(House of Representatives - July 20, 2011)

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[Pages H5242-H5243]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          DEBT CEILING DEBATE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Connecticut (Mr. Larson) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
  I want to start first of all by talking about the tenor of debate in 
this Chamber. Historically, we've had great debates in this Chamber. I 
think that the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is an honorable man 
who cares deeply about this institution, and I think on both sides of 
the aisle we have very intelligent people who care passionately about 
their beliefs. We have a Nation that's in the midst of the worst 
recession since the Great Depression. It prevails on us as Americans to 
come together and face the problems that our Nation is currently 
dealing with.
  You heard Representative Chu mention it earlier. Ronald Reagan did so 
at that time with a Democratic Speaker, Tip O'Neill. He did so by 
appealing to both Chambers about the need to come together, facing the 
daunting reality of defaulting for the first time on the country's full 
faith and credit and the impact that that would have on the global 
economy, on the Nation's economy, but I daresay, more importantly, on 
one's household economy. From my perspective as a Member here and going 
back home and listening to our constituents, I think that's the most 
important thing, is their household economies that are hanging in the 
balance here.
  Washington can oftentimes provide great theater and great back and 
forth, but we do not want this to become the theater of the absurd as 
our constituents look on in the pain and agony of being out of work and 
wondering whether or not their government is going to be there for 
  So I hope that we're able to pass a clean debt ceiling, as Ronald 
Reagan did 17 times, the same kind of thing that was afforded Bill 
Clinton and George W. Bush seven times most recently, so that we can 
get on with the concerns that we care deeply about: whether it's 
dealing with the national debt and dealing with the issues of spending 
and making cuts that will strategically grow the economy, or whether 
it's dealing with investing in the American people and making sure that 
revenues that come in do so to put America back to work, like the 
creation of an infrastructure bank funded

[[Page H5243]]

by the private and public sectors working together to create those much 
needed jobs, but essentially putting America back to work.
  I recently received a letter from one of my constituents, and I think 
this sums up the feeling of America. I want to read her words because 
they tell the story of all too many Americans:
  ``I'm worried, afraid for myself and all in my situation, and 
saddened. If I still have not been hired to work in the next few weeks, 
I will lose the financial ability to live in a room or an apartment and 
will lose the parts of my life that literally had to be placed in 
storage, most notably my family photos of my deceased parents, of my 
children, due to the lack of income or savings to pay the rental fees. 
I have no one who will take me in or who can afford to do this.''
  She went on to say, ``How can you not agree that this is comparable 
to a natural disaster when individual lives are at stake and left as if 
to be swallowed by an abyss of dark uncertainty?''
  These are the people of our country who we are sworn to serve. This 
debate is important on the floor. The debt ceiling could be lifted 
tomorrow, but the pain and agony of the American people are stated more 
eloquently by the people who are actually suffering, and when she says 
``to be swallowed up by an abyss of dark uncertainty,'' that is a moral 
obligation for us. Rather than talking about staying here over the 
weekend to make sure we deal with the debt ceiling and all the 
machinations that are going on between the two Chambers, let's stay 
here till we put America back to work. That's what we should be doing: 
out-innovating, out-building and out-educating the rest of the world.