Hoyer spoke before several other Democrats in the “Out of Poverty” Caucus made similar remarks, and reiterated arguments against deep spending cuts that the House approved Tuesday. The urgency of the debate on the part of Democrats reflects the looming Aug. 2 deadline for reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling, which Republicans say needs to be resolved mostly through spending cuts.
That urgency was matched by Hoyer, who urged members to be guided by their spirituality in the days ahead.
“Each of us in this House has a compass formed in many respects by our faiths,” Hoyer said. “My faith teaches me that I have a responsibility to my God to reach out to the least among us to lift them up. To care for them, to clothe them, to feed them, to house them, to make sure that as a part of our American family, they are not forgotten.”
Hoyer added that members should “understand that the health of our people — physically, mentally, financially — will be equally important to the health of our nation.”
But Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) took the floor just minutes later and delivered the counter-argument that Democrats have so far rejected.
“My big fear is that the government is doing so much, that we as people may get to think that we get to do so little,” Woodall said. “The government is not taking care of anyone. The government is taking from people who would have taken care of someone, and it’s stealing that responsibility for nurturing our neighbors.
“It is not the government’s job to feed the hungry in my community — it’s my job,” Woodall added. “It’s not the government’s job to reach out to the least of these — it’s my job.”
Woodall also grew frustrated at the lack of proposals that encourage personal responsibility for helping those in need in their communities.
“There’s not been a single proposal to encourage individuals to take care of one another,” he said. “Time and time again what there are are proposals that take away the responsibility from individuals of taking care of what another, and to transfer that responsibility to government.”