Watch Majority Leader Hoyer's full floor statement here.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Fiscal Year 2009 budget conference report, which will be the first budget adopted in an election year since 2000. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Chairman of the Budget Committee, John Spratt of South Carolina, for all of his hard work and leadership on this budget blueprint for an even greater America.
“And, I want to thank the members of the Blue Dog Coalition for their hard work, patience and commitment to passing this budget conference report.
“This is the first budget adopted in an election year since 2000. And, it is a signal accomplishment of this Congress and a demonstration of our ability to govern effectively.
“This conference report is a continuation of the Democratic majority’s effort to turn away from this Administration’s failed policies – in fact, the most reckless fiscal policies in the history of our nation.
“Let’s remember, President Bush and the former Republican majorities in Congress turned a projected budget surplus of $5.6 trillion into more than $3 trillion in additional debt in just six years.
“Yet, some of our Republican friends complain – audaciously so – that this budget conference report includes an increase in the debt limit.
“How soon they forget.
“They forget – or more accurately, they deliberately ignore – that they increased the debt limit four times in five years: by $450 billion in 2002, $984 billion in 2003, $800 billion in 2004, and $781 billion in 2006.
“The debt limit increase included in this conference report is a direct result of the fiscally irresponsible, failed policies of the Republican Party – policies that could not be changed overnight.
“Nevertheless, Congressional Democrats have produced a fiscally responsible conference report that returns our federal budget to balance by 2012 and abides by the pay-as-you-go budget rules that we reinstated in January 2007.
“Now, this budget is not solely a blueprint for fiscal responsibility.
“It is a budget that meets the critical needs of our people, making investments to keep America safe, to boost economic growth and create jobs, to provide tax relief, and to help families struggling in the Bush economy.
“This budget matches the President’s request for defense, while shifting funds to high priorities such as nuclear non-proliferation programs.
“It increases homeland security funding over the President’s request. And it rejects the President’s proposed cuts to first-responder programs.
“It increases funding for veterans health care by $3.7 billion, and increases funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives, as well as funding for scientific innovation, education, training and social services.
“Furthermore, it accommodates an immediate and long-term fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax, and additional middle-class tax relief.
“Finally, this conference report rejects the President’s harmful cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, to state and local law enforcement programs such as COPS, and to Environmental Protection Agency grants to protect public health.
“It also rejects the President’s proposal to increase fees for veterans and military retirees by $18 billion.
“Mr. Speaker, the Democratic majorities in this Congress inherited a fiscal debacle last year.
“Today, through this budget conference report, we continue to address it and to meet the critical priorities of the American people. This is a budget that we can be proud of.
“I urge all of my colleagues: Vote for fiscal responsibility. Vote for a brighter future for our children. Vote for this conference report.”