Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to Republicans' "Cut, Cap and End Medicare" Act. See below for his remarks and a link to the video:
"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.
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have had a number of efforts to get us to where we needed to be, to get back to fiscal responsibility. I’m amused when our new Members talk about fiscal irresponsibility, because I’ve served here long enough to know that the two presidents under whom the debt was raised most were Ronald Reagan—a 186% increase—and George W. Bush, who increased the national debt by 86%. Did he do it alone? Of course not. Did we all do it—Republicans and Democrats? Yes. Now, Democrats believe that the debt was raised because we bought things on the Republican watch that were not paid for. That’s indisputable. You cannot argue that. Those are the facts. Did we do the same in the Obama administration? We did. Why? Because we had to respond to the deepest recession we have seen. We didn’t create enough jobs; in fact, we lost jobs.
"So Republicans brought a bill to the floor some weeks ago to address the creditworthiness of the United States of America, and the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee said: we offer this to fail. Not to solve the problem—to fail. Now, Republicans bring a bill to the floor of the House of Representatives, 14 days before the debt limit is reached and America might default for the first time in history—and this bill was written sometime late Friday or perhaps Saturday. How many Republicans said, ‘Have you read the bill?’ Well, how many hours have you taken to consider this bill? I guarantee there is not an American who is not on the Budget Committee, who reads this bill, who knows what impact it has. Republicans haven’t had one second of hearings on this. There was no markup on this bill. And it has significant consequences.
"Let me tell you, my friends on the other side of the aisle, I voted for the balanced budget amendment in 1995. I voted to get to fiscal responsibility and balanced the budget four years in a row—and President Bush inherited a $5.6 trillion surplus. Eight years later, we increased the debt by $5 trillion. Now, I’m not going to vote for this balanced budget amendment and I urge my colleagues to reject this bill, which has no chance of passage. We need to stop fiddling and need to do our work and make sure that America can pay its debt—because if it can’t, every one of our constituents will lose, and our country will lose.
"Our oath of office was ‘to preserve and protect.’ Defeat this ill-advised, ill-timed, un-considered piece of legislation, and let us move to fiscal responsibility in a way that will bring us all together in a bipartisan way—as Vice President Biden tried to do and as, frankly, Speaker Boehner and the president tried to do. Let’s get to that objective. The country deserves it."