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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5326, Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013; Waiving Requirement of Clause 6(a) of Rule XIII with Respect to Consideration of Certain Resolutions; and for Other Purposes

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. And, again, I thank my friend and colleague, Mr. Woodall, for yielding me the customary 30 minutes.

I also appreciated his comments about the fact that we are borrowing from the next generation. I gather that the previous generation borrowed from us. I don't know when the borrowing stops, but at least that seems to be the way of the world until we get to a point where we can be self-sustaining, as rightly we should be.

This rule provides for consideration of Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations for fiscal year 2013.

Many of my Republican colleagues have been patting themselves on the back for the open rule associated with this bill. They claim that this effort demonstrates transparency and their commitment to regular order. Putting aside for the moment whether a single open rule in 304 days makes for an open legislation process, the fact is that now the Republicans are using this rule to correct a mistake they made in their previous effort to deem and pass the Ryan budget.

It seems, Mr. Speaker, that the deem and pass didn't work the first time around. It was supposed to break the spending agreement made by my friends in the Republican Party in the Budget Control Act, but they bungled that effort a couple weeks ago and now have to try to go back on their word. It seems to me that if you're going to break an agreement that you made in good faith, you ought to get it right the first time. Doing this twice just calls attention to what little regard there is for bipartisan cooperation and agreement.

I heard my colleague, Mr. Woodall, comment about this coming out of the subcommittee and the committee by voice vote, and there is no disagreement in that regard. I guess to some that is to be a commendable effort. But he also suggested that we may very well, if we were to choose, carry this on voice vote. I would disabuse him of that notion. That is not going to happen. The deem and pass was wrong the first time around, and it's still wrong the second time around--and shouldn't have been placed in here--and it will be wrong the third, fourth, and however many more times around there are, in spite of open rules, if you put it in it, until the Republicans have repudiated every last promise they made.

If breaking the Budget Control Act agreement wasn't enough, the Republican majority is also using this rule to silence Members on the upcoming reconciliation legislation being considered by this body later this week. Rather than using regular order--and I stick a tack in that to compliment my colleague on the Rules Committee, who does believe and has made it manifestly clear that he believes in regular order--but rather than using regular order to debate the merits of breaking their promises, Republicans are imposing martial law to prevent Members from properly considering the legislation and having their say.

Forcing same-day consideration--that's what we mean when we say ``martial law''--of the legislation simply reinforces the majority's intent to use this legislation for partisan gain. Instead of working with Democrats on a bipartisan process, Republicans want to jeopardize funding for essential government programs so they can both go back on their agreements and force the House to consider the legislation sight unseen.

This is an unfortunate situation because Democrats would have been pleased to support this open rule. Had the Republicans followed regular order, Democrats would support this rule; and I, for one, would argue that we should do so by voice if it had been that way. If the Budget Committee Democrats end up taking the entire 3 days that they are entitled to under the rules of the House before they finish their views, we could consider the reconciliation bill on Monday instead of Thursday.

This is no way to run a budget process and no way to conduct the business of the House. I'd be amused at the Republicans' failed efforts here, Mr. Speaker, except that I'm dismayed to point out that millions of Americans depend on the programs considered under the appropriations process.

An agreement was made with the Budget Control Act, and under the agreement the Republicans promised certain levels of funding for essential programs. That funding is now in jeopardy because the majority wants to spend time trying to go back on what they promised. Let me remind this body that the House and Senate both passed the Budget Control Act. The Senate has not passed the Ryan budget.

And deeming and passing does nothing but force this body, as I say all the time, to pretend that the budget, as offered, is in effect.

As I said in the Rules Committee when the Republicans tried to do this the first time around, if we're going to pass legislation that pretends things exist, then I guess we don't need either the Senate or the President of the United States since we can just pretend that the laws have passed when, in fact, they have not.

I don't have my copy of ``I'm Just a Bill,'' and my colleague wasn't here when I read it in committee at one point in time, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't mention that the way to pass legislation is to first pass one agreement and then try twice to pretend it never happened.

I don't know what that looks like in a cartoon version, but probably less like ``Schoolhouse Rock'' and more like Wile E. Coyote falling straight off a cliff, because if we're going to get out of the business of reality and into the business of pretending, let's just pretend that every American has a job, that every student can go to college, and that no child goes to bed hungry. Let's pretend that the billions we wasted on unnecessary wars were, instead, actually invested right here in the United States of America. Let's pretend that Thanksgiving is in June and Christmas is in July and the election season is over and the deficit is gone.

And since we've now pretended that everything is fine in our great country, let's go tell all of the unemployed, the middle class, the hungry and the poor that their problems aren't real. Or better yet, let's just pretend those people don't exist, because that's exactly what I believe the majority's budget does.

Rather than using the power of the Federal budget to lead this country into a new era of economic growth, Republicans want to cut taxes for those that are wealthy among us, including those of us that serve in the House of Representatives, cut services for everyone else, and then feel like they've set the country on the right track.

Instead of spending our time debating the merits of the appropriations legislation before us, we're, again, trying to convince the majority to stick with the promises they made in the first place.

Rather than uniting in bipartisan fashion to support an open and transparent legislative process, Republicans are using partisan gimmickry to silence debate.

Rather than debating this legislation under the Budget Control Act, we have to debate whether the Republican majority should even have to keep their promises.

And rather than considering whether the inadequate levels of funding in this legislation, particularly in certain arenas--let me use one: the COPS program that I thought it was wrong when Democrats cut that program, and I think it's wrong now that Republicans are talking about less money for a program that all of us know is desperately needed in our various communities.

We have to consider doing more for struggling Americans, and we have to consider whether we ought to be cutting even more, as my colleagues would have it.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

If we defeat the previous question, I am going to offer an amendment to the rule to make sure that we bring up the bill by Mr. Tierney of Massachusetts in order to prevent a doubling of student loan interest rates, which would be fully paid for by repealing tax giveaways for big oil companies.

To discuss our amendment to the rule, I am very pleased at this time to yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from California, the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Mr. Miller.

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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. I would inform my colleague that I am the last speaker. I don't know whether he is, but I am prepared to close.

Mr. WOODALL. As am I.

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time, and I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of my amendment in the Record along with extraneous material immediately prior to the vote on the previous question.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Florida?

There was no objection.

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, the majority tried once 2 weeks ago to go back on what they agreed to. It did not work. So now here we are again, trying to ``re-deem'' ourselves. But this is no way to run an economy, no way to run a budget process, and no way to stick up for the millions of struggling Americans who need us to focus on improving the economy.

We can ``pretend'' that the Ryan budget has passed when, in fact, it has not. We can deem it or come here to re-deem it. But while we are living in legislative fantasyland, millions of other Americans will still be struggling to find jobs, to pay off their student loans, to access affordable health care and decent housing, and, really, in the final analysis, just to survive in an economy that--not just this year or last, not just in the last decade or the decade before--but in an economy that favors those who have the most, rather than look out for those who have the least.

In the celebrated cartoon that carries Wile E. Coyote, he used to pretend that there was going to be some kind of rubberized floor mat when he landed off a cliff, only to find that soon after that, he was in a very long and painful fall to the bottom.

I've said before and I will repeat: we are better people than what's happening here. I agree with my friend from Georgia (Mr. Woodall) that we see things differently. And in our heart of hearts, both of us and many of the Members of this body are in agreement and want things to be better.

As long as Republicans insist on replacing substantive debate with partisan gimmicks, broken promises, and misplaced priorities, the fall to the bottom is going to seem very long and is likely to be very painful for millions of Americans.

I would urge my colleagues to oppose this rule for the reason that it is deeming something that is being pretended to be passed. I'd ask them to oppose this rule for the reason that it includes in it martial law that disallows the open discussion that my colleague rightly points to in an open rule. But this particular provision disallows that as it pertains to the reconciliation. And that is just no way for us to go about trying to come to terms with the enormous consequences and circumstances that we face by not having faced them many, many, many years ago.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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