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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1, Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, and 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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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 92 provides for a modified open rule for consideration of H.R. 1. This bill reaffirms our commitment to fiscal responsibility by implementing two main pillars of our pledge to America: to cut discretionary spending and to ensure an open and bipartisan debate.

If you had told me 6 months ago that I would have been standing here on the floor of the House handling my very first rule on the floor of the House and that we would have been succeeding on two pillars of the pledge to America, I would have told you that might have been wishful thinking. But we have come together as a House, not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as a House to bring this process forward today.

Now, you know, Mr. Speaker, as an experienced Member of the Rules Committee in a former life, how unusual it is to have an open process on a continuing resolution. I daresay, even the dean of the House, the gentleman from Michigan, has not seen a continuing resolution come to the floor under the open process that we're bringing it to the floor under today. And that's important, because as I listened to 1-minutes this morning, and I heard some folks on the left and heard some folks on the right who weren't quite happy with the way H.R. 1 turned out, that was an important consideration over the past 4 years, even over the past 10 years, over the past 20 years, because if you weren't happy with the way a continuing resolution turned out when leadership brought it to the floor, too bad for you. You didn't have a voice. You didn't have a vote. You didn't have a process. It was take it or leave it. Whether it was Republican leadership or whether it was Democratic leadership, take it or leave it. In the 112th Congress, our new leadership said we can do better, we have to do better, and the American people deserve better. And today, we are fulfilling that promise.

This open process will allow any Member, Republican or Democrat, to come to the floor today, tomorrow, bring their amendments to the floor so that they can say, We don't think you got it right. My 600,000 constituents back home want to make a change. We think we can do better. We think you did too much. We think you didn't do enough. The first time a continuing resolution has come to the floor in this open process. I ran on that commitment of openness, Mr. Speaker, and I believe in that commitment of openness.

I can't tell you how many times I said that if Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed a bill through in the middle of the night, that was wrong. And if Speaker Newt Gingrich rammed a bill through in the middle of the night, that was wrong. That right and wrong are not partisan issues. Right and wrong are American issues. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed our Rules Committee hearing last night, Mr. Speaker, where we had the ranking member and the chairman of the Appropriations Committee come forward, lay out competing views about where they think we should take spending in this country, and then agree to come to the floor over the next several days to offer amendments, to work through that process, to make sure that at the end of the day, no longer do we have a take-it-or-leave-it leadership bill from either side of the aisle; that at the end of the day, we have a bill that was truly the work product of this new 112th Congress of this people's House. And it's just with tremendous pride, Mr. Speaker, that I take part in this debate today.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I will say again, I can't believe that here on my first rule we have an open process; for the first time in the history of this House, the best I can tell, an open process on a continuing resolution. Now, we're only dealing with this continuing resolution because of the mess we were left in last year, and we're doing the very best we can with it.

You've heard words like ``draconian,'' ``decimates,'' ``slashes.'' I want to put it in terms that I think we can all understand. I want you to think about it in terms of your family grocery budget, Mr. Speaker. If you went to the grocery store today and bought your groceries for a month, our friends on the other side would have you believe that we want you to fast for an entire day, because that's about what it is, this $100 billion, about 1 day out of a month's grocery budget.

But if you took that 30 days of groceries and you spread those 30 days around--and that's what we do under an open process. We let you spread it around--add where you want to add; cut where you want to cut; spread that around. Can we do that? Can we do that as a very first step towards getting our fiscal house in order? Not only can we do it, Mr. Speaker, we must do it.

I'm grateful to the leadership for allowing us to do it. I urge a strong ``yes'' vote on the rule.

The text of the material previously referred to by Mr. McGovern is as follows:

An Amendment to H. Res. 92 Offered by Mr. McGovern of Massachusetts

At the end of the resolution, add the following new sections:

SEC. 4. Immediately upon adoption of this resolution the Speaker shall, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 11) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the Build America Bonds program. The first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. General debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the Majority Leader and Minority Leader or their respective designees. After general debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. All points of order against provisions in the bill are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report the bill to the House with such amendments as may have been adopted. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and amendments thereto to final passage without intervening motion except one motion to recommit with or without instructions. If the Committee of the Whole rises and reports that it has come to no resolution on the bill, then on the next legislative day the House shall, immediately after the third daily order of business under clause 1 of rule XIV, resolve into the Committee of the Whole for further consideration of the bill.

SEC. 5. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the consideration of the bill specified in section 4 of this resolution.

(The information contained herein was provided by the Republican Minority on multiple occasions throughout the 110th and 111th Congresses.)

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 Republican 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 Republican 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 Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition, page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous question vote in their own manual: ``Although it is generally not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of offering an amendment, the same result may be achieved by voting down the previous question on the rule ..... When the motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the time passes to the Member who led the opposition to ordering the previous question. That Member, because he then controls the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for the purpose of amendment.''

In 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 Republican majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the opportunity to offer an alternative plan.

Mr. WOODALL. I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.

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