Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this morning urging budget conferees to find a long-term fiscal solution. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“Mr. Speaker, budget conferees are now meeting or will be meeting shortly to negotiate a budget for the remainder of this fiscal year. And they have a real opportunity to look beyond that mission and lay the groundwork for a long-term solution to our deficits that is balanced and restores certainty to our economy.
“What we do not need is more gimmicks and partisan games. Like we will have today, frankly. We are going to have a vote on the resolution, which is disapproving of the raising of the debt limit. Everybody knows that's not a real vote, and almost everybody on this Floor knows that if we pursued that policy it would be damaging to America, to the military that was just brought up, and to our nation. And every Republican leader has said that not increasing the debt limit is an alternative that ought [not] to be pursued. Yet, we have this vote. That resolution has already been rejected by the Senate and stands no chance of surviving a presidential veto. It is, frankly, simply political cover and a waste of our time.
“The keys to any budget solution, Mr. Speaker, must be compromise and a seriousness of purpose. Americans want to see that seriousness, and they want to see much, much, much less of the political gamesmanship – some of which we'll practice today, unfortunately.
“Republicans and Democrats, I believe, in looking beyond a small fix and toward negotiating a long-term solution, will find that we actually agree on many things. We agree that gradual reforms are better than sudden ones. We agree that sequestration is not a sensible approach to achieving deficit savings.
“And let me say as an aside, no matter how many times it's said on this Floor that the sequester is President Obama's policy, it will not make it fact. It is dead, flat wrong. The sequester is incorporated in the Republican budget that was passed in this House just some months ago. No Democrat voted for that budget, because they believed the sequester – as the previous speaker said, but he voted for the budget which implemented the sequester – is harming our national security and harming our domestic security and harming our economy and harming the growth of jobs. In fact, sequestration – which I point out to people, starts with ‘S,’ which stands for ‘stupid’ – is a terrible approach that was never meant to come into practice.
“Many of us all agree that, in replacing the sequester, we'll need to find savings through revenue policies and reforms to mandatory spending that can pay dividends for the budget and the economy in the future. The key to compromise, of course, is balance. Every American understands that. Every husband, every wife, every parent understands that compromise is essential within a family, within a business, within a community and, yes, within a country. The key to compromise is balance, which is what both the Rivlin-Domenici and Simpson-Bowles bipartisan commissions embraced as a framework for agreement.
“A balanced compromise is critical because Democrats and Republicans are going to have to work together to pass any agreement through both chambers and have it signed into law. Democrats are ready to make the tough decisions necessary to set our fiscal house in order, but we made it clear that we will not allow the most vulnerable Americans to carry the burden of deficit reduction – and it is not necessary that they do so. Our goal remains a balanced approach to deficit reduction and an agreement that restores certainty to our economy.
“My Republican colleagues and friends said much about restoring certainty, particularly in the 2010 election. Unfortunately, for our economy, for our businesses, and for our people, we have done anything but restore certainty. In fact, we have governed by crisis – thirty days, ninety days, 180 days, a year. Arbitrary deadlines put in place, which brought the country to the brink of default and to the brink of closing down government. And, in fact, of course, just recently, we did, in fact, shut down the government.
“Now, my Republican colleagues say we wanted that to happen on our side of the aisle. Ironically, 198 Democrats voted to open the government. That is to say, every Democrat that was voting on this Floor voted to open government. And my colleagues who say they didn't want to shut down government, 144 of them voted to keep government shut down, Mr. Speaker, and 87 of them voted to open up government. So the American public is not fooled as to who wanted to shut down the government, but it was a bad policy and lent to uncertainty in our economy.
“Reaching an agreement only for this fiscal year, in addition, Mr. Speaker, will mean more left to do, more sequester left to replace, and more confidence to instill. Mr. Speaker, I hope that conferees will take a broader view and send us a budget worthy of this nation, worthy of the nation it will serve, and one that reflects our priorities to grow our economy, create jobs, give opportunity to our people, ensure that our national security is protected and that our nation's long-term competitiveness is enhanced.
“Mr. Speaker, that's what we ought to do. That's what the American people expect us to do. That's what the American people hope we will do. Let's warrant the faith and confidence of the American people by keeping faith with them and with our country and I yield back the balance of my time.”