Capps Calls on House to Resolve Payroll Tax Legislation By February 17th

Jan 24, 2012 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Healthcare

397 Members of the House Vote “Yes” on Capps Motion

WASHINGTON – Today Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) offered a Motion to Instruct the Conferees to the House-Senate Conference working on the final version of legislation to continue the payroll tax cut, extend emergency unemployment insurance and avert a scheduled cut in Medicare’s physician’s reimbursement rate to report a final agreement no later than February 17th, 2012. The Motion to Instruct passed by a vote of 397-16.  

The conferees have begun meeting to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation last year. Because those differences couldn’t be resolved before adjourning at the end of last year a two month extension was passed continuing those programs until February 29th.  Capps offered her motion in an attempt to urge the conferees to finish well before that date and give middle class families and businesses the certainty that those important provisions would not expire.

Congress needs to extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million American workers as soon as possible so we can keep our fragile economic recovery on track. We should have passed a yearlong extension of the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and fix to the Medicare physician reimbursement rate last December and I’m very disappointed that Washington politics as usual got in the way. My commonsense motion merely expressed the sense of the House that we should resolve this issue as soon as possible to give American families the certainty of knowing their paycheck won’t get smaller, the unemployed the certainty of knowing they will be able to pay the bills, and Medicare beneficiaries the certainty of knowing they will be able to see their doctor. I’m pleased I was able to get bipartisan support for it and I hope that maybe this will be an indication that Congress will put the needs of the American people above politics this year. The American people are rightfully tired of the games being played here in Washington,” said Capps.

Capps’ floor speech as prepared for delivery is included below.

Floor Speech – Motion to Instruct
Rep. Lois Capps
January 24, 2012

M___ Speaker, I yield myself 5 minutes.

I rise today to offer a straightforward motion to provide certainty to American families and businesses.

As we all know, late last month, after a lot of unnecessary drama, we enacted a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and the so-called “doc fix.”

All these provisions were set to expire at the end of last year.

Payroll taxes would have gone up on 160 million workers.

Millions of unemployed people would have benefits cutoff even though they still can’t find work.

And doctors would have faced a huge cut in their reimbursements from Medicare, making it harder for seniors to see a doctor.

The two month extension was not ideal, but differences could not be resolved before the clock ran out.

Now, with this short-term extension set to expire in a few short weeks, we must find a way to bridge our differences and enact a full year extension of these provisions.

And we need to do it as soon as possible.

That’s what this motion is all about.

It simply directs the Conferees to finish their work by February 17th so both the House and Senate will have time to vote on the final package before time runs out on the 29th.

Just a date certain to ensure we get our work done without yet another last minute scramble.

We have a bad habit in this body of leaving our work to the last minute – something our parents warned us about long ago.

Last year, for example, was filled with manufactured crises and last-minute deals.

It led to great uncertainty about everything from tax policy to whether or not America will pay its debts.

And this uncertainty has affected our economy and our efforts to create jobs.

I know we can do better.

And I know we must do better.

Our economy is still in a fragile state and we must not add to its precarious state with yet another unnecessary dustup here in Washington.

And especially not about provisions that we generally agree on.

For example, extending the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans will put $1,000 more in their paychecks of the average worker this year.

In my home state alone, that would put $21 billion into the pockets of 17 million Californians.

That’s real money for consumers to spend quickly at small businesses across the country, stimulating demand and growing our economy.

Economists from both sides of the aisle agree that this extension is critical to maintaining our recovery and creating new jobs.

In addition, there is general agreement about the need to extend unemployment benefits.

This would affect about 4.5 million Americans who would lose their unemployment benefits if we don’t get our work done in time.

Never before have we allowed emergency unemployment benefits to expire while unemployment is so high.

Millions of middle class workers and their families depend on emergency unemployment benefits to feed their families, put gas in their cars, and keep their houses warm.

Once again, extending these benefits will help create jobs and grow our economy.

According to Mark Zandi, every dollar of unemployment benefits creates $1.65 in economic demand.

That’s not political rhetoric – that’s a fact!

And finally, M__ Speaker, we all agree that we need to ensure our doctors don’t see a draconian cut in their Medicare reimbursements.

Such a cut would affect the health care of nearly 50 million seniors who could lose access to their doctors if we don’t complete our work on time.

Without an extension, Medicare physicians will see nearly a 30 percent reimbursement cut at the end of this month.

Of course, this is something we face every year, which is why I have always supported a permanent fix to the SGR.

But, at minimum, we must include a full-year fix for this problem.

Failure to do so will harm not only our doctors and their employees – but our seniors as well.

M__ Speaker, the American people are rightfully tired of the political games and needless brinkmanship that has become all too common in this body.

I say it’s time to change course – let’s begin the New Year on a better note.

Let’s begin the New Year by putting aside our differences and working together.

Let’s begin the New Year by completing the work we were all sent here to do, and let’s do it on time and without the unnecessary drama.

And let’s begin the New Year by helping Middle Class families and small businesses stay afloat in these tough times.

This is too important to wait until the last minute.

Millions of American workers, business owners, and families are depending on us.

The time to act is now.

I urge my colleagues to support this motion to ensure we get our work done on time.

I reserve my time.