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Mr. MURPHY of Florida. Madam Speaker, this is the final amendment to the bill, which will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill will be amended and immediately proceed to final passage.
I appreciate that the Republican leadership has put forward legislation that would raise the Nation's debt ceiling, agreeing that it is not an option for the United States to default on its obligations. I also support that Members of Congress should not be paid if they do not do their jobs, part of which is to pass a responsible budget, but I do not agree with the political gamesmanship of, once again, playing politics with our serious fiscal issues and using short-term gimmicks rather than working to find long-term solutions. We need to stop playing games with the debt ceiling and spend our time and energy on job creation.
I supported a clean debt limit bill. However, because in this version congressional pay has been tied directly to passing a budget, it is important to ensure that the budget that is passed is responsible and protects our most vulnerable citizens.
My amendment would not kill the underlying legislation. It would merely add commonsense protections to the bill for members of our Armed Forces, our veterans, and our seniors from the budget-cutting process. Anyone who supports the underlying legislation has no reason to not also support this amendment. If adopted, the debt limit would still be raised to allow the government to pay its obligations through May 19, and Members of Congress would still have their pay withheld if they fail to agree to a budget resolution by April 15. The amendment simply clarifies that the budget resolution protects our troops, veterans, and seniors.
I recently visited the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center and spoke with both veterans and staff. I heard their very real fears that their benefits, which they fought for, would be threatened by the political gamesmanship in Washington. I saw that same anxiety in the eyes of seniors I recently spoke to from Nettles Island on the Treasure Coast, who worry that cuts to Medicare and the privatization of Social Security could lead to a choice between a meal or medicine. After hearing these concerns, I expressed time and time again throughout my district that I could not understand why anyone would oppose amending the underlying legislation to ensure veterans, troops, and seniors are protected from devastating cuts.
Madam Speaker, this amendment language should have the full support of the House. It simply states that we cannot cut benefits for veterans or members of the Armed Forces or cut benefits for seniors and that we will not gamble our grandparents' futures on Wall Street or turn Medicaid into a for-profit voucher system designed more to help out the big corporations than those who are struggling or disabled.
I also want to express my disappointment that the underlying legislation is another short-term fix when our country needs long-term solutions. I spoke to several business groups last week, and they want stability from our government. If they had certainty, they would begin investing capital back into our economy rather than sitting on it. Our dysfunctional Congress is to blame for slowing our recovery.
Now is the time to work together with courage and purpose and come to a grand bargain that will protect America's greatness for generations to come. Our Nation cannot afford to continue down the path of such fiscal irresponsibility. Such piecemeal approaches will not address our country's long-term fiscal health. Rather, we must look at reducing spending, generating revenue, lowering unemployment, addressing the long-term sustainability of Social Security and Medicare, and creating additional economic growth through job creation.
A real fix to America's long-term fiscal issues and deficit reduction can only come by truly coming to the table without personal agendas and with the recognition that America needs less political gamesmanship and more leadership. Unfortunately, the underlying legislation in its current form falls short of what our country desperately needs.
That is why I hope my amendment will be adopted here today as a first step towards putting aside partisanship and, instead, protecting our veterans, troops, and seniors. While the underlying legislation is not perfect and while it is not the grand bargain we were hoping for, it would show that there is willingness in the 113th Congress for compromise. As we move forward from the debate over the debt limit and on to other pressing fiscal issues, we can no longer settle for short-term approaches to our public policy but, instead, work together to come to the grand bargains that will ensure America continues to be the greatest country for generations to come.
Madam Speaker, my amendment is an opportunity to show the American people that this Congress is willing to work together and compromise to address our fiscal issues and to protect our troops, veterans, and seniors. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of my commonsense amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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