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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4348, Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McGOVERN. I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the Rules Committee, Chairman Dreier said this: ``There's no way we're going to have a transportation bill unless it is bipartisan.'' Mr. Speaker, it was music to my ears. I thought the chairman had a revelation, because that's exactly the tune the Democrats have been singing for weeks, that we need a bipartisan transportation bill. We've been saying this month after month after month.

Transportation bills have always been bipartisan. Our colleagues like to criticize the Senate for inaction, but even they passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan bill this year.

Mr. Speaker, actions speak louder than words. Instead of taking the bipartisan path, my Republican friends have tried one partisan approach after another, and they have failed every time. And the partisan march continues today.

Last night, nine Members of the House submitted amendments to this bill, five Democrats and four Republicans. Then, not 2 minutes after the chairman said what he said, my Republican friends approved a rule on a straight party-line vote to block every single Democratic amendment.

Let me review this for my colleagues because I think it is important.

First, the underlying bill was written by Republicans in a back room without any Democratic input, none. Now Republicans are only allowing themselves to amend the bill they wrote.

This chart produced by the majority says it all: four Republican amendments submitted, three made in order for debate on the House floor; five Democratic amendments in order, not a single one allowed.

Maybe some of the people in the back room can't see this number because it's so small. Mr. Speaker, I'm going to make it a little bit easier for those who need a little help here. Here we go. Zero Democratic amendments allowed.

This is a bill written only by Republicans which only Republicans can amend. Apparently, this is what a bipartisan process means in the Republican House. This is the new and improved open House that they promised.

Open House my foot, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there are real consequences to this approach. I had a very important amendment blocked yesterday in the Rules Committee, an amendment to end the subsidies to the oil companies that are gouging Americans at the pump, an amendment that will cut the deficit by $40 billion. I don't care what my Republican friends say, that is a lot of money.

The taxpayers' money that's going right into the pockets of the same oil companies that are driving up gas prices just as summer approaches, why in the world are American taxpayers being asked to subsidize Big Oil? These are the same oil companies that recorded tens of billions of dollars in profits in the first 3 months of 2012. These companies took in tens of billions of dollars in profits in 3 months while raising gas prices to more than $4 a gallon and we reward them with $40 billion worth of tax breaks and giveaways? Come on, what is wrong with the leadership of this House of Representatives?

Look, there is nothing wrong with corporations making profits. That's what they're in business to do. What is wrong is for American taxpayers to be subsidizing wildly profitable companies at a time when too many Americans are still unemployed and struggling to pay their bills. With their tax dollars funding corporate welfare for Big Oil and then still paying astronomical prices at the pump, it's a double whammy for American families.

With all the talk about cutting spending and reducing subsidies here in Washington, I would have thought that the Rules Committee would have made in order my amendment, an amendment, by the way, just so there's no confusion here, that I have offered repeatedly. I have offered it over six times, and all six times it has been blocked by the Rules Committee.

But the Rules Committee decided not to make it in order. And to say that this is somehow a bipartisan process and then immediately deny any Democrat amendments, including my amendment to end tax breaks for Big Oil companies, tells you everything you need to know about the Republican leadership in this House. This is a lousy process, and the American people are paying the price.

I would just close by saying the fact that we can't vote up or down on the Senate bill to extend the highway bill for at least 2 years means that our cities and our towns and our States can't plan ahead. What an awful thing for us to do during this difficult economic time.

I urge my colleagues to reject this very partisan rule. Let's get back to working on a transportation bill in a bipartisan way that will actually help the American people.

Enough of these games.

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Mr. McGOVERN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, give me a break. I mean, oil companies are making record profits. We are producing more oil in this country than ever before. They are producing so much they are exporting oil, and at the same time they are raising gas prices at the pump for average, ordinary citizens.

The fact that taxpayers are subsidizing Big Oil when they're making record profits and sticking it to the American people, I think is unconscionable. That's what I tried to get rid of, and we should at least have a vote up or down on that on the floor.

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Mr. McGovern has offered a similar amendment to save the U.S. Government $40 billion to reduce our deficit to several different bills in the past, including through an appropriations bill, an energy bill, a tax bill. Every single time the Republicans have said, Oh, it's not germane to this bill. Every single time they voted the McGovern amendment down.

Clearly, this is a proposal that's worthy of discussion. If it's not a tax discussion and not an energy discussion, not an expenditure discussion, what kind of discussion is it? And why can't we be talking about reducing the deficit here on the floor of the House instead of continuing to spend unnecessary money on subsidies? It's funny how the majority party waives rules when it's convenient for their agenda but refuses to apply a consistent standard to an amendment that is worthy of consideration by this House.

At the same time oil companies have record profits, we're continuing to subsidize oil injection, extraction, exploration, drilling, manufacturing, pricing, and inventory valuing by creating price floors, offsetting taxes, providing generous credits and deductions, providing tax shelters, and allowing the valuation of inventories at deeply discounted prices. If we are serious about deficit reduction, let us take this opportunity to vote down this rule and allow for the discussion of the McGovern amendment. We need to close these loopholes and allow for real deficit reduction.

Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of the amendment to the rule in the Record, along with extraneous material, immediately prior to the vote on the previous question.

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