WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) today spoke on the House Floor in support of the FY09 Continuing Resolution. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“The continuing resolution before us funds the federal government at its current levels through the month of March.
“Obviously, passing a CR is never an ideal step. But sometimes it’s a necessary one. A vote of 'no' today is a vote to shut down the federal government.
“The CR does contain a number of important funding provisions. An increase in the home energy assistance program to help families heat their houses during a winter of high fuel costs. Funding for Pell Grants, to ensure that college aid is not cut in the middle of the school year. And nutrition funding for women and children struggling with the economic downturn and food prices.
“Nevertheless, we are debating a CR today because we did not complete the appropriations process. Believe me, it was not for lack of effort—the hardworking members and staff of the appropriations committee could tell you that.
“Rather, today’s outcome was a direct result of White House intransigence and political grandstanding. President Bush and his budget negotiators refused to compromise, refused to negotiate, refused to rethink their budget requests. President Bush would have us eliminate 50 education programs, including student financial aid. He would have us eliminate 20 programs to improve healthcare access. He would slash funds for our crumbling infrastructure, for law enforcement, and for energy research. That, and more, is the price President Bush asks us to pay to get appropriations bills passed. Mr. Speaker: that price is far too high.
“But now, a President who has grown government enormously and created record deficits, is paying lip service to fiscal conservatism. With his veto threat hovering over the entire appropriations process, stifling debate and compromise, that process simply could not continue while he remains in office. So we carry over funding levels into a new term.
“I know how many of my colleagues agree that we can and should devote more to education, to repairing our worn-down roads and bridges, to investing in energy technologies that can break our dependence on foreign oil. Those changes now await a new term and a new president.
“Today, though, I urge my colleagues to pass this continuing resolution and keep the government open for business.”