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Press Conference With Rep. Dave Camp; Rep. Frank Lucas; Rep. John Kline; Rep. Spencer Bachus; Rep. Don Manzullo; Rep. Doc Hastings; Rep. Ralph Hall; Rep. John Mica - Cap And Trade Legislation

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Location: Washington, DC

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REP. CAMP: Is everybody in? Well, I think we have a couple of members that are on their way walking over. I know we're going to have votes very soon, so good morning, TGIF.

Today is the artificial deadline that the Speaker set for the cap and tax bill to come out of committee. This represents the size of this bill, it's 1,000 pages long and this is -- we're standing here today represent the committees of jurisdiction that have not had a time, not had a chance to review this bill and I'm joined here by Frank Lucas from the Agriculture Committee, John Kline from the Education and Labor Committee, Spencer Bachus from Financial Services, Don Manzullo from Foreign Affairs, Doc Hastings from Natural Resources, Ralph Hall from Science and Technology and I know that John Mica from Transportation Infrastructure is on his way over here.

This bill is an important bill and will have probably the greatest impact on our economy, on workers and families in any piece of legislation that has ever passed the Congress, and not only are we being shut out and the committees of jurisdiction being shut and our Democratic colleagues, frankly, are being shut out, but most importantly, the American people are being shut out for having an impact on this legislation.

We don't know much about this bill, but these red tabs represent the jurisdiction just of the Ways and Means Committee, and frankly, as we went to tab this bill, we ran out of tabs. We didn't have enough. And these other tabs represent the other committees of jurisdiction on this bill.

So we don't know a lot about this, but we do note three things, this bill will tax every American regardless of income, breaking the president's promise not to tax people of low and modest income.

This bill will push jobs to China. We know that. This bill won't reduce global emissions because we'll be acting alone. This is an important bill. I wish the Speaker of the House, Speaker Pelosi, would let us do our jobs. This bill was just introduced in mid-May. There is no reason why we don't have an opportunity to look at this bill on behalf of the American people and the people we represent.

So with that, I'll introduce Frank Lucas from the Agriculture Committee.

REP. LUCAS: Thank you, Dave. You're exactly right. The magnitude of this bill, the fact simply that it will become permanent law. We on the Ag Committee work on the farm bill; they last for five years at a time. We have a chance to work then on the good things and address the changes, unlike the every five year farm bill, this is permanent law.

Only last week did the House Agriculture Committee have a hearing on this bill. We had eight witnesses, three panels, including the Secretary of Agriculture and not one single witness, not even the Secretary would endorse this bill without reservation. That says a lot.

Folks in the countryside understand that agriculture is a very energy intensive business from the fuel to put the crops in the ground, the fertilizers, the petrochemicals, preparing our seeds, harvesting, processing, transportation, keeping those fruits and vegetables and meats cool and safe and in the grocery store requires electricity.

We understand the effect that this bill will have on us. It will reduce the standard of living in rural America. It will reduce our competitiveness around the world, yet one hearing and no markup in the Ag committee. Amazing. That's why my colleagues and I on the Republican side of the committee this week sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to step back from this artificial deadline that she set this week, give us a chance to look at how this bill will affect rural America and the food supply for the world.

Quite simply put, 1,000 pages of permanent law, a massive tax increase, very little time to look at it; this is not how you make law, my friends.

REP. KLINE: Good morning, I'm John Kline. I'm just recently appointed as the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, a committee I've served on now going on seven years.

The Education and Labor Committee has tabs in here as well. As you might expect for a 1,000 page bill, wages are affected, certainly Davis Bacon, Section 115, Section 172, Section 173, Section 181, Section 187, Section 338 and so on were all affected by this, how we live, how we work, the taxes we pay and what is extremely troubling is this isn't new in this Congress. You may remember the Republican leaders standing on the floor with a 1,100-page bill that we saw for the first time just before midnight, the stimulus package, he dropped it on the floor, we're not going to drop it here. But we were voting on that 1,100-page bill 12 hours later.

This is not the way to make law. But that's the forum that we're using and it's wrong. We're not upset just because our committees are not included. We're upset because the American people aren't included.

This kind of legislation needs time and thoughtful debate and the right committees to talk about it, are lines across the border are affected, this is the wrong way to do it.

REP. BACHUS: I'm glad to join my colleagues today. I'm Spencer Bachus from the Financial Services Committee.

It's essential that we have hearings before we create a multi- trillion dollar derivatives market overnight and that's what we'll be doing with three different instruments that are capable of being securitized for hundreds of billions of dollars and some of them are particularly hard to price and we need hearings on burdening of struggling housing market and homeowners, as well as commercial properties with stringent new environmental codes that are much more , much more stringent than the Green Act, which we've been debating for two weeks, for two years in a bipartisan way.

Regarding derivatives, don't accept my word for it. Robert Shapiro, former Undersecretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration said this, "We're on the verge of creating a new trillion dollar market in financial assets that will be securitized, derivatized," and that's actually not a word, but he used it and speculated by Wall Street like the mortgage-backed securities market. Well, we all know what happened to credit default swaps and these will actually be harder to price in many cases.

I have a handout later quoting many environmentalists, which talk about fraud that could be riff with this program if it's not set up right.

At a time when we're embarking on regulatory reform projects, why would we create an entirely new derivatives market without proper committee examination?

There's also been talk about adding the green bill to the cap and trade bill, and quite frankly, it's unclear what impact that would have on the cost of federally subsidized housing and housing affordability in general. We do know it would be hundreds of billions of dollars. Whether it would be trillions, I'm not sure. But the cap and trade legislation has several new housing-related provisions that will impact the cost of housing. These building codes create broad requirements for new building construction that are much higher, let me say that again, much higher than the minimums put forth in the Green Act. The bill further states and this is a real key when we're talking about mandating new building standards.

The bill then further states that any owner or builder that knowingly occupies, permits permanent occupancy of or conveys a building that does not meet the state or national targets shall be in violation of the law. What's the fine? Penalties under the Act for violations on the Energy and Policy Conservation Act statutes are $100 a day.

So imagine that you have a Section 8 house that you're renting out, it doesn't comply on this Act and do you allow the tenant to stay in there or do you take a chance on paying $100 a day? We'd like to address that question at hearings.

Thank you for allowing me to participate, Dave, and now I'd like to introduce Don Manzullo of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

REP. MANZULLO: I'd like to thank the chairman. I represent an area where at least one out of five jobs is directly related to the manufacturing sector. The little known secret in this Waxman-Markey bill is the fact that Americans are being asked to spend billions of dollars and add layers of unnecessary bureaucracy to help foreign countries adapt to new, cleaner technologies and not only does this create a massive tax burden on the American taxpayers, but while penalizing American manufacturers. It gives credits that can be redeemed in a global system to India, China and other Third World countries that are already polluting the environment and will not be bound by the cap and tax bill.

This is outrageous. When the American people find out that their energy bills will be increased from $1,000, from anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000 just to give to the Chinese a credit so they can manufacture cheaper, they will be outraged which they already are. They should be outraged at the fact that with this massive bill here, their elected representatives are being denied the opportunity to investigate the concepts of the bill and to report back and say there's something seriously wrong with this.

Now, American manufacturers are under tremendous -- (inaudible) -- just ask Chairman Camp and others from the Rust Belt of this country. At the very time when we're trying to save the automotive industry and other industries, we penalize them in two ways, first, we increase the cost of energy, the second is we give to their competitors in the -- (inaudible) -- countries the opportunity to manufacture cheaper. This is a bad bill.

REP. HASTINGS: I'm Doc Hastings, the Ranking Member on Natural Resources.

This is a massive piece of legislation and one would think that the lessons that have already been exhibited in the first part of this session would be, at least, learned and that is that you need to go through a process where with major pieces of legislation you have enough people at least looking at it to make the adjustments and corrections.

I talk about the stimulus bill that is now being criticized and rightfully so for what its done -- (inaudible) -- omnibus bill that passed without regular order.

So here, this process I'll at least give credit. They started regular order and found out the difficulties because of the massive, the massive information that needs to be put together to pass a bill like this, instead, I'm disappointed like my colleagues that Speaker Pelosi has decided again to go behind closed doors to write a bill like this and ignore the members of the House on both sides of the aisle that should have proper input to this.

The committee I serve on, Natural Resources, by definition, should have a say. Energy comes from the resources that we have within our country and if we're going to have a long-term energy program, it needs to take into effect the resources that we have on federal land, on the outer continental shelf, and yet, that jurisdiction, which is under our per view is being denied because of this arbitrary deadline and the notion of going behind closed doors to write something that will have a profound effect on the American people.

So you think that lessons would have been learned, apparently, they haven't and it's going to be repeated again, I think, with this legislation.

With that, let me introduce my colleague from the Science Committee, Mr. Hall from Texas.

REP. HALL: Doc, thank you. I'll start by telling you I didn't know what this was when I walked in here. I thought Newt Gingrich was going to be here and these were his notes.

Doc talked about energy and all of us know how important energy is. I think being the oldest member of Congress and not the prettiest nor the smartest, but by gosh, I am the oldest, I've been here a long, long time and I've seen the Congress fall apart and I've seen the Congress get mean with one another, but I think this has been about the meanest years I've been involved and I've been on both sides of docket and I say there's good people in both parties. We need to work together and we're not doing it and I don't know what the answer to it is, but we have to keep hammering and trying to get to the American people the affects of the bills that are going to affect them. And Doc spoke of energy and I'm on Energy and Commerce and for that reason, I know how much the jurisdiction spreads between Energy and Commerce and between my committees. It was science-based and technology, but energy, I guess, to every child that's 20 years old or younger, the most important word in the dictionary other than prayer is probably energy because that's what keep us out of wars.

And being old and you'd expect this from me; I remember that World War II wasn't a war because the Japanese didn't like this country. We cut off their energy. We were their sole supplier of energy. Japan had 13 months of existence, national existence, they were going to break out and go somewhere. That was an energy war. Bush sent 450 kids over there 12 or 14 years ago, it wasn't because we liked the emir of Kuwait, we tried to keep the guy from getting his foot on half of the known energy in the world, Saddam Hussein.

Those are energy wars and that's what causes most wars and that's why I'm speaking -- I'm wanting some jurisdiction for the Science Committee, substantial number of the provisions that are included in each of the four titles of the Waxman-Markey bill that are already in the sole or shared jurisdiction of the Committee on Science and Technology, including all energy research, development and demonstration projects. We have environmental research and development, commercial application of energy technology and provisions dealing with NIST and the National Weather Service and scientific research, development and demonstration and other areas.

The Science Committee, I think, has a very important role to play in almost any climate debate and our members' input really shouldn't be excluded in favor of expediency.

I sent a letter as one other gentleman here today said, I sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi several weeks ago, outlining a number of the provisions in the original Waxman-Markey discussion draft and I believe the Science Committee should have a chance to consider it. I don't still have a copy of the letter and I doubt that she has, but I hope she read it. But members of the Committee on Science and Technology ought to be afforded, I think, the opportunity to discuss, debate and amend provisions in our jurisdiction. It's that simple.

Thank you.

REP. MICA: I'm John Mica; I'm the Republican leader of the Transportation Committee. I guess I'm the last speaker. I feel like I've been the guy at the end of the parade with the shovel all weak for the Transportation Committee.

We haven't had a good week and this is not a good time for us.

We're the largest committee in Congress and we're trying to have a markup, we're not going to have hearings. This is the largest energy tax increase in the history of the United States and probably the history of the world, but this energy tax bill, unfortunately, is a job-killer.

As I said, we haven't had a good week. The administration has tried to pull a rug out from underneath from Mr. Oberstar and myself and moving forward with a transportation bill. Now, transportation accounts for about 30 percent of the bad emissions we're trying to clean up.

Now, here they're passing a job-killer. We're trying to do a job creator with transportation. They said they want to delay any action on that for 18 months. This is very bad news for the American people, people in a tough economic time that want jobs. This is going to kill jobs. We're trying to create jobs.

We don't even get a say, a hearing, on some of these issues and this is transportation, there are EPA provisions I've seen in here, I don't have all the details, but which will actually slow down the process of getting infrastructure built in the country, more mandates on local and state governments, just the opposite of what we would like to do in the bill now that the White House says they want to close down.

It's not a good week for the American people, the American taxpayer for efforts to create jobs and build our country's infrastructure. I'm disappointed.

Thank you.

REP. CAMP: Any questions? Yes.

Q (Off mike.) Other Republican colleagues met yesterday -- (inaudible) -- some interest if they can get some provisions of their own including more energy development.

Do you think there's anything worthwhile to come out of that Republican effort?

REP. CAMP: You know, I wasn't in that meeting, excuse me, I wasn't in that meeting. You really have to ask them. I think the real concern is that this is the largest tax measure to ever come through the Congress and the Ways and Means Committee is not going to have a role in it. More importantly, we've not heard from one small business owner, one taxpayer, on the specific legislation at hand and I think that shortchanges the American people and I, again, ask the Speaker, please let us do our job that the American people hired us to do, what our constituents hired us to do and we're not getting a chance to do that on their behalf.

REP. LUCAS: Eight witnesses including the Secretary of Ag, not a single one of them would endorse it and even the Secretary would only call it a work in progress. That says something. That says something.

Q Congressman Lucas, what are you hearing from your Democratic colleagues -- (inaudible)?

REP. LUCAS: I think Chairman Peterson is probably working in good faith to try and defend rural America, but the hand that's been dealt; I don't see how he overcomes these issues. Literally, take for instance the way rural electric co-ops are treated, the people who provide the power in rural America, entities who are instructed by the federal government in the '70s and the '80s to build electric coal- fired power plants, now they find themselves at the butt end of how these allocations are made. How do they rearrange all of these allocations to meet that requirement? But also just look at agriculture in general, intense energy consumers. We pay the costs of this bill, but in the structure that they put together, we don't get anything back to speak of and in all fairness to Chairman Peterson, negotiating with Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey and I suppose Speaker Pelosi behind closed doors, we in the ag community won't know what they've done until it's over with. It will take us months to figure it out if they agree to do something. That's not the way to make law.

Q (Off mike.)

REP. LUCAS: We stop this bill in its tracks. We force the Speaker to go back to use regular order. We make Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey and whoever is in that group supporting this concept, adopt a more realistic, rational attitude, whether it's ag or manufacturing or the effect on consumers, we start over. Now, that's my perspective.

Now, I know there will be colleagues on both sides of the aisle who will attempt to try and negotiate things that they define as important, but the bottom line is, it's the whole damn package is the problem. The whole process is the problem. We either stop it or we'll all suffer for it and I think my colleagues would agree with that.

REP. BACHUS: The reason I think the reporter mentioned that is this bill provides for tree planting projects to be used as offsets, but they could be in Brazil or Borneo and then they would be derivatized or securitized and they could be traded. Well, how do you confirm whether there is a clean coal project in Tibet or China? And my main question, my constituents are going to ask, well, why I am being taxed for a clean coal project in China? Is that in the best interest of the United States?

Does a clean coal project in China or a tree planting program in Brazil as worthy as they may be, how does that benefit us? And should American taxpayers for it?

Q (Off mike) -- profit or are you against cap and trade? So no matter what, there would be no consideration of cap and trade, if the process were to be open as you seem to be complaining about -- (inaudible) -- each of the committees were to have a chance to review and change it, would you all consider trying to create a bipartisan cap and trade?

REP. CAMP: I think this is so much more than process, but clearly, the American people are being denied an opportunity to know what's in this bill and when you look at the far-reaching consequences, every single American is going to be taxed under this legislation.

Every time your alarm goes off in the morning, you turn on the light to go wake up your kid, you make their breakfast, you drive them to school, you're going to pay higher taxes at every step of the way because energy costs are in every fabric, every part of our lives and not to mention when you go to your place of business or your work, the higher costs are going to be there, they're going to cost us jobs, and particularly in Michigan, I'm fairly sensitive to the job loss issue.

REP. MANZULLO: Illinois, too.

REP. CAMP: The entire country, I think, is pretty sensitive. I think the policy in here needs, not only be reviewed, but we need to change this. This solution is not global. This won't impact the global emissions that they're trying to get at because the U.S. is acting alone.

So I think we need to try to find a way to have us look at this bill, to fix what's wrong in it, and again, when you see -- it is unprecedented that the Ways and Means Committee has not looked at all of these tax items, I mean, that has never happened in the history of the Congress.

I think there's, you know, our representative democracy is something that we've held out as a beacon of light to the world and here the Speaker -- she's turning that light out and I would again say to Speaker Pelosi, let us do our jobs on behalf of the American people. Let us weigh in on these issues on your behalf, not just Republicans, but Democrats as well.

Q (Off mike.) Doing the same thing when this bill hits the floor?

REP. BACHUS: They forced that. We didn't. They shut down debate on a major bill, one of the largest appropriations bill that goes through the Congress after 25 minutes.

Q (Off mike.)

REP. CAMP: We'll take the bills as they come. I think that's it. Thank you very much.

REP. HALL: I'll hold this book up. Will you take my picture?


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