Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon in opposition to H.R. 444, the "Require a PLAN D Act." Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
“I thank the gentleman for yielding. Mr. Price of Georgia said what the American people want. What the American people don't want is games. This is a game. This is a sham. This is a shame. What the American people want is honest legislation to address the challenges that confront us.
“In 23 or 24 days we're going to face a sequester. That sequester, as has been pointed out, Mr. Cantor and I agree on: it will have devastating, adverse, negative consequences for our economy, for the American people and for the confidence of America. But we are not spending time to avoid the sequester.
“Mr. Price in fact, says this is not about the sequester. He's right. Mr. Ryan said the Founding Fathers - the Founding Fathers had no idea and no intention that the President of the United States would be involved in the budgeting process, period. None. Read the Constitution, my friends. I've heard a lot about that. The Founding Fathers thought it would be the legislative body, and the legislative body alone, that would have responsibility. It wasn't, frankly, until the last century that the president played a significant role in the budget. Because the Founding Fathers, if you read the Constitution, thought under Article 1 we were responsible.
"And now, my friends, we have a game. My friend from Georgia, the distinguished Gentleman from Georgia, said that we want a contrast. You have a contrast. You didn't want a contrast. You didn't make it in order. Because you don't want the contrast. What you want is your political messaging bill. That, at the end of the day, will do zip, nada, zero to address the problems confronting America. It's a game. Sadly it's a game because the American people deserve and need better from us. More responsibility, more reality, more honesty in the actions we take on this Floor.
“This is a political messaging bill. It's not even a very big bill. And by the way, the bill to which the Gentleman from Georgia referred is not before this Congress. It was the last Congress. That Congress, I tell the Gentleman, is over. But we have a responsibility in the 113th Congress to act responsibly. Not just to point to what was or was not done in the 112th Congress.
“This is a political messaging bill, Mr. Speaker. Pure and simple. It does nothing to solve the most immediate problem we are now facing, that is, the looming sequester and all the uncertainty it is causing. What we ought to be working on this week is a bipartisan solution to the sequester that averts the negative cuts, the adverse consequences that will take place as I said 23 to 24 days from now. Instead, Mr. Speaker, we hear not only silence from many of the Republicans but irresponsible acquiescence.
“Yesterday Republicans blocked consideration of an amendment by the ranking member of the Budget Committee, Mr. Van Hollen, that would replace the sequester with spending cuts and additional revenue, a balanced package. Now, my Republican friends probably would have voted against that. But they didn't even allow the contrast of which the Gentleman from Georgia speaks. Why? Because they want a unilateral message for their hard-line constituents. That is why, Mr. Speaker, and it's a shame because the American people and our economy are suffering because of these actions. This is very disappointing.
“As Mr. Van Hollen's amendment is exactly the approach we ought to consider on this Floor. And the President of the United States, for contrast, I tell my friend from Georgia, supports this exact alternative. Will he support others in a compromise? He will. But this is the alternative that he supports so it's the contrast that the Gentleman seeks.
“I suggest perhaps we ask unanimous consent that they change their mind. To do so would be devastating if we don't fix this sequester. To our economy and our ability to create opportunities for America. It's time that our friends in the Majority and in this House stop pretending that the sequester is not dangerous or that it can be a viable tool to achieve the fiscal discipline we need. It's not that tool and, in fact, it's very dangerous.
“As we move closer to the March 1 deadline, I want to tell my friend from Georgia, whom I respect, that I would hope that we could engage in a positive discussion and consideration on this Floor of an alternative like Mr. Van Hollen's. Not because you will support it but because it's a viable, effective alternative. And then you provide an effective alternative. There is no alternative in the bill you provide on this Floor today. And I yield back the balance of my time.”