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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.R. 2608, Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 405 provides for a closed rule for the consideration of H.R. 2608. It's a temporary continuing resolution that will fund the operations of the United States Government through November 18 of this year. It is important to note that the funding levels in this CR are the very same fiscally responsible levels that this Congress and President Barack Obama approved in the Budget Control Act just 1 month ago. This is not a departure from our path of restoring fiscal sanity, Mr. Speaker. We are committed to continuing on that path. But, unfortunately, the actions of the other body leave us no choice but to consider this continuing resolution today.

I take no pride, Mr. Speaker, in sharing with you--actually, that's not true. That's not true at all. I take great pride in sharing with you what the House has done over the last 6 months, 7 months, 8 months; but I take no pride at all in pointing out what has not happened on the other end of this Capitol to do the work that needs to be done.

Constitutionally, we are required to fund the operations of the government. June 2 of this year, the House passed the Homeland Security appropriations bill. To date, the Senate has not.

On June 14 of this year, the House passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill. This is the one bill that our friends in the Senate have passed as well.

June 16, the House passed the Agriculture appropriations bill. To date, the Senate has taken no action at all.

July 15, the House passed the Energy and Water appropriations bill. To date, the Senate has not.

July 22, the House passed the Legislative Branch appropriations bill. To date, the Senate has not.

Mr. Speaker, I did not run for Congress last November, I did not show up here as a freshman to continue business as usual, passing continuing resolution after continuing resolution after continuing resolution. And I know my friends on both sides of the aisle believe that's a process which has long since exceeded its usefulness.

I am so proud that we as a body have begun to pass those appropriations bills one by one by one. And what have we gotten because of that? We've gotten oversight. We've had the opportunity to discuss line by line by line what are our priorities as the House. Now, those priorities differ from time to time between my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle and my friends on the Republican side of the aisle, but we have an opportunity at least to discuss those priorities.

When the other body fails to pass the appropriations bills, what choices do we have left? What choices are available to me as a new freshman Member of the House? I could choose to abrogate responsibility. I could choose to say no. No, we're just going to wait, and if the Senate fails to act, then so be it. Let the government shut down and let the chips fall where they may. That's not the kind of operation I want to run. That's not why I came to the United States Congress. I came to the United States Congress because this is the people's House. This is where thoughtful discussion of the people's priorities takes place.

What brings me to the floor today is to consider this continuing resolution that for just 1 1/2 short months, through November 18, will extend the operations of the government so we can continue that thoughtful discussion that I know so many of the Members here came for.

With that, I urge my colleagues to thoughtfully consider this rule today, thoughtfully consider the underlying bill; and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to speak to what's inexcusable here. And I hate that that's where we have to end up.

The truth of the matter is what we have down here today is the re-litigation of something that we already litigated in July and August, and that is that this bill today funds just until November 18 at the level that we, as a body, agreed to. You may not like it, I may not like it, but we agreed to it: a level that's 1043, $1.043 trillion. That's a big number. That is a big number.

This resolution today, this continuing resolution to get us through November 18, does not re-litigate that decision. We spent a lot of time on that in July and August, and again, we come from different places on whether or not that's the right number. I probably say it's too high, you may say it's too low, but this is simply a resolution that implements the will of this House.


Mr. WOODALL. I would be happy to yield to my friend.

Mr. LEVIN. There is nothing in that decision, nothing in that action that paid for a continuing resolution that will take away jobs from the businesses and workers of the United States of America, purely and simply.

Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time from my friend, you're absolutely right that this bill does not define where those $1.043 trillion go, and I take issue with that too.

I go back to what you called rhetoric, the 10 minutes that we spent at the beginning where we went through line by line to talk about, golly, the work I'm so proud of that you and I have done together, the individual appropriations bills that you and I have worked through together, doing what was supposed to be done in this House. That was the time to do these things, one by one, and, golly, we did. We did.

Mr. LEVIN. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I would be happy to yield to my friend.

Mr. LEVIN. So now you're saying we're paying for it by taking away jobs from businesses and workers. That's what this does. You can't hide that fact.

Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time, as I'm not the chairman of the committee, I will quote the chairman of the committee, who tells us that not only can we use this offset here today, but there remains not millions, but billions of dollars in the account to be used for this purpose; dollars that were appropriated, Mr. Speaker, in 2008, 3 years ago. They remain unspent, but we leave them there just in case. Just in case.

And what I would say to my friend is, if we can just get around to doing this process right again, and I have great hope that we can, if we can get back to doing the process right, we'll have this discussion not on a $1.043 trillion continuing resolution, and not even on a half-trillion dollar continuing resolution, but on the Energy and Water appropriations bill. We'll be able to get back to it, and I have that great wish for this House, Mr. Speaker.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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

To get back on the topic of this continuing resolution today, that is, this number that we agreed on just a month ago, $1.043 trillion, to fund the operations of this government.

Mr. Speaker, I go back and I look at emergency requests that this body has made. Now, I'm a freshman. I was just elected in November, began my service in January. But over the last 10 years, there have been 30 emergency and supplemental bills passed.

Now, what I would say to my friends who have been here longer than I have is perhaps if you have to do it three times a year, it's really not a surprise. Perhaps we ought to be able to budget for it.

And to his great credit, and to the committee's great credit, and candidly I would say to the House's great credit, we are trying for the first time in a long time to say you know what, we can't prevent tragedy. Tragedy is going to happen. But we can plan ahead for tragedy so that the American people have the security of knowing the money's going to be there when they need it.

And when I look, Mr. Speaker, at the way we're pouring money out of this body, I worry will the money be there when the American people need it. This budget makes sure that it does.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds just to say that we have the distinguished Appropriations chairman here on the floor, who has said, not only have we doubled the President's request here, but there is a commitment to making the dollars available to everyone who is in need in these disasters. That's the kind of commitment this Nation has always made to its citizens. That's the kind of commitment that this bill continues to make to America's citizens.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I think one thing that unites us as Republicans and Democrats, and actually unites us as Americans, is when we face adversity, we say: Can we do better? Can we do better? You know, it's one thing to muddle through, but it's something else to learn from that experience and come back the next time and do better.

Now, I'm proud to be here as part of a freshman class, Mr. Speaker; 89 new Republican freshmen, 10 new Democratic freshmen. Ninety-nine Members of this House are brand new this year; 99 Members of this House. And so we look back. We look back on profligate spending where even though American families are asked to prioritize their spending each and every day, for some reason the Congress didn't. Even though small businesses are asked to prioritize their spending every day, for some reason Congress didn't.

What this new Congress has done, Mr. Speaker, this 112th Congress has done, is to say: Can we do better? And the answer is yes. Why are the American people so cynical about Congress, Mr. Speaker? Why are our approval ratings in the tank? It was less than 2 months ago, less than 2 months ago we agreed that for next year we should spend $1.43 trillion. And we're already talking about that we've got that number wrong and we want to spend more. Folks, we have to make those priority decisions. Thirty times, Mr. Speaker, thirty times in the last 10 years we came up with emergency spending. Thirty times, Mr. Speaker.

Let me just ask you, the Defense Iraq-Afghanistan supplemental in 2004, is anybody surprised that it took more money in those places than we had budgeted? Anybody think that's a surprise? I'm not surprised by that, Mr. Speaker. I wasn't here, but I'm not surprised. What I wish we could have done was budgeted better for that. Did we know in 2004 that it was going to take more money? Of course we did. But what did we do? We gamed that system.

What is this Appropriations Committee doing? What is this Appropriations Committee doing? They're saying that they know tragedy is going to befall Americans. They don't know what; they don't know when; but they know that it's going to happen. And so they're going to budget for it. Why? Because we tell Americans day after day after day that programs that they count on might not be there tomorrow. Why? Because we're broke. We tell Americans every day something that they might want to do, something they thought might be available, it might not be available. Why? Because we're broke.

But I agree with my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle, when folks are facing disaster, they don't want to have to ask that question. When folks are facing personal tragedy, they don't want to have to ask that question: Will there be money there? Will there be help there?

No, in our communities, we know the help is going to be there. We know our neighbors are going to be there for us, and we know our families will be there for us. And for the first time in a long time, Mr. Speaker, we now know that the American Congress is going to be there, too, because we are changing business as usual.

We asked the question: Can we do better? And the Speaker and the committee chairmen said, Yes. Yes, we can. I encourage support for the rule, and I encourage a vote on the underlying resolution.

The material previously referred to by Ms. Slaughter is as follows:

An Amendment to H. Res. 405 Offered by Mrs. Slaughter of New York

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

Sec. 3. Notwithstanding any other provision of this resolution, after expiration of debate on the motion to concur specified in the first section of this resolution it shall be in order to consider the motion to amend printed in section 4 of this resolution. That motion may be offered only by Representative Dingell of Michigan or his designee, shall be debatable for 20 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment, and shall not be subject to a demand for division of the question. All points of order against that motion are waived.

Sec. 4. The motion to amend referred to in section 3 is as follows:

``(1) Strike sections 125 and 126 of the House amendment (and redesignate the subsequent sections accordingly).

``(2) At the end of the House amendment, before the short title, insert the following:

``Sec. X Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, there is hereby enacted into law the provisions of division B of the amendment adopted by the Senate on September 15, 2011, to House Joint Resolution 66 (112th Congress), relating to emergency supplemental disaster relief appropriations.''.


(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.


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