sure that we lifted up our fellow citizens and cared for the sick and for the homeless, for the young, and yes, for the old. So I thank Chairwoman Lee, such an extraordinarily courageous and powerful voice on behalf of those who sometimes have no voice. I am pleased to join my voice to hers and hopefully to all 435 of us who have been given the privilege of serving in this body—to raise our voices on this day on behalf of a nation that has been perceived around the world as being a nation of hope, of opportunity, of heart, and of soul. Let us reflect that in whatever way we go forward in ensuring the fiscal health of our nation, the health of our people—physically, mentally, financially—is equally important.
July 19, 2011
 The American public is rightfully very distressed with the Congress of the United States. They’re distressed that a time of great challenge and great risk, we fiddle while the debt threatens to burn us, to place our country in the position of being judged un-creditworthy. That is not worthy of this Congress, or any one of us who serves in this Congress. We have 14 days, according to the Secretary of the Treasury, until such time as America will be unable to pay its obligations. That is not a situation that will be looked at positively by the financial sector, or by any one of our constituents whose ability to save, to have a 401-k that is stable, to purchase an automobile or a refrigerator, or to send their kid to college will be put at risk because of increased interest rates. Not one of us will be held harmless if this Congress fails to do its duty.