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Public Statements

The Future Leadership of Congress and the Country

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Welch) for 5 minutes.

Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, the American people are going to make a decision on November 6 about the future leadership of this Congress and this country, and they face, as they do every 4 years, two fundamental questions. The first: Who can be in charge of the cash register? Who will best manage the economy? The second: Who will be a firm hand in protecting America's foreign policy interests? If we look at the past 2 years with this Republican-led Congress, which has accomplished nothing and, in fact, has done damage, the question on who is best in charge of the cash register is quite clear.

The Ryan budget that was passed by this House and that stalled in the Senate would actually increase the debt. The whole point, supposedly, of the Republican agenda coming into Congress was to lower the debt. The budget they passed would increase it by $6 trillion. Why is that? Well, first of all, many of the proponents of this budget are the folks who voted for policies that actually exploded the debt: the war in Iraq on the credit card; nation-building in Afghanistan on the credit card; the prescription drug program unpaid for on the credit card. Those policies played a very big role in getting us into the debt that we have.

Then the Ryan budget, which is supposedly the blueprint to reduce the debt, increases it by $6 trillion in 10 years. Why? Because it increases those Bush tax cuts that were never paid for and would lower their Republican Presidential candidate's effective tax rate to 1 percent. Secondly, it vastly increases Pentagon spending beyond what even the Pentagon is asking for. Even though it then imposes savage cuts on domestic discretionary spending--making it really difficult to do scientific research, to help our kids go to college--the net result is a $6 trillion increase in the debt.

On foreign policy, no responsibility is so vested in one person--the President of the United States--when guiding American foreign policy. It needs a firm hand, a calm voice, a person who thinks before he speaks, who aims before he fires. The recent tragedy of losing our ambassador and three other brave civil servants from the State Department is an indication that the Republican Presidential candidate lacks the temperament to do that job.

Why is it that in the first statement that he made after the loss of four American lives he descended into what essentially was tactical politics--arguing about the wording of a communique from the American Embassy in Egypt? Is it really the case that we in America cannot defend the right of free speech and promote religious tolerance?

We need a President--and have a President--who is thoughtful, who is firm, who can act with conviction and clarity, and does it in a sober way that is going to defend and promote American political and foreign policy interests.

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