Providing for Consideration of H.R. 444, Require Presidential Leadership and No Deficit Actby Representative Michael C. Burgess
Posted on 2013-02-05
BURGESS. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
This is an important discussion that we're having today, and I urge my colleagues to vote for the rule and to vote for the underlying bill that follows.
Look, the President is going to be here talking to us next week. He'll deliver his State of the Union address. He will do so without a plan on the table. There will be no budget. We will not know about the proposals that are put forward as to whether or not they're reasonable in the context of outlays and allocations. We just simply don't know.
The underlying bill that is being discussed today is that, when the President does submit that plan, when the administration does submit that plan, if that plan does not come into balance within a reasonable period of time--10 years, I think, any American would say would be a reasonable period of time--give us an idea as to when you think that will happen. After all, when there was a campaign being run in 2008, the Presidential candidate for the Democrats said that he'd cut the deficit in half in 4 years, and we're still waiting. We would like to see the plan that is going to achieve these goals.
We're also hearing a lot of talk today about the sequester. It's not the purpose of this legislation to deal with the sequester. We did have reconciliation bills on the floor of this House in May and then again in December. We had a bill dealing with the expiration of the Tax Codes right before the August recess. So there were opportunities to talk about the fiscal cliff. I, for one, felt that the delay in the sequester on January 1 was not in the country's best interest.
These were the cuts that the Congress promised to the American people. When the debt limit was raised in August of 2011, this was the promise that was made, and it was a promise that was made by the President. It was proposed by people within the administration. The bill was signed into law by the President. The President cannot now come back and retroactively veto a bill that has already been signed. This is settled law, and these are cuts on which the American people are depending. They're depending on us to keep our word.
It's very difficult to cut spending. It's very difficult to cut the budget. Every line in the Federal budget has a constituency. Every line in every appropriations bill has a constituency somewhere that cares deeply about that language being retained. So, when all else fails, an across-the-board cut may be the only way that you can ever achieve that spending restraint.
Now, I understand that the White House does not agree with the Republican House that there is a spending problem. They think it's a revenue problem. Well, great. Put that in writing. Put it in the budget. Tell us when that revenue that you wish to achieve will bring this budget into balance. I, for one, don't think it's possible, but I would like to see the academic exercise of their at least trying to get it to balance at some point in the future.
Then, finally, Mr. Speaker, may I just say--and I hate to give a history lesson--when the Republicans were in the minority in this House, there was a very large bill that was passed, and it was called the Affordable Care Act. This was a bill that did not receive a hearing in the House of Representatives. To be sure, H.R. 3200 had received a markup in a hearing in the House, but H.R. 3590, although it had a House bill number, was not a House bill. It was a housing bill that passed the House of Representatives in July of 2009 and went over to the Senate. It was completely changed in the Senate Finance Committee, and this was the bill that came to the House of Representatives on which we had to vote in a very short period of time. No amendments were allowed. It was a very closed process. I was in the Rules Committee that night. I remember the ranking member being there, and the good ideas that I thought I brought forward were all excluded from discussion.
So don't lecture me about the process that this bill was rushed and didn't have a hearing. For heaven's sake, we have a bill that is now signed law that will cost $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years that never had a hearing in this House. That's the travesty, and that's why we have to deal with spending.