PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 502, LEGISLATIVE BRANCH APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - June 22, 2007)
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Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Speaker, I want to point out that this discussion is interesting, and, as Mr. Dreier has said to Mr. Cardoza, it is worthy of debate.
I want to ask my friend, were you here during the anthrax threat?
I yield to the gentleman.
Mr. CARDOZA. I was not.
Mr. KINGSTON. Well, it is important because there is a little history here, Madam Speaker, but during the period of time in which much of the Longworth office was shut down and evacuated right in the wake of 9/11, I don't know how many Members, and perhaps Mr. Dreier knows, but we all had temporary offices in a building downtown, and I do not remember which building that was. But it was interesting. That was a direct threat to the United States Congress, and some of the offices were closed down for maybe a couple of months.
I moved my entire staff off premises. And so to say now that we have to construct expensive, unnecessary swing space just to fill in a gap is ridiculous.
I want to point out that I think it's important for newer Members to realize there is a history, there is a precedent. And because of the Rules Committee shutting down this amendment and free speech, most Members won't know that we are trying to prevent something that we've already gone through before, and that is temporarily locating elsewhere in a secure premises.
I wanted to commend Ms. Wasserman Schultz, the Chair, and the ranking member, Mr. Wamp, for what they have done on the CVC, the Capitol Visitors Center. It is a monstrosity; something we're all very disappointed in. When I was Chair of this committee, we tried our best to get our arms around it. One of the things that we all discussed is unfortunately it's kind of a bicameral problem. You don't have one head of the snake, one committee, one Chair who was fully responsible from alpha to omega.
I commend the committee on what they've done on this. I do think that with this FDA building we are creating another CVC boondoggle, as already outlined and debated in the committee. Since 2002, we've been debating this unnecessary additional office space, this swing space. And at the same time, the committee of the same government agencies are involved in it that have given us the CVC. So not to allow that amendment on the floor is something, in my opinion, is worth voting ``no'' on the whole rule debate.
The other amendment that I offered, among the many amendments that were turned down by the Democrats, it's very important to say the people who talked about sunshine so much are now denying it on the bill that tells this institution and the public so much about ourselves. No one gets elected or unelected on leg branch politics, except it does show what your culture of leadership is. If you don't allow sunshine, if you don't allow an open rule, if you don't allow open debate on your own piece of legislation that governs the House, then how can you go around and pontificate from coast to coast what an open government you're going to bring the United States people?
I know that the members of the Rules Committee and the members of the Appropriations Committee have somewhat been under a mandate, maybe even a gag order, by the leadership, but I would say there is huge hypocrisy and irony in this.
Another important amendment that I offered has to do with the Basic Pilot Program. And I'll ask you this: Do you think that people who do construction for the Federal Government should have legal employees, or should they be allowed to have illegal aliens? Well, we know and the Chair would be interested to know about the situation in California, because it's been such a hot debate out there, and the folks who have been building the fence, that the folks who are constructing the fence were busted for having illegal aliens to build a fence to keep illegal aliens out of the country. That is absurd. Similarly, we see this all over the place on Air Forces bases and Federal institutions, where contractors come in, and after close scrutiny we find they are hiring illegal aliens.
What the amendment would have done, which I believe would have wide bipartisan support, simply says that you need Social Security verification if you're going to do business with the Federal Government. No big deal, except for in this town and in this Chamber somehow that might offend some of our K Street friends, or should I say some other people's K Street friends. Because folks I know back home, they want Social Security verification. Unless you attack the job magnet, you're always going to have the attraction for illegals to come into the country.
This would give us an opportunity to lead by example to say we're not going to let you do business with the Federal Government unless you have verified Social Security. And the program is run by ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. It's called the Basic Pilot Program. Nothing controversial whatsoever. However, the Rules Committee is not even going to allow us to have a vote on it.
I cannot believe that the people one year ago, indeed, 7 months ago, were campaigning out there, telling Americans the Democrats are going to deliver open and honest government, because this rule is anything but that.
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