PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 250, MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY COMPETITIVENESS ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 21, 2005)
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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, the senior Democrat on the committee, the gentleman from Tennessee, has tried very hard to get an answer as to why a very straightforward amendment could not be voted on, and he could not get an answer.
I will tell him he could not get an answer because the real answer is embarrassing. We have got now increasing unhappiness on the conservative wing of the Republican Party, its dominant wing, about the notion that we should have democracy on the floor of the House of Representatives.
We had a bill that was voted out of the Committee on Financial Services 65 to 5. It is being held off the floor despite the urgings of the chairman of the committee and the two relevant subcommittee chairmen because the conservatives think the House might vote wrong, and they have now acknowledged this.
In the September 19 Washington Times, talking about the hate crimes amendment which was adopted because we had an open rule, here is what the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Pence), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, says: ``Our side lets this hate-crimes amendment get into a children's protection bill because we let it come to the floor on an open rule, a vehicle made for liberals to use.''
So that is the problem. Apparently the right wing has gotten so little confidence in its ability to win votes on the floor that they now consider openness a liberal plot.
The gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. McHenry), according to the article, says he does not know how or why the House leadership allowed the children's safety bill to come to the floor under an open rule, meaning unlimited amendments could be proposed and voted on.
To quote the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. McHenry): ``As members of the majority party, we're asking: How could we allow this to happen? Why did we give the opposition an easy route to victory?''
Well, it used to be called democracy and open procedures. So what we have is an acknowledgment by this very conservative wing that their position could not sustain itself in open debate and vote on the floor of the House, and so they are insisting that the House Committee on Rules not let things come up.
That is the answer to the gentleman from Tennessee. His amendment was not allowed in order because it would have won. I guarantee him, if they were convinced they could have beat it, they would have let it come in.
I have to repeat, with this now open repudiation of the notion that the House should be allowed to work its will, and I know we do not address people watching on television, I will say this to my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, if there are people in the newly elected parliament of Afghanistan or the constituent assembly in Iraq are watching, as we preach to them democracy, as we tell them as members of a legislative body they should express the will of the people, if they understand this new opposition on the part of the conservatives who dominate the Republican Party, the openness on the floor of the House, please do not try this at home.
[From the Washington Times, Sept. 19, 2005]
Hate-Crime Add-On to Child Safety Bill Irks House GOP
(By Ralph Z. Hallow)
The chairman of the 100-member House Republican Study Committee says conservative lawmakers, already angry about what they see as out-of-control spending, are furious over passage last week of a bill that included an amendment expanding federal hate-crimes protections.
``House conservatives barraged me with their frustration and concern over this bill,'' said Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, the RSC chairman. ``Our guys are starting to spoil for a fight after this bill.''
The bill, which passed 223-199, would federalize local crimes if the suspected motive is animosity toward homosexuals or ``transgender'' persons. Existing federal hate-crimes laws already cover women and minorities.
With the help of 30 mostly liberal Republicans, Democrats succeeded in making the measure part of a children's safety bill in a move that took conservatives by surprise.
``First, we have $50 billion in new spending for Hurricane Katrina relief, with no offsets in other spending,'' Mr. Pence said, ``Next thing, our side lets this hate-crimes amendment get into a children's protection bill because we let it come to the floor on an open rule--a vehicle made for liberals to use.''
North Carolina Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, another conservative Republican, says he doesn't know how or why the House Republican leadership allowed the children's safety bill to come to the floor under an open rule, meaning unlimited amendments could be proposed and voted on.
``We gave the far left a ripe opportunity for success,'' Mr. McHenry said. ``As members of the majority party, we're asking: How could we allow this to happen? Why did we give the opposition an easy route to victory?''
Conservatives in Congress have fought hate-crimes measures, saying such legislation bestows on government the power to presume to know and to punish criminal motives, rather than the crimes themselves.
Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, presented the hate-crimes legislation in the form of an amendment to House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.'s children's safety bill, which strengthens the monitoring of child sex offenders and increases penalties for molestation.
Co-sponsors of the hate-crimes amendment included Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank and Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin, both Democrats, and Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Republicans.
Mr. Pence says House Republicans voted to pass the child-safety bill--it sailed through on a 371-52 vote--with the Conyers hate-crimes amendment attached because they wanted the children's protection portion and thought the Conyers amendment would not survive joint House-Senate conference reworking of the bill.
``I voted for [the measure] thinking it would be fixed in conference,'' Mr. Pence said. ``I hope it will, but there are rumblings that the Senate may take the bill as is and pass it and send it to the president, which would be very frustrating to a lot of us.''
``But I have enough confidence in Chairman Sensenbrenner that he will clean this bill up.''
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