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WASHINGTON, DC -- Following are the remarks delivered by Congressman Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, today on the floor of the House of Representatives, in opposition to the Democrat stimulus bill:
“Madam Speaker, we gather on this floor at a time just a few moments after the United States Senate has passed by a sufficient majority a spending bill, the intention of which is to stimulate this economy.
“But careful examination shows—and more Americans every day are realizing—that the only thing the Democrat stimulus bill will stimulate is more government and more debt.
“Let me say emphatically, House Republicans know two things with certainty: Number one, we are in a recession. American families are hurting—millions have lost their jobs and millions more worry that they’ll be next.
“But number two, Republicans also know this Congress must do something. Despite the fact that the President of the United States last night told the nation’s media and the American people that he disagreed with some in Congress who believe we should do nothing, let me say with great respect to our President: I know of no Republican Member of the House or Senate who believes that in these difficult times we should do nothing.
“I’d be prepared to stand corrected if the Administration would like to provide names; but a casual survey of Republican Members of the House and the Senate should instruct the American people that Republicans believe we should do something, but we also believe we should take time to get it right; that we should create a stimulus bill that is not—as the bills that have passed the House and the Senate now are—a long laundry list of worn-out liberal spending priorities, but is actually at its center a bill that will give working families and small business more of their hard-earned dollars to spend.
“At the President’s invitation, Republicans brought forward a Republican alternative which would give the average married couple a tax break this year of $3,400; we’d let small businesses write off up to 20 percent of their profits this year. This kind of tax relief is precisely the kind of tax relief that John F. Kennedy advanced to stave off an economic recession in the 1960’s; it’s what Ronald Reagan did to turn back an even more serious recession in early 1980’s; and after the towers fell in New York City and the Pentagon was struck on 9/11, it’s what this Congress did in a bipartisan way to turn around a downturn in our economy.
“Tax relief, when combined with some modest investment in infrastructure—that I believe Republicans, in the main, would support—is precisely the kind of stimulus that the American people want to see happen and it is not what was passed out of the House or the Senate.
“But I rise today with a hopeful note—that after some tough, partisan rhetoric in recent days—this Congress now with a conference committee will come together and will again embrace President Obama’s call for bipartisan input on this bill.
“Conference committees, for those looking in, are really the time when the House and Senate reconcile differences but sometimes they can be a fresh start in legislation, and our hope is that now we’ll be able to bring forward these time-honored, time-tested methods for growing our economy. And I believe the American people are with us.
“Yesterday in Indiana, I held a town hall meeting a little bit south of where the President was. Three hundred Hoosiers gathered at Donner Center in Columbus, IN, and I sensed—as was reported in the local paper today—a tremendous amount of skepticism about the idea that we can borrow and spend and bail our way back to a growing economy. There was tremendous support in that room for tax relief for small businesses and working families.
“But a little girl named Hilary rose and touched my heart. She said to me: ‘Congressman Pence, my dad is raising me and [her sibling] as a single parent. He just got his hours cut from 40 hours a week to 24. Is there anything in this bill that will get my dad his hours back?’
“I looked at her, with no small amount of emotion, and I said: ‘Hilary, because I can’t answer “yes” to that question; because I can’t tell you that something in the Democrat stimulus bill will help your dad get back to full-time, I can’t support this bill.’
“The American people are onto it—we need to come together in a bipartisan way and do what history teaches will get this economy growing again.”