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Floor Speech on H.R. 5304, Extending Government Funding and Suspending Debt Limit

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 5304, which would extend government funding and suspend the debt limit.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:


Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentlewoman for yielding, the distinguished Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman DeLauro of Connecticut.  Thank you for bringing this important legislation to the Floor in such a substantial way for our country in such need.  


Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this Continuing Resolution, an essential step to keep government open, but it’s not about government.  It’s about the people, meeting their needs so that Congress can continue our work For The People, whether we’re talking about Social Security recipients, veterans, millions who have – needed to benefit from what we’re doing to address the health crisis in our country and the rest.  This legislation goes a long way to doing that.  


In fact, it is essential we keep government open.  A government shutdown, a government shutdown would be a very bad thing for our country, for our economic growth and for meeting the needs of the American people, as I suggested.  


This legislation secures government funding through December of this year, providing an appropriate amount of time for us to work in a bipartisan way, Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, to address appropriations priorities in the regular order process for Fiscal Year 2022.


While funding government and meeting the needs of people and avoiding a government shutdown – which would be catastrophic for families and the economy as we recover from the COVID pandemic and economic crisis – this legislation also meets other important priorities: helping American families devastated by recent natural disasters — earlier this evening, we had a moment of silence for all those who lost their lives, for their families, very sad, in Hurricane Ida throughout the country — and then, helping resettle Afghan evacuees fleeing danger.  My colleagues have spoken, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, about the need to do that and how important that is.  And we have a commitment in this House, on both sides of the aisle, among many of the women, both sides of the Capitol, to help the Afghan women any way that we can.  


Another previously – item previously prioritized in the Continuing Resolution is the funding for the Iron Dome.  I thank the Chairwoman for her leadership in bringing this legislation to the Floor this week to further express the will of Congress for the security of Israel manifested in funding for the Iron Dome.  Thank you so much for that.


Mr. Speaker, crucially, this funding will also include the suspension of the debt limit through December 2022.  Addressing the debt limit is about protecting the full faith and credit of the United States, which Founders wrote into the Constitution.  In the 14th Amendment, Section IV states, ‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned.’  


This is not about future spending.  Some would like to give the impression that we’re just doing this – no, this is about paying bills already incurred, including the Social Security recipients, again, veterans and millions who have benefited from the bipartisan COVID relief legislation passed last December.  

As I said before, Congress is ironclad in its commitment to never letting the full faith of the credit of the United States come under threat, a commitment that has long been bipartisan.


Indeed, our approach in this CR to the debt limit is modeled after legislation proposed by GOP Senators in recent years.  

Since 2011, each of the seven times that the debt limit has been needed to be addressed, Congress has done so on a bipartisan basis, including three times during the Trump Administration, when the debt, during the Trump Administration, rose by $7.8 trillion.  Again, much of that incurred in terms of the full – honoring our commitment on COVID, but a very big chunk of it in a Tax Scam that gave 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent.  It should be noted that just three percent of the current debt has been accumulated under the Biden Administration. 


Threatening to force the United States into default would be reckless and dangerous beyond measure.  The last time the Republicans tried this a number of years ago, even the thought of not honoring the full faith and credit lowered our credit rating. 


The failure to address the debt limit would be, as Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen recently stated — ‘Have absolutely catastrophic economic consequences… It would be utterly unprecedented and would precipitate a financial crisis.  It would threaten the jobs and savings of Americans at a time when we are still recovering from the COVID epidemic.’  


A study released just today found that failure to address the debt limit would cost the U.S. economy up to six million jobs, wipe out potentially $15 trillion in household wealth, make borrowing rates skyrocket and send the unemployment rates surging up to nine percent, almost twice the level it is now.  As the report states, the situation would be ‘cataclysmic‘ and ‘comparable to that suffered during the financial crisis’ of 2008. 


Indeed, this situation would be ‘financial Armageddon,’ according to Mark Zandi of Moody’s.  And it could ‘cause an immediate, literally cascading catastrophe of unbelievable proportion and damage America for 100 years,’ according to JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. 


You know, as I mentioned before, this has always been bipartisan.  Not everybody on every side of the aisle has always voted for it, but nobody would let it fail. 


In 2019, when supporting a suspension of the debt ceiling under President Trump, Leader McConnell stated – while supporting suspension of the debt – he stated, ‘Doing so secures our nation’s full faith and credit and ensures the Congress will not throw this kind of unnecessary wrench into the gear of our job growth and thriving economy.’  If it was true then, why isn’t it true now?  Why would Senator McConnell reverse his position and decide to throw an unnecessary wrench into the gears of our job growth and thriving economy?  


Today, the stakes remain high and they remain the same, and I urge all Members to come together in the spirit of bipartisanship to protect the full faith and credit of the United States. 


And, I also want to, again, thank the Committee and the distinguished Chair and bipartisan conversations that you have had settling some internal aspects of this legislation, some of the important provisions in it. 


Remember, we cannot shut down government.  That would be catastrophic in its own right.  We cannot ignore and not support the full faith and credit of the United States of America. 


Right in this Constitution of the United States, the 14th Amendment, Section IV: ‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned.’  The Constitution says that.  Why should the Congress question that?  


With that, I urge a strong bipartisan vote for the Continuing Resolution and yield back the balance of my time.  I yield back.


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