CHILDREN'S SAFETY AND VIOLENT CRIME REDUCTION ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - March 08, 2006)
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I once again skirt the rules of the House by taking note of the fact that people not in this Chamber may be watching us. And I am particularly concerned about members of the Iraqi National Assembly, the newly elected Parliament which we are trying to instruct in democracy. They may be observing this procedure by which this House deals with a number of very important and controversial issues, some of which I fully support, some of which I question. But as they watch us deal with this, it is being dealt with in a manner in which no amendments are allowed, in which only 40 minutes total of debate are allowed. And it is a bill brought forward because the committee leadership didn't like what happened when the House actually voted on it in a democratic manner.
You will remember this bill came before us, many of the elements of this bill some time ago, and the House, working its will, voted to include an amendment to the hate crimes section. That appalled many Members of the majority. In fact, we read in some of the newspapers, members of the majority of the Republican Study Committee lamented the fact that the leadership had actually given the House membership a chance to vote. They said, we can't allow that to happen, we can't allow democracy to be running rampant on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
So today we have the antidote to democracy. We have a bill brought forward that repeats much of what was done before, which adds some other issues that ought to be debated, many of which I support, some of which I might like to see amended, and it prohibits amendments. It is a very important and somewhat controversial piece. And there can be controversy about better ways to do it or worse ways to do it, but it is brought up in an absolutely undemocratic fashion.
So to those members of the Iraqi National Assembly who may happen to be observing this, I think there is a very important point we need to make: please don't try this at home.
We are trying to instill others in the world to be democratic. The President's inaugural address noted that we are going to bring democracy. Is this what you mean by teaching people to follow democratic procedures, Madam Speaker?
The other side brings up a controversial bill, and because it was amended once, make sure you can bring it back again in an unamendable form, put in other aspects, and leave virtually no time for debate. We will have debated this bill under the same rule that we debate naming of post offices. We will give this bill the same amount of time as we give post offices, or that major piece of legislation, the only vote we cast last Wednesday when this House came out overwhelmingly in favor of Sandra Day O'Connor. That is the bill that we had 40 minutes of debate on, the same as this.
This is a shameful example of the degradation of the democratic process that has befallen this House. What happens is what has happened in the past: things get put in here that cannot be individually examined, they cannot be debated. Members will feel pressured to vote for the overall package. Members, and this is the goal, put a lot of things in here that are very important and very good, many of which I have voted for in the past, many of which I want to vote for. But Members have put in a few other things that are very controversial and do not allow this House to approach looking at things individually and saying an amendment here, yes or no. And then if Members do not buy the whole package, then you go after them.
The Republican majority has decided to legislate in the same manner in which you give a pill to a dog: you take something that the dog wants and you stick a couple of pills in it and you ram it down its throat. That is an inappropriate way for this democratic House to proceed.
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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I just want to point out that the poison pill the gentleman from Wisconsin was referring to was an amendment adopted on the floor of this House by a majority of the House. So the poison pill is the result of a majority of this House. The problem is the gentleman from Wisconsin has Thomas Jefferson confused with Lucretia Borgia. When the will of the House works its will under this regime, and the gentleman from Wisconsin does not like the outcome, it becomes a poison pill and we go through this whole procedure just to get rid of it.
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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I know some Members here will not remember it, but there used to be something called a conference committee, and if we sent the Senate a bill and they did not like it, they could amend it and send it back. We do not have to do the bidding of the Senate by taking the tough issue off the table for them.