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Sense of House Regarding Any Final Measure to Extend Certain Expiring Provisions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, this has been a terrible year in Congress. The intransigence of the Republican leadership and the Tea Party Republicans has brought us to the brink of crisis again and again. And now we're playing another game of chicken with the lives and well-being of millions of American families at stake.

Did the Republican leadership in the House just learn today that at the end of this month, in 10 or 11 days, these tax breaks, the unemployment insurance, and the physician reimbursements were going to expire? No, they learned about it earlier. So they packaged a bill. And the only way they could figure to pay for it was to take it out of the Federal employees, ask the elderly to pay more for their Medicare, to cut back on spending, never to raise taxes on people who make $1 million a year.

The Senate had the same issue before them, and the Democrats there wanted to have a tax increase. They couldn't get that through. So the Senators negotiated a short-term extension for 2 months because they couldn't agree to 1 year, and that passed overwhelmingly. That is what we should be voting on today.

Instead, starting January 1, the House Republicans are bringing a tax increase to 160 million Americans, forcing 2 million Americans to the edge of despair as their unemployment benefits run out, and scaring 48 million seniors who worry about their doctors opting out of providing services under Medicare.

And to add insult to injury, this resolution seeks to impose the Republicans' extreme antienvironment agenda onto legislation essential to the economic security of the American people. This has been the most antienvironment House of Representatives in the history of Congress, and this resolution is a fitting capstone to this dismal record.

House Republicans are holding payroll tax cuts, unemployment insurance, and payment to physicians under Medicare hostage to the rapacious demands of the oil and gas industry.

The House Republicans want to force the President to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. They forget that the future of our economy lies in clean energy, not increasing our reliance on the dirtiest source of gasoline imaginable. They would like to hold the pipeline as one of the prices for their blackmail, but they also want to give some other special interest favors; a lump of coal for American families, but at the same time they want EPA's public health standards, which would prevent up to 8,100 premature deaths and 5,100 heart attacks every year, they want to eliminate those public health benefits that come with clean air. And instead, they want provisions in this bill, which has nothing to do with this issue, they want these provisions to allow more mercury, lead, and arsenic pollution in the air we breathe.

We've seen this over and over again. They cannot agree on a compromise to pay for anything. They cannot agree on letting something happen without putting in the anti-environmental riders. Once again the Republican leadership has shown the lengths to which they will go to impose their radical, extreme agenda, sacrificing the public health and welfare of the American people.

The Senate at least came up with a bipartisan compromise for 2 months. This House Republican leadership will put us in a situation where all of these expiring provisions will in fact expire, and the American people will be done a great disservice by this action.


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