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Steny H.
Democrat MD 5

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  • Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014

    by Representative Steny H. Hoyer

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.



    First of all, let me say that America is advantaged by having two people who work on the Budget Committee who have great intellect, great integrity, and care about America: Mr. Ryan from Wisconsin and Mr. Van Hollen from Maryland. The American public sometimes is not sure that it has that kind of quality. If only they were here sitting in the Budget Committee or on the floor and listening to these two gentlemen who have disagreements and represent their positions well.

    Mr. Speaker, I voted for every budget compromise that has been passed over the past 3 years without fail. The result, however, invariably, has been an unremitting undermining of our efforts to reach a balanced fiscal policy and to invest in that which will secure our future: the economy, education, infrastructure, national security, and innovation.

    While each of those bills was preferable to default on our debt or the shutting down of our government, they have been simply stopgap measures that have not prevented continuing lurches from congressionally created and all too frequent fiscal crises and shutdowns.

    The headlines regarding this agreement put it in perspective. An op- ed in The New York Times says, ``Congress Avoids Reality, Again.'' The Wall Street Journal says, ``A Least Bad Budget Deal,'' while a USA Today headline says, ``Minimalist Budget Deal Beats Another Shutdown.'' The editorial concludes with this, however: Unless we come to grips with the fiscal issue, we will be inflicting a huge financial burden on our children.

    [[Page H8079]] I agree.

    The deal before us today does not deal with the fundamental issue of long-term fiscal stability. My friend Mr. Ryan says he wants to do that. My friend Mr. Van Hollen says he wants to do that. I think Senator Murray wants to do that. We have not done that. We have not dealt with the underlying issues that prevent us from being on a fiscally sustainable path.

    It does not replace the full sequester, which Chairman Hal Rogers, who I know has spoken in favor of this agreement, has correctly described as ill-advised and unrealistic. I said on this floor when we considered the gentleman's budget that, if there were no Democrats in the House of Representatives, they could not implement that budget. I believe that.

    {time} 1730 I believe that. I believe it because the figures were not related to priorities or vision or that which we needed to accomplish as a country, but on a number, 967. That is an opinion shared by all of the Republican appropriations subcommittee chairmen who wrote a letter to that effect.

    Nor, critically, does this agreement deal with the issue of the debt limit, which will confront us shortly, and which has, historically, over the last 3 years, been an inflection point to further reduce not only discretionary spending on both sides, mainly on the nondefense side, but also to reach, once again, into the pockets of Federal employees.

    Now, I am someone who represents 62,000 Federal employees, and I recommended zero COLAs the first 2 years we did zero COLAs. Why? The economy was in trouble and it was necessary for Federal employees, like everybody else, to participate.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

    Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentleman another minute.

    Mr. HOYER. I'd better be quick.

    If we fail to resolve this issue now, it will simply plunge us into another manufactured crisis which will quickly undermine the stability and confidence that some believe this agreement is bringing.

    The fact that this agreement deals temporarily with preventing a cut in Medicare's physician reimbursement rate is welcome but, as with our fiscal sustainability, it needs to be dealt with on a permanent basis.

    I am pleased that the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee today marked up legislation to do so. However, it is unconscionable that the budget deal before us today does not extend unemployment insurance, which helps those who are most at risk in our society; and if we do not help them, the economy will suffer, and 200,000 jobs are predicted to be lost.

    On December 28, 1.3 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance if we do not act, and they will be joined by an additional 3.5 million Americans in 2014. The House should not leave town without ensuring that individuals looking for work have the safety net of unemployment insurance.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has again expired.

    Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

    Mr. HOYER. Finally, Mr. Speaker, this budget turns once again to middle class workers.

    Let me close with this. This agreement is better than the alternative, but it misses a huge opportunity to do what the American people expect us to do, and that is put this country on a fiscally sustainable path.

    I would urge my friend from Wisconsin, and I have urged my friend from Maryland, my colleague, summon up the courage, much of which you have already shown, to help us put this country on a fiscally sustainable path, and, yes, make tough decisions. And I will join with the gentleman from Wisconsin and the gentleman from Maryland in helping us to get the votes for those tough decisions that are necessary, but it needs to be a balanced deal.

    I have voted for every budget compromise that has been passed over the past three years.

    The results, invariably, have been an unremitting undermining of our efforts to reach a balanced fiscal policy and to invest in that which will secure our future: the economy, education, infrastructure, national security, and innovation.

    And while each of those bills was preferable to default on our debt or the shutting down of our government, they have been simply stop-gap measures that have not prevented continuing lurches from congressionally-created and all-too-frequent fiscal crises and shutdowns.

    The headlines regarding this deal put it in perspective: An op-ed in the New York Times says, ``Congress avoids reality again.'' The Wall Street Journal calls it the ``Least Bad Budget Deal.'' And while a USA Today headline says, ``Minimalist Budget Deal Beats Another Shutdown,'' the editorial concludes with this: ``Unless we come to grips with the fiscal issue, we will be inflicting a huge financial burden on our children.'' I could not agree more.

    The deal before us today does not deal with the fundamental issue of long-term fiscal stability, nor does it replace the full sequester-- which Chairman Hal Rogers has correctly described as ``ill-advised'' and ``unrealistic''--an opinion shared by all of the Republican Appropriations Subcommittee chairmen.

    Nor, critically, does this agreement deal with the issue of the debt limit, which will confront us in a few short months.

    If we fail to resolve that now, it will simply plunge us into another manufactured crisis, which will quickly undermine the stability and confidence some believe this agreement will bring.

    The fact that this agreement deals temporarily with preventing a cut in Medicare's physician reimbursement rates, SGR, is welcome, but, as with our fiscal sustainability, it needs to be dealt with on a permanent basis.

    I'm pleased that the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee today marked up legislation to address this issue in a permanent way.

    However, it is unconscionable that the budget deal before us today does not extend unemployment insurance, which helps those most at risk in our society.

    On December 28, 1.3 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance if we do not act, and they will be joined by an additional 3.5 million Americans in 2014.

    The house should not leave town without ensuring that individuals looking for work have the safety net of unemployment insurance.

    Finally, I am disappointed that this budget deal turns once again to middle class workers.

    Our nation's Federal Employees have already contributed $114 billion toward deficit reduction, and are being asked to contribute once again.

    Their contribution is less than what was being discussed last week, which is positive, but to continue targeting them is unacceptable outside of a big deal where everyone else is asked to contribute as well.

    This budget deal is a missed opportunity.

    It is a missed opportunity to replace the sequester in its entirety.

    It is a missed opportunity to, at long last, put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable path.

    That is why I will oppose this deal on the floor today, and continue advocating for the big, balanced budget deal we need to truly restore the long-term fiscal stability of our Nation.

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