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Public Statements

Legislative Program

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his tenacity, as this is a weekly discussion between he and I, and I'm delighted to respond to say to the gentleman, Mr. Speaker, that it is something that we should commit ourselves to working out. But as the gentleman knows, the position of the majority is that we don't want to enter into discussions if the prerequisite is you have to raise taxes.

The gentleman has heard me every week on this issue in that we believe strongly you fix the problem of overspending and you reform the programs needing reform to address unfunded liabilities first. Then, if the gentleman is insistent that the taxpayers need to pay more of their hard-earned dollars into Washington, that discussion, perhaps, is appropriate. But as a prerequisite for entering budget talks that we agree to raise taxes is not something, I think, that the American people want this body to engage in.

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Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I appreciate his question.

I would note for the record that I believe, if I have my facts correct, that during the time that the gentleman was in the majority last, the last Congress, the 111th, 48 times there was an avoidance of going to conference. All of the sudden the gentleman says that that's the panacea.

So I would tell the gentleman, given his litany of examples of who's talking to whom around here, there is a lot of talk about how we resolve our differences. In fact, I do know that Chairman Ryan is talking to Chairman Murray across the Capitol of how we go forward. But I would underscore again to the gentleman that it is not our intention to discuss taking more hard-earned taxpayer dollars from Americans while we have not fixed the problem they expect us to fix.

I'd also say to the gentleman that as far as appropriation bills are concerned, he is correct that I did announce that the T-HUD bill would be coming to the floor next week, and it will be the fifth bill that we will do prior to the August work period. I would remind the gentleman that when he was last in the position of the majority, the appropriations bills did not come to the floor under an open process. In fact, there were structured rules on every one, if my memory serves me well. It's much easier that way to shut out diverse opinion. But instead, the Speaker has this Congress insist that we have an open process and allow for robust debate on some of the very difficult issues. The gentleman knows we have been true to that word.

So I remind the gentleman that, yes, there is a commitment to open process; there is a commitment here to trying to resolve these challenges before us. The gentleman is correct, we're going to have a very busy fall trying to address the needs of this country, whether it is the spending and budget needs or whether it is the needs of the middle class families who are struggling out there every single day wondering when the economy is going to pick up, wondering what's going to happen to their health care.

We have a looming ObamaCare law that already the administration has admitted is threatening job growth. Therefore, they offer relief to businesses but refuse to do so for working people. We don't think that's too fair. We have Democratic union leaders who have said that this law is going to provide and has already created nightmare scenarios for millions of working Americans insofar as their health care and economic well-being are concerned. There are real issues to be resolved, Mr. Speaker, and I do hope that the gentleman will abide by what I know he has always been for, and that's solving problems. I do hope that he will work with us to do that in the coming months.

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Mr. CANTOR. I would say to the gentleman, the answer to that last question is no.

But I would say to the gentleman, the discussion the gentleman just had was so full of various and sundry issues, I don't know really where to begin, other than to say what I think is lost in the gentleman's comments is the focus on the hardworking families and businesses of middle class America. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the gentleman is full of ``that's not going to happen'' because Washington says that's not going to happen for political reasons.

And what we ought to be focused on is how we can act to solve the anxiety that seems to continue to grow on the part of the American public when they wonder about their job, they worry about their tuition costs, they worry about their children's education, they worry every night when they go to bed.

The gentleman is so sure that we can and can't do things for political reasons, the President is out giving campaign speeches, some of which we have heard dozens of times during the campaign season, that what all of us should be absolutely focused on is coming together not for political imperative, but to solve the problems to provide the relief to the middle class of this country that is asking us to do that.

So instead of the political demands and imperatives that the gentleman's list of issues was about, let's focus on the people that sent us here. Let's make sure that this body of any in Washington can begin to work for the people rather than the other way around.

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Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I'd say to the gentleman that it is our hope that we can work together across the aisle to solve the problems, to come up with the answers as to how we are going to pay back the additional debt that we'll have to incur in this country.

And I think whatever budget you look at, their side or our side, Mr. Speaker, in any iteration, calls for the incurrence of additional debt. The object should be for us to reduce the need for us to incur that debt so we can relieve the American people of that contingent liability. And our side has said we would like to do so within the next 10 years, to bring the budget to balance.

I hope that the gentleman will join us in that spirit, rather than saying we should just continue to borrow into eternity, without some recognition that that just can't be a sustainable solution either.

So I would say to the gentleman, when he is off talking about the need to go to conference, and frankly, some of the statements he made about VAWA and the farm bill were inaccurate. But I do think that there were a lot of things that this House has done that the President nor the Senate seems willing to respond to.

And as I've said before, Mr. Speaker, what we're trying to do is to address the needs of the working people, the middle class of this country.

We passed the SKILLS Act. That was a bill designed to try and align the worker training programs at the Federal level with the employment opportunities out there across the different regions of the country so we could respond to the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of job openings in certain industries, simply because our workforce doesn't have the proper skills and training.

The President, if he wanted to help the middle class families, instead of off campaigning again, giving the speeches, he could come and call up Harry Reid and the Senate and say, Bring that bill to the floor, Mr. Leader; we can do something for the American people.

In the same vein, this House, last week, passed a bill which I believe--and I'm sure the gentleman shares my sentiment, that ultimately what we've got to do to grow our economy and secure our economic future is to provide for a quality education for our kids. We passed a landmark piece of legislation last week, without any bipartisan support, Mr. Speaker.

But again, if the gentleman is so intent on wanting to help and wanting to do something, not because of Washington's needs, but because of what we've got to do for the kids across this country and their families, then let's help try and forge an answer on reauthorizing the education bill.

We also, Mr. Speaker, passed a bill that made it easier for working families to spend time with their kids and hold down an hourly wage job. Is there any movement on that?

The President could certainly say, Let's do that; let's provide some relief to the middle class.

We also passed in the House, Mr. Speaker, several energy bills to help the families out there across this country who are on their vacations right now, choking when they see the price of gas at the pump.

We have bills. The President could go ahead and approve the Keystone pipeline. Where else in the world could you have an environmentally sensitive people, other than in America? We do it cleaner and better than anyone. And to sit here and deny us the opportunity to take advantage of our indigenous resources, all it does is cost our working families and businesses more money.

We also have passed bills to allow for safe and environmentally sensitive ways of going into our deep oceans, to go in and to tap into the resources that are there, things that technology has unleashed. But yet, neither the Senate nor the President seems interested in helping the middle class and the working families, because all we hear from the other side is what we can and can't do politically here in Washington.

I would say to the gentleman, there are plenty of things that we could get done together. Let's start to focus on the people of this country, not the political imperatives of this institution.

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Mr. CANTOR. There was no vehicle to go to conference on, Mr. Speaker. If the gentleman recalls, there was a blue slip on the Senate bill, Mr. Speaker, and so we took up the bill in the House and went ahead and passed the bill. So, I don't even know why that is even pertinent to this discussion, Mr. Speaker.

I'd also say, the gentleman understands as well, there was a bipartisan farm bill that came to the floor. And if I recall, that bipartisanship faded away, which is what now then caused the House to bring up another farm bill. This time, trying to be transparent in the process, brought up the agricultural policy piece, which has passed the House without any bipartisan support, Mr. Speaker.

Then we are also, as the gentleman knows, engaged in discussions with the chairman of the Agriculture Committee as to forging a consensus on a nutrition piece so that we can, yes, act again on that.

So I'd say, Mr. Speaker, to the gentleman, it is not accurate that we don't intend to eventually go to conference and iron out the differences between the House and the Senate on both of those issues, on the ag policy, as well as the nutrition policies.

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