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Chairman Yarmuth’s Remarks Before House Rules Committee in Support of H.R. 1868

Mar 16, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth, Chair of the House Budget Committee, testified before the House Rules Committee in support of H.R. 1868, "To prevent across-the-board direct spending cuts, and for other purposes." Remarks as prepared are below:

Members of the Committee, the bill language before us today is familiar. Over the past year, Congress has delivered multiple critical and necessary COVID relief packages to address the real emergencies facing the American people and our economy. Each time, Statutory PAYGO was waived because Members on both sides of the aisle understood the dire need for relief as well as the dire impact sequestration would have on our nation’s seniors, students, and farmers.

Because PAYGO requirements cannot be changed in reconciliation bills, an additional legislative fix is needed to avert these painful and indiscriminate cuts to Medicare, farm supports, and other programs. Today’s bill will ensure the American Rescue Plan is treated the same as previous relief measures, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, and can be considered the final step in this reconciliation process.

This final step was also needed in 2017, when Republicans used reconciliation to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Following the bill’s party-line passage in both the House and Senate, Republicans proposed this same legislative fix – and Democrats voted with them to avoid harmful across-the-board cuts despite our opposition to the tax cuts. Even in the wake of contentious legislation, Congress has come together to prevent sequestration and protect Medicare and other programs. This time should be no different.

Economic experts, health professionals, educators, local leaders, and the American people themselves were united in their support for the American Rescue Plan. They understood the urgent need for bold action to end the pandemic, help families survive these crises, and generate a strong and inclusive recovery. Its passage shows that Congress has finally learned its lesson from past crises: that doing too little will cost us far more in the end.

And this lesson is already paying off. By not allowing our recovery to be derailed by unfounded fears of debt and instead delivering the relief our nation needed, economists believe our fiscal future is brighter than ever. They estimate that the American Rescue Plan will propel the U.S. economy to its fastest annual growth in at least four decades, reduce poverty, and bring us back to near full employment by 2022.

With these growth projections, interest rates expected to remain at record lows, and the Fed ready to handle inflation risks, there is simply no evidence to suggest or even hint at an immediate debt crisis. The real immediate crisis is sequestration. What we can’t afford are the impending and debilitating cuts to Medicare and these other programs which will happen if Congress does not act. And that’s what we’re here to address today.

Presumably no one wants to see these critical programs upended, especially now in the throes of a pandemic. Despite any differences between our two sides over how best to respond to the challenges facing our nation, we should be able to agree that our commitments to our nation’s seniors, students, and farmers during this difficult time is a shared priority. 

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