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Providing for Consideration of S 47, Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. VAN HOLLEN. I thank Ranking Member Slaughter.

I hope tomorrow this House will finally have a chance to vote on the bipartisan Senate bill to prevent violence against women. I hope tomorrow we will also have a chance to vote on a proposal that we've now put forward three times this year to replace the sequester. Unfortunately, the rule reported out of the House Rules Committee denies us that opportunity. So let's just remind people what will happen starting March 1.

Starting March 1, if this House does not take action to replace the sequester, we will lose 750,000 American jobs between March 1 and the end of this year. Those are not my numbers; those are not President Obama's numbers; those are the numbers from the nonpartisan, independent Congressional Budget Office--750,000 fewer American jobs by the end of this year if we don't replace the sequester.

This majority in this House has not taken any action this year in this Congress to prevent that sequester from happening beginning Friday, not one step. We have now asked three times for the opportunity to vote on our alternative.

So what's our alternative, Mr. Speaker? Our alternative would replace the sequester with a balanced mix of cuts and revenue generated by closing tax loopholes and tax preferences that benefit the very wealthy.

So very specifically--because it's a concrete proposal--we would get rid of the direct payments that go to agribusinesses, something that used to have bipartisan support because that's an unnecessary subsidy that has outlived its purpose. So that's a cut.

We also say we no longer need taxpayer subsidies for the big oil companies. Guess what? That's an idea that was proposed by President Bush who said taxpayers should no longer be giving these big breaks to big oil companies; they don't need that extra taxpayer incentive in order to keep producing oil and making record profits. So we do that.

Then we say to folks who are making $2 million a year that we're going to limit the number of preferences you can take. We're going to limit the number of tax breaks that you take that allow you to effectively pay a lower rate than the people who work for you. So if you're making $2 million or more per year, we say you should pay an effective tax rate of 30 percent.

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Mr. VAN HOLLEN. If you take that balanced combination of targeted cuts and the elimination of tax breaks that disproportionately benefit very wealthy people, guess what happens? You get the same deficit reduction over the budget window, so you reduce the deficit by the same amount as you would get if you allow the sequester to take place throughout this year, but you do it in a way that does not lose 750,000 American jobs. You do it in a way that does not cause disruption at our airports; in a way that does not cause disruption to our food safety system; in a way that does not cause disruption to the nurses who are caring for our veterans in military hospitals and veterans hospitals around this country; and in a way that does not disrupt our military operations.

So, Mr. Speaker, we just have a simple question: Why is it that as we gather here Wednesday, we're denied the opportunity to even have a vote on this alternative, this balanced alternative, to prevent the loss of 750,000 American jobs? We're not asking Members of this House to vote for our alternative, although we think it's a good one and would urge them to do so. We're simply asking that in the people's House we have a vote on an alternative to something that will create these great job losses and that great disruption.

I think the American people are going to ask themselves why we were not even granted that opportunity with less than 3 days to go before we hit that across-the-board sequester, which is just Washington-speak for massive job loss and massive economic disruption.

In addition to the job loss, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office, it will cause one-third less economic output in the United States of America in this year at a time when the economy remains very fragile. So I ask, finally, Mr. Speaker, give us that opportunity at least to vote so people have a choice to prevent the sequester.

I thank the gentlelady from New York, the ranking member of the Rules Committee.

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Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, just three numbers: 750,000 fewer American jobs, cutting growth in GDP by one-third, not economic output but growth in GDP by one-third. That's one number. The second number: three, the number of times we've tried to get a vote on this. The third number: zero, the number of times our Republican colleagues this year have tried to resolve the sequester issue.

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