Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon in objection to adjourning the first session of the 113th Congress without taking action on unfinished legislation, including extending unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“I thank the Speaker. Arguably, Mr. Speaker, this Congress is the least productive one in which I have served over the last 33 years, both from a humanitarian standpoint and an economic one. This Congress has earned the disdain of the American people, irrespective of their party affiliation.
“I rise, Mr. Speaker, specifically to express my and the Democratic minority's strong objection to adjourning this first session of the 113th Congress without extending unemployment insurance eligibility for the 1.3 million Americans, including 20,000 [recent] military veterans, who will lose that support in just 48 hours. This number [1.3 million], Mr. Speaker, will increase by 73,000 people on average every week that we continue to block extension. That is both a moral outrage and another Congressionally inflicted blow to our economy and it’s unprecedented. Whenever unemployment levels have been as they are today, the Congress has extended benefits.
“It is, sadly, consistent with our failure to pass meaningful jobs legislation proposed by the President. It is, sadly, consistent with our failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which is broadly supported by business, labor, farmers, farm workers, and an overwhelming number of religious leaders and members of the faith community. It is, sadly, consistent with our failure to pass a farm bill, which could give confidence to those in dire need of help putting food on their family's table, that this Congress will not abandon them. And ironically, Mr. Speaker, we do so at the very time that our nation celebrates a message of giving and hope.
“All this we leave undone after passing a so-called budget compromise, whose only virtue was that it was slightly better than the draconian and irrational sequester, condemned on both sides of the aisle, Mr. Speaker, as unworkable, unrealistic and ill-conceived. And so a so-called compromise that will be tested in just a few short weeks and which failed to assure that America will pay its bills in the months ahead.
“Mr. Speaker, if I thought objecting to this motion to adjourn by unanimous consent would lead to extension of unemployment [insurance] for the 1.3 million Americans who have been unable to find work or to a House leadership bringing to the Floor issues that I've listed, I would object to this House adjourning with so much of the people's work undone. But sadly, Mr. Speaker, such an objection would have no such effect.
“I and my party deeply regret that reality, and Mr. Speaker, we will return in January 2014, urging our Republican colleagues to address the needs of so many millions of Americans who want us to do the work they sent us here to do. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, sadly, I withdraw my objection.”