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Public Statements

Budget Control Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Madam Speaker, as I began yesterday, when we launched the debate, it was exactly 3 p.m. It's 4:01 on Friday, July 29. And as we stand, as I do, or sit here, as any many of our colleagues do, we're exactly 4 days away from that August 2 date at which time the Department of Treasury has calculated that the Federal Government will run out of money. At that point, we, as a country, will face impossible choices about what obligations to default on first.

As I said, with this August 2 date rapidly approaching, we know that we are faced with the potential of running out of money. We also know that under that kind of scenario, there are no winners, and there are no losers. We have a profound responsibility to resolve the crisis at hand and avert the economic catastrophe that will come if we do not join together and find a way to raise the debt ceiling.

But this looming crisis is not the fundamental problem. We're facing this crisis because of a much larger, much longer-term problem. The Federal Government spends more than it has. If you think about it, Madam Speaker, we don't have a debt ceiling problem; what we have is a debt problem. The former cannot be resolved without addressing the latter. You can't address the debt ceiling issue unless you address the debt issue that is before us. That's precisely what today's process and the amendment that we are putting to the measure that we debated all day yesterday is all about. And the rule before us is moving us toward addressing the root cause of the problem.

We're adding another layer of accountability, something that Democrats and Republicans alike regularly talk about. Accountability is being added to the plan that Speaker Boehner is moving forward. With the amendment that we're going to consider that this rule will make in order, the House will proceed with the critical business at hand. We will pass a bold and credible plan to rein in our debt and responsibly avert the crisis that looms just a few days from now.

It's extremely unfortunate that this process has become so lengthy and partisan. I think everyone feels very saddened at the fact that it's become such a lengthy and very, very partisan process. But Madam Speaker, time is running out. Today we have the opportunity to do our work, and with passage of this measure, we will be moving the process forward to help avert the crisis that we potentially face on August 2.

When we pass this out, we will send a measure to the Senate, and as we all know, this is the only proposal that, when we pass it today, that will have passed either House of Congress. We need to have the support to do that. I hope very much that while many of my colleagues who are on the other side of the aisle may not be supportive of all the provisions in the Boehner plan, I hope very much to move the process forward so that we can ensure that our constituents get their Social Security checks on August 3, since we all know the President, in his July 12 speech, said that if we don't increase the debt ceiling by August 2, he couldn't guarantee that Social Security checks would go out.

So to keep the process moving, to ensure that we get those checks out and address the other very, very important priorities that we need to have funding for, we can pass this in a bipartisan way so that we can get to the Senate, work out our differences as expeditiously as possible, and come back with what clearly has to be a bipartisan compromise to ensure that we are able to decrease spending, getting to the root cause of the problem, and at the same time, do what we all know has to be done and that is increase the debt ceiling.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


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