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30-Something Working Group

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Location: Washington, DC


30-SOMETHING WORKING GROUP -- (House of Representatives - May 23, 2006)

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I have been listening to both of you banter back and forth about gas prices, and what I hear in both of your voices is your desire to get to the core of what we obviously are all baffled about which is why. I mean, why over the last 15 to 20 years has there not been an effort, and let us say in the last dozen years, has there not been an effort to make a real commitment to fix this, to head this off at the pass, to make sure that our constituents are not consistently having to pay, for the foreseeable future, if not forever, more than $3 a gallon for gas?

I guess because I am the newest among the three of us I have reached the conclusion that obviously the Republicans do not have the joints that they need on the side of their neck because their heads do not appear to go this way. They only go this way, like this bobblehead elephant. Apparently, they only know how to say yes, Mr. Speaker; yes, Mr. President; yes, CEO of oil companies; I am happy to do your bidding in whatever it is that you like.

Their necks, unlike ours, don't appear to go horizontal, or side to side. Because if they did, then their voting record would reflect ours and the values of the American people a lot more closely, and they would not have voted in favor of the energy bill they put forward last summer, when they held the vote open for 40 straight minutes to ensure they could twist enough arms to get the bill to pass and give away the subsidies and the oil leasing rights that we own as a United States Government. And instead of collecting the royalties from the oil companies, we gave them away and allowed them to drill essentially for free, or to drastically reduce the rate.

That action and the lack of a commitment to funding alternative energy research and the cozy relationship that the Bush administration has with the Saudis and with the OPEC leaders, that is what has caused us to be in the mess that we are in. And you don't see any commitment on the part of the Republican leadership here to make any significant change.

The only place you see an effort to make a significant change and take this country in a new direction on oil prices and gas prices is through the Democratic agenda, the innovation agenda, where we pledged, when we rolled out our innovation agenda under Leader Pelosi's leadership, to become energy independent within 10 years. And that is possible through the use of ethanol.

I just saw the gentleman who made that presentation to our caucus on CNN the other night for a solid hour, and he literally outlined how it was possible for us to begin to make a commitment in agriculture through corn, which we are already doing in the Midwest, in your area, Mr. Ryan, but also it could be done in my area with sugar cane, in Louisiana and in the mid northwest with sugar beets. I mean, it is possible for us to really make an effort to invest in ethanol.

Brazil did it. Brazil is now completely independent of foreign oil. They manufacture vehicles that run on ethanol. They have hybrid and ethanol-only automobiles. That is something that is entirely possible in this country within 10 years. Unfortunately, the heads of the Members on this side of the aisle only go one way.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. And I actually should have mentioned something else. You are a Midwesterner, but we have coastlines in both of our districts in Florida, and obviously the United States is surrounded by coastline. What was the answer to our long-term and short-term energy needs that the Republicans put forward the other day? I mean, fortunately, we pieced together enough Members to defeat it, but that was to bring oil drilling and natural gas drilling within three miles of the coast of this country.

And it is understandable that a lot of our Midwestern colleagues voted to do that, because they are desperate to make sure that something happens and there is some movement on this. But had our Republican colleagues had a little foresight, had they actually had any interest in not, for lack of a better term, no, I won't use that expression, had they had any interest in not continuing to give significant assistance to the oil industry, then they would have not needed to make that short-term, shortsighted last-ditch effort solution to prevent minivan moms like me from having to pay $55 in filling up their gas tanks, which is what I just did the other day when I was driving my kids around.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. You know, what we always try to do here on the 30-something time is to help people understand that we are not just offering our own opinions. And I think it would be helpful to illuminate for folks and for the Members, Mr. Speaker, just exactly what has gone down here in this Chamber and the opportunities that the Republicans have literally just cast aside.

Let us take a walk down the energy memory lane in the last several months, just since I have been here. Ninety-eight percent of House Republicans voted to let the oil companies keep their exorbitant profits. This was the week of April 28. The vote was on April 27, excuse me. And what they did was, the House Republicans rejected a Democratic effort to accept Senate provisions in the tax bill that would have removed $5 billion worth of subsidies and tax loopholes for large oil companies.

In other words, they would have removed the subsidies and tax loopholes worth $5 billion to oil companies, but House Republicans refused to do that. Ninety-eight percent of them voted to do that. Again, I don't think your rubber stamp is big enough, Mr. Meek.

Let's talk about price gouging. It is really interesting. Before I came here, I was at home for a little while and I was watching CNN and saw a Senate colleague, to stay within the House rules, commenting at a hearing on oil prices. This was a Senate Republican, and he was using very tough talk and grilling the oil companies that were before him. Essentially, the announcer, the commentator on CNN, was talking about how this particular individual had previously never been in favor of legislation and had voted against every opportunity to rein in the oil industry and to try to bring some sanity to the direction that we are moving in terms of our energy policy.

But literally I watched him say it, he said to the oil industry representative that the American people were getting a little bit cranky and tired of this, and that he was getting ready to do something serious. What, I don't know, but if we have reached the point where even someone who has never voted to regulate the oil and gas industry is considering doing that, then you know that the American people have reached their breaking point.

Because in terms of price gouging, it has been a totally different story. The Republican leadership in either 57chamber has never supported adopting price gouging legislation.

In September 2005, Democrats proposed legislation to establish a Federal ban, this was a Democratic proposal, a Federal ban on price gouging for oil, gasoline and other petroleum products during national emergencies; provide civil and criminal penalties for price gouging; ban market manipulation; and require greater transparency in oil and gasoline markets.

This was supported by a majority in the Senate, but it was blocked by Republicans in the House. And that vote took place on November 17, 2005.

So there has never been an interest. In fact, there has been a specific interest in continuing to prop up the oil company profits. We have third-party validator after third-party validator that back this up, so this is not the DEBBIE, TIM and KENDRICK show where we are spewing our opinions. There are facts to back up the things we are saying. We are hopeful that the American people understand who is for true energy independence and moving this country in the right direction and who is just kidding.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. You know, what we always try to do here on the 30-something time is to help people understand that we are not just offering our own opinions. And I think it would be helpful to illuminate for folks and for the Members, Mr. Speaker, just exactly what has gone down here in this Chamber and the opportunities that the Republicans have literally just cast aside.

Let us take a walk down the energy memory lane in the last several months, just since I have been here. Ninety-eight percent of House Republicans voted to let the oil companies keep their exorbitant profits. This was the week of April 28. The vote was on April 27, excuse me. And what they did was, the House Republicans rejected a Democratic effort to accept Senate provisions in the tax bill that would have removed $5 billion worth of subsidies and tax loopholes for large oil companies.

In other words, they would have removed the subsidies and tax loopholes worth $5 billion to oil companies, but House Republicans refused to do that. Ninety-eight percent of them voted to do that. Again, I don't think your rubber stamp is big enough, Mr. Meek.

Let's talk about price gouging. It is really interesting. Before I came here, I was at home for a little while and I was watching CNN and saw a Senate colleague, to stay within the House rules, commenting at a hearing on oil prices. This was a Senate Republican, and he was using very tough talk and grilling the oil companies that were before him. Essentially, the announcer, the commentator on CNN, was talking about how this particular individual had previously never been in favor of legislation and had voted against every opportunity to rein in the oil industry and to try to bring some sanity to the direction that we are moving in terms of our energy policy.

But literally I watched him say it, he said to the oil industry representative that the American people were getting a little bit cranky and tired of this, and that he was getting ready to do something serious. What, I don't know, but if we have reached the point where even someone who has never voted to regulate the oil and gas industry is considering doing that, then you know that the American people have reached their breaking point.

Because in terms of price gouging, it has been a totally different story. The Republican leadership in either 57chamber has never supported adopting price gouging legislation.

In September 2005, Democrats proposed legislation to establish a Federal ban, this was a Democratic proposal, a Federal ban on price gouging for oil, gasoline and other petroleum products during national emergencies; provide civil and criminal penalties for price gouging; ban market manipulation; and require greater transparency in oil and gasoline markets.

This was supported by a majority in the Senate, but it was blocked by Republicans in the House. And that vote took place on November 17, 2005.

So there has never been an interest. In fact, there has been a specific interest in continuing to prop up the oil company profits. We have third-party validator after third-party validator that back this up, so this is not the DEBBIE, TIM and KENDRICK show where we are spewing our opinions. There are facts to back up the things we are saying. We are hopeful that the American people understand who is for true energy independence and moving this country in the right direction and who is just kidding.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Can you imagine somebody getting a $2 tax break?

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. When I ask people in my district in town hall meetings to raise their hand and show me how many have benefited and got money in their pocket from the tax cut legislation, out of several hundred, I get two maybe three hands; that is preposterous.

Here is the kicker: Americans making more than a million dollars a year get a thousand times what people making $40,000 get. They get $42,000. We have a graphic that we can show that means that they can buy a Hummer. That is essentially, they are basically being given the equivalent of a Hummer.

Let me just conclude by adding on to what Mr. Gingrich has said because he also said some things very recently. On May 14, on Meet the Press, Mr. Gingrich said: I think we have to confront the fact that on a variety of fronts, we are not getting the performance we want. The people in charge have an obligation to deliver. When you learn that maybe as much as $16 billion of the $18 billion that we sent to Baghdad for economic purposes was not spent effectively, you know something has to change. When you look at Katrina and you realize that we, the United States Government, paid $1.75 to a general contractor who paid 75 cents to a contractor who paid 35 cents to a subcontractor, who paid 10 cents to put the blue tarp on what was temporary roofing, then you know something has to change.

The leader from the 1994 Republican revolution says something has to change. Change is not going from Republican to Republican. It is going from Republican to Democrat so we can take this country in the direction that we really should be going, and so that the next generation of Americans are going to have an America that they can grow up and believe in.

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