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James M.
Democrat MA 2

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  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 325, No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

    by Representative James P. McGovern

    Posted on 2013-01-23

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    McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas, the new chairman of the Rules Committee, Mr. Sessions, for yielding me the customary 30 minutes.

    I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    (Mr. McGOVERN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.) Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me say to my colleagues, both Democratic and Republican colleagues, that they ought to vote against this rule. The bill before us today was not the product of deliberation in either the Ways and Means Committee or the House Administration Committee. There were no hearings. It was brought before the Rules Committee last night, and not a single amendment was made in order. This is a closed rule.

    {time} 0930 So if my friend from Texas wants to usher in a new policy of openness in this Congress, we should have had this rule open so that Members could have an opportunity to express themselves and to have their viewpoints made known. But, again, it is a completely closed rule.

    So this rule should be defeated. It should go back to the Rules Committee. We ought to come back with something that allows this Chamber to be able to do its deliberation.

    And Mr. Speaker, we ought to be here today to raise the debt ceiling, not because we like the idea of raising the debt ceiling, but because that's the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for our country and for our economy.

    It is the right thing to do for the businesses of this country, so that they have some certainty that we will not default on our debts. And if they had that certainty, they would then invest in our economy and help create more jobs and help create more opportunity for people.

    You know, one of the things I have heard from Republicans and Democrats who I've bumped into at all types of occasions, they may have differences on our tax policy, they may have differences on our economic policy, but the one thing that everybody seems to agree on is that Congress ought to provide certainty. And this is anything but certainty, because what we are doing today, thanks to the Republican leadership, is to bring a short-term extension of the debt ceiling to the floor, which means that they have decided, once again, to play partisan politics with the debt ceiling.

    This is a bad idea. This is not the way a mature governing body ought to behave. We ought to do our job.

    Next month the United States will hit the debt ceiling and, without action, the United States will default on its debts. Now, the last time the Republican leadership played this dangerous game of economic Russian roulette, they threatened the full faith and credit of the United States for the first time in our history. For some reason they seem hell-bent on doing it again.

    We need to be clear about one thing. The debt limit is not about new spending, it's not about increasing the deficit. The debt limit is simply the way Congress pays for things that we have already bought, things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, by the way, that my friends on the other side continue to insist that we don't pay for; it just goes on a credit card. Things like the Medicare prescription drug benefit that was not paid forward that my friends on the other side of the aisle championed, things that the Republicans have voted for over and over and over again.

    Now, we can and we should have an open and thoughtful debate about our spending priorities and our deficit. That is what we're supposed to do. But playing games with the debt limit, threatening to default, should not be an option. But that's just what the bill before us does. It, once again, kicks the can down the road.

    Now, instead of passing a clean, long-term debt ceiling bill, one that could ensure that America doesn't default on its debt and obligations, the Republicans have chosen to bring a bill up that would put us right back in the same place that we're in now in May, 3 months from now.

    So what's next, Mr. Speaker? A 3-week extension of the debt ceiling? Three days? Three hours? My Republican friends go on and on about how the business community needs and deserves certainty from Washington, but treating the full faith and credit of the United States like just another political talking point is no way to create certainty.

    How ironic, Mr. Speaker, that the Republican Party, the party that took [[Page H229]] a record surplus and turned it into a record deficit, the party that put two major wars on the Nation's credit card, the party that refused to pay for two rounds of tax cuts and a massive, expansive prescription drug benefit, now wants to pay its bills. Now wants to pay its bills.

    The same group of people that got us into this mess are now telling us that they want to get us out of this mess. The fact is, on the issue of the deficit and on the issue of the debt, my friends on the other side of the aisle, I do not believe, have any credibility.

    You know, there's an old show business saying, Mr. Speaker: you got to have a gimmick. And my Republican friends never cease to disappoint me. They always have a gimmick. They believe in government by gimmicks. And this No Budget, No Pay bill is another gimmick.

    Let's kind of play this out. What their bill says is if the House doesn't pass a budget bill by April 15, we don't get paid. If the Senate doesn't pass a budget bill by April 15, they don't get paid.

    Now, I have no doubt that they have the votes to ram whatever they want through the House of Representatives, and I expect that they will bring us yet another budget bill that has the same extreme, excessive spending cuts in programs that benefit the middle class and poor that they brought before us last year. So I think they will bring a bill to the floor.

    And let's say the Senate does bring a budget bill to the floor and they pass it. This bill does not require that there be a conference report that is voted on by both the House and the Senate as a condition of whether or not Members get paid.

    So, again, this is not a solution. What this is just more political gamesmanship. You pass something in the House that may be totally irreconcilable, something that will never be able to be conferenced with the Senate. Senate, you pass whatever you want, it doesn't have to be conferenceable with the House, and there we are. And there we are, 3 months from now, in the same position that we are in now.

    You know, the way this should be done, and I know this is a radical idea, but the way this should be done is the leadership of the Republican side should speak with the leadership of the Democratic side, and let's see if we can kind of agree on a way to proceed. There ought to be serious discussions.

    I'll also point out for my colleagues and for those who are watching, there were a couple of occasions over the last year and a half where Speaker Boehner came very close to coming to agreement with the White House on a bigger deal. And on those two occasions the Speaker walked away and said no after he came very close to saying yes.

    Why did he say no? It had nothing to do with the Senate not having passed a budget resolution. It had everything to do with the fact that when the Speaker came back and talked to his Republican rank-and-file Members, they all said no. They said no. It doesn't cut Medicare enough. It doesn't cut Social Security enough. It doesn't cut food stamps enough. It doesn't cut education enough. It doesn't cut job creation enough.

    There are people on the other side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker, who are using this not as an opportunity to balance our budget, but they're using this as an opportunity to gut government, to end the public sector. They see this as their opportunity. And as a result, we have this uncertainty. And as a result, the American people pay the price. As a result, this economy is not recovering as quickly as it needs to be.

    I would urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this rule, this closed rule. This is not the way we should begin this session.

    Mr. Speaker, I would urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, enough of the gimmicks. It's time to get serious about doing the people's business, and this is not doing the people's business.

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