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“Thank you Representative Hensarling. And I want to thank all of my colleagues, our witnesses, and members of the public joining us today.

“We have been working hard together for the past two months, but with twenty three days left to go until our deadline, and with even less time before we need to have a plan ready to be voted on—we are now entering the critical final phase of this process.   

“And as we all know, the consequences of failure are unacceptable. The triggers that have been put in place would be devastating for our national defense and for middle class families and the most vulnerable Americans who depend on education, housing, and nutrition assistance for women and infants.

“Markets, ratings agencies, and businesses across the country are watching closely to see if Congress can solve this problem.  

“And the American people are looking to us to break out of the gridlock and partisan rancor that has dominated D.C recently, and to deliver the kind of results they expect and deserve.

“That’s why members of this Committee have been clear: we need to find a way to come together around a bipartisan deal.

“So I believe it’s very appropriate that we are having this hearing, with these witnesses, as we move into the final few weeks.

“Before us we have Democrats and Republicans who were able to come together around big and balanced proposals that tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing our nation.

“The two groups went about it in slightly different ways, and I don’t agree with every piece of each plan—but they provide serious models for big and balanced bipartisan proposals.

“And as I know we will hear more about today—these proposals achieved bipartisan support and came together only because they were balanced, they included concessions from all sides, and they required all Americans to share in the sacrifices that this endeavor calls for.

“Neither of these bipartisan proposals included only spending cuts, and they didn’t simply address entitlements—or only raise revenue.

“They put everything on the table, they made the tough decisions—and because of that, they were able to put together balanced packages that garnered bipartisan support.

“So as this committee moves into the home stretch, hearing more about the importance of a balanced approach is going to be very helpful. Because as our witnesses today can address—a bipartisan deal isn’t possible if members refuse to come out from their partisan or ideological corners.

“It’s not enough for either side to simply say they want to reduce the deficit—now is the time when everyone needs to be putting some real skin in the game and offering serious compromises.

“Democrats have made clear we are prepared to do that.  We’ve said we are very open to painful concessions and compromises if Republicans are as well—and we have put forward serious ideas that reflect this.

“But these concessions would only be made—and only considered—in the context of a balanced deal that doesn’t just fall on the middle class and most vulnerable Americans—but that requires big corporations and the wealthiest among us to share in the sacrifices.

“The American people realize this. They overwhelmingly support a balanced approach.

“Which is why this is the kind of deal every bipartisan group that has successfully tackled this issue has made—it’s the kind of deal I am looking forward to hearing more about from our witnesses today—and it’s the kind of deal I am hopeful every member of this committee is prepared to make.

 “So again, I want to thank our witnesses for being here with us today to have this critical conversation. The bipartisan, balanced work you’ve done provides a strong foundation for this committee.  And I look forward to hearing your testimony and asking some questions.”