Today, U.S. Representative John D. Dingell (D-MI15) participated in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce "Full Committee Markup of Prints: Proposed Matters for Inclusion in Reconciliation Recommendations; H.R. 4471, the Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012; Discussion Draft of the Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012." Below is his opening statement:
"Mr. Chairman, we are here today wasting our constituents' time yet again. This Committee will go through the machinations of this markup only to generate legislation that will fail, once again, in the Senate. Instead of working on bipartisan legislation that will help our citizens, we sit here going over medical malpractice liability, yet again. And, yet again, I say that if my Republican friends presented me with viable ideas, I would be eager to sign on.
"In their efforts to reconcile defense spending, my colleagues in this Committee have targeted health care, and health care alone, to cut. They propose Medicaid cuts that will risk the health care of our most vulnerable populations, including hundreds of thousands of children, under the auspices of "program integrity" when CMS already allows for changes to ensure that vital programs such as the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, maintain integrity. And, in an unfortunate case of déjà vu, we are here as Republicans try to chip away more pieces of the Affordable Care Act, which is legislation, as I have noted before, that has already been enacted and is already helping millions of Americans.
"By attempting to take away funding for the state health insurance exchanges, they are going to force the federal government to make decisions that should be decided by individual states. No one will benefit from this structure when the exchanges are implemented in 2014. I also remain extremely concerned with the rising cost of gasoline. Gas is up to $3.87 in my home district in southeast Michigan. However, I do not believe that the two bills we have before us today will do anything to address those prices and help consumers at the pump.
"At the Energy and Power Subcommittee markup last week, I noted that none of the rules or regulations to be studied by the new interagency committee created in the Gasoline Regulations Act have even been proposed by the EPA. As my colleagues should know, when an agency like the EPA does propose a rule, other agencies and departments have the opportunity to submit comments during the interagency review process. This legislation would create a new level of bureaucracy that adds another step to the review process. In addition, my Republican colleagues who have been so opposed with the President on this issue now seem satisfied to let his department secretaries review these regulations.
"The Strategic Energy Petroleum Act causes me even greater concern. Last week majority staff confirmed that wildlife refuge areas would be eligible for oil and gas exploration should this bill become law. That includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and areas in the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Florida Everglades, Puget Sound, Mississippi River, and the Rocky Mountains. These places have been set aside for this value to hunters, outdoorsmen, conservationist, and importance to migratory birds and wildlife habitat. I cannot support a blank check for the Administration to go in and drill in these extremely sensitive areas.
"None of the proposals here today are sound pieces of legislation that will help our citizens. I would sincerely like to get back to doing work for our people instead of attending meetings like this one that can only be deemed political posturing."