PROVIDING FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3161, AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - August 02, 2007)
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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from California for yielding.
I come to the floor today to express my disappointment over where this process has led us and the fact that we are going to shut down the appropriations process and go to what we would refer to as martial law.
Now over the last several days it has become clear that our Members are concerned about what has happened to the process of due deliberation in the House. Over the last several days my name has been taken in vain over the fact that there was an agreement reached earlier this year between Mr. Hoyer and myself and Mr. Obey. And there was an agreement we would bring earmark reform to the appropriation process, and as part of that agreement that we would work towards a unanimous consent request on each of the appropriation bills.
I want to tell my friend, Mr. Speaker, tell my friend from Wisconsin that I feel as though I have kept my part of the deal. I have worked diligently with our Members to try to come to an agreement that our Members felt was fair. The gentleman outlined the number of hours that we have taken on the appropriations bills this year. There is no question that more time has been taken. And that is because we have had a change in the majority here in Congress. We have had a serious change in each of the appropriation bills in terms of the priorities of the new majority versus the priorities of the former majority. So one would expect that more time was going to be taken on these appropriations bills this year.
But what brought all of this to an end was the process by which the State Children's Health Insurance reauthorization was coming to the floor where our Members were shut out of debate, where we were presented with a 488-page bill at 11:30 one night and expected to be in committee the next day ready to have committee action on a bill that had never ever had a hearing.
Now as I mentioned to the gentleman the other night, all we seek on this side is fairness. And so the tactics employed on the Ag appropriations bill the other night was an opportunity for our Members to try to come down and talk about their concerns with the process and their concerns with that work product.
But the actions taken here today to shut the whole appropriations process down, lock it under a rule, self-execute six amendments into this process is unprecedented. I heard the gentleman over the last several years talk about process and how the minority ought to be treated. I heard it day after day.
And I might add to my friend that I had some sympathy for the concerns that he raised. But as I mentioned the other night, all we seek is to be treated the way you asked to be treated. That's all we ask. We could have had a discussion about trying to come to a unanimous consent request on the balance of this bill. We could have sat down and tried to work through the process on the Defense appropriation bill so we wouldn't have to go through this; but that opportunity wasn't presented. So I stand here today with regret that we have had to come to this point.
I am one who believes that there is a way we can disagree on our policy differences here without being disagreeable; that there is a way that the two sides can make their points without cutting the legs off the other side.
But the actions here that are being taken will do nothing more than stifle the ability of the minority to make its case, the minority who represent nearly half of American people, to effectively make our case on this bill, and I think it is regrettable.
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