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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1255, Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

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At this time, I would like to ask the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Woodall) a simple question: How many jobs does this bill create?

Mr. WOODALL. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. ELLISON. I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.

Mr. WOODALL. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I would be happy to answer that question.

By eliminating the crushing Federal deficit that we have today? By taking the first steps we have seen in a generation to take the government out of the capital market and put the private sector back in?

Mr. ELLISON. Reclaiming my time, I do appreciate the gentleman's decision not to answer my question.

Mr. WOODALL. I would be happy to try again, Mr. Ellison.

Mr. ELLISON. I have the time and I have reclaimed it. I do appreciate the gentleman's decision not to answer how many jobs this bill is going to create because it certainly creates none. In fact, it destroys jobs. And it is really a shame. And I think that if the gentleman wanted to give us a number, even an estimate, just some sort of an estimate as to how many jobs this bill is going to create, we certainly could have a good dialogue about how America goes forward.

But unfortunately, Madam Speaker, the gentleman cannot answer that question because the Republican majority has been exposed. They have a no-jobs agenda. And this bill they propose to deem and pass today would cut upwards of 1 million jobs and as low as 700,000. This is a no-jobs agenda.

At this time, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Tonko).

Mr. TONKO. I thank the gentleman.

This Republican April Fool's resolution on the House floor today seems to look for a waiver of all points of order against consideration of the bill, which includes the waiver of section 425 of the Congressional Budget Act, which causes a violation, we believe, of section 426(a).

I am not sure if the rules of the House are declared null and void on any April Fool's Day, but I have a feeling that we are about to see that happen today on the floor. Apparently, the new Republican leadership and their majority believe that they can take control of the parliamentary system. Unfortunately for them, we still have a bicameral legislature, including a United States Senate and a Constitution that requires the President of the United States to sign legislation.

So the rules seem to be changing every day around here. I thought we were going to see bills 72 hours in advance. The bills would have to be paid for under the Republican cut-go measure, and all bills--again, all bills would have to meet a constitutional test before the floor considers it. In the last 2 weeks, we have violated every one of these principles.

There are likely some unfunded mandates in this measure. I raise a point of order because this is the only way that we have to debate this bill and we are being denied the ability to actually offer the amendments that we would like to, to illuminate what is actually in this legislation and how this is a break again from the hallmark and tradition of this great House, which is to allow open debate on appropriations bills.

So, in conclusion, we simply cannot trash the rules of the House like we are doing here today and, ironically, on April Fool's Day.

Mr. ELLISON. I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, I rise to claim time in opposition to the point of order and in favor of consideration of the resolution.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized for 10 minutes.

Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, it appears that this is going to be an April Fool's theme day, and I suppose I should have known that when I woke up this morning.

I am a little surprised that it begins with folks claiming a point of order against unfunded mandates that they are not sure at all exist in the bill; that they claim a point of order against unfunded mandates in a rule that waives those points of order if they did exist.

I want to say, Madam Speaker, I'm a big proponent of regular order. A big proponent of regular order. And the prophylactic waiver that is in the rule is designed just in case there was something that we missed.

B[Page: H2220]ut what is important is that we had the largest and most open debate we have had in this House in a decade on H.R. 1, the only provision that could possibly have an unfunded mandate in it and does not.

This bill does two things, the underlying legislation does two things: It both gives the Senate an opportunity to come out from under its paralyzing inaction and pass H.R. 1; and, it says that if the Senate does not, if the Senate fails to act--we are not asking the Senate to do exactly what we want them to do. We are asking them to act. If they fail to act, that Congress will not get paid. Congress will not get paid. My colleagues on the left won't get paid, my colleagues on the right won't get paid, and my colleagues in the Senate won't get paid.

I would ask my good friend Mr. Ellison, do you believe that this provision that will prevent us from getting paid for not doing our job is the unfunded mandate in that provision?

Mr. ELLISON. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota.

Mr. ELLISON. I believe that the Republican no-jobs agenda is a serious affront to the American people.

Mr. WOODALL. Well, let me reclaim my time, Madam Speaker, to say that I appreciate the gentleman's support for making sure we don't get paid if we are not doing our work.

There is a divide in this town, Madam Speaker. There is a crowd that believes that government creates jobs, and the more government activity that takes place the more jobs there are. There is another crowd in this town that believes that only the private sector can create jobs.

As this bill will put more capital into the private markets, it will create jobs. As this bill will provide much-needed certainty that we cannot have under these continuing resolutions, this bill will create jobs. As this bill goes to complete the work that should have happened last Congress but did not, this bill will create jobs.

It is a cruel April Fool's Day joke on the American people, Madam Speaker, that instead of debating the underlying resolution--and I have a rule that I am prepared to bring to the floor that will allow time to debate the underlying resolution--we are instead focused on points of order that even my colleagues on the left don't believe exist.

They accuse us of perverting the process, Madam Speaker, and we have had the most open process in the first 90 days of this Congress than this Congress has seen in a decade. And, in doing so, they pervert the process, raising points of order that they do not believe exist and they know in their hearts do not exist.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, at this time I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to a gentleman who is making sure we do keep our promises on Capitol Hill, the gentleman from California, Chairman Lungren.

Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to the question that has been raised during this discussion, and that is the provision dealing with the pay of Members of Congress and the President of the United States.

The Senate has sent over to us a bill which purported to deny pay to the President of the United States and to the Congress on a permanent basis for any time that lapsed during which there was not authorization for appropriations for the conduct of government activities. It is on its face blatantly unconstitutional, violating the section of the Constitution that deals with the Presidential pay and, specifically, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which does not allow us to do that.

The intent, as expressed by the author of the bill before us in the statement of the constitutional authority, makes it clear that we recognize the limits of the action that we can take, and instead we would in this way command those payments not to be made during the period of time in which there is inaction by the President and the Congress of the United States, thereby making a very serious and good faith attempt to put that pressure on Members of Congress and the President of the United States, but in a constitutional way.

So Members should be aware of the difference between the language contained in this provision before us and that which was sent over here by the Senate, which on its face constitutional scholars have looked at it here on the House side and the Senate side and the White House and have suggested that bill that came over from the Senate would not stand up to constitutional examination. This is an attempt on our side to try to provide that action, if demanded by Members of Congress, in a way that would be rendered constitutional.

So at least I wanted to make sure that as we debate this point of order, the rule and the bill, that it is clear what the intention of the author is in this case and why we are attempting to follow constitutional procedures.

Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to thank the chairman for that explanation, because constitutional principles are paramount, are absolutely paramount on this side of the aisle, and so is accountability, so is accountability for our actions here in this body and our actions across the way. And I could not be more pleased to be a cosponsor of the underlying resolution because it does hold us accountable and says no work, no pay. No work, no pay.

This is April Fool's Day here in the House of Representatives and across the country. We are talking about jobs every day. Every day in this body we are talking about jobs, and yet the debate this morning is focused on are we doing enough debating about a bill that already has been the most aggressively debated bill this Congress has seen in over a decade.

I want to invite my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in the United States Senate to join me as a cosponsor of H.R. 25. H.R. 25 is the Fair Tax Act. It is the only bill in Congress that eliminates every single corporate loophole, exception, lobbyist-inserted provision. Not a one survives the Fair Tax. It is the only bill in Congress that eliminates the payroll tax, that largest tax that 80 percent of Americans pay.

Do you want to talk about American families and their pain? Let's talk about the largest tax that American families pay. It is the payroll tax, and H.R. 25 is the only bill in the United States House of Representatives that eliminates the payroll tax in favor of a flat rate personal consumption tax that ceases to punish productivity and begins to reward those activities that build jobs in this country. It is the only bill in Congress that puts American manufacturing on a level playing field with the rest of the world.

Do you want to talk about jobs or do you not? Do you want to get America back on track or do you not? Because this is a point of order that we know doesn't exist. It is a point of order just designed to fill the airwaves first thing in the morning. If you want to fill the airwaves, fill it with promises of jobs. Fill it with promises of ending the Tax Code that drives jobs out this country and bringing in that capital that we so desperately need.

Again, Madam Speaker, there are no unfunded mandates in this bill. This has been the most aggressively debated bill that this Congress has seen in a generation, I would argue. The only two things the underlying legislation does, it forces the government to stay open with funding levels, those funding levels provided in H.R. 1 if the Senate passes this bill, and it insists that no work in Congress receives no pay.

Forty days we have waited on the Senate to act. They have defeated two bills, but they have passed nothing, Madam Speaker. They have passed nothing. If you want to talk about jobs, if you want to talk about certainty, you have to bring a proposal to the table. This is a freshmen proposal that reaches out to try to do something to make things happen.

I don't know how you guys break logjams in this city. Clearly, it is not easy. Last year there was a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic White House, and you still couldn't get a budget passed. You still couldn't get appropriations bills passed. So, clearly, logjams are complicated things. I am not here to assign blame for those logjams. I am here to offer solutions. Over and over and over again you see folks rising here to offer solutions.

Madam Speaker, with that, I ask that you overrule that point of order and allow us to get to the underlying bill.

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Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, this rule that we have today provides for an hour of consideration on a bill that would do two very simple things.

First, it would provide that, if the House and the Senate fail to do their business, they fail to get paid. It's a pretty basic principle in America: no work, no pay. If the House and the Senate fail to get together and solve this budget crisis, no pay. All the underlying resolution asks is that the Senate act--Senate act. They don't have to agree with the House. They just have to act, act, and send something to the House for negotiation and consideration.

The second thing this bill does--and it's every bit as important as no work, no pay--is that this bill says, for whatever reason, if the Senate cannot act, if the Senate cannot pass something--they've defeated two things but they have passed nothing--then the text of H.R. 1 will control the appropriations of the United States of America and the government will not shut down, will not shut down because we will continue to operate under H.R. 1 funding levels until such time as the Senate can affirmatively pass yet a different bill.

I rise in strong support of that underlying legislation, Madam Speaker.

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Mr. WOODALL. I want to say--and I thank my friend for sharing with me--that's the kind of thing that goes on. I mean, folks often see the frustration on the House floor. You often see the tempers at their height. But the kind of thing that goes on behind the scenes that you don't usually see is exactly the kind of thing I grew up with on TV. And I thank the gentleman for bringing this chart this morning.

Our colleague, Mr. Hastings, actually sang this song for us yesterday. And it was a wonderful treat in the Rules Committee, I think we would all agree. But as you know, when you listen to this song, Madam Speaker, once the bill passes the House, it goes to the Senate and the Senate acts. The Senate acts.

There's all these pleas for negotiation, the suggestion as if we're not doing enough on the House side. Longest debate this House has had, most amendments, more amendments, in fact, on H.R. 1, the bill that's contained in this underlying resolution, than we had on all appropriation bills combined over the past 4 years. This is the proud work product of the House, H.R. 1.

Here's the work product of the Senate, Madam Speaker. It's right here. As my colleague asks, pleads, in fact, that we negotiate with the Senate, here's what the Senate has offered.

How do you negotiate with that, Madam Speaker? How do you negotiate with that?

This is what we learned about. This is what our students are studying across the Nation. This is what the Senate has given us to work with.

Now, you tell me, as a freshman, what is it that I'm supposed to do? What it is that I'm supposed to do when the Senate fails to act?

And what we have done is to say, if the Senate fails to act: You can't pass anything; I don't know why. So just go ahead and fund the government, prevent the government shutdown, fund the government at H.R. 1 levels, and let's continue that negotiation.

I look forward to the day when we don't have a blank sheet here.

Mr. POLIS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I am happy to yield to the gentleman from Colorado.

Mr. POLIS. Yes, you are correct that the House has passed a continuing resolution; however, that specific resolution has actually failed in the United States Senate. It's actually a rejection. On top of that, the third body, the executive, has threatened a veto of that.

What this calls for is some sort of deal that everybody can do to ensure the government continues to operate.

Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time, I thank my friend. Because he's absolutely right, and that's critically important. There are those who would have you believe that the House is insisting that it's its way or no way at all, but that's not the case at all. We just did our job here, and we're waiting for the counteroffer.

How do you negotiate with this? You can't, Madam Speaker.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to associate myself with the gentlewoman's remarks. Those comments on the bottom of the board are as true today as they were a year ago.

There is no deeming in this bill. And I give my colleagues on the other side of the aisle the benefit of the doubt that they know that and that is just the spin for today.

There is no deeming in this bill. This bill says one thing and one thing only about H.R. 1, and that is, that if the Senate cannot act, we are going to give the Senate some cover. If the Senate doesn't want to commit to H.R. 1 for the remainder of the year, we give them the opportunity to incorporate the language of H.R. 1 into this bill, send it to the President's desk for his signature, make it the law of the land, while we continue to work to sort out our budget differences.

Now, that is critically important; one thing and one thing only this bill does: gives the Senate the opportunity to say, you know, for whatever reasons--and the reasons are still a mystery to me--we can't pass legislation in the Senate. We can defeat things all day long, but we can't pass anything. I'm not sure why that is. This bill says: but none of us want a shutdown.

Now, I have got to be honest, Madam Speaker. I am beginning to wonder if ``none of us want a shutdown'' is actually a true statement, because there are some folks who seem to be driving us right down that road.

This is a bill that just gives us another option, another arrow in our quiver to say, if you cannot act, Senate, if you are paralyzed by inaction, pass this bill, and we will continue those negotiations while H.R. 1 is the law of the land.

And I would like to say to my friend from Michigan, I thank him for his support of the rule. I hope I can persuade him to support the underlying resolution. He suggested that by penalizing Members of Congress for failure to act and curbing our salaries, that would somehow encourage a compromise that would spend more out of other people's pockets. I certainly share that fear if that is what this bill does, but it does not.

What it says is the very best deal we have been able to negotiate among ourselves here in the House was H.R. 1. The most conservative and the most liberal, the work product of all 435 of us, is what came out of this House in H.R. 1. And it says, let's fund at those levels that we are already agreed on, that has already been the work product of the people's House, the most responsive body in politics. Let's incorporate that as our baseline while we continue to discuss.

So it is not going to spend an additional nickel out of anyone's pockets, Madam Speaker. It is only going to say to the Congress and the Senate, if you do not work, you do not get paid. And I cannot think of a constituent back home who would disagree with that.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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15 million people where they didn't get one of those jobs, and it is going to be another sleepless night, another Friday without a paycheck. And what did the majority in the House of Representatives do about that this week?

Well, early in the week they took a bill to cancel out a program that helps people that are trying to keep their homes and pay their bills out of foreclosure. Then we spent a day pretending we were the District of Columbia board of education debating about how the D.C. schools should be organized. Today is going to be capped off by debating a bill that any fifth grader would understand is unconstitutional because it does not require the House and the Senate to act.

There are serious discussions going on about what we ought to do in this country, but the most serious thing we ought to do is work together to create an environment so that entrepreneurs, large and small, could create jobs. Instead, what we are doing is wasting yet another week, this is week 14, yet another day, yet another session, having a fairly superficial political discussion about a bill that simply isn't constitutional and doesn't make any sense.

Why don't we put on the floor a bill that reduces the deficit, cuts the subsidies to the oil companies, and puts some of the money into putting Americans back to work building clean water systems and roads and schools? Why don't we do that?

At a minimum, what we are going to do today is vote for something I do support. If there is a government shutdown, and I sure hope there isn't, we shouldn't get paid either. We can agree on that. Let's put that on the floor. But, for goodness' sake, can't there come a day in this House when we actually work together on a jobs bill, instead of another week of failure?

Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to say that one of the great joys of serving in this body is when you get to take a stand on something you really believe in. And while I have great respect for my friend from New Jersey and I know he represents his constituency well, my constituency does not believe that the government has the power to create a single job. Not one.

In fact, my constituency believes that every single person that the United States Government hires is a job that would have been done in the private sector. It would have been done better in the private sector. It would have spurred the private sector economy, but, instead, we suck that into the Federal Government.

We understand that entrepreneurs create jobs. Entrepreneurs create jobs. And I will say as we continue to count the days since the House has passed H.R. 1 and the Senate hasn't acted, it is the same number of days, Madam Speaker, since I came to this floor, probably shortly after my friend from New Jersey spoke on the H.R. 1 rule, to say if you want to do away with those tax subsidies, if you want to go after the oil companies, if you want to go after the lobbyists, if you want to go after the special exceptions, join me on H.R. 25, the Fair Tax. Not one new friend of mine from the other side of the aisle has joined me since that speech, the only bill in Congress.

Mr. ANDREWS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I would love to yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend, and I thank him for his passion.

I thought I heard the gentleman say a minute ago that every job created in the public sector sucks away money that could create a private sector job. Did the gentleman say that?

Mr. WOODALL. To be clear, Mr. Andrews, I absolutely said that the government cannot create jobs. It can hire people that would otherwise have been hired in the private sector.

Mr. ANDREWS. Well, if the gentleman will yield, I would ask him if he would apply that definition to our people in the military.

Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time, I am so thankful to you for bringing that up, because I actually intended to speak to that.

That is critically important, Madam Speaker, and it has been ignored throughout this whole debate.

Do you know what happens in a government shutdown? Those heroes of this country do not get paid. Now, understand that. In a government shutdown, this is a bill to provide a special rule so that we don't get paid, but by the ordinary function of law, our men and women who serve this country at home and abroad in uniform do not get paid. Do not get paid.

Now, it is alarming to me, because I know you share my passion for that, that this is the only solution that has been brought to the floor. I am one of the cosponsors who brought it to the floor, and we have had nothing but contempt for this effort. I am not saying this is the end-all, be-all of good government. In fact, I would associate myself with Chairman Dreier's remarks. I hate that we have to do this.

I have been in Congress for 90 days, Madam Speaker. I haven't gotten to work on the new agenda yet. My time has been wholly consumed with trying to sort out the problems from last year, and it is frustrating to me as someone who wants to look to the future and not look to the past.

But I thank the gentleman for bringing up our men and women in uniform, because they are outrageously disadvantaged by a government shutdown. Say what you want to, because I know my friend would agree with me; when we have a tea party rally on The Mall, they are 100 percent supportive of our men and women in uniform and want to see those folks get paid. This is the only bill to do that.

Mr. ANDREWS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

Mr. ANDREWS. Would the gentleman say that people who are FBI or DEA agents are sucking money out of the Treasury that could be used for private sector jobs?

Mr. WOODALL. Again, I want to point out, Madam Speaker, one of the great joys of the job is being able to work with colleagues across the aisle. I think Mr. Andrews is 100 percent right, 100 percent right, because what he struck on is one of those narrow opportunities where the Constitution actually gives the government the responsibility to act. And that is one of the wonderful things, Madam Speaker.

I may be new here on Capitol Hill, but the job came with an instruction book. It is kind of neat. It came with an instruction book. It is the United States Constitution, and it tells us what it is we should and shouldn't be doing, what it is we should and shouldn't be funding.

Mr. ANDREWS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. While I would love to yield to the gentleman, I suspect what I would hear, if I can presume, is a discussion of the constitutionality of this provision that's here before us today. The good news is I read the instruction book before I came to the floor today and I'm very comfortable with where we are headed.

I would encourage my friends to support us on this resolution. Again, it is not the end-all, be-all of government. It's a step in the right direction. And if you are going to have an all-or-nothing attitude, I'm not sure that we are going to get things done. I wish you would work with me incrementally to make this happen.

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

Madam Speaker, this has been an interesting experience for me as a freshman Member of Congress and as a cosponsor of the underlying legislation. I haven't had my motives impugned quite as much in the previous days as I've had them impugned today.

We're trying to make a difference. We're trying to move the ball forward. I wish our ``I'm just a bill'' song went on to talk about what you do when you have an intransigent Senate that can't act, a Senate that's paralyzed with inaction. I wish that were part of a song, but it's not.

In 7 days, Madam Speaker, the United States Government shuts down. I just want to make that clear. In 7 days, the United States Government shuts down if the Senate can't pass a bill and if we can't get together and define a solution. That means our men and women in uniform don't get paid. That means our USDA inspectors, who inspect all the meat and the chicken that we eat, won't go to work, and those products won't go to the grocery stores. It's not a little deal. It's a big deal. It's a big deal, and this is a step in the direction towards finding a solution. Now, this rule provides for debate on that underlying resolution. We'll get to that this afternoon, and I look forward to that.

I would ask all my colleagues on the left and the right, the conservatives and the liberals of all stripes, to support this rule so that we can move forward and debate in an open fashion the underlying resolution.

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