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Department of Defense and Full-Year Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.


Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

This piece of legislation will provide for the funding of our government from now until September 30 of this year.

While I do not want to engage in a debate looking at the past, we are here because we did not fund the government in the last Congress through September 30. And, frankly, there is not much use in pointing fingers at one another as we've been doing. There was an omnibus that was on the floor at the urging of the leader in the Senate, and it was not able to get the 60 votes necessary because those of you on the minority side in the Senate did not give votes to do that. Notwithstanding that, the issue today is not what happened yesterday, but what's going to happen today.

We have a choice to make. We have a choice to make in a divided House, in a divided Congress, in a divided government--the Speaker talked about divided government--and that choice is whether we will come together, work together, try to make the best possible agreement that we can make and then move together. I think the American public expects us to do that.

During the course of the debate some days ago, I referenced with the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, who comes from Kentucky, another famous Kentuckian, Henry Clay. Henry Clay came to this Congress and was elected Speaker on the first day of his service in this Congress. Interestingly enough, he was Speaker during the 8th Congress, during the 10th Congress, and during the 13th Congress. He served for some 10 years as the Speaker. He served also in the United States Senate and in fact was deemed to be one of the most outstanding Members of the United States Senate.

He is unique in history. And he said this, and I will repeat it: ``If you cannot compromise, you cannot govern.'' And what he meant by that, of course, was that the American people, in 435 districts and 50 States--not 50 States, of course, when he was Speaker--go to the polls and they elect people to come to Washington to represent them. And not surprisingly in a democracy they have different points of view. They have different perspectives. They have different priorities. They come from different geographical locations. Their States have different interests. Their districts have different interests. So it should not shock any of us that there is not agreement in 100 percent of the cases, or sometimes 70 percent, or sometimes 60, and perhaps not even in 50 percent. But there does come a time when the American public expects us to be able to act. Gridlock is not what they voted for.

Madam Speaker, I will vote for this resolution. I do not vote for this resolution anymore than anybody else on this House floor will vote for or against this resolution because they like everything that's in it or dislike everything that's in it. If I were writing this resolution, the priorities would be different. I heard my friend, Rosa DeLauro, who is now the ranking Democrat on the Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee. Very frankly, if I were on a committee--I am the second ranking member of the Appropriations Committee--I would be the ranking member of the Labor Health Committee--and I would share her views. I do share her views. I think the priorities that we have agreed to in this resolution are not my priorities.

But we have reached agreement. The President of the United States, elected by all the people, the majority leader of the United States Senate, and the Speaker of this House worked for literally weeks to try to come together to forge an agreement so that we could fund government for the balance of this year. It's not useful to blame anybody as to why we're so late on this, but it is useful to say that we are about to embark--after we pass this piece of legislation--on a critical debate on the differences we do have in the priorities of this country, very substantive, deeply held beliefs on the differences that exist between our two parties. And the budgets that will be offered after we pass this resolution on the budget for the 2012 year are going to be the substance of our debate.

I would hope at this period of time, Madam Speaker, that we pass this resolution, keep our government functioning, and come together to debate the real priorities of this country in the next bill.


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