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Legislative Program

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HOYER. First of all, let me say to the gentleman that it is my hope that we will adjourn the first session of the Congress from the House's perspective by the 18th. With respect to the bills that we are considering, obviously we have seven appropriation bills that have not yet been enacted. The continuing resolution expires on the 18th of December.

It is my hope that before that time we will have provision for the passage of all seven of the appropriation bills, either individually, which may be difficult because the Senate has not passed three of those bills on its floor. In one form or another we will have all seven of those bills passed prior to the 18th.

The Speaker, Leader Reid, and I all want to avoid another continuing resolution, which we think is not the best way to move forward. We are hopeful that we can accomplish that.

In addition, the regulatory reform bill you heard will be next week, the tax extenders. We have the unemployment insurance. We have the COBRA extension. Both of those expire on December 31. We have the PATRIOT Act, the provisions of which expire on December 31. We want to address that. We have got highway reauthorization, which also expires on December 31. We want to address that. And we have, I'm sure, other bills that we will be considering.

As you know, I know you're happy about it, I'm happy about it, Iran sanctions will be on the calendar as well, on the Suspension Calendar the week after next.

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. And I know I'm joined by the gentlelady from Florida in thanking you very much for your work on the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act and bringing that to the floor.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman. If the gentleman will yield.

Mr. CANTOR. I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I appreciate the bipartisan work. I see the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, my friend, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, who has worked very hard on this as well with Mr. Berman. I'm pleased this is coming. It's very important that we send a very strong message as we see the Iranian Government and the President say they are going to do one thing, but apparently never do it. So I think it's appropriate that we act.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the gentleman, I note that he did announce that we will be considering H.R. 4173, the financial regulation bill, and perhaps seven appropriations bills. I don't know which form that would be in, whether it would be separately or in an omnibus form; but, nonetheless, all of these are incredibly large measures costing billions of dollars of taxpayer money, stretching over thousands of pages.

My question, Mr. Speaker, is, What is the gentleman's intention as to the period of time which Members and the public will have to review these bills prior to the Members voting on them? And does that mean that we will still be consistent with the gentleman's representations on other bills prior to this session that we would have 72 hours for consideration and review of those bills as well as any manager's amendment and self-executing amendments in a rule?

And I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

He is correct, I have made that representation; and I want to try to accomplish that objective. As the gentleman also knows, on both sides we have experienced this issue, at the end of a session, as I fervently hope we are closely achieving, at the end of a session obviously when you're having conference reports, it's not necessarily possible to do that if you can't get the conference reports moved quickly enough by the time you want to adjourn.

However, having said that, the gentleman is correct, the regulatory reform bill that is going to be reported out by the committee has been reported out, will be available this evening, and will be available--I don't expect to have that on the floor any sooner than Tuesday of next week.

So there will be plenty of time to review that piece of legislation. As you know, that has had extensive hearings. Two of the bills that are included within the framework of that bill we've already passed, as you know. So for that bill there will be a lot of time.

With respect to the omnibus that you referred to, we have discretely, individually, considered each one of those bills. They've passed the House. The Senate and the House have reached agreement, I think, or hopefully, are on the verge of reaching agreement on those bills individually so that they can be included. The Senate, as I pointed out, has not considered three of the bills on the floor, and I'm not sure, given their focus on health care, that they will be able to do so. So from that standpoint, they would be included in a conference report as opposed to considered on the Senate floor. They've been considered on the House floor, and we will give as much notice as we possibly can on those. But the good news is we've considered those individually on the floor, so the overwhelming majority of those bills are well-known to Members.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman. And I do realize that the House has considered its version, although we all know that when they come back from conference especially, many of the Members on both sides of the aisle have some concerns about earmarks and others, which would, I think, warrant the time to review these bills. In the same light, Mr. Speaker, it is the concern of many that we have an opportunity to look at any manager's amendment or self-executing amendments in the rules that are presented to the body and our having time to review that as well. And I would just make that note.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the gentleman, does he expect a final health care bill this month? And I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I will choose my words carefully. As opposed to expect, I hope that there will be a bill. Clearly, the Senate is debating that bill. We believe that this is one of the most important bills that any Member will have considered during the course of their tenure in this House, including myself, and I've been here, as you know, some time. The Senate is debating those bills now. Senator Reid has had great difficulty getting this bill to move along in an orderly fashion, which, I think, makes it impossible to predict when the Senate will be able to pass it. I can tell you that I know that Leader Reid is hopeful that this bill will be considered over the next 10, 12 days, and that they will be able to pass it prior to the 18th of December. And I'm hopeful that they can as well.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman on that. And as a followup to that, Mr. Speaker, I know there's been some discussion or reports that the Senate may be scheduled to be in session past the Christmas holiday, and I was wondering, Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman expected that to impact the House's schedule after Christmas. And I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding. It's my expectation that it will not. But I want to give this caveat. If, in fact the Senate passes its health care reform bill early enough so that we may have a conference and conclude a conference so that at some time in December we could pass a conference report, with that caveat--now whether that will happen or not, obviously I am not able to predict that, but other than that circumstance, it's my expectation that we will not be in the week of the 21st or the week of the 28th.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman for that.

Mr. HOYER. Nor for that matter, as the schedule, as you know, reflects, the week after the 1st, which is the 3rd, I guess.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would ask the gentleman does he expect to vote on increasing the Nation's debt limit this month? And I yield.

Mr. HOYER. Not only do I expect it, my belief is that it's mandatory that we do so. Obviously, the United States has never defaulted on its debt, and to do so would cause international disruption in the financial markets, further exacerbating an already difficult economic situation for our country and for countries around the world. So it is not only my expectation, but I believe it is absolutely essential that we do that. As the gentleman knows, we have passed already, in this House, an extension of the debt. The Senate has not passed that at this point in time, but I do expect it to be included in one of the pieces of legislation that we consider. I think it is absolutely essential and, in my view, whether you like the debt or don't--I mean, none of us like it--it would be irresponsible for the Congress not to pass a debt extension for debts that it has incurred. I yield back.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask a followup to that comment. Does the gentleman expect us to have an up-or-down vote on the increase of the debt limit, or, if not, if it is a part, as he suggested, of another piece of legislation, which legislation that would be? And I yield.

Mr. HOYER. Well, that has not been finally decided at this point in time. We'll have to wait to see what the Senate feels it can do in one of the conferences that we have. As the gentleman probably knows, under Senate procedure, while they're considering the health bill, the only thing they can rise for, without the necessity to have a 60 vote to go back into consideration of the health bill, is a conference report. So my expectation is it will be in a conference report.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to turn to the question of whether this House will be dealing with what has been reported, a second stimulus bill. And I know that we have been reading much about the White House job summit today. There's been a lot of reports in the press about the majority's meeting on a second stimulus bill, and I'd like to ask the gentleman, Mr. Speaker, if he could clarify the timing, the content and the cost of a proposed second stimulus bill. And I yield.

Mr. HOYER. Well, the gentleman, of course, wants to use language that we're not using. We're focused on jobs. Stimulus is a broader reach, frankly, than we are looking at. We do believe, though, as the gentleman has expressed on a number of occasions, that jobs is the focus. And we are looking at legislation which will help to create jobs, expand our economy, ensure our growth.

As the gentleman knows, the CBO released their report on the Recovery Act which we passed and its impact on the economy and employment in the third quarter, which was the first quarter in 8 that we had grown the GDP. As the gentleman knows, that was not the case in 2008, of course. CBO estimates that because of the Recovery Act, 600,000 to 1.6 million jobs, more Americans had jobs as a result of the Recovery Act. The GDP, according to CBO, was 1.2 percent to 3.2 percent higher than it would have been if we had not passed the Recovery Act. And the unemployment rate was nine-tenths of a point lower than it would have been.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's recently said the stimulus is doing what it was supposed to do. It is contributing to ending the recession. In my view, without the stimulus, the GDP would still be in the negative as opposed to positive. Unemployment would be above 11 percent, and there are a little over 1.1 million more jobs out there as of October than there would have been without the stimulus.

Having said that, you and I both agree not enough has been done. Notwithstanding the fact, essentially, there has been, with 2-months' exception with a little glitch-up, a straight-line decline in the number of loss of jobs per month from the high of the last month of the last administration of 747,000 lost. As you know, it's less than 190,000 lost. We don't have the report on Friday, but it's less than that, I think, which is progress, but it's not success. Success will be when we start gaining jobs.

In that context, I tell my friend that we are in fact looking at ways and means to spur greater job creation, allow small businesses to expand, get additional credit, as well as continuing to assist those who have lost their jobs and are in need of assistance. But I cannot, at this point in time, give you the specifics.

You have correctly observed the administration, because of its concern about job creation, is having a summit or a forum today to seek advice from experts on the economy, experts in the business field, and we certainly are going to look to them as well, talking to them. I want to also say to my friend that I would be more than pleased to receive from you and Members on your side of the aisle suggestions that you might have to accomplish a greater growth of jobs in our economy. I yield back.

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate that extension of an offer to allow us to, once again, proffer our ideas. As the gentleman may know, I did speak out yesterday with a list of what I call a no-cost jobs plan, and I am happy to forward that to the gentleman. I have made a similar type of request of the White House, and I think have gotten a response that they too may be willing to consider some of the Republican solutions to the current crisis that people are feeling across this country.

Mr. Speaker, I would say that I am somewhat heartened to hear the gentleman talk about the ineffectiveness of the first stimulus bill. The gentleman did say that the term ``stimulus'' was a little broader than what they're looking at now. And in my opinion, I thought that the definition of a stimulus bill was to create jobs. So if the gentleman now is agreeing with me that the creation of jobs did not hit the mark the way that was promised on the first stimulus bill, that we do need to finally focus on job creation, that gives me a lot of confidence, Mr. Speaker, because at least we're now talking about the same thing. And along those lines, again, I am thankful that the gentleman asked for our solutions, and we're going to proffer those.

But I do want to suggest that we can, and there are some commonsense things we can sit down and probably agree on that we could do right now that wouldn't cost the taxpayers anything, and we wouldn't have to be continuing to mortgage the future of our children. I think both of us can agree, Mr. Speaker, that both sides have done their share to dig the hole of incurring too much debt for this country. Enough is enough. And I do think that we have and will offer solutions that will begin to arrest that trend, and at the same time focus on job creation.

Mr. HOYER. Will my friend yield?

Mr. CANTOR. I will. And I would like to ask one more point, and then I will yield. If we are talking about finally shifting to the mode, Mr. Speaker, of job creation, I'd like to ask the gentleman, has there been any discussion in his caucus about perhaps holding back on some of the measures that are being discussed, such as the financial regulatory reform bill coming to the floor next week, because there is a study recently released by the University of Chicago, University College London, and George Mason University economists, which said that this package of reform bills coming out of the Financial Services Committee will reduce consumer borrowing by at least 2.1 percent and reduce new jobs by 4.3 percent. And essentially, the study comes to the conclusion that interest rates will rise by 141 basis points, which will yield the loss of over a million jobs over the next 5 years. So if we are concerned about job creation, why are we moving forward with such a measure? And I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding. Let me start at the beginning of his statement, that I might facetiously say was written by Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice in Wonderland, of course, when he says that I characterized the stimulus package, which I did not; I have characterized the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the CBO said gained us 600,000 to 1.4 million jobs.

The gentleman likes to do this. He has done it a number of times. He says, ``Finally we're talking about jobs.'' As a matter of fact, in February we passed legislation--with no help, frankly, from your side--which, in fact, CBO says has created up to 1.4 million new jobs in America. In addition, we believe we've saved a lot of jobs in America as well. We are not where we want to be.

The gentleman also indicates--and I would agree--that both sides of the aisle have dug the hole deeper on the deficit. I say with all respect to my friend, we had an administration that was in office for 8 years, the Clinton administration. I would remind my friend--I am sure he is familiar with these statistics--that he inherited a $292 billion deficit from George Bush I. He reduced that deficit that year; the next year he reduced it further; the third year he reduced it even further; the fourth year he reduced it even further; and the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth years, the Clinton administration economic program took us into surplus--the only administration in your lifetime, and I am much older than you are--the only administration in my lifetime that had 4 years of surplus, and the only administration in my lifetime that ended their 8 years with a net surplus.

So I would disagree with my friend that we contributed. In fact, your administration under Mr. Bush inherited a $5.6 trillion surplus. Who said so? President Bush said so in 2001. We dissipated that into a $10 trillion deficit--arguably the largest turnaround of any nation in the world, certainly in terms of dollars. I'm not sure on percentage. Some countries, third-world countries, have pretty bad experiences. But to turn around a $5.6 trillion surplus by $15 trillion and turn it into a $10 trillion deficit and the worst economy we've seen in three-quarters of a century under the economic program that was pursued by your side of the aisle, very frankly I'm not going to take responsibility for that, I tell my friend with all due respect.

This administration was confronted with the worst economic situation of any administration since Franklin Roosevelt. We have been trying with, I think, real focus, and in some respects real courage, because some of the things we did were very tough. You, I think, joined us when we responded to your administration, the Bush administration, and said through Secretary Paulson and Mr. Bernanke, the country is in crisis, and if we do not act and act decisively, we may go into a depression.

You will recall that my side of the aisle responded to the Republican President, the chief executive of our country, who said we were in crisis, and we responded, and 142 of us voted on a bill that nobody wanted to vote for in order to preclude us going into crisis. Your party, unfortunately, did not support your President, as you recall, in a majority sense on that particular vote in September of 2008.

Luckily, we came back. We had a failure; luckily we came back. Notwithstanding the unpopularity of that bill, we did contribute to stabilizing this economy. It was a tough vote. Americans are angry about it; we're angry about it. Bailing out people who were extraordinarily fiscally irresponsible--those same people that we want to regulate next week to make sure they are not subject to the regulatory neglect that they were subjected to for 8 years when the administration's policy was to simply get out of the way, not to regulate, not to oversee, and we saw an extraordinary financial meltdown.

So I will tell my friend with all due respect, I do not accept his premise that we haven't been talking about jobs. I have not read the reports to which he referred, but I do not accept his premise that in fact making sure that these big financial institutions operate in a way that minimizes risk--not just to them; they can afford the risk. They sock away money somewhere; the people who couldn't afford the risk who saw their 401(k)s go into the tank, saw their retirement put at risk.

So I tell my friend that next week, we are going to adopt legislation hopefully that will try to ensure that America does not go down that road again. Just as Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s responded with regulation to ensure that the stock market excesses and betting, on which people lost, did not reoccur and very frankly has kept us pretty stable. But, unfortunately, a lot of the regulatory neglect--which I want to make clear was not only in the Bush administration; there was some in the previous administration--we ought to have learned our lesson. I would hope you would join with us in adopting this regulatory reform package which will protect consumers and ensure responsible behavior on behalf of those whom we entrust with large parts of our national wealth and the health of our economy.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

And I would say he would agree with me that since the beginning of the 111th, priority one for this Nation has been job creation.

Mr. HOYER. That's correct.

Mr. CANTOR. And the facts are the facts. The stimulus bill was brought to this floor with the promise that it would stop unemployment from exceeding 8 percent. We are now at over 10 percent national unemployment. The facts are the facts.

Under this administration, the deficit has tripled since the last administration left. That is the facts. The gentleman points out, CBO says that we've created X number of jobs. I would say to the gentleman, while you have people across this country--10.2 percent of the workforce being out of work--there is no way that anyone in this country would believe CBO when it says the economy is better. That's the fact.

And so if we're going to be about job creation, my simple point is this about bringing the package of financial regulatory reform bills to the floor. I don't doubt the gentleman's intention to try and do the right thing. But the reality is this is a case where we're doing the wrong thing for the right reason. This bill impacts negatively the job creators. We know this bill will increase interest rates 141 basis points, which means the loss of an additional million-plus jobs over the next 5 years.

So in that vein, I would ask the gentleman again, if we are to see our way to work together, let's relieve the harm. This bill adds to the harm. In the same way, I would ask the gentleman, there is continued talk of the bill otherwise known as Card Check. If I've heard it once, I think all Members have, from small businesses and large, the job creators, Please, please don't pass that bill because that will create a huge drain on job creation.

So I would ask the gentleman, is there any sense in his caucus that maybe now in times of high unemployment is not the time to bring up Card Check?

Mr. HOYER. Who mentioned that? Do you have any other windmills that you want to tilt at?

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would like to come to my district and talk to the businesses there, I think I could gather up many individuals who have put their entire life's investment savings on the line and don't want to see Washington or this Congress continue to threaten the very existence of those businesses.

I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

We got off your premise pretty quickly--to another bill that's in the Senate--my view is because we did create jobs, CBO says we created jobs, and for the gentleman to say the economy is not in better shape today than it was when we took over from the last administration, I would remind the gentleman, 747,000 jobs were lost in the last month of the Bush administration; 3.8 million jobs were lost in the last year of the Bush administration as opposed to the last year of the Clinton administration, comparing the last two administrations, 1.9 million jobs were added.

I suggest to the gentleman what we see on this regulatory reform bill is exactly the philosophy that was brought under the Bush administration. If we simply get out of the way, don't bother anybody, just get out of the way, Government, take the referees off the field and all the players will play fairly, my experience in life has not been that. My experience in life is when you get the referees off the field, somebody leaves the line about a second before the ball is hiked, and people lose. And that is what happened. The SEC didn't regulate, the FDIC didn't regulate the way it should have, the administration didn't regulate the way it should have. And what went wrong? The financial community went amok.

Mr. Greenspan came before the Congress of the United States and said, I made a mistake. I thought people would act consistent with a fair evaluation of the risk they were willing to take. And Mr. Greenspan said, I was wrong. In fact, they did not. And they incurred risk. And who paid the price? All of us paid the price. All of us as taxpayers paid the price at Secretary Paulson's request, Republican Secretary of the Treasury, to try to sustain this economy not going into a depression.

So I disagree with my friend that I haven't addressed the issue of jobs. We have. I disagree with the gentleman when he says 1.4 million jobs. Well, we're still losing jobs. We are. But we're losing--and none of the statistics, by the way, that I have intoned this afternoon has the gentleman rejected as being accurate: 747,000 jobs lost during the last month of the Bush administration. Less than 190,000 this month.

Is that where we want to be? Of course it's not. We want to create 190,000. We want to create 500,000 jobs. We want to get people back to work. But the first thing we had to do was to reverse the extraordinary decline that we inherited in January of this year. I think we've done that.

I will tell my friend that when those who open up their retirement funds that are invested in mutual funds or something else and find that their retirement funds are up 57 percent from the low point shortly after this administration took office, they're going to think that's progress. Is it where they want to be? No. They want to be back at a hundred percent of where they were. They're not there yet. We need to keep working, and that's why we're considering a jobs bill before we leave here. If we can put one together, hopefully in a bipartisan fashion, we will do so.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

My purpose in bringing up this notion that we still have this Card Check bill out there is to demonstrate the fact that there really is a disconnect as far as doing what we say and follow what I do. Because if we're serious about relieving the pain on job creators, if we're serious about getting Americans back to work, we wouldn't be necessarily bringing the wrong bills to the floor for the right reason, which is my point, Mr. Speaker.

No one is quibbling with intention here. I think that I would agree with the gentleman that there is a sense in America that there is not a level playing field at giving people a fair shot at their returns on Wall Street or a fair shot in terms of heavy regulations in hand coming from Washington.

So we can all agree that we need to make the environment better for job creators and people who want to jump in and take risks. But the financial regulatory reform package that is being brought to the floor just as the Card Check bill that's still being spoken of around here, those are job killers. We ought to at least relieve the harm so that people we're relying on to create jobs can get back to work to do that. That was simply my point, Mr. Speaker.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would just note for the gentleman that 2.8 million Americans have lost their jobs since the passage of the majority's first stimulus bill; and the Nation's debt now stands at over $12 trillion.

I thank the gentleman for his time, and I yield back.

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