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Chairman Yarmuth’s Remarks Before House Rules Committee in Support of Legislation to Prevent Disastrous Statutory PAYGO Sequestration Cuts

Dec 7, 2021

Washington, D.C.— Today, House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (KY-03) testified before the House Rules Committee in support of S. 610, the “Protecting Medicare & American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act.” This legislation will prevent disastrous statutory PAYGO sequestration cuts to Medicare, farm support, and other vital programs Americans rely on. Chairman Yarmuth’s remarks, as prepared, are below:

Members of the Committee, there is a long, bipartisan history of Congress doing what is necessary to prevent the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act from jeopardizing important programs with mindless across-the-board cuts. Congress has enacted bipartisan legislation that has shifted or wiped clean PAYGO balances to avert these sequestration cuts more than thirty separate times since the law’s inception, including five times in the last three years.

Even in the wake of contentious legislative battles like the 2017 GOP Tax Scam, we put the well-being of the American people first and joined Republicans to prevent sequestration. Democrats voted with Republicans to avoid harmful across-the-board cuts despite our opposition to the reconciliation tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited wealthy individuals and powerful corporations. The next year, Congress separately wiped the scorecard in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, with 73 House Democrats – myself included – voting with the Republican majority.

It’s one of the few consistent actions Congress has taken regardless of who is in the majority – and that is because statutory PAYGO has never been an effective tool of fiscal policy.

Not only is it ineffective, but it also endangers vital programs, including Medicare, farm supports, social services, and resources for students and individuals with disabilities. Some programs would be eliminated if statutory PAYGO is implemented. So, it’s not hard to see why Congress has always intervened and why we must do so again now. The legislation before you today, the “Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act,” is simply a repeat of legislation we have passed many times before.

To be clear, statutory PAYGO requirements cannot be changed in reconciliation bills. We cannot do this on our own. And the clock is ticking. 

Congress has never allowed the statutory PAYGO sequester to take effect and this time should be no different. The sequestered programs have not changed. Congress’ support for the programs has not changed. The programs’ importance in the lives of American families has not changed. And the urgent need for bipartisan action to prevent these senseless and debilitating cuts has not changed.

Thank you. I look forward to answering your questions and discussing this legislation.