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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks on the House Floor today on Republicans’ “minibus” appropriations bill. Below is a video and transcript of his remarks:
Click here to watch a video of his remarks.
“Thank you very much, Madam Ranking Member, for yielding. Mr. Chairman, Members of the House. I served actively on the Appropriations Committee for 23 years. I’m still a Member on leave. Never in the 36 years that I’ve been here have I seen an omnibus appropriations bill or a minibus appropriations bill brought to the Floor before the August break.
“Regular order is to bring each bill to the Floor, debate each bill on its merit, have the opportunity to offer amendments, and debate the merits of the amendments and of that particular bill. However, the Majority party has not done its job, and I do not hold accountable the members of the Appropriations Committee. I want to make that clear.
“But for whatever reason, regular order has not been followed, and so each Member of the Congress of the United States is confronted with either voting for all of the bill with component parts, a [legislative branch] bill, energy and water, MilConVA, a defense bill, that they may not like. But if they vote no they will be accused of being against the security of the United States. That, my friends, is baloney.
“In his Pledge to America, or in their Pledge To America, the Republicans said, and I quote, ‘We will advance major legislation one issue at a time.’ This belies that representation.
“The sponsors of this minibus package, Mr. Speaker, claim it will make America more secure. I reject that argument. Senior military leaders have said that the greatest long-term threat to our national security is the growing national debt and the impact of interest payments on the debt as they crowd out our ability to invest in defense and domestic priorities. It is incumbent upon us, Mr. Speaker, to work together to pass a fiscally responsible budget. Agreement that lifts the sequester caps in a way consistent with the principle of parity between defense and non-defense spending.
“Ladies and gentlemen of this House, we were supposed to pass a budget on or before April 15th. It is now July 26th. We have passed no budget. There is no plan for overall spending. This, therefore, is a pig in a poke, and nobody on this House Floor or in this country knows the ramifications about the passage of this bill on the eight domestic spending bills that remain untended.
“It is incumbent upon us, Mr. Speaker, to work together to pass a fiscally responsible budget agreement that lifts the sequester caps. We cannot simply skip to appropriations without determining what our budget priorities are first. It is as critical for our national defense as it is for our ability to support economic growth.
“Moreover, this is the earliest, as I have said before, that I can ever remember that the House considered either an omnibus or minibus appropriations bill. It's an acknowledgment by the Majority that the House will not be able to move these bills through under regular order given Republicans' internal divisions over spending bills. So instead of working with Democrats to craft individual appropriations bills that can pass the House, they're resorting to legislative tactics to push them through on partisan votes.
“I will remind my friends across the aisle that they have been unable to enact a single funding bill in the past seven years without ultimately appealing to Democratic votes. So I urge my colleagues to reject this minibus package and make it clear that we first ought to negotiate a budget agreement that provides certainty and clarity to the entire federal government, not just a handful of agencies. And we ought to do it through an open and transparent process with Members permitted to offer amendments that could shape a budget and appropriations bills truly reflective of the nation's priority as a whole.
“I urge my colleagues to vote no, so that we can get on with an appropriations process that is in the regular order, that makes common sense, that is transparent, and that will give the American public the best product that we can produce, and I yield back the balance of my time.”