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Disapproval Resolution Relating to Debt Limit Increase

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEVIN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

You know, there's a very basic fact--I've listened to the rhetoric--if House Republicans prevailed on this bill, what would be the result? Chaos. Chaos.

The House Republicans have become the ``party of chaos.'' Six months ago, they took us to the brink of default. No one in this country liked what they saw--or maybe a very few--not the American public at large, surely not the markets, surely not the markets. But apparently House Republicans did, and you're at it again.

Here we are in the first full day in the House when we're in session this year debating a measure that would take us immediately back to the brink of default. House Republicans are once again relying on the votes of others to save them from themselves and to save this country from them.

This is posturing, not legislating. This is rhetoric, not reelection. And we've seen this movie before. 174 House Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act that set out the structure to keep the government functioning and address our long-term debt, but many decided to turn tail. And on September 14, 228 House Republicans voted in favor of the disapproval resolution to end the President's authority to pay our bills. That is what's fiscally responsible, paying bills.

Basically, they were for it before they were against it. It's a rerun of a bad movie when the American people clearly want us to move forward. And unfortunately, House Republicans have turned to Washington with the same confrontational tone they left when they nearly allowed the payroll tax and the unemployment insurance to expire. And I want to emphasize that, the same confrontation; instead of a spirit of seeking common ground, essentially confrontation. And I think the American people have said to you, enough is more than enough.

House Republicans act as if they don't already have a deadline looming, one with vast implications for millions of American families. That's what we should be talking about. In 6 weeks, the payroll tax cut expires for 160 million Americans, Federal unemployment insurance begins to end for more than 3 million people searching for work, and access to health care becomes endangered for 46 million seniors and the disabled.

Well, last month's jobs numbers were encouraging. The private sector created more than 200,000 jobs in December and nearly 3 million since the recovery began. But with 13 million Americans still looking for work, we need to do more. We should be doing everything possible, everything possible to ensure that our recovery doesn't falter. And you are here supporting something, if it prevailed, that would deeply impact our economy and economic growth.

So here we are in the third week of January. And now we have a conference committee on these issues, charged with the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance. But that hasn't yet happened, not for a lack of wanting on our part. We've been ready and eager to begin. Businesses and families that are trying to plan and budget for the year should not have to wait until the 11th hour, once again, for certainty. For Republicans, brinkmanship has, I'm afraid, as demonstrated today, become the rule.

So I urge we should reject this cynical, this rigidly ideological attempt to take us back to the brink of default. If you prevail, it wouldn't take us back to the brink; it would throw us over.

The resolution, fortunately, is going nowhere. Its only impact will serve to divide and distract from addressing the real needs of the American people. So I assume--it's happened once before--a majority, and maybe a vast majority, of the House Republicans will come down here and essentially contradict what they helped to pass. That contradiction isn't even good politics, and it's terrible policy.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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