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Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I do love my country, and my country is begging me, as I'm sure it is all other Members of Congress, to for heaven's sake get some of this taken care of and have some certainty.
Talking with constituents just this morning, they were saying they simply don't know what to do. And what we're doing here again is just theater, as my colleague pointed out. This isn't a plan. It's a gimmick, and it has wasted valuable time.
CBS News reported last year that it cost $24 million a week to operate the House of Representatives. On behalf of the taxpayers who pay those bills, we should be debating some serious legislation and come up with serious answers to our Nation's problems.
And everybody has known from their grammar school days that the way we pass a bill is that the House proposes a bill, the Senate proposes a bill, they go through the committee processes, they are passed on through the committee, the subcommittees, then the major committee, then to the Rules Committee, in our case, and then we have a conference and we send it to the President. We don't do that anymore.
The last two bills we dealt with on this floor just came directly to the Rules Committee. There was no committee action whatsoever, there was no discussion, there was no input.
And yesterday, what really I think grieves me most is that there was a wonderful substitute put forward with great sincerity by the ranking member of the Budget Committee, Mr. Van Hollen. I think he's respected by all sides, and most of this country, for his wisdom and for his acuity. But could they put his substitute in order? No. They said they had to have a waiver. Well, that's what the Rules Committee is for. That's what the Rules Committee does.
The Budget Committee itself has had at least 18 waivers in the last term. It just defies imagination. But this is $24 million again this week, where we're brought in from all of the corners of the United States at an expense to stand here and do absolutely nothing.
If they want to know what the President wants to do, they should call him up and ask him. We don't have to do a resolution or a bill on the floor of the House to find that out if that's so important. What a crazy thing that we could do in this time of communication to say this is the way we're going to try to find out something--and find out what?
The drastic across-the-board spending cuts are going to take effect on March 1. Now, the week after next we're taking another week off. We work about two and a half days here. It's really unfortunate. I think I can use that word without being called down, but I have much stronger words in my head. But instead of solving that looming crisis, again, they propose legislation that tries to change the subject. Try as they might, they can't hide from the fact that they are failing to provide help when American people need it most.
Mr. Speaker, we are days away from a serious self-inflicted wound.
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Ms. SLAUGHTER. Thank you.
If the pending sequester were to take effect, there will be such drastic cuts to important programs, not only domestically, but as you heard Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, say, it would ``hollow out'' the military and leave our military fighting with one hand tied behind its back. Why would we do that? For no earthly reason why in the world would we put the United States through that? Taken together, these cuts, as was said before, would destroy jobs, reverse our economic recovery, just reverse it, and destroy the middle class.
To get a glimpse of what drastic spending cuts would do to our economy, just look back to the end of 2012. As leading economists of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and President Obama have all pointed out, the drastic spending cuts at the end of last year are the leading causes--the leading causes--of our recent economic stagnation. Should the sequester take effect, our economy would suffer even more, and jobs would be lost as deeper and deeper spending cuts take effect.
Is that the path the majority wants to walk down? Because if they keep spending our time debating stupid legislation like this, we're going to find ourselves on that path before too long.
I agree with Mr. McGovern that many of our colleagues seem to want to go off that cliff for some kind of foolish exercise, knowing full well what is going to happen, and that is really shameful.
Yesterday, our Democratic colleagues and I proposed legislation that would stop the sequester with Mr. Van Hollen's substitute, but, no, they would not do that. It was simply tossed aside.
The majority chose to move forward with this restrictive and partisan process, closed rule again, that ignores the problems before us and moves forward with a political gimmick.
As the clock continues to tick, I urge my colleagues to stop those gimmicks and get back to work. Again, the people I spoke with just today are saying over and over again some certainty has to be in this government. People have to know what the economic situation is going to be. We do not want to play Russian roulette in here with the American economy day after day and week after week.
I urge my colleagues to stop wasting valuable time and let's provide that certainty.
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Ms. SLAUGHTER. I see a number of my colleagues have come to speak, so I'm going to be as brief as I can.
I know that the chair of the Budget Committee has said that he can balance the budget in 10 years, which most economists and people say would certainly throw us into the worst depression, worse than 1929.
I believe that what we are doing here--I can't prove it--but my suspicions are that this is something intended to cover that. They're trying to get the President into that trick box or something to try to do the same thing.
Don't go, Mr. President. We can do better than that.
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