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Legislative Program

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. I understand his concerns.

I think all of us have concerns about the way spending reductions are implemented under sequester. As the gentleman knows, we in the majority have continued to try and advocate. We've put proposals forward to accomplish the spending reductions and reforms in a smarter way. I think both of us, Mr. Speaker, would agree there are much smarter ways for that to happen.

Unfortunately, it is the law. In fact, again, the House has posited its formula for better reductions in spending. The White House and Senate refused to go along. So sequester is the law. As the gentleman knows, 302(b)s are set according to the post-sequester numbers, and that is our intention, Mr. Speaker, to abide by the law with the sequester in place.

I would respond to the gentleman's inquiry about budget conference, and the gentleman knows, as I've said before, Chairman Ryan stands ready to work with Senator Murray on drawing an outline and structure for the way a conference would proceed. Unfortunately, there can be even no discussion on that point because there is an insistence on the part of the Senate and the White House that any budget conference discussion include a discussion of tax increases. We have said repeatedly that we can't be raising taxes every other month, every 6 months in this town. There was a significant increase in taxes, an impact on working Americans this year because of the fiscal cliff. We remain committed to addressing the problems of the budget, but will not do so while there is an insistence that a prerequisite is raising taxes.

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Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the gentleman that we would like to have agreement that we can begin discussions of a fiscally sane path to balancing our budget.

As the gentleman knows, Mr. Speaker, our conference has made its stand saying we want to balance the budget, we want to promote spending reductions and reforms that get us there in 10 years. In that vein, we would like to see that it's not punishing the American taxpayer the way that we get there, as far as the budgeteers are concerned here in Washington, that it's from growing our economy and from reforming the kinds of things that are necessary to take care of those unfunded liabilities at the Federal level.

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Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.

To his first point about jobs bills, Mr. Speaker, we have remained committed in the House, as the majority, to doing all we can to help every American in terms of a brighter future, and that is a path to a better job, better career.

We brought forward the SKILLS Act, something that is a bipartisan commitment and should have been a lot more so on this floor in trying to streamline workforce training programs to help those who are unemployed.

We want to help the unemployed get into a job. The Federal workforce training program is a mess. There are 50 programs. It is very difficult for unemployed people to get the training and skills they need to get a job. Unfortunately, that wasn't met with a lot of bipartisan reception.

Secondly, we just voted on the Keystone XL pipeline bill, a known proposal to create tens of thousands of jobs, much less contribute to America's energy security and independence, as well as competitiveness, which means more jobs and more capital flowing into America.

We also passed, without any bipartisan support, the Working Families Flexibility Act, looking to those struggling moms and dads who are working, the fact that 50 percent of our workforce comes from dual-income households, many of them with kids.

The Working Families Flexibility Act, it addressed the very struggles that working families have in trying to make their life work. We couldn't get bipartisan support on that. And then I would say to the gentleman, we remain committed to making the future brighter through offering more opportunity to all people.

Our solutions, that come from conservatives in the House majority, we believe our solutions can work for everyone. The gentleman knows--he and I have met on his Make It In America agenda--there are things that we have in common, but, unfortunately, we can't see a way to having bipartisan votes. So I remain committed to working with the gentleman on his agenda, and I know the spirit in which he approaches his obligations to his constituents and his caucus, and know that we hopefully can get back on track towards that end.

Now, towards the question, secondly, about budget levels and writing the bills, I would say to the gentleman that we have drafted the appropriations bills, marked them up, along with his caucus, and I would say that they reflect our priorities. Obviously, our priorities are going to differ from the Members on his side. The trick is to try and see where we can work towards a commonality.

And lastly, to the debt limit, yes, we remain very concerned about that. Hopefully, we can all work together and come up with a way that we can adopt a plan that will manage down the debt and deficit and allow us to reach a balance in the Federal level within 10 years, enacting the necessary reforms to the programs that we know are disproportionately causing the deficit without disproportionately continuing to hit the discretionary side, when we know the mandatory side provides most of the impetus for growth.

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Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, it is our intent to continue to work through the appropriations process and bring all the bills to the floor, that's correct.

I would say furthermore to the gentleman, as far as the impact of the sequester and 302(b)s on a specific bill versus a piece of that bill, meaning the NIH research piece, as the gentleman knows, legislating, especially in times of fiscal stress, is about prioritizing.

The gentleman correctly states that I'm very much in favor of making a priority out of Federal research and development. I'm convinced that basic research is needed to allow us to continue to advance the breakthroughs in science that not only help heal people and cure disease, but ultimately can help us bring down health care costs, which is the number one issue that's aggravating our deficit.

So I'm glad to hear the gentleman shares that priority. I know he does. But it doesn't mean necessarily that because we are going to commit ourselves to balancing this budget that we cannot share that priority. I hope the gentleman can share with us the import of that priority and support what it is that we're trying to do in the area of research, making sure that we can reduce other lesser priorities in spending.

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