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Delivering on Voters' Demand for Both Parties to Compromise

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. Those of you watching on C-SPAN just heard from my friend from Tennessee the unwillingness of the Republican side of the aisle to even recognize that elections have consequences, that, in fact, the President won reelection decisively. Democrats made gains in the Senate and gains here in the House.

It's time to put aside the talking points. It's time to come together for this country.

Mr. Speaker, Speaker Boehner actually said it well. He said the mandate from the election of last week is ``for us to find a way to work together on solutions to the challenges we face as a Nation.''

I can't agree more. Elections have consequences, and our ability to avert the fiscal cliff, in which expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending cuts are on a collision course to derail this economy, requires us to respect that directive from voters.

Yet, once again, lines are being drawn--you just heard it--over what types of revenue will be considered or what cuts are considered too steep. I hope I was not the only one astounded by the comments of the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, who recently said, ``the oil and gas industry will not be singled out for punitive treatment.''

How fascinating. Perhaps I could introduce him to the Federal workforce, our Federal employees who are, so far, the only group to be singled out for punitive treatment, to the tune of $75 billion of deficit reduction. They understand the principle of shared sacrifice and have patiently been waiting for everybody else to actually share in it.

Mr. Speaker, our chances for success in fending off the fiscal cliff become even slimmer if we start removing options from the table, as my friend from Tennessee just did, before we've even sat down at that table. America voted for and deserves a divided government that actually works.

The last time I checked, divided government doesn't mean it's going to be my way or the highway, or your way or the highway, or Grover Norquist's way or the highway. Divided government can and has succeeded in the past when leaders have done that thing which we have not been able to achieve very often in these last 2 years: compromise.

That is the singular message from our voters this year, compromise. Work together to move the economy, our families, and our Nation forward. I've repeatedly heard that mantra from across my community, whether it's from seniors, teachers, small businesses or my own neighbors.

And now the Nation's business leaders are starting to echo that call. In fact, the head of the Business Roundtable, the former Republican Governor of Michigan, and other top CEOs are asking Congress to do just that, compromise.

In addition, the Task Force of American Innovation, comprised of our Nation's top technology companies, is urging us to preserve Federal investments in education and R&D, which are the bedrock of future innovation and competitiveness. And this week even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it was open to a compromise that included revenue.

These are the constructive voices I hope my colleagues listen to as we approach negotiations on the fiscal cliff. Politics is the art of compromise and, working together, we can reduce our Nation's deficit and preserve strategic investments in those programs that fuel economic growth and competitiveness.

Even in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln and the 38th Congress authorized the Transcontinental Railroad, the Homestead Act, and the land grant college and university system. They understood we had to invest in the future, while also dealing with the crisis of the present.

No doubt, we all have something to lose if we do not succeed. So perhaps, by each of us giving a little, we can revive this economic recovery, restore faith in our ability to govern responsibly, and deliver on that mandate we just got last week from the voters.

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