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Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment H.J. Res. 66, Permanent Tax Relief for Families and Small Businesses Act of 2012, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 6684, Spending Reduction Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding me the time, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, today we're watching an attempt to perpetuate a hoax. To everybody watching, I want to say to you don't bother to take notes, no need to call the family to see history being made here. Just move along. There's nothing happening here. We've got this plan that doesn't come anywhere close to being a solution to the fiscal cliff. It's a political gimmick, and all of us recognize that it has no chance whatsoever of becoming law.

The process that has brought us here has been equally shameful, more befitting a developing country than the greatest democracy on Earth. It has been absolutely painful to watch the otherwise responsible Members of the majority play their assigned roles, pretending that what we did last night was normal and legitimate. Last night we saw one of the greatest miscarriages of the democratic process in my time on the Rules Committee. Facing the impending fiscal cliff that could devastate our economy and harm millions of Americans, the majority decided to cobble together last-minute legislation on a wing and a prayer.

Last night, the Rules Committee spent most of the evening debating legislation that we've barely seen. We were told that there would be two bills. Two bills actually were filed at midnight on Tuesday. One of them disappeared. And in the waning hours, even while the debate on the rule was taking place, a third was dropped into our laps. It turned out to be a warmed-over bill that went through the House of Representatives in May destroying health care, food stamps, and almost every other possibility of people in the country to survive. That's how the majority wants to solve the greatest economic threat facing our Nation.

With nothing less than millions of jobs on the line, does the majority really believe that passing a bill in less than 24 hours that will do absolutely nothing is responsible governing?

Today we're prepared to vote on this legislation and, I think, possibly adjourn for the final time this year. If this is the majority's final attempt to reach a compromise, then our Nation does indeed face frightening times. If no compromise is reached, we may face the greatest displacement of workers since 1929 as sequestration takes effect and forces countless layoffs. How devastating is that to a recovering economy? Every American knows we cannot let this happen; and, frankly, I believe that every Member of Congress knows that we never would let it happen. But after last night, I'm not so sure.

This is not a serious solution to avoid economic catastrophe. It's just one last attack on the poor and the middle class right before we tumble off together over the fiscal cliff. Today's bill contains many dangerous provisions. I mentioned part C that we got last night, the old warmed-over bill providing an average tax cut of $50,000 for millionaires and billionaires. Meanwhile, the 25 million working families would pay an average of $1,000 more on taxes; 11 million families would lose a tax credit that helps to pay for college; drastic cuts would be made to Medicare; and the important provisions of the Affordable Care Act would be no more. They simply could not adjourn this year without one last attempt to destroy the health care bill that will provide health care for millions more Americans, many covered by insurance that they have never been able to have before.

During my last election, which occurred last month, I met more than one person who told me that they had been born--there is one person who sticks out in my mind--she had been born with cerebral palsy, Mr. Speaker. She told me that her whole life, while she brought up a family, lived her life driving a car, cooking, moving, everything that we all do and take for granted in life, she had to do without any health insurance because having been born with cerebral palsy, she had a preexisting condition that prevented it. It was not until she was 65 and was able to get Medicare did she have the peace of mind that most of us take for granted that she was eligible to be covered. Why in the world do we keep trying to be the only industrial country that does not take better care of its people than that?

Finally, 2 million Americans would lose their unemployment assistance right here at the holiday time. As I said before, the nutrition assistance program would be gutted. Those unjust cuts would leave millions struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table.

The Americans that we're talking about, those that will be suffering, are not the ones that caused the problem in this country. They had nothing to do with financial services and the shenanigans that were played that brought us to our knees. Yet, continually, this House asks them through the majority side to pay the price.

Enough already. They're not to blame, and they should not be put on the block.

Sadly, just days ago--Tuesday, in fact--it appeared that President Obama and Speaker Boehner were close to a fiscal cliff compromise. President Obama had made concessions, some that, frankly, as I pointed out, our side is not that crazy about, but in the blink of an eye, the House majority decided to walk away in 51 seconds, announcing what they were going to do in a take-it-or-leave-it manner and introduce this political hoax that is before us today.

Mr. Speaker, don't anybody be fooled. The American people know better. They see through this. They know that a compromise means that we must meet in the middle. Unfortunately, the majority continues to think, if they pass extreme legislation and then run for the hills, the rest of us will be forced to give in.

We've seen similar antics from the majority throughout the 112th Congress--from holding the full faith and credit of this Nation hostage for the first time in its history and losing our credit rating to voting 33 times to repeal health care reform. The majority has continually advanced a cynical and partisan agenda at the expense of our Nation's welfare. Given this, there is little surprise that the approval rating for Congress is at an all-time low and that historians have said it is the least productive Congress in our history.

Mr. Speaker, in the election just last month, the American people made their voices heard. When asked to choose between an extreme agenda that took care of the millionaires and billionaires at their expense, they said ``no'' in that they wanted not to be going over a fiscal cliff, and they have made that very clear.

I think of what we have done to just the economic future of this country by debating this fiscal cliff as long as we have, but I don't believe, as I said, that we will actually go over it, except I'm not really clear on what we're doing here today unless that is to cut and run. Yet, in the process, the majority has presided over a shameful legislative circus not worthy of this institution. When our Nation is in desperate need of serious solutions, the majority is doing everything in its power to avoid finding the answers.

I strongly oppose this hoax before us. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose the rule and the underlying legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. SLAUGHTER. I appreciate your yielding.

I appreciate your giving us your assurance, but I do recall that Mr. McGovern and I, both in our turns, asked last night for assurance that the bill that we were looking at was the bill we were going to vote on, and all we got was doublespeak. So, while I appreciate your giving me your assurance, I think I'll give it back to you.

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Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I can't say it enough, today's legislation is a step backwards in the effort to find a fiscal cliff compromise. Plan B, Plan C, neither one of them are serious proposals but a gimmick designed to get headlines. By using the Halls of Congress to play political games, the majority is making it harder to find a commonsense and bipartisan solution to the impending fiscal cliff.

The time for these games is over. It's time that the majority comes to the table with a serious proposal that reflects the wishes of the American people.

Nobody wants to see the taxes raised on 25 million working families. As I said earlier, they seem to be called upon to pay the price for the fiscal irresponsibility of the financial district.

The American people don't want to see hundreds of thousands lose access to nutritional programs, and I sure can tell you that they don't want to see Wall Street reforms repealed and the historic health care law dismantled, but all these things would happen if this bill before us became law.

I strongly urge my colleagues to reject the gimmick proposal before us today and return to the serious work of balancing our budget while protecting the poor and the working class.

Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to this rule to make in order an amendment which will allow the House to have a chance to vote on the bill passed by the Senate to extend the middle class tax cuts to all persons making less than $250,000, which has been introduced in the House as H.R. 15. Also, the amendment would prevent the House from adjourning until we have averted the fiscal cliff and the President has signed legislation to prevent tax increases on the middle class.

Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of the amendment in the Record along with extraneous material immediately prior to the vote on the previous question.

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