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Waiving Requirement Of Clause 6(a) Of Rule XIII With Respect To Consideration Of Certain Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, House Resolution 973 waives clause 6(a) of rule XIII which requires a two-thirds vote to consider a rule on the same day it is reported from the Rules Committee. This waiver applies to any resolutions reported on the legislative day of December 16, 2009. This will allow the House to consider today important legislation, including legislation to ensure the funding of our military in addition to measures to put people back to work.

Madam Speaker, we must act quickly to deliver the bills before us today that will fund our military and get people back to work. Today the House will take up several measures that will fund our military and make critical investments in the Nation's infrastructure in order to put people back to work. We have the opportunity today to take the bailout money that was used as a lifeline to Wall Street and give that money back to the American people and those who have been hit hardest by these tough economic times.

The legislation that we will take up later today will divert the TARP money to programs that will create and save jobs across the country. We do this by investing $75 billion of TARP money into highways, to transit, to school renovation, to hiring teachers, police and firefighters, to supporting small businesses, job training and affordable housing.

For those hit hardest by the recession, this bill also provides emergency relief by extending programs like Unemployment Benefits, COBRA and FMAP, which is health care funding for our States, and the child care tax credit. These are measures that we must pass to build a foundation for long-term economic recovery.

This is not an ordinary day; and given the importance of this legislation, I hope Members on both sides of the aisle will support this rule so that we can move quickly to enact these critically important measures.

I wish, as so many of my colleagues wish, that we weren't faced with such difficult problems. I wish that when the Democrats took over the majority, we weren't saddled with two wars, a recession and a $1.3 trillion deficit. But wishing won't make these problems go away. There is real urgency in the actions before us today, and I truly hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in supporting this rule to allow us to move forward.

Later in the day, we will debate the merits of all of this legislation and the grave implications of not passing these bills. But right now, I urge my colleagues to support this rule and allow us to move forward on the debate to complete the work that we were sent here to do.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. My good friend from North Carolina has suggested that this isn't an emergency. I would say that I hear every day from constituents in my district who feel that we are in a time of emergency. In Maine, we have 20,000 unemployed workers who are facing the end of their unemployment benefits. A very critical thing that we are about to talk about today is the extension of unemployment benefits.

Now, we are anxious for the economy to improve, but the fact is in my State unemployment benefits are the fourth largest payroll. That is a tragedy that we have to deal with. We have to make sure that those people, in the middle of a cold winter, don't go without their vital support and that our State doesn't go without a critical part of our economy.

Many of those people can't even stand a delay because the fact is if they go for even a few days or weeks without their benefits, they've already hit the end of their credit card limits, they've already gone as far as they can possibly go. Many workers have talked to me about the fact that they are using their COBRA subsidy; they were laid off, and the fact is this extended that as well.

As far as I'm concerned, there are many critical things in this bill. This is the time to get it passed. People say to me all the time, When are you going to get something done in Washington? As far as I'm concerned, this is something we have to get done, and we need to get back to work today.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Madam Speaker, I do want to thank my colleague, the ranking member on the committee, both for his history lesson and also for extending holiday greetings to those across the country. I do appreciate that, as a new Member, I often learn bits of the past from the things that he discusses with us, and I want to join him in thanking our hardworking staff. He is absolutely right. We were here late into the evening, and we were here early in the morning. I know that my colleagues put in many hours and that our staffs work very hard, and I want them to know I appreciate greatly their hard work on our behalf and for dealing with many of the challenges we often have before us which make our procedural challenges even more difficult as we try to determine how to get so much work done that is before us and with so much more to do. That is why we are here today--to talk about this same-day rule, to talk about the work that is before us.

I yield as much time as he is interested in consuming to my good colleague from Colorado (Mr. Perlmutter).

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. No, I don't think, actually, they are all older.

Anyway, I just want to say that, while this has been a very interesting history lesson and while I greatly appreciate my colleague from Colorado and his understanding of the financial services industry and of this world that we've been working so hard on to both regulate and to deal with, much of my colleague from California's remarks have been referring to President Kennedy and to President Reagan, which were very different eras.

I just want to remind my colleagues on the floor that we are here at the end of the Bush administration. When President Obama came to office, yes, the Democrats had been here for 2 years before and there were things that we were unable to fix when we were simply in the majority. The fact is that President Obama and this particular Congress--and I came here as a freshman--inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression, two wars that weren't paid for, a broken health care system, and a 1950s energy policy. That is what we have had to deal with. As my colleagues know, this has not been an easy year. We are here over and over again, attempting to deal with this.

I yield 1 minute to my colleague from Colorado (Mr. Perlmutter).

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. No, I don't think, actually, they are all older.

Anyway, I just want to say that, while this has been a very interesting history lesson and while I greatly appreciate my colleague from Colorado and his understanding of the financial services industry and of this world that we've been working so hard on to both regulate and to deal with, much of my colleague from California's remarks have been referring to President Kennedy and to President Reagan, which were very different eras.

I just want to remind my colleagues on the floor that we are here at the end of the Bush administration. When President Obama came to office, yes, the Democrats had been here for 2 years before and there were things that we were unable to fix when we were simply in the majority. The fact is that President Obama and this particular Congress--and I came here as a freshman--inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression, two wars that weren't paid for, a broken health care system, and a 1950s energy policy. That is what we have had to deal with. As my colleagues know, this has not been an easy year. We are here over and over again, attempting to deal with this.

I yield 1 minute to my colleague from Colorado (Mr. Perlmutter).

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Thank you to my colleague from North Carolina for her thoughts. While we don't always agree, I appreciate her reminding us about the soldiers who have fallen, about their families, about her visit to Arlington Cemetery.

I want to concur. I had the privilege of visiting the cemetery myself this week. Not only did I also grieve for those families who were there visiting the gravestones of their loved ones and their family members, and many who were just there to think about the people who they didn't even know who served for us.

I was also tremendously proud to see the thousands of wreaths that decorated those graves that had been brought down from my home State, the State of Maine, in honor of our fallen soldiers. There were 16,000 that were brought to Arlington Cemetery, and there were many people who traveled with them to make sure that we show the proper respect for our military, for our soldiers, and for those who served their country in the past and virtually every day.

I want to just say that we are here today in part to talk about making sure that there is adequate funding for our military. Yes, we all wish that our colleagues in the Senate had acted faster on this bill, that we weren't dealing with continuing resolutions, but this is the particular situation that we are in. It is very important that we finish our work before the end of the year, before the end of the holidays, that we recognize our soldiers, our current military, and many of the other needs in this bill, many of which will be discussed as soon as we finish the debate on this same-day rule.

Madam Speaker, in closing, I just want to say that the rule before us this morning simply allows the consideration of these measures to move forward.

We have heard a lot about the process this morning. I want to simply state for the record in the 109th Congress, before I was a Member of this body, the Republican majority reported out over 20 rules that allowed for same-day consideration.

Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote for this rule and for the underlying measures before us today. These programs are too important. Our constituents are in too much turmoil to slow this process down any further.

I urge a ``yes'' vote on the previous question and on the rule.

The material previously referred to by Ms. Foxx is as follows:

Amendment to H. Res. 973 Offered by Ms. Foxx of North Carolina

At the end of the resolution, insert the following new section:

Sec. 2. On the third legislative day after the adoption of this resolution, immediately after the third daily order of business under clause 1 of rule XIV and without intervention of any point of order, the House shall proceed to the consideration of the resolution (H. Res. 554) amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to require that legislation and conference reports be available on the Internet for 72 hours before consideration by the House, and for other purposes. The resolution shall be considered as read. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the resolution and any amendment thereto to final adoption without intervening motion or demand for division of the question except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Rules; (2) an amendment, if offered by the Minority Leader or his designee and if printed in that portion of the Congressional Record designated for that purpose in clause 8 of rule XVIII at least one legislative day prior to its consideration; which shall be in order without intervention of any point of order or demand for division of the question, shall be considered as read and shall be separately debatable for twenty minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent; and (3) one motion to recommit which shall not contain instructions. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the consideration of House Resolution 554.

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(The information contained herein was provided by Democratic Minority on multiple occasions throughout the 109th Congress.)

The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means

This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote against the Democratic majority agenda and a vote to allow the opposition, at least for the moment, to offer an alternative plan. It is a vote about what the House should be debating.

Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, (VI, 308-311) describes the vote on the previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or control the consideration of the subject before the House being made by the Member in charge.'' To
defeat the previous question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first recognition.''

Because the vote today may look bad for the Democratic majority they will say ``the vote on the previous question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an immediate vote on adopting the resolution ..... [and] has no substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the definition of the previous question used in the Floor Procedures Manual published by the Rules Committee in the 109th Congress, (page 56). Here's how the Rules Committee described the rule using information form Congressional Quarterly's ``American Congressional Dictionary'': ``If the previous question is defeated, control of debate shifts to the leading opposition member (usually the minority Floor Manager) who then manages an hour of debate and may offer a germane amendment to the pending business.''

Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who controls the time for debate thereon.''

Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only available tools for those who oppose the Democratic majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the opportunity to offer an alternative plan.

Ms. PINGREE of Maine. I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.

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