These are challenging days for our country and its people.
Americans are worried about jobs. They’re worried about our economy. And they’re worried about our debt. The debt-limit crisis, thrust upon our citizens this summer, has intensified these anxieties.
The U.S. House of Representatives has now sent to the Senate not one, but two bills that would bring the crisis to an immediate end.
Reflecting the will of the people, both bills passed by the House would cut trillions of dollars in spending, advance the cause of a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to balance its budget, and impose caps on future spending to stop the expansion of government while we give our economy a chance to grow and create jobs.
Both bills also raise the debt ceiling for President Obama past the end of this year, averting the possibility of a damaging national default.
At moments like this, the arrogance of Washington is most evident not in its actions, but in its inaction.
In the face of a debt explosion that threatens the future of our country, the Senate has not passed a budget in more than 800 days. The House passed a historic one in April.
In the face of a government shutdown this past spring, the Senate produced no solution and initiated no bill. The House did.
And to date, faced with the possibility of a national default that could destabilize our already shaky economy, the Senate has sent the House nothing, while the new majority in the House has acted twice.
The House demonstrated not arrogance, but leadership last week when a bipartisan majority — including many who came to Washington opposed to raising the debt ceiling under any circumstance — passed the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act for the greater good.
The House demonstrated not arrogance, but leadership today by passing the Budget Control Act, bowing not just to the will of the American people and their desire for a timely and responsible end to this crisis, but also to the Constitution, which gave us the reality of a bicameral legislature.
The legislation passed by the House this evening is not perfect, but it is a positive step forward in the effort to cut spending, clamp down on the growth of government, and reduce our debt.
The bill was constructed on a commonsense framework that was pre-negotiated last weekend with the bipartisan leadership of the Senate, in an honest and sincere effort to bring the crisis to an end. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats walked away from that framework over the course of this week.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a good man. His character is not in question. But the fate of this legislation, and possibly our economy, hinges on his ability to reason with the president, and with his caucus.
The people’s House has spoken — not once, but twice — presenting the other chamber with legislation certified by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as cutting trillions of dollars in spending over the next decade while providing an immediate increase in the national debt limit.
In contrast, in the six months since President Obama formally requested that the debt ceiling be raised, the Senate has passed nothing.
Time is now of the essence. The quickest way for Congress to eliminate the possibility of default and ease the growing turmoil in our economy is for the Senate to take up the House-passed bill and send it to the president today. As Senate Democrats themselves noted today, a House bill that has been sent to the Senate and then tabled is “still pending” — meaning it can be taken up and passed at any time.
Both parties have been entrusted with power in Congress. Neither party has been authorized to take risks with the full faith and credit of the United States.
For the sake of our country, and the sake of our economy, the House has passed a responsible bill that can pass the Senate. Now it’s time for our colleagues in the Senate to pass it, send it to the president, and bring this crisis to an end.
— John Boehner is speaker of the House.