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Pelosi Floor Speech on Pay-As-You-Go Legislation

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in strong support of  the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, which requires Congress to offset the costs of tax cuts or increases in entitlement spending with savings elsewhere in the budget, thereby restoring fiscal discipline to the federal government. The bill passed the House by a vote of 265 to 166. Below are the Speaker's remarks: 

“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman [Mr. Spratt] for yielding and I thank him for his masterful leadership of the Budget Committee. He is indeed a great American. He has put forth earlier this year a budget, which is a statement of our national values, about what is important to the American people, as being manifested in our priorities in that budget.  It's a budget that is designed to reduce the deficit, to create jobs, to give tax cuts to the middle class, and to have three of its pillars, to turn the economy around -- education, health care, and energy.

“And today, as part of that framework of fiscal responsibility, under his leadership, this legislation is coming to the floor.

“I would also like to acknowledge our distinguished Majority Leader, Mr. Hoyer, for being relentless in his pursuit of this legislation. He has long supported it and I don't think we would be here today without his determination.

“We just heard from Mr. Baron Hill, an author of the legislation, a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House. The Blue Dog Coalition came together with the organizing principle of fiscal responsibility. We all owe them a debt of gratitude because it has become the mantra of the Congress. We will not increase the deficit.

“Mr. Hill spoke as a policymaker and as a new grandfather and that is a very important perspective -- a new grandfather. As a grandmother with many grandchildren for a long period of time, I know that we have a moral responsibility not to heap mountains of debt onto our grandchildren.

“And today, we will be able to put into place a statute -- not just as a rule of the House, which we did when we took control of the House as Democrats -- but now as a statute.

“I want to pay homage to Mr. George Miller, a progressive Democrat -- a leader in the Congress for many years. Long before I came to Congress, I was reading about Mr. Miller introducing PAYGO legislation in the Congress, and I'm talking about 30 years ago. And I do remember going in 1982, not as a Member of Congress, to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.  It was a mid-term conference, in between nominating conventions for President.

“And Mr. Miller, at that 1982 convention, introduced as a resolution, a PAYGO resolution, which succeeded at that convention, and became part of the Democratic platform -- and then again, as I said, introduced that legislation into the Congress. It wasn't until a number of years later that it was implemented and during the Clinton years, the PAYGO formula was what took us out of the debt of the Reagan-Bush years, and into a trajectory of surplus into the future. The last four Clinton budgets were in surplus.

“Now we're back in deficit due to the excesses of the reckless economic policies of the Bush years. We must dig our way out again. We must sweep up behind and this is a way -- Statutory PAYGO legislation, is a way to get that done.

“I reiterate, when the Democrats took control of the Congress, we made it a rule of the House that we had to abide by pay-as-you-go. Now, we have a President of the United States who is committed to sign this legislation and we are able to pass it, not as a rule of the House, but as a statute, as a law of the land.

“And I thank Mr. Baron Hill, Mr. George Miller, Mr. Steny Hoyer, and you, Mr. Chairman, for making all of this possible.

“It's a very important day for our country because it is a day when the Congress of the United States says to the American people: We will be accountable. We have said it, we have done it, and now we will make it a statute of the law of the land.

“So again, I urge our colleagues. I hope we have a good strong vote across the political spectrum and the Democratic Party from right to left and hopefully across the aisle -- so that we can have all of those who claim to support this fiscal responsibility, placing their vote behind this important legislation.

“If the idea is that you want to persuade the nation that cutting taxes is a way to grow our economy -- those tax cuts must be paid for. If we want to say that we want to increase entitlement spending, we must pay for that. And if we do not, there are consequences. There are consequences. And that is what is important about this legislation. We either pay-as-we-go, or as we say, go into sequestration, have across the board cuts, a draconian measure that must be avoided and here is the way to do it.

“So I urge my colleagues of both sides of the aisle to support Statutory PAYGO as a tribute to those who fought this fight for so many years, and as an obligation to our children and our grandchildren.”