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Mr. SOUTHERLAND. I'd like to thank the gentleman from Tennessee for yielding time.
As a new Member of this body, it was quite an honor to be appointed a conferee to go to conference. Those who are a part of this body recognize that, that it's usually something that obviously senior Members are appointed to. It was a great honor and it still is, even though we have yet to have a product that we can vote upon.
You can imagine my disappointment when, after attending five working group meetings, I did not have a single individual to look at on the other side of the table representing the other body. You see, when the American people sent us here, I believe they sent us here to change the way we do business. And I'm pleased that we were sent to be involved in those five meetings.
I keep hearing oftentimes in the media, Mr. Speaker, that it is the Republican side that isn't perhaps interested in a bill. But I would say, if that were true, then why did I attend five working group meetings only to have no counterpart on the other side of the table?
We recognize not just words; we recognize actions.
I think the American people are so tired of words. I think that they would be terribly disappointed if they knew that their elected Members did not even attend meetings. And if they did not attend these working group meetings, then how could they be serious and expecting us
to believe that they're interested in a bill? I think that we trample on their trust when we don't do the people's work. It's terribly, terribly disappointing.
I want the reforms. I believe they're important. I believe that if we can build a bridge like I 35 through Minnesota, if we can rebuild it in 437 days, I think it makes sense to include streamlining provisions in this bill that say that every project around the country is just as important as I 35, and so, therefore, we need to build all bridges back to their original state without having to go through long, laborious, expensive environmental impact studies if we're rebuilding that bridge back or repaving that road back on the original footprint. I think that makes sense.
I think the American people want us to do their work. They want us to create a bill of value and a bill that is paid for. I think that what we have voted upon and the reforms that we have asked to be considered, not only have they not been answered or even addressed, but we haven't even had the opportunity to even look at one of our counterparts on the other side of the aisle and speak to them at conference. It's terribly disappointing.
With that, I rise in support of this motion to instruct because I believe that we need to have Members come and we need to debate and we need to do the people's business.
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