(House of Representatives - November 19, 2013)

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[Page H7192]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           BUDGET CONFERENCE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Maryland (Mr. Hoyer) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, we have 10 days left in this year's session, 
according to the schedule. We are supposed to adjourn on December 13--
somewhat ironically, Friday the 13th; and yet, Mr. Speaker, we see time 
is running out and we are not addressing the critical issue and the 
critical responsibility of funding the government and of applying 
resources to our priorities.
  Time is running out, Mr. Speaker, for budget conferees to send us 
legislation so we can avoid another government shutdown in January.
  A budget conference agreement will require compromise from both 
sides--a step that Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and many of his colleagues 
seem unprepared to take.
  Mr. Speaker, it has been my premise that the reason we did not go to 
conference for the last 7 months, notwithstanding the fact that the 
Senate passed a budget and the House passed a budget, is that Chairman 
Ryan knows there is no compromise that he could reach that he could 
bring back and have the support of his colleagues on the Republican 
side; and as a result, we have no compromise. As a result, we have no 
product to consider.
  This is an extremely disappointing position, Mr. Speaker, because it 
is clear that the Ryan budget is not a viable blueprint for governing. 
It was not when we passed it, and it is not now. It was a pretense of 
fiscal responsibility without any of the substance of fiscal reality or 
courage. That fact was made evident this summer as Republicans could 
only pass funding bills for defense and veterans programs, pulling 
their transportation funding bill and not even bringing the other 
appropriations bills to the floor.
  Yesterday, all 12 of the Republican subcommittee chairs of the 
Appropriations Committee sent a letter to Paul Ryan, Chris Van Hollen, 
Senator Murray, and Senator Sessions, saying, We need to have a budget. 
We need to have a compromise agreement; and we need to have a sequester 
number eliminated and a rational number replacing it--a number that can 
work for America.
  In fact, they said, If you don't do it, we are going to have to have 
a meat-ax--their verbiage, not mine, Mr. Speaker--not only on the 
domestic side of the budget--education, health care, the environment, 
law enforcement--but also on the national security side of the budget.
  We all know how the budget that was offered by Mr. Ryan achieves 
balance--severe cuts, in the same vein as the irrational sequester, 
that target the most vulnerable Americans and place our economic 
recovery in jeopardy.
  It is somewhat ironic that on the front page of The Washington Post 
today we see where Mr. Ryan was not focused on the budget; he is 
focused on the poor. That is a proper focus, and this Congress ought to 
be focused on that. But it is interesting that the Ryan budget does 
exactly the opposite of what we need to do to make sure that the poor 
are reduced in number and the middle class are expanded in number.
  That is why, in my view, Mr. Speaker, regarding this budget, so many 
of his own party could not support appropriations bills within the 
framework of the Ryan budget. That is why the bills were not brought to 
the floor.
  Already, some Republicans are admitting that only a balanced approach 
will enable us to achieve the level of deficit reduction we need; and 
contrary to Mr. Ryan's view, this means that revenues--that hated 
word--must be on the table.
  Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the former chairman of the 
Republican Campaign Committee is one of them, telling reporters on 
October 25:

       I think both sides would like to deal with the sequester. 
     And we're willing to put more revenue on the table to do 

  Mr. Cole was one of the signers of that letter to which I referred 
that said, Let's replace the meat-ax represented by the sequester. 
Unfortunately, Chairman Ryan continues to rule out any talk of 
revenues, which is the key to any meaningful compromise that will 
replace the sequester.
  Mr. Speaker, as you probably know and as I think my Republicans 
colleague know, I have said now and I have said in the past that we 
must also deal with entitlements. We need a balanced plan, not an 
unbalanced plan; but without a balanced plan, the sequester will remain 
in place, and it will hurt America.
  Instead of just saying what he is against, it is time for Mr. Ryan 
and Republicans to show a readiness to compromise to achieve results 
for the American people.
  Mr. Ryan is the chairman of the conference committee. Yet he has to 
this date not put on the table what chairmen always do--the chairman's 
mark, chairman's suggestion, or chairman's proposal.
  Democrats have been clear that we are willing to compromise and are 
ready to do what it takes to achieve a balanced and bipartisan deal on 
the budget. This was evident when we voted unanimously alongside 87 
Republicans to end the government shutdown, even when it meant 
supporting a continuing resolution--an appropriations bill for the 
government--at a level we believed was too low. But we understood 
compromise was necessary. And so all 198 Democrats voted to open up the 
government and to pay America's bills, while 147 Republicans--
approximately 62 percent of the Republicans--voted to keep the 
government shut down and to not pay America's bills.
  I was encouraged to read the letter sent yesterday, as I said, by 
Chairman Rogers and the Appropriations Subcommittee chairs, making 
clear how important it is for conferees to send us a budget by 
Thanksgiving--that would have to be this Friday, because we are not 
going to be here next week--rather than risk another painful shutdown 
and the continuation of the irrational sequester this coming year.
  Many Republicans now agree with Democrats that the sequester is 
  Who says so? Mr. Ryan says he doesn't like the sequester. Mr. Cantor, 
the majority leader, says he doesn't like the sequester. And Hal Rogers 
has said it is unworkable and inadvisable.
  The Budget Conference has a larger mission than to simply rearrange 
the sequester's severe cuts. This is an opportunity to replace the 
sequester with a sensible approach that permits Congress to look 
strategically at our budget priorities and our long-term fiscal and 
economic goals. If we do so, in my view, it will be the most important 
stimulus of our economy and job-creating action that this Congress 
could take.
  Mr. Speaker, I hope that Chairman Ryan will set his flawed budget 
aside and instead embrace the approach that many of his Republican 
colleagues are already recognizing is the only realistic path toward a 
compromise by this committee. To do so could usher in a historic 
agreement to achieve real fiscal responsibility for America for years 
to come. I hope Mr. Ryan's leadership will result in that objective.