Statement ● GOP Tax Law
For Immediate Release: 
December 7, 2017
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks on the House Floor today in opposition to Republicans’ decision to spend the last three months working on a bill to cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans rather than fund the government or address our nation’s priorities. Below is a video and a transcript of his remarks: 

Click here to watch a video of his remarks.

“Mr. Speaker, we should not shut down the government of the United States. Democrats do not want government to shut down. It is, however, not in our hands. It takes a majority to pass any bill in this House. 218 votes. Our Republican colleagues have over 240 votes. We have 193. So it's not in our hands, Mr. Speaker.

“The Republican party has been given the responsibility and the duty to enact legislation, to ensure the proper functioning of government. As the governing party, they can pass whatever they want to pass on this Floor. Indeed, as the governing party, they have a responsibility to use their votes to keep government running. They control the House, they control the Senate, and they control the White House. All the levers of power of legislating are in their hands.

“But we're here, Mr. Speaker, on the verge of a shutdown because of a familiar pattern where Republicans cannot unite as a party. They cannot agree among themselves on spending priorities. And this has happened again, and again, and again. In fact, each time the Congress has successfully enacted a funding bill since the Republicans took the majority in 2011, they had to have Democratic votes to pass that legislation. Every single time.

“When we passed the Continuing Resolution in September, just about three months ago, we did so because Republican leaders asked for more time to work on the priorities that confront this country and responsibly keep government working. They had three months to do so, yet here we are with one day remaining and nothing to show for it.

“Instead of spending the past three months on priorities that I’ll outline in just a minute, they have been working on a tax bill that is reckless, deeply unpopular, and harmful to the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans and the economic well-being of our country, and that I call a debt tax because it will explode the debt of the United States. A bill that would raise taxes on 78 million middle-class households and kick 13 million Americans off their health insurance coverage. A bill that would increase, as I said, the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars – indeed, much more than that because we'll have to pay interest on the money we're going to borrow to do the tax cut while we fail to pay our bills. A bill that would trigger an automatic cut of Medicare by $25 billion next year. A bill premised on a falsehood that tax cuts magically pay for themselves. That's what the past three months have been wasted on, Mr. Speaker.

“Not a single appropriations bill has been enacted by this Congress. Not a single one. There are twelve. And they control the House, they control the Senate, and they control the Presidency. Now our Republican colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, are asking for two more weeks. Two more weeks. Two more weeks, they say.

“Republicans are asking us for two more weeks because they claim they haven't had time to write a funding bill they can pass. Ninety days. Every Democrat voted for what I call the no-drama CR in September. Ninety Republicans voted no on an agreement we had to use the next 90 days to address the priorities of America. But 90 Republicans voted no. And they've had time to write, and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite again a tax bill that advantaged the wealthiest in America at the expense of the majority of Americans.

“That, Mr. Speaker, is how they've spent their time these past three months. Write a funding bill to avert shutdown? No. Reach an agreement that is responsible to fund the priorities of America? No. Write a tax bill – that's what they've done for 90 days. They kicked millions off of their health coverage and raised taxes on millions more. That's what they chose to do.

“Two more weeks. They want two more weeks. They have 240 votes, give them more time. But I’m certainly not going to vote to give them two more weeks simply to work on the tax bill, which they have pledged to pass by Christmas. However, if they passed it a year from now, it would have the same impact on Americans’ taxes. The critical, they have ignored and delayed. The political has been their sole focus.

“I say to my Republican friends, Mr. Speaker, you won control of the government. Govern. Govern. Be responsible. Focus on that which is critically important to the American people. Don't say you haven't had time to do the most important job you had. You had time. We voted, every one of us, to give you 90 days. To work, either in a partisan sense as you've done so much of the year, or in a bipartisan sense which was much more positive and would have been much more productive.

“There is a to-do list, Mr. Speaker, of critical legislative items that this House has to complete before the end of the year. It's long and it's a compelling list. Six of them have hard deadlines and must be done before we leave for the end of the year. 90 days we didn't do this. None of the six is a surprise, either. Neither are any of the others that the American people expect us to do by the end of the year as well. The majority has had months to work on bringing legislation to the Floor on each one of them. Months.

“Yet, here we are. In December, pushed up against the wall of a funding deadline. Republicans want two more weeks, so they can focus on passing their tax bill before Christmas – not the priorities of America, but a tax bill. A deeply unpopular, appropriately so, tax bill.

“Mr. Speaker, let me list what we need to do and what we ought to do and what we should have done over the last 90 days. Let me share with the American people who sent us here, what the Republican majority has not gotten done in all the months they've had complete control of the government.

“One, keep the government open and functioning by passing funding bills and sending them to the President for signature.

“Second, re-authorize the Children's Health Insurance Program so that millions of our children will not lose health care insurance.

“Provide funding for VA Choice to help care for our veterans. That must be done.

“Re-authorize the flood insurance program so critical to so many millions of Americans.

“Extend an expiring health program such as community health centers. On which so many other millions rely.

“Re-authorize portions of the Intelligence Act to protect America’s security. That will end before the end of the year. 90 days we've had to consider all those items.

“And the American people also expect us to provide necessary resources to address the opioid addiction crisis. Had 90 days to do that.

“Reach an agreement on spending levels for critical priorities of the American people. We're dealing with sequester, which is somewhat jargon. But we haven't done that. Pass funding to keep government effectively serving our people. 90 days to do that. Here we are.

“Pass the DREAM Act to provide certainty for those young people who were brought here as children and have grown up as Americans. Take action to stabilize our health insurance markets. We haven't done that. Had 90 days.

“Extend the expired Perkins loan program so college students with the most needs can complete their degrees. We haven't done that in the last 90 days.

“Re-authorize fire grants. So that our domestic defenders, our first responders, can have the resources they need for training, for personnel, for equipment, to keep our community safe. We had 90 days to do that.

“Prevent nearly a million people from losing access to Medicaid in Puerto Rico.

“And I will end with, making sure that the people of Texas, the people of Florida, the people of Puerto Rico and the people of the Virgin Islands have resources to rebuild and restore their communities devastated by Harvey and Irma and Maria.

“All of this we need to do by December 31. What are we focused on? A tax bill. When will that tax bill take effect for taxes in 2018? When will you pay those? By April 15, 2019. Yet that's what we spend all our time on. That's what we spend all our time on. Not the priorities I have just read. But a tax bill that will hurt America. Hurt its financial status. And hurt its middle income workers. And most of all, hurt the children who will pay back the money we will borrow to give the wealthiest in America a tax cut. Those people making over $900,000 a year. That crowd will get 62% of the resources. Yet the Speaker says that we need to help the struggling Americans. There is not a person I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, at any one of my town meetings came up to me and was worried about the people making $900,000 or more. Maybe it happened to you, Mr. Speaker, it hasn't happened to me.

“Why are we at this point? Because we have a governing party that refuses to govern. Because we have a majority that has failed to do the business of the American people. Even for something as fundamental as providing for the operations of government.

“Mr. Speaker, we Democrats welcome the opportunity to sit down with our Republican colleagues and reach a compromise agreement to meet our responsibilities and address the many pressing issues I've outlined earlier in this address. My time is about up. Had we utilized the 90 days that we all voted, we on our side of the aisle, the Democrats voted, with our Republican friends, although 90 Republicans voted no, but we all voted yes. To take 90 days to meet our responsibilities to the American people. It hasn't been done. We have no confidence that giving two more weeks will make it happen.

“Let's get to work right now. Not on the tax bill. That could be passed at some point in time, I'm against it, I’ll vote against it, I hope it will fail, it's a bad bill, but let's address these priorities. That's not what the intent of this two weeks is, it's to give two weeks so we can pass a bad tax bill that will hurt America or hurt our children and will hurt the middle class.

“Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.”