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Mr. Speaker, after months and months of debate, we have arrived at the ultimate goal to which we are all committed: a bipartisan agreement to avert the debt ceiling crisis looming right before us. Even more importantly, we have crafted a plan that addresses the real underlying challenge of our ballooning national debt.
The bipartisan agreement before us today is an historic achievement. Mr. Speaker, this is the 76th time that we have raised the debt ceiling since 1962. Seventy-five times it has been raised. This is the 76th time. Yet, Mr. Speaker, it is the very first time that we have done so while making corresponding cuts in spending that exceed the ceiling increase. To most of us, this is just good common sense. It's the only responsible thing to do. Yet 75 times before, no connection was made between the debt ceiling and efforts to tackle our debt.
With today's underlying legislation, we are fundamentally changing the way business is done here in Washington. We are setting a new precedent for fiscal discipline and accountability. This is a tremendous achievement that will have a profound and lasting impact on our budget and our economy in both the short, medium and long term. This is an especially critical point to focus on.
Today's legislation has dramatic implications for both the budget and our economy. Mr. Speaker, as you know very well, the two are inextricably linked. This is why our fiscal situation is so important. We don't need a balanced budget for the sake of a balanced budget, we need to balance our budget because job creation and economic growth depend on it.
There is a reason why the major credit agencies have said that our AAA credit rating is in jeopardy if we don't dramatically cut spending. Multitrillion-dollar deficits and a national debt that approaches 100 percent of GDP are not sustainable. Democrats and Republicans alike recognize that. If we want to inspire confidence in the U.S. economy, create jobs, and restore our position as the world's most vital and dynamic economy, we absolutely must chart a new fiscal course.
The bipartisan agreement that we will consider today does just that. It makes meaningful, immediate spending cuts. It sets up a process that guarantees votes in both Chambers by Thanksgiving on an even bigger package. This will give us the time necessary to go beyond cuts to significant new reforms. That includes reforming entitlement programs to keep them solvent and ensure that they don't force us back onto a path of spiraling deficits and debt.
Mr. Speaker, by setting up this process, we can responsibly make the hard but essential choices that will restore our economy and unleash its power to create new opportunities for Americans. The underlying legislation will also impose additional automatic cuts, should Congress fail to continue on a path to real reform.
Mr. Speaker, we are all in this together, Democrat and Republican alike. We all stand to suffer tremendously if we fail to either raise the debt ceiling or take this opportunity to fundamentally change course. We will all suffer if we fail to continue the process of meaningful reform. But by coming together and enacting real reform, by remaining committed to this joint effort into the future, we can all share in the benefits of a surging economy and job market. We can't approach a challenge of this magnitude as Republicans and Democrats first, but as fellow Americans who share a commitment to our prosperity as a Nation now and into the future.
Mr. Speaker, today we have the opportunity. I urge my colleagues to support this rule and the underlying legislation.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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