Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at a press conference urging House Republicans to stop opposing middle class tax cuts and work with Democrats on the bipartisan Senate bill to extend the payroll tax cut, extend unemployment insurance, and fix the Medicare physician payment rate. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“The President, and we, and the American people have clearly indicated they feel it’s very, very important that we assure the continuation of the middle-class tax cuts. That’s good for them and it’s good for the economy, it’s good for growing jobs, and it’s good for expanding our economy.
“We have made it very clear, the President has made it very clear that the continuation of unemployment insurance is absolutely critical. It’s critical for those who are going to lose unemployment insurance, the 2.3 million the Leader referenced, but it is also critical to our economy, critical to jobs, critical to the growth of jobs. And we believe it is critical to extend the payment for doctors who serve Medicare patients, the 48 million senior citizens who will be adversely affected if doctors cannot get reimbursed, enabling them to serve Medicare patients. So this is critical that we act.
“[House Republicans] passed a bill. Senator Reid tried to put that bill on the Floor to see whether or not it had majority support in the United States Senate. We believe it would not have had majority support. But the Republicans refused to put it on the Floor. So Senator Reid and Senator McConnell and John Boehner met to discuss an extension of the middle class tax cut. Just before the agreement was made, Senator McConnell was seen exiting Speaker Boehner’s office. Leader McConnell said he was in constant touch and communication with Speaker Boehner before this deal was made. So what we’re seeing is leadership in the House and Senate who believe that this compromise, while not perfect as the Leader said, was something that ought to be done.
“I’m not sure Speaker Boehner was for extending tax cuts. Six months ago, Speaker Boehner said proposals to extend or expand payroll tax cuts are 'another little short-term gimmick.' Sound familiar to you? He thought a year extension is a 'short-term gimmick,' he now thinks 60 days is a short-term gimmick. He’s not for the tax cuts based on this rhetoric, notwithstanding the fact that tomorrow before noon time the President could be sent a bill that would give the certainty that Speaker Boehner and other House Republicans talk about – the certainty that there would in fact be of continuation of that tax cut on January 1st, the certainty that doctors would be reimbursed at a level that they can continue to serve Medicare patients, a certainty that the unemployed would have sustenance for themselves and family and continue to participate in growing the economy.
"This is not in fact a partisan issue. Thirty-nine Republicans, 83 percent of Republicans in the United States Senate voted for this and the American people are saying if 83 percent of the Republicans and almost 100 percent of Democrats are for something, why can’t you come to agreement in Washington, DC? That’s the question we ought to be asking Speaker Boehner – why can’t you take yes for an answer? Why can’t we give the American people the assurance that they need to have, particularly at this holiday time?
“Senator Lugar said this, 'I'm hopeful, maybe without basis, the House of Representatives will pass the bill the Senate passed and it will do so tonight. Speaker Boehner is under enormous pressure.' That’s from the Tea Party, members of his conference. Lugar continued, 'He's gotten a lot of feedback from many Republicans who say we just don't like [the payroll tax cut].' Not the fact that it’s short-term, 60 days, they just don’t like it. They like tax cuts for the very wealthy, but they don’t like tax cuts for the middle class, working Americans. Lugar went on to say, ‘As a matter of fact, many Republicans would say we don't really want the extension of the unemployment compensation or the rest of it anyway.’ He went on to conclude, ‘But I'm hopeful that our majority, Republicans and Democrats today, will proceed, because it seems to me this is best for the country as well as for all the individuals who are affected.’ Senator Scott Brown said essentially the same thing, as did Senator Dean Heller and Senator Olympia Snowe.
“The American public understand that what is happening is a partisan convulsion driven by the Tea Party in the Republican conference. They are concerned that America is again faced with the uncertainty we faced on the CRs twice, debt limit extension, minibus, and megabus appropriations bills. Republicans cannot come to ‘yes’ on behalf of the American people. I hope Speaker Boehner tonight decides that while it’s not perfect from the perspective of any of us, it will give certainty to people on January 1st that they will have the assistance they need for themselves and their family. It’s the least we can do to remember neighbors in distress and putting our country on a path of continued economic recovery.”