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Pelosi Floor Speech Urging House Republicans to Stop ‘March Madness’ and Act to Prevent the Sequester

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to call on House Republicans to stop playing games with the sequester and act in a way worthy of the challenges confronting the American people.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Well if the Ravens and the 49ers fans can come together, hopefully so can the Democrats and the Republicans on an issue of this grave concern to our country, our budget, which should be a statement of our national values.  Instead, as Mr. Van Hollen said, we see the Republicans playing games with the budget.  Playing games, that’s what they have been doing and that’s what they continue to do as we go into this spring.  Well, we need to find solutions – playing games, it gives new meaning to the term ‘March Madness,’ because that’s what will result if we have to face a sequester.  It’s a very bad idea; a sequester should be out of the question; and we should be talking about how we find a solution instead of a sequester.

“Mr. Van Hollen offered a solution – here we have a debate on the budget, the blueprint for how we go forward, and the Rules Committee, dominated by the Republican majority, has said: ‘we won’t even let your proposal come to the floor, not in the form of an amendment or a substitute in any other way.’  And what are they afraid of?  They’re afraid of common sense because that is what Mr. Van Hollen’s, Mr. Van Hollen’s proposal is about.  It recognizes that we need to have spending cuts, in fact we’ve already agreed to $1.6 trillion in spending cuts in the Budget Control Act.  It recognizes that we must address the entitlement issue, in fact Democrats have already agreed to more than $1 trillion in Medicare savings to strengthen Medicare and to protect beneficiaries.

“So, with that as the basis, we go forward with the Van Hollen proposal, which is a very commonsense solution.  It says, it is a plan, it is a plan to replace [the] sequester.  It cuts further, makes further spending cuts in a responsible way.  It ends tax breaks for Big Oil and it ensures that millionaires pay their fair share.  Who could be opposed to that?  So, let’s get serious.  It’s time for us to get serious.  We have a serious challenge, we should be working in a bipartisan way to find a solution.  Instead, again, the Republicans are playing games leading up to what makes March Madness a term that would be inadequate to the consequences to our children – millions of whom will be affected in terms of their education and their well-being – to our seniors, to our veterans, to our safety in the streets in terms of cops on the beat.  The list of cuts across the board and a meat axe approach with no sense, commonsense given to it, is ridiculous.

“It’s ridiculous.  And let’s stop this march to folly, this March Madness, let’s get serious – let’s accept the President’s challenge that he put forth.  If we can’t have a big, bold, and balanced solution now, let’s at least do something that is balanced and bold as we go forward to the end of the fiscal year, as Mr. Van Hollen has proposed, so that we can do what is right for the American people instead of what is wrong for our economy.  What the Republicans are proposing is a blueprint for a downward spiral in our economy.  It’s irresponsible.  It does not have value in terms of being solution oriented.

“And I might add in conclusion, Madam Speaker, that I’m listening attentively to this debate and I hear my colleagues on the Republican side talking about how important it is to reduce the deficit, and we are in total agreement on that subject.  I think we have a moral obligation to reduce the deficit.  I think we have a moral obligation to create jobs and put people to work because growth, in addition to spending cuts and revenue increases, growth is what’s going to help us reduce the deficit.  But I didn’t hear one ‘boo’ out of any of the people, not one little ‘hoot,’ one little ‘peep,’ or any other sound [from] an endangered species, of the deficit hawk, would’ve made during President Bush’s term, when most of this deficit was amassed – tax cuts for the wealthiest people which did not create jobs but increased the deficit; giveaways to pharmaceutical companies with an ill-advised pharmaceutical plan; and two unpaid-for wars, two unpaid-for wars.  Just not fair to investments that we should be making in America’s future.  Whether it’s biomedical research to create cures and to keep America preeminent in terms of science.  Whether it’s, again, it’s invested in the seed corn and the education of our children, the list goes on and on. 

“The list goes on and on of all of the initiatives that are important to growth, to making our future brighter, to keeping America competitive, to keeping America number one.  So I urge a strong rejection of what the Republicans are proposing – it’s frankly, silly.  And as I said before, ‘unworthy of the challenge that our country faces and the bipartisan solution that we should be trying to achieve.’  I urge a ‘no’ vote and yield back the balance of my time.”