OUTING OF CIA AGENTS -- (House of Representatives - November 09, 2005)
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. It is outrageous. I would be happy to yield.
MS. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Because, you know, I think most people would understand why a CIA agent, a fellow CIA agent, would be outraged at the conduct coming from the Vice President's chief of staff, that he would do anything that would potentially put their lives or the lives of their colleagues in jeopardy. So some people might say, well, of course that would upset other CIA agents, and of course they would think that that was a problem. But in the spirit of continuing our desire to demonstrate that this is not just our opinion, and that we have some other third-party validators who agree, let us look at what Ed Gillespie, who is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said.
He was speaking to Chris Matthews on ``Hardball,'' and Chris Matthews asked him what he thought of it. And his comment to Chris Matthews then was that I think if the allegation is true, to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative is abhorrent, and it should be a crime and it is a crime. And then Chris Matthews went on to ask Chairman Gillespie, he said, it would be worse than Watergate, would it not? And Gillespie's response was, Yeah, I suppose in terms of the real world implications of it, it is not just politics.
I mean, if that is not the ultimate third-party validator saying that it is abhorrent and it should be a crime and it is a crime to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative. Now, let us just make sure we say that Mr. Libby has only been accused of conduct related to that likelihood, not convicted of that. So, you know, of course we want to remember that this is a democracy and in our democracy you are innocent until proven guilty. However, it is really deeply disturbing that this is the first time in 130 years, 130 years, that we have had a White House official indicted on anything, never mind betrayal of this country's deepest secrets. And we have a long list of people who have commented on that possibility. We also have in the White House, still, I mean, Scooter Libby has left. Scooter Libby has now resigned from the White House. But you still have Karl Rove there in the White House as the right hand of the President with full, the highest level of security clearance.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Deputy chief of staff.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Deputy chief of staff.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. He is the deputy chief of staff in the White House, in the West Wing.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. He has multiple titles, actually. I know that he has more than just that one title. And the President has not dismissed him or asked him to step aside.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Why is that? Can I ask, can we have a discussion here, a serious discussion, you know, at 11 o'clock at night? Why would the President not fire him?
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. You know, let us just give them the benefit of doubt. Let us say we did not think the President should fire him. We do, but let us say, why has the President not suspended him at least until he called upon even the White House council to do an internal investigation? They are really good at copping to internal investigations and not allowing independent investigations of wrongdoing or potential wrongdoing. But he has not even suggested that his duties should be suspended so that you can clear the cloud away.
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Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Almost 60 percent of the American people believe that Karl Rove needs to resign, 60 percent. This is not me or my colleagues or the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt), who failed a little bit on us tonight. We tried to squeeze him into the 30-something Group. We tried to help him out, then he faded on us, got a little sleepy, started yawning. We had to dismiss him.
But here it is. There is a poll. This is a Washington Post poll in November of 2004. Fifty-nine percent of people in this country believe Karl Rove needs to resign.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Does the gentleman remember when we were growing up, it seemed like any time you turned on C-SPAN or there was a shot of the Congress doing something, when we were kids, it was a shot of the Congress in a hearing, the Iran Contra hearings or some kind of investigatory hearing that would immediately be called. The ink on the accusation would not be dry before congressional hearings were called to investigate.
Am I missing something? Maybe I am not in the loop.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. While you are on the rule, about an hour ago, the Rules Committee reported a rule which are the directions that are given to the House for legislation that we consider each day. The Rules Committee gives us the parameters under which we can operate and act on each bill.
So, the rule for tomorrow that has come out on a party-line vote for this budget reconciliation bill tomorrow, is called a closed rule. You may be asking, well, what is a closed rule, what does that mean? A lot of the terms we use in Washington are cryptic.
A closed rule means that no one can offer any amendments to this bill. We will have, using the term that people have heard so often, an up-or-down vote on this budget reconciliation bill.
A short time ago, I recall that one of the distinguished members of the Rules Committee was discussing with us how open the process is and how much input we as Democrats in the minority party have had in the process and how many amendments we have been able to get in and have considered.
This document, this bill, that we are considering tomorrow is perhaps the most important piece of legislation which will have the most far-reaching impact of almost anything that we are going to consider in this Congress: $844 million in food stamps, eliminating 300,000 people off of food stamp rolls, cutting child care, $17.5 billion in financial assistance to college students. The list goes on and on, and the Republican leadership, because we have got to call it like it is, created a closed rule so that we cannot offer any changes to that bill tomorrow, none. That is the democracy.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. One of the things, among others, what we would try to do, as we try to reconcile the budget, is not give $70 billion in tax cuts that go primarily to the people who make more than half a million dollars a year.
The whole idea of this whole thing was to somehow find in the budget $50 billion to pay for Katrina, and instead, they found the $50 billion to pay for Katrina supposedly, but they also gave $70 billion in tax cuts, which means their deficit, this is what is great about Washington, their deficit reduction package actually increases the deficit by $20 billion because they just cannot resist giving people who make more than $500,000 i.e., their campaign contributors, a tax cut.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Could I ask a question?
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Sure.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I think it is always helpful for us to provide information to people who do not really know much about this process here. It is kind of arcane. Maybe you could help describe for people who are wondering about the process, we have to name each piece of legislation, so that it is descriptive for the membership.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Supposed to be. The words at the top are supposed to identify what is happening.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Ideally, it is actually supposed to define what we are doing.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. You would think a deficit reduction bill would reduce the deficit.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Yes, of course. The name of this legislation is the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. I am a freshman and I do not know the rules in that book as well as the two of you or as well as some of my senior colleagues. So I wonder if there is anything in the book, the rules book, that says you cannot be inaccurate or misleading.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Let us be a little more specific. Maybe the 30 Something Working Group will offer an amendment to the House rules to say that a bill specifically called the Deficit Reduction Act.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Actually has to reduce the deficit.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Yeah.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Why would you want to do that?
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Let us try.
Mr. MEEK of Florida. All right. Here is a perfect example of what we call the Potomac 2-Step. You have just outlined a perfect example. Some may say hoodwink. Others may say bamboozle. But here in Washington we call it Potomac 2-Step. It is a dance where, hey, I am going this way, you go that way, you swing your arms.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. They call it the bootleg: fake left, go around the other side.
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Mr. MEEK of Florida. Let me just tell you what they are doing.
Presently, they would say it is reducing the deficit, but what they are not saying within another 2 weeks, we are going to give people that make over half a million dollars a year the biggest tax cut they have ever seen. One Member described it on that side as we are going to help the productive people here in the United States; we are going to help the productive people. So I guess that means, American worker, if you make between $34,000 and $54,000 and you get an $840 tax cut, you are not necessarily in that group of the half a million folks.
I want you to go further on that chart, but just before we get too far away from what the Rules Committee did tonight on a party-line vote, you hear Members come to the floor and other Members say, oh, well, we are for fairness; we do not know why the Democrats will not offer their alternatives; they have nothing but complaints; it is almost un-American.
I am going to tell you what is un-American, Mr. Speaker, and I am going to tell you what is limiting the voice of the Democratic side over here.
The rule that was passed from the Rules Committee just moments ago in darkness, there was not a television camera in that room. When we start talking about the back halls of Congress, it is our job here in the 30 Something Working Group, good or bad, we are supposed to expose what happens in the back halls of Congress.
Let me just read this. This is not something that I printed. This is what the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Wasserman Schultz) just pointed out on H.R. 4241, what they call the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, even though it is increasing the deficit by $20 billion and change. I did not put these in order.
Number 1, closed rule. Closed rule means that we cannot even offer an amendment to this Act when it comes to the floor, democrat or Republican. Let me just keeping going here. This gets interesting.
Two, provides 2 hours of debate in the House, equally divided and controlled by the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on the Budget. That is where the Republican side gets two hours to talk about how good it is, the Democrats get 2 hours to talk about why we cannot offer anything to this budget, why are we cutting veteran benefits, why we are increasing student loan costs to students for our next generation of workers in this country, why can we not have more female engineers in this country, why are we putting what I call tax, they call fee, why are we putting additional tax on American families to educate their children.
Three, waive all points of order against consideration of the bill. Well, goodness gracious.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. What does that mean?
Mr. MEEK of Florida. That means if you have a point of order to the Speaker, that is waived, you are out of order. What do you mean point of order? If something was found in the rule book tomorrow that violates the rules of this House and I want to make a point of order, you cannot make it because it has been waived by the Rules Committee.
Number 4, provides that all amendments printed in the Rules Committee report accompanying the resolution shall be considered as adopted.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Without a vote?
Mr. MEEK of Florida. Without a vote. Should be considered as adopted. That means it is already adopted. What are they meeting for? What is the 2 hours on both side? Why debate it? We did it because we are in the majority, and guess what, we have the power to do that.
They are setting the rules. They think they are muzzling the Democratic side. They are muzzling the people that sent us up here to represent them. That is what they are doing. That is the reason why this stuff happens at night here.
Number 5, this is not my order, Mr. Speaker. This is from the Rules Committee. Waive all points of order against provisions in the bill as amended. They have already, in their opinion, adopted this bill. When I say ``they,'' I am talking about the Republican majority. When we talk about power, when we talk about an abuse of power, Mr. Speaker, that is what we are talking about.
I want to say it again, just in case someone missed it. This is not what we are doing, Mr. Speaker. This is what the Republican majority is doing on the Rules Committee.
Number 6, provides one motion to recommit, with or without instructions.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Now, is that an opportunity for us to amend the bill or change it?
Mr. MEEK of Florida. No.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. What does that let us do?
Mr. MEEK of Florida. That is just an attempt by the individuals that have problems with this bill to recommit it back to committee. I mean, this is not something to change or improve or someone comes to the floor and say, you know, if you just did not do what you are doing to free and reduced lunch for children, poor children in my community, I just cannot vote for this because I just cannot close a clinic which is only open in my rural area once every 2 weeks and now this may very well close it; all these billions of dollars in cuts to the veterans assistance and health care and death benefit, I just cannot vote for it in good conscience. So that means that that cannot even happen.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Can I ask you another question on that point. In the time that you have been here, which is 3 years now, has a motion to recommit ever passed out of the House of Representatives since you have been here?
Mr. MEEK of Florida. No, no. It does not happen.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. So they never send a bill back to committee even if something may be wrong with it?
Mr. MEEK of Florida. No.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I want to elaborate on what my colleague is saying, because some people might think that this is unusual and that it is a rare occurrence that they would close a bill and not allow us to offer any amendments. This is just my first year, but I wanted to just check on what the Republican leadership's track record is in terms of allowing us the input that they say they so desperately want us to provide.
There have been about 85 bills, as of last Thursday, which was November 3, 85 bills that we have considered on this floor that were amendable. There are lots of bills we consider that are under what is called the suspension calendar, and we vote those up or down. Those are the noncontroversial bills. But 85 bills.
Of the 85 bills that were potentially amendable, 38 of them were given restrictive rules where there were severe limitations on the amendments that were allowed to be offered. Severe. Fifteen of those bills were closed, like the one that we are considering tomorrow, meaning no additional amendments were allowed. No amendments at all were allowed. Plus three additional closed rules that were included in another bill.
Now, there have been, of the 85, 12 open rules, meaning anyone can offer an amendment, but 11 of those were appropriations bills, spending bills, which we always are allowed to offer amendments to.
So what it boils down to, and 10 were conference reports and 10 were procedural. But what that boils down to is that since I was elected and have served in Congress 11 months, we have had one bill, one substantive bill, that had an open rule, one where we could offer any idea we wanted.
Now, my colleague from Florida talked earlier about how we all put our pant legs on one at a time. And I wear pants and sometimes I wear skirts, and sometimes I wear pajamas. I might be bringing those tomorrow because we are not sure how long we are going to be here and how long they are going to hold that vote open until they get their way. But we were also all elected by the same number of people, or we certainly represent the same number of people, the same 633,000 people. But we are not all treated equally in this Chamber, because on our side of the aisle we are not allowed to provide the input that they say they want us to provide.
I actually just want to, if you do not mind, tell a little story, because we should demonstrate what is going on here in this bill tomorrow. Gene Sperling, who was at one time President Clinton's top economic adviser, he compared this budget and the cutting in the budget to cutting only peanut butter. I will share this story with you. Imagine the following:
The father of a financially stretched family decides to live it up. He leases three fully loaded Hummer H1s for the bargain price of $9,750 a month, almost $10,000. As the family's financial situation deteriorates, the father calls the family together for a belt-tightening discussion. He holds up a jar of Whole Foods chunky peanut butter and says, Do you realize we are spending $4.49 on this? We could be saving $2.04 if we bought Skippy Peanut Butter for only $2.45.
His teenage son responds, like, Dad, man, why are you busting on us about two bucks on peanut butter when you are spending like almost $10,000 a month on cars?
Then the father responds, Do not change the subject. We are talking about peanut butter.
Well, that is essentially what the leadership is saying by giving tax cuts to millionaires and the greedy, their cronies, and cutting programs for veterans, children, and the poor who are the needy. They are basically saying, We need to talk about the peanut butter, that is all that matters to us.
In some of the time we have left, we should let people know just exactly what the conscience vote is tomorrow, so that people know when we all go to sleep tonight just who is going to be able to wake up and look at themselves in the mirror and hold their head up high. We are being asked tomorrow to vote to cut $844 million from food stamps. They say there is fraud in the food stamp program and that we need to reduce waste.
Well, I held up this picture earlier tonight, and I will hold it up again, because I think it is very descriptive. There is the picture of the 25,000 people who lined up in Broward County today to apply for food stamps after getting hit by Hurricane Wilma. They started lining up at 3 a.m. They did not line up for emergency funding.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Those are new people. Those are not people who were probably on food stamps.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. These are new people. The vast majority of people in this line were applying for the first time.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. And there are a lot of other people in the country because the poverty rate has gone so high.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. And this does not come from FEMA money. This is not the emergency funding. This comes right out of the food stamp program.
We have cuts in child care. We have cuts that would prevent us from ensuring that deadbeat dads are pursued. There is a $4.9 billion cut from child support programs. As a result, parents will receive $7.1 billion, as the chart points out, less in child support over 5 years and $21.3 billion less over 10 years.
There is a $577 million cut from foster care. Now, I know there are colleagues of mine on the other side of the aisle who are just bristling at that possibility. They do not want to make it so that families cannot take children in.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. We are not kidding here either. If you are watching at home, you might think these guys are out there telling a story.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. This is real.
Mr. RYAN of Ohio. This is real stuff. It is why we are up at 11:35 at night talking about it.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I thank my colleague. And there is good news in all of this sadness. And that is the best word I can apply to this piece of garbage that we are going to consider tomorrow. There is good news, because the voters get it. They know this country should be turned around and moved in a new direction, and they sent a very strong message yesterday.
We had a number of elections across this country yesterday, and in every single one that rose and fell on issues like these, who won? The Democrats won. We will have a Democratic governor of Virginia, we will have a Democratic governor of New Jersey. All eight initiatives in California that would have abused the process, abused democracy, that would have harmed people had they passed in California, which were initiated by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, were repudiated by the voters of California. All eight were defeated.
So it is very clear that the American people are rejecting their agenda and want to go in a new direction.
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