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Public Statements

Further Continuing Appropriations Amendments 2011

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 115 provides a closed rule for consideration of H.J. Res. 44. This bill would fund the government through March 18 and reduce federal spending by $4 billion over the remainder of the fiscal year. The measure cuts $2.7 billion in earmarks from Energy and Water, Labor-HHS, Transportation-HUD, Homeland Security, and Legislative Branch appropriations, but most importantly, this measure averts a government shutdown and allows the Senate time to continue to consider H.R. 1, the bill that we successfully passed in this Chamber just 1 week ago.

Mr. Speaker, on that bill, we had roughly 50 hours of debate from both sides of the aisle, debate that ran late into the night that allowed the House to work its will for the first time in a long time. And the end result was that continuing resolution, H.R. 1, that now sits idly in the Senate.

This resolution today, this rule today, which I urge Members to strongly support, will allow for the 2-week extension of Federal funding to allow the

Senate time to seriously consider this bill, again, H.R. 1, the first bill in a long time on which the House has had a chance to work its will.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to say to my friend, I could not agree with him more. We must ask ourselves: How did we get here? How did we get here? I have been on the job for 60 days, but the fiscal year began back on October 1 of 2010. How did we get here?

We got here because the work of the people's House didn't get done last year, and I regret that. Candidly, I'm not sure how. I hear so many folks talk about the partisanship in the Congress and the partisanship in Washington, DC, and people can't get things done because of the partisanship. But, of course, last year Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. And yet we still sit here today without a budget, without the appropriations that the speaker knows we need for the government to continue its operations.

How did we get here? I don't know. But I know this: Nobody elected me in November to come up here and point the finger of blame. They elected me to work with my friend to clean up this mess. Irrespective of how we got here, we have to move forward.

I have to say, because I was at home for the past week with my constituents working through these very same issues we are talking about today, the question I got over and over and over again is: Rob, that is a great start, but let's do more. That's a great start, but let's do more.

You know, getting started is what is hard. It is hard to get started. Over and over again we have heard our friends on both sides of the aisle say: You know, this program, it can be fixed. It can be fixed.

I wonder if we will have a day here where we can start from a blank sheet, just a blank sheet, and say: What is it that is worth borrowing from our children for? What is it that is worth increasing our children's credit card balance for? What is it that is worth mortgaging our children's future for?

Let me just say to my friend, because I know he has a great passion for education, and it is a passion I very much respect, I have the great fortune of coming from the part of the world called Gwinnett County, Georgia. And Gwinnett County was the recipient of the Broad Prize for the single best urban education school district in America. We made it as a finalist 2 years ago, but last year we won. And we won in spite of Federal Government intervention--not because of it, in spite of it. We won because, as a community, we got together back in 1996 and said there is a better way. What can we do to enable our children to succeed better?

We were doing standardized testing in Gwinnett County before standardized testing was in vogue because we knew we had to have a way to measure. We knew we had to have a way to sort out what works and what doesn't. Well, folks, we need some of that standardized testing here on Capitol Hill: What works and what doesn't?

And there are a lot of things that aren't working. Not only do we need to get the bad out of the budget, we've got to decide that we're going to choose between good and good, between good and good because every school group I spoke to over our district workweek is a school group from whose future we are borrowing, whose future we are mortgaging over and over and over again.

It has to be said that the House worked its will in an unprecedented fashion, an unprecedented fashion. Mr. Speaker, I don't say that lightly. I mean never, never before in modern times has the House worked its will on a continuing appropriations bill the way it did last week. Again, I don't care whose fault it is. I don't care why we couldn't get it done last October. I don't care why we couldn't get it done in November. I don't care why we couldn't get it done in December. What I care about is we have an opportunity to get it done, and we did that last week.

The House worked its will, and we had some winners and we had some losers. I voted for a number of amendments that failed. I didn't get everything that I wanted in that bill. I know my friend from Colorado didn't get everything he wanted in that bill, but the House worked its will, Mr. Speaker, with unprecedented openness, and H.R. 1 was the result.

Well, I asked my staff to call over to the Senate before I came down here. I wanted to find out exactly how much debate the Senate had been putting in on H.R. 1. Of course, we debated it for almost 50 hours. We went through the night on a couple of nights. We wanted to make sure that the entire House had an opportunity to be involved. My staff tells me, Mr. Speaker, not a moment. Not a moment.

I hear the sense of urgency from my friend from Colorado that we have to take action; this is no way to run a government. I think he is right. I think cleaning up this mess means passing a single continuing resolution that gets us through to the end of the fiscal year. For Pete's sake, the Appropriations Committee is already taking testimony to try to get us into the 2012 budget cycle. This is leftover work that simply didn't get done last Congress. Not one second has been spent on the Senate side, Mr. Speaker, from what my staff tells me. Not one second has been spent considering a bill on which the entire United States House of Representatives worked its will; a bill that was the only open process that this House has seen on a continuing resolution; a bill that allowed Members from both sides of the aisle to come down here to the House floor and represent their constituents back home by doing exactly what my friend from Colorado is suggesting--trying to make good cuts, trying to make those things, present those things on the House floor that make the most sense to folks back home.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we are where we are. No one wants the Senate to act expeditiously on the work of the people's House more than I do. But given that not one moment has been dedicated to that, we have to come down here and fund the government one more time. It is the responsible thing to do. It is the responsible thing to do.

The better thing to do would be to act on H.R. 1, which the House passed last week with the support of Members in this body. But now, we have to come down here and extend for 2 weeks to give us time to finish those negotiations with the Senate side. And if that is not enough time, I suspect we will be back down here again. My friend from Colorado and I will be back down here in this well doing this same thing.

But it is no way to run the government, Mr. Speaker. It is no way to run the government. This is just what we have to do while we wait on the Senate to take up that bill on which the House worked its will last week.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, to put these cuts in perspective, because, again, we have to get started somewhere, there is not going to be a speaker who stands up here today who doesn't speak out in favor of fiscal restraint. The questions are: When do we start? How much do we do?

Compare the bill that's before us today, which is the continuing resolution to fund the government for 2 weeks and is adding about $4 billion in cuts, to the bill we passed last week, which had $100 billion of cuts in it. Now put that $100 billion of cuts in perspective.

Let's take the average American family who has to go out and buy groceries. That family has a 31-day grocery bill. Knowing that you've got to go out and buy 31 days' worth of groceries, what we're asking of the American people is to cut 1 day out. We're going to tell you now that we're going to cut 1 day out, and we need you to stretch your 30-days' worth of groceries into 31.

Mr. Speaker, that doesn't seem that draconian. In fact, it doesn't seem draconian at all. It seems like what American families are doing over and over and over again in the recession that we've been battling.

When we talk about these jobs numbers, these are the same jobs numbers about which folks said, If only you'll put your children in debt to the tune of another $1.5 trillion, we'll get unemployment down under 8 percent. It's the same economist who said, Well, it didn't work the first year, but what if we do it the second year? If we put you in debt to the tune of $1.6 trillion, in addition to the 1.5, in addition to the 1.3 the year before, then we're going to get unemployment back down under 8 percent.

Those jobs didn't materialize because the Federal Government can't create jobs. We can destroy jobs--we can and we do--but we can't create jobs. Our young entrepreneurs create those jobs. The business owners in our communities create those jobs. We destroy jobs, but we cannot create jobs. That is what this continuing resolution is a recognition of, Mr. Speaker: that the government can absolutely get out of the way. We're not going to hear today about the numbers of jobs that will be lost if the EPA continues to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant and hamstrings the American economy in a way that no other economy on this planet is hamstrung. We're not going to hear those jobs numbers. H.R. 1 would solve that, and we have to get started somewhere.

Mr. Speaker, I take no pride of authorship. I'm just a participant in H.R. 1 as it passed the House, as the House worked its will, as Democratic amendments passed and as Republican amendments passed. I wish we'd been governing the right way and that this had been done back on October 1. We passed that continuing resolution, and it's unclear to me why there was no open process there. We passed the second one in December and then the third one in December.

Again, the openness that this House has seen in this 112th Congress is absolutely unprecedented.

Now, I know my friend from Colorado is a strong supporter of CBO and of the work that CBO does. I couldn't agree with him more. Then when Mr. Dicks came before the committee last night with an amendment that would cut even more, as someone who believes we need to cut more, I was incredibly enthusiastic about that. My understanding was that CBO hadn't had a chance to score that amendment, that there was no scoring to be had, and so we couldn't tell whether or not this was going to cut or whether or not this was going to add or how the spend rates were going to sort themselves out, because it came at the very last minute.

Yet what didn't come at the last minute was the opportunity for the minority to offer a substitute. The Speaker reached out to the minority to say if you were interested in offering the same continuing resolution that you had offered before, which was going to freeze funding--and we've heard that a lot. Let's just freeze things. We don't want to cut anything, and we don't want to be draconian--the majority would have absolutely made that in order.

Again, the House could work its will, but my understanding is that that offer was turned down and that folks were not interested in offering that substitute. I would have been a proud ``no'' vote on that substitute, but I still believe, as the gentleman from Colorado said, openness in the process yields a better result.

This brings me full circle, Mr. Speaker, to H.R. 1, which is the single continuing resolution that has had more openness in the process than any other continuing resolution this House has ever considered. It led to the best process, and it led to the best outcome. This is the bill that sits in the United States Senate today, that could be acted on today, that would fund the government and provide the certainty that we need today through the end of the fiscal year, which is on September 30.

So when we're talking about certainty, and I absolutely believe that our economy needs certainty, it is the government that's creating the uncertainty. We are creating the uncertainty. We have historically created the uncertainty. We have an opportunity with H.R. 1 to eliminate that uncertainty for the rest of the fiscal year and to get back to doing what this House always should have been doing, which is considering appropriations bills under regular order.

Candidly, I hope my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle are throwing down that gauntlet today. I hope they're saying, You know, ROB, it's not easy to lead. It's not easy to move bills through regular order.

I want that opportunity to try. I want an opportunity to do it the right way. If we can move H.R. 1 through the Senate and onto the President's desk, we can then come together with the same kind of open process that we began 2 weeks ago to consider all of the appropriations bills and to make the priorities that this House chooses to make priorities, not the last Congress, not two Congresses ago, not President Obama in his first year, not President Bush in his last term--but this House today, together. What are our priorities?

As soon as we move this continuing resolution behind us, Mr. Speaker, we can begin to focus on those priorities, which is where the true work of the House is intended to be.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds only to say that's why we're here today, as the gentleman knows, so that there is no government shutdown. And I could not be more proud that we're here taking that responsibility exactly as seriously as it is.

It's very difficult to have a conversation about jobs when we have carbon regs coming down the pipe that will destroy jobs and we have financial regulations coming down the pipe that will destroy jobs and we have health care regs coming down the pipe that will destroy jobs over and over again. My folks are saying ``enough.''

With that, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier), the chairman of the Rules Committee, the gentleman that I give credit to for giving us the most open process on a continuing resolution that we've seen in modern times.

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, we are here today for one reason and one reason only, and that's to provide ample time for the Senate to consider H.R. 1, to keep the doors of the Federal Government open, to keep important services being dispensed, to keep the government of America on track for 2 more weeks while the Senate takes time.

I will associate myself with the gentleman from Colorado when he says we can't always get what we want. I sadly haven't gotten what I wanted so far, and I am prepared to get even less of what I want going forward. But I don't mind telling you I don't know how we are going to get to what any of us want if folks don't even start considering the bill.

This was our very best shot. It was our very best work product. Whether you love it or whether you hate it, it was the most openly produced work product in continuing resolution history. And there it sits, and there it sits, almost 10 days now with no advancement whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, I hope these 2 weeks are enough. I recognize the caution that my friend from Colorado suggests that we may be back here one more time doing this again. I hope this is the last time that we will be here.

But I know this: I know we can't continue to mortgage our children's future while we wait. I know we can't fiddle while Rome burns. So we have passed, we have presented this continuing resolution with cuts there to prevent our children's future from continuing to be mortgaged.

As I spoke with school groups across the district last week--and I share my friend from Colorado's passion for education--I asked them to turn on C-SPAN this week, because I said it doesn't matter who stands up, whether they stand up on the left or the right, or whether they speak from the well or from the leadership table, they will tell you that the reason they are there today is for you, is for you, the children. It's for your future that they are there on the floor of that House.

I believe that. I believe that in everyone's heart they are here to make sure that tomorrow's generation does better than today's generation. I would just say, Mr. Speaker, that if there are schoolchildren out there watching today, perhaps they will pick up the phone and they will give us a call and let us know exactly which one of us is on the right track, because I know it's all about them that we do what we do.

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

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