Rep. John Lewis' Update on Ways & Means Committee Markup of H.R. 1
During the markup, Congressman Lewis made the below statement (WATCH)--
“It is hard to put my feelings into words today. You see, I was elected to Congress in November of 1986 – only a month after the Tax Reform Act became law. It was tax reform, not tax cuts.
“The Members of this Committee inspired our entire class as we took our oath on the House Floor 30 years ago. They set the gold standard -- a bar to which we all aspired. Elected by the people, they worked with the people, and they fought for the people. Back then, the Committee took their time. They worked across the aisle and across the dome. Their model inspired many of us to fight for an appointment to the Ways and Means Committee -- the oldest standing Committee in the House of Representatives.
“Each and every person in the room today knows that the bill we are considering is an insult to their legacy. This bill is a shame and a disgrace to the spirit and history of this Committee and to the constitutional duties and responsibilities of the United States Congress.
“First and foremost, this tax cut legislation does not make the tax code any simpler or any fairer. If Congressional Republicans pass a tax bill of this size so late in the year, it will be a nightmare for the IRS to implement and for taxpayers to understand this bill, this code by January.
“Second, this bill is a slap in the face to real people. You are giving trillions of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. This is not right. It is not fair. It is not just.
“How can we punish teachers who are just trying to buy supplies for their classrooms? How can you target the sick, the elderly, and the disabled? How can you attack immigrant children and DREAMers in a way that is just plain mean and heartless?
“Most importantly, how can you bury your head in the sand when there are grave issues facing our country like transportation financing, student debt, war funding, affordable housing, and caring for veterans and their families?
“After this markup and after the winners pocketed their rewards, the spotlight will move on. Every single person in this room knows what will happen next from the shadows. Even the most creative math cannot hide this cold, hard truth: this bill robs poor Peter to pay billionaire Paul.
“Away from the cameras, Congressional Republicans will quietly begin to cut safety net programs to pay for their massive, corporate tax cut. The record should be clear. This is not about tax reform. These are tax cuts for the super rich. This bill turns a blind eye to the middle class and a deaf ear to working families.
“Members of this Committee must be honest to the people we represent and serve. This bill picks a few winners as our children, grandchildren, and generations yet unborn will suffer from this reckless Act.
“Look around us! We are surrounded by the portraits of those who put people before politics! We sit in the chairs of those who tackled the deep, hard challenges of their day -- as they designed visionary programs like Medicare, Social Security, and the G.I. Bill. We walk in the footsteps of those who worked to create a better world for their fellow Americans and future generations.
“How can we look ourselves in the eye when we know that this bill is our gift to our children and grandchildren? There are no two ways about it. In the coming years, there may be small wins, but the damage to our budget and our future is done.
“Mr. Chairman -- and I say this with all due respect -- this spiteful, irresponsible tax cut is not worth the paper on which it is written. Throw this bill out, and let us come together to work for the people. We can do better. We should do better, and the American people deserve better – much better. Let us do what is right, what is just, and what we were elected to do -- to serve the best interests of all Americans, not just a select few. I yield back the balance of my time.”
A daily summary of the Committee’s markup proceedings will be available at https://johnlewis.house.gov/taxcutbill.