Leahy Statement On H.R. 5304, The Extending Government Funding And Delivering Emergency Assistance Act

I support the continuing resolution introduced today by my friend and colleague, House Appropriations Committee Chair DeLauro.  This bill will keep the government funded through December 3rd while we continue to work on the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bills. 

It also includes critical relief for those impacted by the devastating hurricanes that have destroyed communities along the Gulf Coast and in the northeast, as well as for communities ravaged by wildfires and other natural disasters.  In the wake of natural disasters, the Federal Government has a responsibility to help those in need.  This bill provides $28.6 billion in urgently needed funds to support efforts to recover and rebuild across the nation.

The bill will also provide $6.3 billion in much needed assistance for the brave Afghans who supported our mission in the Middle East through two decades of war.  It is our duty and our obligation to support those who supported us.  This bill provides resources to help resettle families here in the U.S., and to provide humanitarian aid for Afghan refugees who have fled the Taliban.  Both the disaster package and the Afghanistan package are the product of bipartisan and bicameral negotiations.  They should receive widespread support in both the House and the Senate.  They are urgently needed and must not be delayed. 

I intend to do everything I can to complete the appropriations bills by December 3rd, in order to make smart choices for the American people and to avoid a full year continuing resolution.  That would not be in either parties’ interest and it would certainly not be in the interest of the American people.  Passing the regular appropriations bills is each of our responsibility. 

Finally, this bill will raise the debt limit through December of 2022.  The other side of the aisle has spent an inordinate amount of time posturing over this increase, as though they have no idea how we got here.  The reality is that while President Trump was in office, U.S. debt increased $8 trillion dollars -- $5.5 trillion alone since we last raised the debt ceiling with bipartisan support under former President Trump in 2019.   Republican’s irresponsible tax cut for the wealthiest Americans is partly to blame, yet Democrats supported the Trump Administration when it needed to raise the debt limit to account for the resulting bills.  Democrats voted for this increase because to do otherwise would have been irresponsible and dangerous for the United States economy. We have seen this page from the Republican playbook before: a vote of convenience when their party is in the White House, and a political football when they are not.  It is as irresponsible as it is irrational.

The bill before the House would raise the debt ceiling only enough to cover the amount of money the U.S. incurred in just one of the bills we passed on a bipartisan basis to respond to the COVID epidemic – the $908 billion dollar bill that Republicans championed through the Senate, that 40 Republicans voted for, and that President Trump signed into law.  It is time we come together as Americans and stop posturing.  We need to do the right thing and pass this bill into law.

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