Ranking Member Hoyer Floor Remarks in Opposition to the 2024 Financial Services and General Government Funding Bill

2023-11-08 10:27
Statement

Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD-05), Ranking Member of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 4664, the fiscal year 2024 Financial Services and General Government bill:

– As Prepared For Delivery –

Mr. Speaker, every member of this House ought to make it their goal to preserve America’s fiscal health.

Sharing that common goal, President Biden, Speaker McCarthy, and 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats made an agreement to address the deficit earlier this year.

That’s 67 percent of House Republicans.

This bill does not honor that agreement. It does not establish a foundation for negotiation. It does nothing to avert the shutdown looming just days away.

And, crucially, it will increase the deficit over time.

In fact, this legislation severely undermines this government’s ability to lower the deficit and to uphold the law of the land.

It defunds crucial agencies that enforce laws, regulations, and rules established to protect the American people, American families, and American children.

They include the FTC, the SEC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Election Assistance Commission, and the FCC.

This bill defunds Justice.

It dramatically cuts funding for the Federal Public Defender Program, which helps ensure every American can exercise their constitutional right to an attorney.

Other law enforcement agencies face dire cuts under this legislation.

Among them are the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, the Office Of National Drug Control Policy, and the Emergency Planning and Security Costs for the District of Columbia.

In total, this bill cuts $345.2 million –or 6.2 percent – below the enacted for crucial law enforcement agencies.

It provides $1.32 billion – or 20.2 percent – less for law enforcement than what President Biden requested in his budget.

And yet, Republicans have the nerve to accuse Democrats of trying to defund law enforcement.

Paring back enforcement has dire consequences for the deficit as well.

This legislation is the latest salvo in Republicans’ long campaign to defund the internal revenue service.

The number of annual tax returns increased from 140.1 million in 1979 to 269 million in 2021: a 92 percent increase.

And yet, IRS staffing went from 85,398 in 1979 to 78,661 in 2021: an 8 percent decrease.

That means refunds get delayed, returns aren’t audited, owed taxes go uncollected, tax cheats and lawbreakers are not held accountable, and our debt grows even bigger.

If you’re a business trying to get the revenue you’re owed, you don’t fire those responsible for collecting it.

This bill does just that.

Contrary to Republican claims, this issue isn’t about raising taxes on anyone.

These enforcement agents can’t raise taxes – only we can do that.

Instead, they ensure that we each pay the share we legally owe, and they go after the cheats and lawbreakers who don’t.

Too often, those lawbreakers are Americans with a lot of wealth and with complex tax filings.

I’m not talking about the vast majority of Americans whose taxes are withheld from their paychecks weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

I’m talking about the select few who use pass-throughs, shell companies, and offshore accounts to shield their vast wealth from taxation.

Harvard and Treasury experts found that there is a twelve to one return on investment for IRS enforcement of the top ten percent of earners.

Years of budget and staffing cuts have limited the IRS’ ability to conduct these complex audits.

Millionaires were 88 percent less likely to face an audit in fiscal year 2022 than they were in fiscal year 2010 – down to a rate of just 1.1 percent.

The result is a back door tax cut – but only for those with the means and guile to exploit accounting tricks to hide profits, income, and – in the end – tax obligation.

This bill includes a 22.2 percent cut below the request for IRS enforcement of high-earners and corporations.

That’s a disservice to hardworking Americans who patriotically and conscientiously pay their taxes.

This bill defunds those agencies of government that keep us safe, with a cut below the enacted of: $9.6 million to the Office of National Drug Control Policy; $24.2 million to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; and $9.2 million to the Office Of Terrorism And Financial Intelligence.

It disrupts the agencies that ensure the products we buy and the markets we invest in aren’t overrun with fraud by undermining the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and by cutting: the Consumer Product Safety Commission by $13.6 million; and the SEC by $149 million.

It hampers the agencies that make those who try to get one over on the rest of us think twice and that hold those people accountable, with a cut of: $7 million to the FEC; $53 million to the FTC; and $8 million to the FCC.

These are just some of the most egregious cuts.

If Republicans want to be the party of fiscal responsibility, if they want to be the party of law enforcement, they need to shelve this bill.

They know this legislation will never become law.

They’ve loaded it with partisan poison pills designed to varnish American history; undermine diversity, equity, and inclusion; and exacerbate the climate crisis.

Stop this nonsense and work with us on legislation that can become law.

Vote “no.”

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118th Congress