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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 992, Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2374, Retail Investor Protection Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WELCH. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, part of this rule is addressing the debt ceiling. This Congress put the American people and our economy through the spectacle of 16 days of shutdown, with the culmination being the actual threat that we would not pay our bills; we would default. That is the second time we have done that in 2 years. There is some progress in this rule because it is going to allow Congress to vote to disapprove, but it can't pass unless it gets, in effect, the President's signature.

There is another way that we ought to do this. We ought to, once and for all, acknowledge that if this Congress, with Republican and Democratic votes, passes an appropriation that has an impact on the debt ceiling, that is the time of reckoning at the moment that appropriation is passed.

What we have done is a good deal hypocritical towards the people we represent. We will vote for spending on day one, and then on day two, when the bill comes due, we will vote against the debt ceiling increase that was required by the very vote we made. That is just not a stand-up way for a country to operate. We pay our bills.

The idea that we would have a debate, as we did in this Congress, where the premise of that debate was that it was actually an acceptable outcome that we would stiff our creditors, that we wouldn't pay the mortgage, that we might forsake the 1 million veterans who are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and not provide to them the services that we have all promised, that is just not right.

The damage we did with the debt ceiling debate and the threat to default was enormous both in August of 2011 and in October of 2013.

In August of 2011, consumer confidence dropped to a 31-year low. The third quarter gross domestic product increased barely at 1.4 percent. It led to, for the first time in the history of this country, us losing our AAA credit rating and suffering a downgrade from Standard & Poor's.

The loss of 0.3 percent of the fourth quarter growth rate translated into $24 billion of lost revenue. Household wealth collapsed by $2.4 trillion. While it is true that wealth has come back, the loss of that created an immense amount of insecurity, reduced consumer spending, and cost us jobs. The Peter Peterson Foundation indicated that the uncertainty that was created was something that contributed to $150 billion in lost output and 900,000 jobs.

The October 2013 shutdown and the threat of default was the biggest plunge in consumer confidence--bigger even than August of 2011--the biggest plunge since the Lehman Brothers collapse in '08. We must acknowledge something very simple: we must pay our bills.

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