Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor about Republican intransigence and obstruction, and urged House Republicans to pass an extension of middle class tax cuts to provide certainty for American families. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, this week’s middle class tax cut debate is an unnecessary sequel to December’s fight over extending payroll tax cuts. Republicans campaigned on a pledge to seek bipartisan solutions to our pressing challenges, but, when faced with a bipartisan agreement in December, they chose to walk away. And they appear ready to do so again this week.
“When it comes to extending tax cuts for the middle class, Democrats and Republicans agree: both believe we ought to do so. So, with millions faced with the uncertainty of whether their taxes will go up next year, why hasn’t Congress acted?
“This should be an easy vote for an overwhelming majority of members – to say, ‘let’s extend these tax cuts we agree on, and then debate what to do about the rest.’ It should be easy, but Republicans are continuing to do what they have done best this Congress: obstruct, delay, and walk away.
“By holding an extension of the payroll tax cut hostage in December, Republicans walked away from the middle-class. They walked away from their responsibility to seek compromise on job creation and economic recovery. They walked away from negotiations over deficit reduction, setting up the dangerous sequester that now looms at the end of the year. Today they are walking away from the middle-class and working families once more, demanding their way or nothing on tax cuts.
“No tax cuts for the middle class, they insist, without an additional tax break for the top 2%. This would add a trillion dollars to our deficits over the next decade.
“Republicans’ plan of tax cuts for the wealthy hasn’t worked before, and it won’t work now. Under President Reagan and both Presidents Bush, deficits climbed. Democrats want to return to the successful policies we had under President Clinton, when we created millions of jobs and achieved budget surpluses.
“I say to my friends on the Republican side of the aisle: we have had many opportunities to work together this year to address our challenges, but each time you walked away. In doing so, they broke a central promise in their ‘Pledge to America’ – that is, the promise to let a majority work its will.
“We could have extended the payroll tax cuts without a fight. We could have found a big and balanced solution to deficits. And we could be voting today on a tax cut extension for 100% Americans. But in each case, Republicans moved not toward the center but to the right to placate the extreme wing within their party.
“Yesterday, Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of New York said this about his own party in Congress – and I quote: ‘I have to say that I am frustrated by how much we – I mean the Republican party – are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment of history.’
“The Gentleman from New York said further: ‘We render ourselves incapable of governing when all we do is take severe sides. If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something similar to the shirts and the skins, there’s not a lot of value there.’
“He’s right – Republicans have been completely unable to govern. Again and again, this Republican House has received compromise bills from the Senate but has been incapable of agreeing to legislation or passing a version that could become law. Examples include Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Farm Bill, Postal Reform, the Highway Bill, FAA Reauthorization, and many others. Instead of focusing on winning politically, they ought to be concerned about governing effectively.
“They can learn much from our outstanding Olympic athletes. In team sports like soccer and basketball, athletes who normally compete against each other at home, have come together as one Team USA to win gold overseas. They may harbor rivalries most of the time, they may not be used to working together, and they all know that, when that cauldron is extinguished, they will once again wear different colors. But right now, in London, they’re all wearing red, white, and blue, and they’ve set their differences aside to achieve victory together.
“House Republicans ought to follow their example. We have the chance today to be one team and make possible what we agree ought to happen. So I say to Republicans: stop walking away from the middle class and start working with us to get things done on their behalf.”