A picture of Representative Paul Tonko
Paul T.
Democrat NY 20

About Rep. Paul
  • The Do-Nothing Republican Majority

    by Representative Paul Tonko

    Posted on 2013-12-10

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    TONKO. Mr. Speaker, well, here we go again. Our to-do list continues to pile up and Republican House leadership of this legislative body--if we can even use words like ``leadership'' and ``legislative'' to describe the House anymore--has officially cemented the first session of the 113th Congress as the ``least productive of all time.'' We have not passed a budget, have not passed a farm bill, have not fixed the Voting Rights Act, or done anything in our charge to make the people's voices heard in their Nation's Capital. In fact, if recent reports in the D.C. newspapers are any indication, House leadership seems to be more concerned with planning fund-raisers in New York City than getting anything done here in Washington, D.C.

    The leadership of the people's House has continued to govern by sound bites and passing messaging bills that go nowhere--even shutting down the government for more than 2 weeks in the process, a painful exercise and expensive exercise.

    But we are about to call it a year and skip town with so much left undone. Our unemployment--or employment--rate is at its lowest point in 5 years. But imagine how much lower it would be today if we would work together and focus on jobs instead of attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act since 2011; Rolling back sequestration and replacing it with a responsible budget that cuts where we can and invests where we must; Passing comprehensive immigration reform to expand the American Dream to our friends and neighbors who want so desperately to contribute to the greatest country on the planet; Updating the Voting Rights Act so that everyone is able to fulfill their basic human right and duty of going to the polls; Increasing the minimum wage to restore dignity to those who have been forced to work two, and sometimes three, jobs simply to put food on the table; Passing a farm bill--something that needs to be done and used to be routine--and empowering our Nation's family farms to ensure that our national food supply remains secure and remains plentiful; Focusing on the clear and present danger that climate change has brought to the Midwest and to our shores along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast.

    I could go on and on, but I only have 5 minutes.

    Tax reform, certainly commonsense gun reform like expanding background checks, and passing ENDA.

    The fact is that there are about 10 to 15 pieces of major legislation that would improve our country and the quality of life for Americans of every race, orientation, political party, and socioeconomic status. But they are not being pushed by this House.

    Almost all of these bills, if given a simple up-or-down vote, would pass with a bipartisan majority; but House leadership continues to act in the interest of a few extremists in their own party instead of doing what is right for our American people.

    I, like many of my Democratic colleagues, have signed onto a resolution introduced by my good friend Louise Slaughter, which would prevent Congress from adjourning unless the House agrees to a budget by December 13.

    I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this resolution so that we stay in town until we perform at least one of our basic duties before leaving for the holidays. The American people deserve so much more than what we have given them in the past year.

    It is my hope that when we gavel in next year, we will do so with a renewed willingness to work together and focus on the top priority for Americans, which is, indeed, putting people back to work. The American public expects and deserves nothing less.


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