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Hoyer: Don’t Vote Against Your Country’s Full Faith and Credit

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon on legislation to address the debt limit. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video.  
Click here for the full video.
“I thank the Chairman for yielding. This is our debt. It is America’s debt. Now, I agree with the Chairman of the Rules Committee that some of this debt clearly accumulates from tax cuts – cutting our revenue before we cut our spending. Some of it relates to greater spending, promoted by both sides of the aisle. For any one of us to get up and say it's your debt – it is America's debt. And America pays its bills.   “Mr. Speaker, as a Member of Congress I have faced this question of raising or suspending the debt limit 49 times. This will be the 50th time since I was first asked to vote on this question when Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.   “Now, the Gentlelady is talking, Mr. Speaker, to her staff. But I want to say that the arguments that she offered with references to why it's [Democrats’] debt is specious. And I emphatically deny it, that assertion. It is our debt. We have different priorities. Different perspectives. Different mandates. But every time we cut revenues or we approve spending, we raise the debt limit. By the way, the Gentlelady was not here in the last Congress, but we accumulated $5.4 trillion in debt. And the Gentlelady may be reminded that [those bills] were passed in a bipartisan way to meet a crisis that we thought justified those expenditures.   “Mr. Speaker, my Republican friends across the aisle have been asked to take this same vote many times as well. And they voted ‘yes’ on those occasions and ‘no’ on others. Nobody has clean hands when it comes to the debt limit. We all tend to rationalize that it is somebody else's debt. Let me repeat, it is our debt, America's debt, and I will tell you this. I would hope that if only one of us of our 435, if only one of us had the decision to make as to whether we increase the debt limit or not, I hope that not a single one of us would say no. Now, collectively we apparently can rationalize saying no because somebody else will get it done. Somebody else will take the responsibility. Somebody else will act responsibly.   “Now, Mr. Speaker, previous speakers, I'm sure, although not here, perhaps have followed politics relatively closely. I have been here for a number of administrations. Ronald Reagan asked us to increase the debt. George H.W. Bush asked us to increase the debt. George W. Bush asked us to increase the debt. Barack Obama asked us to increase the debt. Donald Trump asked us to increase the debt, and now Joe Biden. Why? Because the catastrophic alternative is unacceptable. Perhaps nobody's listening. But every Secretary of the Treasury, Republican and Democrat, has written to the Congress of the United States and the American people and said: you must raise the debt, or we will invite recession or perhaps depression and global chaos in the fiscal marketplace. I don't see any animation from those who listen to that assertion, and I'm glad to have any one of them get up and try to deny that every President over the last forty years that I have been here has asked us not to put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk. Fifty times in forty years. Every time we made a determination, every time, Democrats and Republicans often together in common cause, that the full faith and credit of the United States must never even be questioned. The Fourteenth Amendment says that, Mr. Speaker.   “It has been our shared determination as responsible parties loyal to Constitution and country that the costs we have incurred on behalf of the American people must be paid. And so many of the Republicans will vote today not to do that and they will use some rationalization that they don't like this rule or this bill or that bill. Vote against them. But don’t vote against your country’s full faith and credit. Don't vote against your country's credit.

“Preventing a default was the obligation of Members from both parties together. That’s what all the Secretaries of the Treasury said. Sometimes, a number of us on one side or the other would vote against it to lodge our concerns about fiscal policies of the day – as long as it was clear that somebody else would get it done.   “Together, Democrats and Republicans would make sure the debt limit was raised or suspended when needed and that default was never a responsibility. I want to thank Representative Foster and Representative Boyle and others who have introduced legislation that would eliminate the debt ceiling all together. It is a phony issue. It is a fraud. It is fake news. And to think otherwise is intellectually not correct. We ought to think about eliminating this debt limit because all it does is have a threat to global instability. Something we ought to consider very seriously given how the debt limit has, in recent years, been dangerously weaponized by one party to hold the country hostage.   “Republicans first did that in 2011, even though they were in the House majority and the result was the first-ever downgrade of America’s credit rating. Of course, that same party sang a very different tune when it was in the White House. When Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office, Democrats were asked three times by your party to help not default on the debt and three times, Democrats overwhelmingly responded.   “Now, President Biden has asked us to do the same thing – take action on the debt limit to ensure that a default does not happen in the coming months. I don’t like this deal that the Senate has sent us. If I was voting on the merits of this deal, I would vote no. It’s a lousy deal. It holds hostage the debt and credit of the United States for another two months. And then we’re going to play this game one more time, a despicable and irresponsible act for adults who know better. And while it is a relief to so many American businesses and workers that the threat of default has now been pushed back just a little bit, that relief will surely be short-lived because we will find ourselves here again in a month's time faced with a same situation in which we found ourselves these past weeks. That did not happen during the Trump Administration because this side of the aisle was responsible. This side of the aisle knew the truth. This side of the aisle, not very happy with the President of the United States, but happy with America’s creditworthiness. One party has played partisan games with the full faith and credit of our country, refusing to act responsibly as we all have so many times before.   “Mr. Speaker, between now and December 3rd, America will be watching Leaders McCarthy and McConnell to see if they will lead their party down the responsible path or continue to play the game that has already pushed us to the brink of default. Let me be clear: I will urge my colleagues on my side of the aisle not to play that game in this administration or future administrations. This is not about politics, this is about responsibility. This is about our country. This is, indeed, about the global fiscal health. We will continue to do the responsible thing and urge a longer-term suspension of the debt limit so that we can get our country through the pandemic’s economic crisis and build back better.   “Even the possibility of a default, Mr. Speaker, risks harming our economic recovery. 194 sitting Democratic Members of this House, myself included, answered the call to help suspend the debt limit under President Trump and apparently, you don't care about that. You think, well, yes, that was the responsible thing to do when we had a Republican President, but not now when we have a Democratic President. I hope the voters of America think that hypocrisy is not acceptable. Others in our Caucus, who were not here at the time to take those votes, surely would have acted the same under the circumstances. 194 of us, not some few of us, 194 of us. The roll is going to be called and not up yonder, but here, and I hope so many of you are there when that roll is called.   “Leader McConnell knows it's the right thing to do. This is Senator McConnell's words: ‘Let me make it perfectly clear’ – hear me, my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, and hopefully our people, Mr. McConnell, the Minority Leader in the United States Senate, the Republican Leader – ‘let me make it perfectly clear,’ he said, ‘the country must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised.’ He didn't say unless you stop pushing your policies, Democrats, that you ran on, to help people, to help children, to help businesses. He didn't say that. He said the debt limit must be raised.   “In 2015, when Republicans were in the majority and asked Democrats to join them in voting to address the debt limit, this is [Leader McCarthy], the leader of the Republican Party on the [House] side, he said, quote, ‘When the United States makes promises, it keeps them, which is why the House voted today to avoid the threat of a debt default with the overwhelming majority of us joining in that responsible action.’   “I hope that Leaders McCarthy and McConnell and their House and Senate Republican colleagues will reject hypocrisy and embrace responsibility by joining with Democrats before – before -December 3rd to eliminate the threat of default this time, and before December 3rd, after this bill passes, to ensure that our country pays for what it has already bought.   “And I would simply add to the observation of the Rules Committee Chairman for whom I have great not only respect but affection. Mr. Chairman, we both went into that restaurant. We both got a steak. Neither one of us ought to leave without paying the bill. It wasn't just you that went and got a steak, we got a steak, too. And we both have the responsibility to pay for that steak. That’s what this vote is about. And do not hide behind some differences you may have on the three bills, as the Gentlelady, Mr. Speaker, referred us to. Don’t hide behind that.   “This is about whether or not we are going to be fiscally responsible or not. And you can vote against those bills when they come to the Floor – I'm going to bring all three to the floor, I will tell you that, and you can vote against them. But do not vote against the good faith and credit of the United States of America, our country. Don't hide behind some façade that somehow we created the debt and you had no responsibility. Don’t hide behind some façade that somehow, we’re going to offer something that has a whole lot of money coming to it. Because very frankly, if that was the case, Democrats would not have joined you under Donald Trump and raising the debt limit so we did not default. Vote as an American, not as a Republican or Democrat, vote as a responsible human being sent here by your neighbors and friends to do the right thing. You know in your right hearts, the right thing is to not allow this country's full faith credit to be compromised in any way and I yield back the balance of my time."