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Public Statements

Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentlelady from New York.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to announce breaking news. Texas happens to be a very diverse State, and my good friend from Texas just stood up and made an absurd proclamation--absolutely absurd.

In coming from a State where there are 6 million-plus uninsured individuals, he knows full well that tonight, when we vote to shut down the government, he will, in fact, also eliminate the Affordable Care Act, not delay it. What he will do is he will then tell those who have a preexisting disease that the law is delayed. He will tell children who need preventative care that the law is delayed. Further, he will tell our creditors that we are irresponsible as a country, and he will tell the American people, whose jobs depend upon the government operating, that you don't count.

I don't want to live in a Nation where someone can say to the Nation and say to the people that you don't count.

I have said it before, and I am saying it again: When we vote tonight, we will be voting to shut down the government. You will be voting to ignore the States and the responsibilities of this country in paying its debt.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the amendment, which is another attempt to veer away from the responsibilities of running the country and into the ditch of selfishness and bitterness which is truly the realm of the un-Patriotic!

I oppose this amendment because it puts an anchor on a clean continuing resolution which unnecessarily and perniciously weighs down the hopes and dreams of my constituents in Houston and the American people. It conditions the funding needed to avoid a government shutdown on a repeal of the excise tax on certain medical devices that helps defray the cost of the affordable, quality healthcare made available for the first time to millions of Americans by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

I oppose this rule because the amendment it makes ``in order'' to the ``clean'' continuing resolution passed yesterday by the Senate will, if approved, result in a shutdown of the government. Both President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid have it crystal clear that they will not accept any continuing resolution containing any provision to delay, defund, or weaken the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA was carefully crafted so that it will not add to the budget deficit. To help pay for the expansion of health coverage to 27 million uninsured Americans, the ACA either reduces Medicare payments or increases taxes for a wide range of industries that will benefit from health reform, including hospitals, home health agencies, clinical laboratories, health insurance providers, drug companies, and manufacturers of medical devices.

The concept of ``shared sacrifice'' is something that every American should embrace; and the medical device tax is part of that sacrifice in which we all share--a true embodiment of this sacred notion.

A 2.3-percent excise tax is imposed on the sale of any taxable medical device by the manufacturer or importer of the device starting in 2013. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, or any other medical device that the public generally buys at retail for individual use are exempted. Sales for further manufacture or for export are also tax-exempt.
Last year the House passed H.R. 436, which would have repealed the tax, and bills to repeal the tax have been introduced in both the House and Senate this year. Nobody likes higher taxes but--this tax was thoroughly debated--and let us be clear--it is not as if the medical device industry did not have its voice heard--and it is clear that they still have some influence since bills have been introduced to repeal.

As the end of the fiscal year quickly approaches, the sad truth remains unchanged: the Speaker has surrendered the gavel to the tea party's desperate attempts to force a Republican government shutdown to put insurance companies back in charge of Americans' health care.

Democrats have an alternative, introduced by my colleague, Mr. Van Hollen, to fund the government and end the devastating, across-the-board cuts of the sequester with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases in order to reduce the deficit in a responsible way.

I agree with President Obama that the full faith and credit of the United States is non-negotiable. The United States has been the worldwide standard bearer for many years and many other nations have been comfortable holding our paper, but now our preeminent financial status is in jeopardy.

Mr. Speaker, you may recall that two years ago the Nation's credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever because of politicized negotiations and the initial failure to reach an agreement--and now we risk that and more because an odd lot of Members in this body and one, perhaps two in our bicameral twin, wish ill on the American people out of some misguided principle.

Refusing to raise the debt ceiling poses a cataclysmic danger to the stability of our markets and the economic security of our middle class and complete devastation for the poor.

As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated last week: ``A government shutdown, and perhaps even more so a failure to raise the debt limit, could have very serious consequences for the financial markets and for the economy .....''

Here are some of those consequences:

Higher interest rates for mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and credit cards. Higher interest rates and less access to business loans needed to finance payrolls, build inventories, or invest in equipment & construction.

Families' retirement savings in 401(k)s dropping as the stock market plummets.

3.4 million veterans not receiving disability benefits.

10 million Americans not receiving their Social Security check on time in just the first week.

Drug reimbursements under Medicare stopping, and doctors and hospitals not getting paid.

Mr. Speaker, let's get to work on behalf of the American people and pass a clean CR and raise the debt limit--now! The people expect nothing less, and time is of the essence.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the Blackburn Amendment, which delays for one year any provision of the ACA that takes effect between October 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014.

I oppose this amendment for several reasons. First, the amendment will lead to a government shutdown because it imposes a condition that House Republicans know the Senate and the President will not accept.

Second, I oppose the amendment because it is bad for America and Americans. The proponents of the Blackburn Amendment claim the amendment only delays the imposition of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate for one year. They are wrong.

In fact, the amendment delays the effectiveness of any provision that takes effect between October 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014. Thus, the amendment operates directly on the following benefits of the Affordable Care Act:

1. The ban on pre-existing condition discrimination for adults;

2. The ban on gender rating (charging women more than men for the same policy);

3. The 3:1 age rating, which limits the amount charged to older people for insurance;

4. The elimination of annual limits on healthcare costs; and

5. The availability of health insurance premium tax credits and other provisions that would save millions of middle class families hundreds of billions of dollars.

Mr. Speaker, this marks the the 43rd time House Republicans have tried to repeal, defund, or delay the Affordable Care Act. To date the record is: ObamaCare--42, House Republicans--zero.

Mr. Speaker, the Blackburn Amendment is misguided, ill-considered, and harmful to America, and especially my constituents in the 18th Congressional District of Texas. Specifically, the Blackburn Amendment would allow insurers to continue denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Were this amendment to become law, up to 17 million children nationally, and 46,000 in my congressional district, could again be denied coverage by insurers due to a pre-existing conditions and it would allow insurers to continue discriminating against women and those with medical conditions in setting premiums.

Were the Blackburn Amendment to become law, employers would be permitted to refuse to offer insurance that covers preventive services, including contraception for 50,000 women in my district, that they object to on any religious or moral grounds.

Were the Blackburn Amendment to become law, it would take away tax credits and subsidies to help Americans purchase insurance which would adversely affect 446,800 persons in Harris County and more than 2.5 million persons in my home State of Texas.

Were the Blackburn Amendment to become law, it would take away tax credits and subsidies to help Americans purchase insurance. This would adversely affect 153,000 persons in my district and 105 million Americans nationally.

Were the Blackburn Amendment to become law, it would delay an increase in tax credits to help small businesses buy insurance for their employees. This provision has already helped 360,000 small businesses provide insurance to more than 2 million persons.

Mr. Speaker, instead of debating amendments that have no chance of becoming law and will hurt Americans and our economy, let us work together on behalf of the American people and pass a clean CR and keep the government open to do the people's business.

I urge all my colleagues to join me in voting against the Blackburn Amendment.


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