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Chairman Smith Floor Remarks: Fiscal Responsibility Act

May 31, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“This debate was a long time coming. Not because it’s complicated, but because Democrats couldn’t accept the solution.


“We are here at the 11th hour finally dealing with the debt limit on a bipartisan basis because President Biden apparently needed 100 days to pick up the phone and talk to Republicans.


“During those 100 days, the case for cutting spending as part of a debt ceiling increase has only grown stronger. We have seen the worst inflation crisis in a generation – the direct result of reckless spending – continue to rob the pocketbooks of working families. We have seen interest rates continue to rise, driving up the cost of purchasing a car, a house, or small business loan. Interest payments on our national debt are $110 billion higher over the first seven months of this fiscal year than they were over the same time last fiscal year. In other words, runaway spending is adding to our debt crisis on the front end and the back end.


“Something else occurred during those 100 days. House Republicans took action.


“While the White House was saying they would only accept a blank check debt ceiling increase – an idea that did not and does not have the votes even in a Senate controlled by the President’s own party — House Republicans passed a responsible plan to address the debt ceiling while cutting spending and supporting American workers. We acted on behalf of working families that are tired of paying more to put gas in their cars, clothes on their backs, and food on their table. We acted on behalf of the small business owners who are desperate to remove the help wanted signs in their storefront windows. And we acted on behalf of the families trapped on government assistance to help provide them with a path to a more prosperous future.


“One has to wonder: what was President Biden waiting for? A massive slowdown in the economy? Well, we got that too. In the first quarter of this year, economic growth slowed significantly to just over 1 percent.


“But these data points do not tell the full story. To get that, you have to go out into the communities across this country and listen to those on the frontlines of this economy. At the Ways and Means Committee, we have done just that. From West Virginia to Oklahoma, Georgia to New York, we have listened to American workers, families, farmers, and small business owners who have shared their concerns and their solutions – and at the heart of so much of what we have heard is the simple message: stop spending money we do not have on policies that do not work.


“According to a recent survey, 60 percent of the American people say that an increase in the nation’s debt limit ought to be accompanied by a reduction in the nation’s spending.


“The Fiscal Responsibility Act is a step in responding to that request. It does much of what Republicans said we would do: put a check on Washington spending; claw back the pandemic-era funding that everyone should agree is no longer needed; take a bite out of the IRS’s recent $80 billion pay raise; severely dampen the regulatory administrative state; and lift more Americans out of poverty through common sense work requirements for those who can work.


“Does this bill do everything folks might want? No. But I’m reminded of a quote by Thomas Jefferson where he said, in part, ‘the ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, that we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time, and eternally press forward for what is yet to get.’


“This bill keeps alive the precedent that was set decades ago and has been upheld by Republicans and Democrats alike – even President Biden when he was a Senator and when he was Vice President. And that is: when it comes to addressing the nation’s debt limit, Congress and the White House need to come to the table to also help address the nation’s debt crisis.”