Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Leadership at a press conference this afternoon calling for Republicans to stay in session to work towards a solution to avert the sequester. Below is video and a transcript of his remarks:
Click here to watch the video.
“Two weeks from today, if Congress fails to act, the Republican policy – the Republican policy – of sequestration will take effect. Sequestration is a dangerous and irrational policy, or, as Leader Pelosi said, cutting across the board without reference to priority level. It will have devastating effects on our national security and economic recovery. Thousands of Americans will lose their jobs or be furloughed, including teachers, researchers, law enforcement agents, military contractors.
“Everyone should be clear that sequestration is a Republican policy, and it is a bad policy. On July 19, 2011, 229 Republicans, that's 98% of their caucus, voted for the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ bill that employed the irrational approach of sequestration as an alternative to cutting spending in a rational and balanced way. So when the American people hear this is something that President Obama wanted to do, they ought to know that's not true, period. This is a Republican policy, included in their bill that they offered July 11, 2011, before there was any discussion between Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner to avoid the debt limit being violated and having America's credit undermined. That's when it was brought up, because it was Republican policy, and maybe that was part of a compromise which it ended up being.
“Two hundred and twenty two Republicans voted today, again, as the Leader has pointed out, 96% of the caucus, to go home – to go home for a week without a way to turn off the sequester. They are once again walking away from the American people. You may remember when unemployment insurance was at risk, I said they were walking away from 6 million people. They walked away from middle-class tax cuts.
“I assume that when they say this, in advertising their adjournment resolution, they called it ‘Rules Resolution Prohibiting Democratic Grandstanding on the House Floor.’ Not only would they not put Mr. Van Hollen's legislation on the Floor two weeks ago, not only would they not put it on the Floor this week, they won't even open the Floor to discussion to the representatives of the American people. I assume that ‘grandstanding’ they are referring to is when we demanded that they address unemployment insurance and prevent a middle-class tax increase.
“Republicans would have us return to our districts with nothing to show our constituents, notwithstanding the fact we have been here for six weeks this year, who are deeply concerned about how the sequester will make their lives more difficult and their communities less safe. Our country less safe, and our communities less safe as a result of sequester. That would be extremely irresponsible, and we are urging them to stay and keep the House in session. We are calling on them to stay and work with us in pursuit of a balanced solution, to which Mr. Van Hollen will address.
“Yesterday Senate Democrats offered an alternative plan that is balanced and will turn off the sequester. If Nancy Pelosi were the Speaker of this House, and I were the Majority Leader of this House, sequester would not happen. Representative Chris Van Hollen of the Budget Committee offered an alternative as well, as I said. Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor ought to allow it to come to the Floor - they have not yet.
“Unfortunately, the Majority is under the influence of a faction of radical rejecters of common sense. The American people ought to send us a message, and to House Republicans: ‘no deal, no break.’”