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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1213, Repealing Mandatory Funding for State Health Insurance Exchanges, and Providing Consideration of H.R. 1214, Repealing Mandatory Funding for School Health Center Construction

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, let me begin by extending congratulations to my good friend from Corning for his stellar management of his first rule on the House floor, and to say that we have managing this two of my favorite Members, including my friend from Boulder who serves on the Rules Committee with such distinction.

I have to say that I'm also glad to see that we have Dr. Roe here, who has, over the past couple of years, regaled us in the Rules Committee of the failures of massive, even State, government involvement in health care and the dramatic increase in costs that he's seen in his State of Tennessee because of the so-called TennCare program that has existed there. I know that we are going to look forward to hearing from him later.

Let me, at the outset, respond as the author of H. Res. 9 to the comments that my friend from Boulder has just offered, Mr. Speaker. First, I want to say that I believe that the measures before us are all about job creation and economic growth, improving health care and improving education, all three of the things that my friend from Boulder indicated that he doesn't believe that we are successfully addressing here.

Second, I have to say that as we looked at the litany of those 13 items included within H. Res. 9, mark my words, the committees of jurisdiction are already working on and focusing on those priority items. I believe that the purchase of health insurance across State lines needs to be a very high priority as we want to ensure that the American people have access to quality health care. We need to make sure that we have pooling to deal with preexisting conditions. That continues to be a bipartisan priority. And, in fact, on the issue of the purchase of insurance across State lines, and obviously on pooling for preexisting conditions, President Obama, even though he opposed it in the measure, has indicated his support of those items.

We need to expand medical savings accounts so that people can be incentivized to put dollars aside for the purchase of direct health care needs and/or health insurance.

We also need to do what we can to expand something that actually passed the Republican House of Representatives but was killed by our colleagues in the other body 5 years ago, that is, associated health plans that allow for small businessmen and -women to come together and actually get reduced rates as larger corporations and entities have done.

And the fifth item that, of course, we heard the President of the United States say in his State of the Union message he supported but, of course, was not included in the measure and that is real, meaningful lawsuit abuse reform because we continue to see the dramatic increase in health care costs because of the number of frivolous lawsuits out there. We have a load of empirical evidence on that, Mr. Speaker.

Again, the President of the United States stood here and talked about how important it was to deal with it, and yet we hadn't. Those are five among the 13 items that are addressed in H. Res. 9. And I will tell you that the committees of jurisdiction are today working on that.

Why is it that we are here today?

Well, we all know that we did pass the repeal measure out of the House of Representatives. We felt very strongly that the need to focus on some of the most flagrant examples of abuse by passing legislation out of this House needs to continue to be a priority, and that's exactly what we're doing today.

Now, I don't like the use of the word ``slush fund'' to be thrown around. It makes me a little uncomfortable, I have to admit. But that is a term that has been used by more than a few people to describe the funds that are granted, such funds as may be necessary and open-ended, without congressional oversight to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. And it seems to me that one of the things we need to recognize in a bipartisan way is that enhancing congressional oversight of the executive branch is an institutional issue. We have a responsibility to the American people to make sure that we scrutinize every tax dollar that is being expended, and this legislation is designed to deal with one of the major flaws in the health care bill, that being the granting, without congressional oversight, of such funds as may be necessary.

Similarly, if you look at the expansion in every way of expenditures which are not going to do anything to improve the quality of health care in this country, it seems to me that this is the right thing for us to do.

Now, procedurally, I know that my friend joins me. I'm not going to ask him to join, as Mr. Dicks has repeatedly in the past in complimenting the work of the Rules Committee, in providing for a process that allows for greater deliberation. But these two items before us are, in fact, making in order every single amendment that was submitted to the Rules Committee that is germane, complies with CutGo, does not waive the rules of the House.

We had amendments that were submitted. One of these measures is going to be considered under a modified open rule, meaning that any Member of the House will have an opportunity, assuming that they submit their amendment into the Congressional Record and if it complies with the rules of the House, they will be able to offer their amendment to this measure. We had 13 amendments submitted to the Rules Committee; five were made in order. The other seven did not comply with the rules of the House, whether nongermane or did not comply with the CutGo rule that was put into place at the beginning of this Congress.

So what we've done procedurally here under the rule that my friend from Corning, Mr. Reed, is managing is we are, Mr. Speaker, providing for a chance for a free-flowing debate, what Speaker Boehner indicated before the election last year was absolutely essential for us to do. These are commitments that were made to the American people throughout the election process. They sent a very strong message by sending 87 new Members of the House on the Republican side, nine Members on the Democratic side, 96 newly elected Members of the House of Representatives.

But their message was to deal with this issue, ensuring that Americans have access to quality health care, but don't expand the Federal Government's involvement in it, and ensure that since we had bills dropped on us in the middle of the night, one very famous one, the cap-and-trade bill, a 300-page amendment given to us that no one had seen at 3 o'clock in the morning as the measure was being reported out, they said, read the bill. They said, make sure that you have a degree of accountability and transparency in your deliberations.

I will say, Mr. Speaker, that if you look at what's happened in the last 4 months, we have had, I believe, more amendments considered, more debate. Just take the beginning of our continuing resolution when we had 200 amendments debated here on the House floor, 90 hours of debate, more Member involvement than we had had in the entire 4 years of the last speakership.

And so, Mr. Speaker, we, today are on the right track. In a very, very responsible, transparent and open way we are addressing an issue that the American people said they wanted us to address. Our priority with this legislation is to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care. That's something that we want to make happen.

I believe that the legislation that is before us today will enhance our chance to do that as we seek to reduce the size, scope, reach and control of this behemoth, our Federal Government, which has a $14 trillion debt. With one of these measures, we're going to be saving $14 billion, a very important step in the direction which both Democrats and Republicans alike say they want us to achieve.

I urge support of the rule.

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