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James M.
Democrat MA 2

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  • Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.J. Res. 59, Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014

    by Representative James P. McGovern

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    McGOVERN. I thank the ranking member for yielding me the time.

    Mr. Speaker, let me, first of all, begin by congratulating Congressman Ryan, Congressman Van Hollen, and Senator Murray for coming together and trying to work out a bipartisan budget deal. It is far from what I would deem as perfect, but it begins to chip away at this awful sequestration that my Republican friends seem to be so enamored of.

    But I want to come here on the floor to echo what the ranking member said in terms of expressing outrage over the fact that my Republican friends want to leave town without addressing the issue of extending unemployment compensation for 1.3 million Americans.

    They are going to leave town tomorrow; and on December 28, after they have opened up all their presents and wished everybody a merry Christmas and had a wonderful dinner, on December 28, 1.3 million of our fellow citizens will be cut off totally from their unemployment compensation.

    I want to put this in perspective.

    On November 1, the American Recovery Act funds ran out, in terms of supporting the SNAP program, which means that everybody on SNAP has received a cut. So the average family of three, Mr. Speaker, received a $30 reduction in their SNAP benefits. That is their food benefit. That is about 16 meals.

    It may not sound like a big deal to some of my friends on the other side of the aisle; but for millions of family in this country who are struggling just to put food on the table, it is a big deal.

    On top of that, they are going to say to these 1.3 million people and their families, We don't care. We don't care. We are leaving town.

    And since when did my Republican friends have to wait for a bicameral, bipartisan deal on anything to bring this to the floor? They brought a repeal of the Affordable Care Act to the floor about four dozen times.

    Since when do they wait to get a backroom deal with the Senate before we are allowed to vote on something on the House floor? That is an excuse, and it is a poor excuse.

    We ought to be doing the people's business, and that means not turning our backs on millions of Americans who are struggling during this difficult economy. We ought not to be making excuses. We ought to do something, and this is an opportunity to do it.

    Defeat the previous question, as the ranking member said, and we can have a vote on extending unemployment compensation for these 1.3 million people. And it is paid for.

    If you don't want to do it, you can vote ``no.'' But for those of us in this Chamber who believe we have a moral obligation to those people, we want that vote. And let us vote for the extension and then send it over to the Senate.

    Let's take some leadership on this issue. Let's not turn our backs on the most vulnerable in this country. It has become unfashionable in this country to worry about the poor. It has become unfashionable to stand up for these programs just to help people get by. This is the holiday season. Have a heart.

    We ought to do something here. We ought to help these people and not just skip town. So there are no excuses.

    I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote ``no'' on the previous question. Let us vote on extending unemployment compensation, and let us do the right thing. Let's not make excuses.

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