Debt Ceiling Crisis Was Avoidable

Floor Speech

Date: May 18, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HILL. Honoring Law Enforcement


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Virginia for her support of police and for her service representing the people of her State.

Mr. Speaker, the United States is close to defaulting on its debt. That would be the first time in our Nation's history.

The situation we face today was fully avoidable. The Biden administration's reckless spending and economic illiteracy over the past 2 years have propelled our debt crisis and driven inflation to a 40-year high.

The American people have directly felt the impact of this administration's negligence toward an effective and practical economic policy.

It is well past time for our government to rein in reckless spending and work together toward returning to a balanced budget, a concept that both parties used to agree to strongly for decades.

Through the years, policy negotiations were a key part of many debt ceiling agreements. Throughout our Nation's history, we have negotiated spending deals and reforms many times by using the debt ceiling vote as a constructive catalyst to action.

Yet, for over 100 days, despite promises to the contrary, President Biden has refused to take this opportunity and willingly and effectively negotiate with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Over the past 3 months, while the President has been unresponsive, Speaker McCarthy has been hard at work, alongside House Republicans and with support from our Republican colleagues in the Senate, to ensure that we address this debt crisis in a timely, responsible manner.

We have done our part here in the House by passing the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which responsibly raises the debt ceiling while addressing the other key issues our Nation faces today.

Finally, in recent hours, with less than 2 weeks to go, President Biden has surfaced and engaged in a conversation with Speaker McCarthy. This is good news.

President Biden, join House Republicans in a sensible and responsible agreement this week and avoid driving our Nation even further into economic chaos. President Al-Assad Readmitted to Arab League


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, recently Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was invited back into the Arab League after 12 years of being in exile. I can't tell you how incredibly frustrating and disappointing this is to many, particularly the innocent people of Syria who have endured more than a decade of war, murder, and torture.

Assad's readmittance to the Arab League sends the wrong signal. It sends the signal to the rest of the world that his atrocious war crimes against his own citizens over the past 12 years are acceptable.

A recent Reuters article had the headline ``Arabs Bring Syria's Assad Back into Fold but Want Action on Drugs Trade.'' Well, that is rich, because the only reason that there is an epidemic in the drug trade in the Gulf and the region is because of Assad.

Assad turned to Russia and Iran to maintain his death machine, and now the Captagon drug trade led by his cousins, led by his military, is providing an independent source of funding for his regime while he poisons his neighbors, takes their money and fuels terrorism in the region; and yet he is invited back to the Arab League meeting. It is preposterous.

My bill that passed in last year's National Defense Authorization Act was called the CAPTAGON Act and requires the U.S. Government to develop a multilateral and all-of-government approach to disrupting and dismantling the production of the Captagon drug right in the heart of Syria.

Recently the Treasury Department, along with our ally, the United Kingdom, took steps to sanction key actors in Assad's inner circle who are producing and trafficking Captagon. This is a good step, but it is months late, Mr. Speaker.

It is in the right direction of disrupting and dismantling the trafficking networks associated with this illicit drug, but it is just a start, and it comes years after we know the deadly impact of Captagon on the region, on families, but also the fueling of terror by Assad through the billions of dollars transferred from that illicit trafficking.

It is critical that governments across the globe continue to show their support for the Syrian people by denouncing those who seek to normalize relations with this repulsive regime. Granting Assad admittance to the Arab League once again sends the opposite message. It rewards barbaric behavior.

The United States Government has an obligation to sanction Assad in our efforts to dismantle the Captagon drug trade and hold Assad accountable for his war crimes. That is why I am pleased this week to cosponsor the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson's new bill, H.R. 3202, the Assad Regime Anti- Normalization Act.

This bill was passed this week unanimously in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congress will act where this administration has continuously failed to consistently do so. I look forward to supporting this bill on the House floor and seeing it signed into law. Commemorating 70-Year Alliance Between United States and Republic of Korea


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

To commend this momentous occasion, Speaker McCarthy and Leader McConnell invited Republic of Korea President Yoon to visit the House Chamber and address Congress in a joint meeting.

From the ashes of the Korean conflict to now one of the world's largest and most successful economies, the Republic of Korea is a testament to America's dedication to support market economics and democracy.

The successful alliance between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea has maintained peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region for those past seven decades.

Now more than ever, it is critical that the U.S. continue to support our ally in their efforts to protect their vibrant democracy and prosperous economy from the daily threats from North Korea and the growing aggression from the Chinese Communist Party.

I thank President Yoon for his leadership, for the tenacity of the Korean people to come from an authoritarian republic to truly a democratic one and for building one of the top 10 largest economies in the world. That is an amazing transformation over those seven decades.

Together, we will continue to promote freedom and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. Arkansas Tornado Relief Efforts


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to commend the efforts of central Arkansas during the recovery period after a devastating tornado hit our district last month.

Our neighbors immediately began to work hand in hand, neighbor to neighbor to rebuild our community. Many volunteered and worked tirelessly to set up emergency shelters in our local schools and churches to ensure those impacted by this severe storm had safe housing in the wake of the tornado.

The response of our leaders at the State, county, and city level was invaluable and to be commended. The incredible efforts and active emergency response from Governor Sarah Sanders, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., Mayor Terry Hartwick of North Little Rock, Mayor Jeff Elmore of Jacksonville, and Mayor Mary Jo Heye-Townsell of Sherwood, and many, many others all saved lives and accelerated the recovery process.

Not only did we witness their outstanding response and an outpouring of local volunteers, but we saw the swift action of our first responders and essential businesses.

Entergy Arkansas began repairs to the local power grid as soon as the storms passed, and many of our linemen and -women worked countless hours to restore power even when they themselves were affected. One lineman I met with was in his bed at the time of the tornado, and the roof was torn off his apartment. After a day off from that tragedy, he was out there working 16 hours a day to connect the power to his neighbors. Countless time was put in neighbor for neighbor.

Entergy Arkansas' corporate office also donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross to be used toward tornado recovery efforts, with an additional pledge of up to $50,000 matching employee donations.

The Arkansas Foodbank did an incredible job of delivering food, water, and other necessary items throughout our communities to ensure those affected by the storms were supported with necessary goods.

Additionally, our local restaurants and businesses all donated hundreds of meals and supplies to those in need.

I thank our community for demonstrating generosity and thoughtfulness during a time of great need. They simply demonstrated that core value that we all take pride in as Arkansans and Americans. Congratulating Frank Thomas on His Retirement


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight the exceptional career of Frank Thomas, who retired in March from Stephens, Inc., a financial services firm headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Frank graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1976 and was the first news director at KUAF, the local Razorback radio station.

He quickly rose from local radio to national politics, working for former U.S. Senator David Pryor as his chief of staff.

After Frank's time in public service, he felt drawn home to Arkansas and has worked for Stephens for the past 27 years.

Stephens has long believed that Arkansas is truly the land of opportunity, and Stephens has invested in and benefited from its long association with our State. In fact, Stephens helped a little-known company called Walmart launch their initial public offering and become the largest retailer in the world.

I thank Frank for his service and his lifelong commitment to Arkansas and the Second Congressional District and our Nation. I wish Frank, his wife, and his family many, many happy years ahead. Congratulating Cathy Owen on Her Induction Into Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to congratulate my dear friend of some five decades, Cathy Owen, on her induction into the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame.

Cathy is a trailblazer and role model for women in banking in Arkansas, having served the banking community for over 50 years. She has been with Eagle Bank for over 40 of those years in various roles, most recently as chairwoman since 2012.

During her time at Eagle Bank, she has worked tirelessly to build the bank into a large, respected community bank. Over the years, she and her team have been dedicated to customer service and developing outstanding products and services.

Outside of her achievements in the banking industry, she remains an active leader in our community. She is a generous volunteer and supporter of Baptist Health Foundation, Fifty for the Future, and the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, among many other endeavors.

I have had the privilege of working with Cathy in the industry for decades during my time in banking. I am proud to call Cathy a friend. I thank her for her many years of outstanding service in the community and congratulate her on this well-deserved induction into the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame. Command Sergeant Major Steven Veazey Retiring From Arkansas Army National Guard


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate my friend and a true example of a leader, Command Sergeant Major Steven Veazey. I wish him a happy and healthy retirement.

Command Sergeant Major Veazey, an Arkansas native, has been serving in the Arkansas Army National Guard since 1979, and has retired after 44 years of service.

The positive impact he has made in the Arkansas Army National Guard is undeniable, and he has set the standard for what it means to be a noncommissioned officer.

Over the years, the command sergeant major deployed to Bosnia and Iraq. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with one oak-leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with two oak-leaf clusters.

Steven exemplifies leadership, not only as a command sergeant major, but as a leader in our community, serving as a member of the East Union Missionary Baptist Church, The American Legion, and as past president of the Sheridan Rotary Club.

His wife, Leanna, has been his steadfast partner for the past 43 years and the cornerstone of support. Together they have raised two children, Tasha and Steven.

Over the past 9 years, I have been so grateful for his friendship and leadership. I treasure our time together since my service in Congress, from paying tribute to a young soldier or an airman for a job well done or saluting those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

My best wishes, Steven, for your well-deserved retirement. Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Reopening


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the reopening of our magnificent Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. The museum, located in downtown Little Rock, reopened on April 22 after almost 4 years since closing for renovation and expansion.

After years of planning, the museum has been reimagined into a beautiful work of art itself. The architecture firm Studio Gang led the design which preserves historic elements of the building but includes other critical interesting and tasteful elements, making it into one of the most influential museums in the country.

The museum has much to offer from the visual and performing arts to full art educational experiences. The goal is to create a cultural space where our community can engage with a diverse portfolio of artistic perspectives and come together to see the beautiful temporary exhibitions and participate in the wonderful array of educational courses.

I thank all involved for their efforts in making this renovation possible and congratulate the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts for this new chapter in their history in our State. Congratulating Jim Keet


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate my friend Jim Keet on being named Arkansan of the Year.

Throughout his life, Jim has been an outstanding and active member of our State civic affairs, and particularly in central Arkansas.

Jim served both in the Arkansas House of Representatives and in the Arkansas State Senate in the 1990s.

In addition to his years of public service, he is one of our State's most successful entrepreneurs. He is president of the Keet Management Company and chairman of JTJ Restaurants, where he has operated 155 restaurants over the past five decades.

Beyond his success in business and politics, he has served on the board of directors for 20 years at Easterseals Arkansas. Easterseals is an organization that seeks to empower those with disabilities to have fulfilling lives and to become active members of their communities.

As the founder of the Arkansan of the Year award while with Easterseals Arkansas, this honor comes full circle now for Jim.

His tremendous work ethic and dedication to improving the lives of Arkansans deserves this recognition. I am proud to call Jim a friend and congratulate him on this exceptional honor. Army National Guard International Sniper Competition


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Staff Sergeant Benjamin Cotten and Staff Sergeant Allen Smith of the Arkansas Army National Guard for winning this year's International Sniper Competition.

This competition allows soldiers to display their abilities in a rigorous environment designed to put their extensive training to the test against 35 international teams.

The team, including New Mexico Army National Guard member Erik Vargas, competed three days straight testing their shooting skills, physical endurance, and problem solving as they took on a variety of scenarios with multiple weapon systems.

Staff Sergeant Smith enlisted in 2003 and Staff Sergeant Cotten in 2006. Both have deployed to Iraq, and they have served as sniper team leaders and marksmanship instructors with Army National Guard.

In addition to serving their country, they serve our communities as firefighters. Their leadership abilities and mental fortitude earned them this competition, and I am honored to add these men to my recognition for this outstanding accomplishment across 35 very competitive international teams. Congratulating Mack McLarty


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate my friend Mack McLarty for receiving the Legacy of Leadership Award at the 35th annual Arkansas Business of the Year ceremony.

Mr. McLarty is chairman of The McLarty Companies and was White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. Mack also served on the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Environmental Quality at the request of President George H.W. Bush.

While chief to President Clinton, Mack advised on a wide range of international and domestic issues, such as the 1993 deficit reduction package, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and multiple trips as it relates to attending the G7 economic summits.

Today, Mack is a respected senior adviser in both the public and private sectors and a prominent public speaker who shares his thoughts and experiences in the realm of U.S. trade and foreign policy.

Along with this recognition for his public service, Mr. McLarty was awarded the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Medal and the Center for the Study of the Presidency Distinguished Service Award.

I congratulate Mr. McLarty on this recognition and thank him for his lifetime of public service at the national level and at home in Arkansas. Arkansas State Coding Competition


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, Conway High School, eStem Charter High School, Little Rock Central High School, and North Little Rock Center for Excellence for advancing to the State coding competition.

Out of more than 160 teams, these five are part of the 16 teams that were selected to advance to the State competition.

The top three finishing teams will receive monetary awards of $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place, and $500 for third place for each member of the team.

The money will be placed in a 529 college savings plan account to help those students with their journey toward earning a college degree.

I thank ARCodeKids for providing the grant money for the winning teams, and I congratulate the students for qualifying for the State competition. I wish them the best of luck. Congratulating Steven Helmick


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Steven Helmick of Donald R. Roberts Elementary in Little Rock for being named the 2023 Arkansas Elementary School Principal of the Year.

Mr. Helmick is known for his outgoing personality and willingness to do whatever it takes to inspire his students, including running a mile for each of the 168 fifth graders at his elementary school and camping out on the school's roof.

Steven Helmick has turned Roberts elementary into one of the highest achieving elementary schools in Arkansas receiving a grade of A from the State education leadership.

I congratulate Mr. Helmick on his well-deserved award and the outstanding work as principal of Roberts Elementary. Recognizing Margaret Gaines


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Margaret Gaines who celebrated her 100th birthday on February 19 of this year.

Margaret Gaines has been a resident of central Arkansas her entire life. She grew up in Griffithville, Arkansas, and currently resides in Searcy where she has lived for the past 62 years.

Throughout her life, Margaret has seen and remembers many historic events, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and President John F. Kennedy's visit to Arkansas to dedicate the Greers Ferry Dam in Heber Springs.

Mrs. Gains believes the secret to her long life is plenty of exercise from gardening, which she learned to do during the Great Depression. She still grows a garden every year.

Mr. Speaker, I wish Margaret Gaines a very happy 100th birthday. Recognizing James Chance


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the fire chief from the Enola Area Fire Department, James Chance, who is preparing to retire.

James is no ordinary fire chief. He is a volunteer who has been with the Faulkner County department since 1973 and became chief in 1983.

When James first started at the Enola Area Fire Department, they had a single brush truck to use as an engine, tanker, and rescue, and the department did not have an ISO rating. Now, the department has three stations, 11 fire trucks, and has an ISO rating of five.

According to his peers, James responded to every emergency, despite how urgent or not it was. He spent two nights at 2 a.m. putting up barricades on flooded roads during bad storms or responding to the tenth false medical alert alarm in the middle of the night.

Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Chance for over 50 years of selfless service to the citizens of Faulkner County, and I congratulate him on his retirement. International Paper Company


Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate 125 years of the International Paper Company.

International Paper, IP, was founded in January 1898, and they celebrated their 125th anniversary in January--an incredible milestone in our Nation.

Their company is committed to providing essential products that people depend on, including being one of the world's largest producers of fiber-based products.

Essential paper and paper products are important in our everyday lives, ensuring goods are protected and keeping consumers safe. They are a driver of local economic development in our great State. There are over 550 IP employees and 6 facilities throughout Arkansas, 150 of which work at the Conway Graphics Plant.

I congratulate International Paper for their 125 years of service, and I look forward to their continued impact on Arkansas and around the world.