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Legislative Program

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

(Mr. CANTOR asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Maryland, the majority leader, for the purpose of announcing next week's schedule.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding. On Monday the House is not in session.

On Tuesday the House will meet at 12:30 p.m. for morning-hour debate and 2 p.m. for legislative business, with votes postponed, Mr. Speaker, until 6:30 p.m.

On Wednesday and Thursday the House will meet at 10 a.m. for legislative business, and on Friday the House will be in pro forma session at 9 a.m. No votes are expected in the House on Friday. We will consider several bills under suspension of the rules. The complete list of suspension bills will be announced by the close of business Friday. In addition, we will consider H.R. 4061, the Cybersecurity Enhancements Act of 2009. Also possible consideration of Senate amendments to H.J. Res. 45, to permit continued financing of government operations.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman. Mr. Speaker, as this is the scheduling colloquy, I'd like to follow up with a few questions regarding the schedule. Mr. Speaker, I'd ask the majority leader if he could tell us what he expects to have on the floor the second week of February, the week before we head into President's Day Recess.

Mr. HOYER. Well, as the gentleman probably knows, there are some 260 bills that we've sent from the House to the Senate and we look forward to them sending some of those back to us. And my expectation is they will. In addition to that, we are considering a number of pieces of legislation, but they are not yet ripe, and what I mean by that simply is the committee chairs have not signed off that they're ready to go, so we are still, frankly, working with the committees to see what legislation they will have ready to move forward. I know that wasn't very responsive, and I wish I had a more responsive answer but that's the accurate answer

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman for his accuracy. And I would ask, Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman could tell us whether he believed there would be a vote on another health care bill prior to President's Day Recess. I yield.

Mr. HOYER. It is possible, but, again, as the gentleman knows, given the differences between the two Houses, there's still ongoing discussions as to whether they can be resolved, and if they can't, what alternative steps should be taken. So it is possible

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman. Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of brevity, I just have one final question for the gentleman, and that is, we would anticipate the gentleman and his party bringing forward a budget at some point, and laying out the fiscal narrative, if you will, or plan for the year. And I know recent reports have indicated the President believes that Congress has a spending problem. We, and I'm sure the gentleman, accept the admonition that Congress does have a spending problem, and Mr. Speaker, I'd ask when we anticipate bringing that forward, and does the gentleman expect the House to follow the President's lead in freezing nonsecurity discretionary spending?

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for his question. As you know, the President has not yet submitted his budget, so anticipating when we're going to pass it or bring his budget to the floor is a little premature. But I would certainly hope that we would bring it forward in the regular course of business. We're getting the budget significantly earlier this year. As you know, at the transition we get it later, as we did last year. But I expect to get it early. I think Mr. Spratt and Mr. Ryan will be working on the budget, and I expect it to come forward certainly either late in March, which is when I would expect it to come forward.

The Easter break, as you know, is the last week in March, first week in April, I believe, so I would be hopeful--let me make it clear: I'm not saying that's when it's going to happen, but I'd be hopeful we'd do it before we leave on the Easter break. And the second part of your question, which I think is the most important part of the question, because the other is speculative, I would expect the Congress to honor the President's suggestion of freeze with respect to the overall numbers on discretionary spending. But let me make an observation that I know you know, but I think it's important for us to remember that we have: There is no doubt the deficits that confront us are of very large proportions. It is, I think, a critical problem confronting our Nation, not just the Congress, but our Nation. It is an issue on which I think we need to focus and address.

I will tell my friend, as he knows, that with respect to the freeze, that deals with a relatively small portion of the budget, about 14 to 15 percent of the budget. As the gentleman knows, defense discretionary spending is not covered by the President's. As you know as well, because of Afghanistan and Iraq, expenditures on defense have escalated substantially. And as the gentleman knows as well, the other portion of the budget deals with entitlements and interest payments on the national debt. So that I would simply observe that if we're going to get a handle on the budget and spending, sometimes people view spending as only spending on discretionary nondefense amounts. That's not accurate. Every nickel that we apply to some objective that we have decided to apply it to is spending. And we're, frankly, going to have to look at the whole gamut of spending if we're going to get back to a fiscal balance, which I think is absolutely essential. I yield back.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman. And Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would first note, I agree with the gentleman. Discretionary spending is not the only piece that this Congress must address in terms of trying to get our fiscal house in order. But it is a point that should be made that over the last year, nondefense discretionary spending at the baseline has increased 67 percent. So that when we're calling for a small freeze, as the gentleman indicates, in terms of percentages of the budget, you know, we certainly could do more. As the gentleman knows, we have tried to advocate for a spending freeze that would incorporate rescinding some of the increases, again, the 67 percent increases that we have seen over the last year.

As a result of all the spending, as the gentleman knows, the Nation's deficit now stands at a record $1.35 trillion, something that all of us, I know, are very mindful of and would like very much to see reduced if not erased.

Mr. HOYER. Would the gentleman yield just for one minute?

Mr. CANTOR. I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I don't want to get into what we've been getting into, but simply to observe that as the gentleman knows when he uses the 60 some odd percent, much of that, a significant part of that spending, was specifically not included in the baseline, so that it will not be incorporated in the freeze. It will be a lower number than that because, although some of it was in the baseline, a significant portion of it, as the gentleman knows, was not in the baseline.

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, again in trying to maintain my brevity today, we do know that in the omnibus spending bill there was a 12 percent increase in the spending of the omnibus bill, something that all of us should try and eliminate and erase, given working families and small businesses are having to do much more and actually cut their expenditures right now.

With that, I thank the gentleman, Mr. Speaker.


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