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Providing for Consideration of H.r. 359, Eliminating Taxpayer Financing of Presidential Elections

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, let me begin by expressing my appreciation to my good friend from Grandfather Community for doing her typically wonderful job of managing the rule. I also want to say to my friend from Fort Lauderdale that I appreciate his thoughtful remarks. I am somewhat dumbfounded, though, that for the first time since April 8, 2008--it has been 4 years, April 4, 2008, it was a beach bill that was being considered here--we had a modified open rule. We now are going to allow Members of this House to engage in a free-flowing debate. Our Rules Committee colleague, Mr. Polis, came up to me last night right before the State of the Union message saying that he was looking forward to offering an amendment that he told me he submitted for the Record last night. So we are going to, for the first time in a long time, allow for free-flowing debate. So I can understand why my friend might want to oppose the underlying legislation. I disagree with him, but I can't understand why in the world they would conceive of opposing for the first time since April 8, 2008, having the kind of free-flowing debate that both Democrats and Republicans and the American people deserve to see their representatives have in this institution.

And what is this legislation all about? This legislation is all about job creation and economic growth. Job creation and economic growth. And one might say, when you are talking about the Presidential checkoff, how is that about job creation and economic growth?

Well, I will tell you, Mr. Speaker. Last night the President time and time again talked about the importance of creating jobs. And as I said during my 1-minute presentation here, the President made it very clear that we need to make sure that we live within our means. Now, what is it that living within our means will do?

We need to send a message to those potential job creators out there that the United States Government is getting its fiscal house in order so that there can be a level of confidence for those businesses to create jobs. Right now, when you look at the fact that we have this $14 trillion debt, when you look at the fact that we have deficits as far as the eye can see, it's not sending a very positive signal for those people who want to create jobs.

So you ask, Why is it we're taking on a new program like this? Well, the new estimate has it from $520 million to $617 million. This is based on the new estimates.

Now, is it a small amount of money? Of course it's a small amount of money.

Why is this chosen? Well, I think that there is a reason. It's the fact that it has failed.

President Obama chose to cast aside and not utilize this system when he was running for President, and John McCain did use it, as my friend from Fort Lauderdale said in the Rules Committee yesterday. We've already had the President of the United States announce that his plan is to raise $1 billion for his reelection campaign. That would lead me to conclude that President Obama, assuming he runs for reelection, is not planning to use this fund.

Let's also look at the fact that, since 1980, when it was in effect, 28.7 percent of the American people utilized that checkoff; and today, about 7.3 percent--or something like that--of the American people are using that checkoff system that is there.

Now, I listened to the remarks of my friend from Fort Lauderdale in which he said that the notion of getting rid of this would allow corporations to be involved in a much greater way, and he implied that there would be all kinds of corruption.

No one--no one, Mr. Speaker--is advocating that we go back to the way the campaign finance law was before 1974 and Watergate. I mean, it was a horrible, horrible time. Disclosure and accountability are very important, and we have in place today, under the Federal election law, limitations that exist. No corporate contributions are allowed to be made to Federal advocates. No corporate contributions are allowed to be made to Federal candidates.

There is the notion of somehow claiming that, by saving $617 million, the idea of taking that amount of money off the table and allowing people to voluntarily support the candidates of their choice is somehow going to encourage greater corporate contributions. It's against the law. This does nothing to change that, and I think that it's a very specious argument to propound something other than the case here.

Mr. Speaker, I will say again we are going to have a rigorous debate on this, and Members are going to have an opportunity to participate. If Members do want to oppose the underlying legislation, I think they should be welcomed to do that, but I still find it very hard to believe that for the first time in the history of our Republic, now approaching 222 years this spring, we saw an entire Congress have not a single bill considered under an open amendment process; and while this is not an open rule--and I'm not claiming it's an open rule--it is a modified open rule that does allow for the kind of free-flowing debate that we haven't seen in a long period of time.

So, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join with Ms. Foxx in support of this rule. Then let's have the free-flowing debate and allow, as Speaker Boehner regularly says, the House to work its will. Then we'll have a vote, and people can vote however they'd like at the end of the debate.

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Mr. DREIER. Let me just say that, obviously, this is a very positive step in the direction for allowing for that debate. If we had 100 amendments filed that were germane, we'd have the outside time limit and an opportunity for a debate to take place on those amendments.

So, again, any Member had the chance--Democrat or Republican alike--to file amendments last night so that we could consider them on the House floor, and I think it's a great thing.

I thank my friend for yielding.

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