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Chris V.
Democrat MD 8

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  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 444, Require Presidential Leadership and No Deficit Act

    by Representative Chris Van Hollen

    Posted on 2013-02-05

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    VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, Mr. McGovern, who said it exactly right. This unfortunately is another political gimmick we've seen from our Republican colleagues, and it is exactly why the American people hate this Congress so much.

    Rather than doing something to create jobs, rather than doing something to help support the economy, this does absolutely nothing other than point fingers at the President because his budget is a little late and then tell the President that he has to submit a budget that meets the Republican requirements rather than what we've done with every other President, which gives them the ability to present the budget they like.

    With respect to the delay, our Republican colleagues know very well what the cause of that delay was. The cause of the delay was we were working very hard to try and avoid the fiscal cliff, which would have hurt jobs and the economy.

    I'm not surprised some of our Republican House colleagues have forgotten about that because they overwhelmingly voted against the fiscal cliff agreement, which by the way was supported by the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans. But here in the House, Republicans in great numbers said that they would rather risk the economy and risk jobs than ask the very wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more.

    {time} 1340 That's why the fiscal cliff agreement took so long. We didn't get it done until January 2. I would hope my colleagues on the Budget Committee [[Page H359]] know, if you're putting together a budget, you need to know what you're spending, but you also need to know what your revenues are. Until we were able to get that agreement, the President didn't know what the revenues were. Nonpartisan groups, like the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Tax, were also delayed in their assessments. These are nonpartisan groups.

    Now, the shame of it is, instead of playing these political games, we should do what my colleagues have said we should do in that we should be focused on avoiding the sequester--the meat-ax, across-the-board cuts. This House has taken no action in this Congress, in this 113th Congress, to deal with that, so we on the Democratic side said, Hey, let's give our Members an opportunity to vote on something to replace the sequester and to do it in a balanced way so that we don't hurt the economy and so that we don't put jobs at risk.

    We brought a substitute amendment to the Rules Committee that would have prevented those across-the-board cuts, that would have replaced them with balanced and sensible alternatives like, for example, eliminating direct payments in agricultural subsidies, like getting rid of the taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies, that we would replace the across-the-board, meat-ax cuts, which would do great harm to our economy, with those sensible measures.

    The response from our Republican colleagues: You don't get a vote. You don't get a vote. They rushed to the floor a measure that hadn't had a single hearing, that did not go through the regular order; and in keeping with that philosophy, we don't even get a vote on something that is important to the American people, which is to replace the across-the-board sequester, which we know is going to hurt jobs because we just heard from the last quarter economic report that even the fear of those across-the-board cuts was having a damaging impact on the economy, even the fear of it. Now, within less than a month, it's going to happen, and here we're talking about a political gimmick bill instead of something that does something real, and we are not even allowed a chance to vote on a proposal to replace the sequester.

    Vote against it if you want. Vote against it. That's the way the democratic process works, but allow this House to work its will.

    When this House worked its will, we were able to get a fiscal agreement passed and were able to avoid going over the cliff and hurting the economy. Let's do the same thing now. Let's just have a vote, up or down, on the merits of a substitute proposal rather than playing games with this very unfortunate proposal that does nothing but play politics.

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