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One-Week Continuing Resolution/2012 Budget

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer) for 5 minutes.

Mr. HOYER. Madam Speaker, budgets are not simply about dollars and cents. They are about values and priorities. And the debate over spending has revealed Republican priorities, in my opinion, in the worst possible light.

First, Republicans passed a spending plan for the remainder of the fiscal year that would cripple America's ability to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build its competitors. That spending plan would cut billions in medical and energy research, cut out support for 20,000 research scientists, kick 200,000 children out of Head Start, put college out of reach for millions of middle class students, and end vital infrastructure projects in 40 States, infrastructure projects which provide American jobs.

A consensus of nonpartisan economists has found that the plan will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. And Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics chief economist and an adviser to Senator McCain's Presidential campaign, said that it would cost almost 700,000 jobs.

In addition to these skewed priorities, Republicans are insisting that any bill, any bill to keep the government open must also include controversial social policy provisions that have little, if anything, to do with the deficit, even though their own Pledge to America promised to ``end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with 'must-pass' legislation,'' bills that should pass on their merits, not as related to some extraneous issue.

Rather than compromise with President Obama, with the Democrats in the Senate and the House, Republicans are threatening, once again, to shut down government as they did in 1995.

Now they tell us that they will back off on their threat but only if we pass a partisan, 1-week spending bill that triples the ransom to keep the government open. In other words, this bill contains three times the weekly cuts as the last week-to-week bill did. It also takes all cuts from only a small slice of the budget.

Frankly, Madam Speaker, that makes this latest bill a mockery of fiscal responsibility, especially because it leaves entirely untouched for the rest of the year what the Secretary of Defense himself has called the Pentagon's ``culture of endless money.'' This partisan patch contradicts Republicans' own promises to put everything on the table, defense spending included.

Listen to their own words, as reported by the Associated Press on January 23: ``The House's new majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, has said defense programs could join others on the cutting board.'' But, of course, they haven't done that.

New York Times, January 27: ``Representative Chris Gibson, a tea party-endorsed freshman Republican and retired Army colonel, made it clear that no part of the Pentagon's $550 billion budget, some $700 billion including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was immune. `This deficit that we have threatens our very way of life, and everything needs to be on the table.' '' However, they have not done that.

Congressman Mike Pence, on January 7, said: ``If we are going to put our fiscal house in order, we have to be able to look at defense.'' We need a strong defense. I am a supporter of a strong defense. But to take those dollars off the table is irresponsible and inconsistent with the representations that our Republican friends have made.

Those words are sounding very hollow, however, today. Why are Republicans breaking their word, Madam Speaker? Because, in my opinion, they know that the only way to get their conference to support this spending bill is to bribe it with a year of defense spending left untouched and a divisive social policy provision as well, which is what they said they would not do.

What we need to do is sit down and over the next 72 hours, now over the next 48 hours, frankly, come to compromise. That's our job. ``My way or the highway'' is never going to get it done.

Finally, Republicans showed their priorities in their budget for the upcoming fiscal year. We will have a lot to say about that in the days ahead.

Their budget ends Medicare as we know it. Seniors thought that they were going to protect Medicare. Well, their way of protecting it is ending it. It dismantles Medicaid and other vital programs for our seniors. We will talk a lot about that in the coming days.

And on top of that, it includes yet trillions more in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

We can do better. Rather than using our debt as an excuse to pass a nakedly partisan agenda, we need to take a bipartisan approach that puts everything on the table:

Keeping our entitlement programs solvent; scrutinizing our spending, defense and non-defense, for waste and low priorities; and passing deficit-reducing tax reform.

Those are the hard choices and shared sacrifices that Americans have a right to expect.


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