WAIVING REQUIREMENT OF CLAUSE 6(a) OF RULE XIII WITH RESPECT TO CONSIDERATION OF CERTAIN RESOLUTIONS -- (House of Representatives - September 26, 2008)
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Ms. CASTOR. Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important at this critical time in our Nation's economic history, in the history of what is going on in people's lives today, that we really try to rise above partisanship. That is what is going on right now. The White House and leaders here in the Congress are meeting on a very important economic package. This is a separate piece of that. We do intend to address it. We will stay here for as long as it takes.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, will the gentlewoman yield?
Ms. CASTOR. I would be happy to yield for a moment.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I appreciate that, because I appreciate her comment about rising above partisanship. I guess what troubles us on this side of the aisle is we are being denied any opportunity to even offer a bipartisan amendment to this bill, for example on the county roads and schools issue.
I wonder, I would like to ask the gentlewoman, would she be willing to allow us on the Republican side to offer a single amendment, any amendment to this bill that was just provided to us at 9:43 this morning? That would sure go a long way toward bridging the gap that seems to be down the center aisle.
Would the gentlewoman be willing to work with us on allowing us any opportunity to amend this bill?
Ms. CASTOR. I thank the gentleman, and reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, we did consider the amendment in the Rules Committee on a couple of occasions. It was not accepted.
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Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I thank my friend from California for his leadership in the Rules Committee and his steadfast support for rural community schools. Even though you don't necessarily represent a rural district, you have certainly shown your interest in my State and in helping out.
I guess one of the issues that arises today, it is sort of hard to figure this floor anymore and the Democrat majority, because the Democrat major lectured us in the Rules Committee last night and down here on the floor all day, saying we are not going to put rural schools reauthorization funding in the $60 billion tax extenders bill because it is not paid for, and we are not going to do this and we are not going to do that. So they raised $60 billion in taxes to cut $60 billion in taxes. So that was the reason then, not paid for.
Now we have dropped upon us a bill that most of us are just getting to see for the first time that is at least 46 pages long that spends $60 billion. $60 billion. I guess we will borrow more money from China to do it. And I don't see a single offset in here.
I would ask if the gentlewoman for Tampa would yield to a question. Is there a single offset in here to offset any of this $60 billion?
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I would be happy to yield to my friend from Tampa if she would like to explain exactly how this is going to be paid for.
Ms. CASTOR. Mr. Speaker, similar to the administration's $700 billion emergency economic rescue package, this emergency stimulus package, to provide jobs to the American people, to enhance the health care safety net, this is an emergency situation.
Mr. DREIER. If I could reclaim my time, Mr. Speaker, I began my remarks by talking about the fact that we are dealing with a very serious economic downturn and a financial crisis in this country, and very serious attempts are being made to work in a bipartisan way. We have Republican representation. I know Speaker Pelosi and those at the White House are working on this.
Now, to liken this $60 billion package that was just dropped on us, which is designed to dramatically increase public spending, with the effort that Democrats and Republicans alike are pursuing to try and deal with the economic challenges that we face as a country when it comes to the confidence level of markets and people who are losing their homes, is just preposterous.
I would be happy to further yield to my friend from Hood River.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I thank the gentleman, because clearly we weren't going to get the answer, and I will give it to you. There are no offsets here. There are no offsets here, it's $60 billion in spending, which apparently is okay for the Democrat majority to do after 2:15 in the afternoon in Washington, D.C., but earlier we were told we couldn't fund a 100 year-old commitment to rural counties and school districts because there wasn't an offset. That was this morning when they dealt with the tax extender.
Mr. DREIER. If I could reclaim my time, it was not only this morning, but it was last night. It has been day in, day out in the Rules Committee. We have repeatedly offered an amendment that five Democratic Members of the Rules Committee have cosponsored as legislation that the gentleman has. Yet they have refused vote after vote upstairs in the Rules Committee to allow us to deal with this very important issue of secure rural schools.
I am happy to further yield to my friend.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I will tell you what I hear when I go home: Why does the Federal Government make promises it can't keep? Why does it start new programs when it doesn't take care of the programs it has in place?
This is a real-time perfect example. This program, identified on page 12 of this bill, would allocate $3 billion for this green school program. Now, I am actually one of the cochairs of the Renewable Energy Caucus. I believe firmly in renewable energy, I am a fan of it.
There is probably more renewable energy in my district than anywhere in the State of Oregon, and the State of Oregon is about to be leader in the country in wind energy. All of that is good. Conservation is good. I believe in it fully.
But what happens here is you are starting a new program for $3 billion, and you are throwing over the cliff the people in rural America, the 4,400 counties, 600 school districts in 42 States who had a commitment with this Federal Government, dating back 100 years, where there are forested lands, that revenues would be shared, and that the Federal Government would be a good partner, a good neighbor.
That's why Theodore Roosevelt, when he created the great forest reserves, said the only way they will continue to survive and thrive is if the local communities are brought into the process. For my colleagues who may be from the east coast, understand this is a map of the United States. It shows Federal landownership.
Look at how much is owned by the Federal Government in the western States versus the eastern States. If you had 55 percent of your State owned by the Federal Government, and it was in forests that you, the Congress, are refusing to allow proper management of, this is what you end up with. This is after the Egli fire in 2007. These children are out where the fire burned. In the southern part of my district today, there's 500,000 acres that are ready to do this, because they are dead, in our Federal forests.
The legislation that I had hoped to get a bipartisan opportunity to offer a bipartisan amendment in a House that should be bipartisan would restore the county Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, a part of which allows for collaborative organizations, including environmental groups, to work with local communities to develop plans to get in and manage the forests so we don't burn them all up. If you care about greenhouse gas emissions, as I know many on that side of the aisle does, stop allowing your forests to burn up.
I would have, if given the opportunity, substituted the $3 billion that you are going to send out to every State in the country, and especially to areas that I recall Jake Abramoff used to lobby for, the Mariana Islands and everywhere else, I would have substituted that $3 billion and put it in place to keep a pledge and promise and commitment to the rural communities in this country and their schools and their sheriffs' departments and their search and rescue departments, and their teachers.
Because, you see, we have got to quit in this Congress starting new programs and not taking care of the old ones. We have got to stop breaking promises and commitments to the people of this country. It could have started here. When I hear, oh, gee, I wish this were all bipartisan, and I wish that, you know, process didn't matter, I've just got to call it the way I see it.
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