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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4078, Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 6082, Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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

I thank the gentlelady for yielding me the customary 30 minutes.

I'd like to address process just very briefly, and that is that, when we began this session of Congress, we were advised by our Republican colleagues that we were going to bring up each measure individually and discuss them. This is a structured rule that does contemplate the opportunity for many Members to participate, but it isn't an open rule. What it is is it's a measure as the base bill that has cobbled to it six distinctly different measures--evidenced by the number of thank-yous that had to come from Dr. Foxx to the various committees.

I do agree with the one, Dr. Foxx, where you thank the young man for creative thinking. This is out of the box when it comes to us as far as process is concerned being creative. Cobbling six pieces of legislation--with another to make seven--is a bit much.

This rule provides for consideration of H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Act of 2012, and H.R. 6082, which has such a long and convoluted name that the cost to the government to simply print the bill may require the Republican majority to raise the debt ceiling.

What the red tape bill should be called, Mr. Speaker, is the ``Eliminate the Government's Ability to Protect Its Own Citizens Act of 2012,'' because that is what the radical legislation--creative, though one may think it is--aims to do.

Under this legislation, Federal agencies would be prohibited from issuing new regulations until the unemployment rate falls below 6 percent.

And I defy any economist or anybody else in the world to tell me when that's going to be in an economy such as the one that we have. So too, would new regulations be prohibited between Election Day in early November and Inauguration Day in late January.

For the past 2 years, the Republican majority has been spending its time doing everything, it seems to me, to crash the economy by defaulting on our debt, eliminating the greatest health care protections made in decades, and turning sensible decisions about women's health care into a fantasy of religious persecution.

But now it appears that perhaps struggling Americans have finally managed to capture the Republicans' attention, except that the majority's response is not to make the kind of investments that will actually create jobs, but, instead, to gut the Federal Government's efforts to protect the health and safety of American citizens.

I realize that in the fantasy world inhabited by some far-right ideologues allowing polluters to run amok is tantamount to creating jobs, allowing corporations to pursue fantastic profits at the expense of public health and safety is somehow good governance, and enabling the middle class to fall farther and farther behind the ultra-wealthy is somehow a shining example of the American spirit.

But I have to ask, under this legislation, where will these new jobs come from?

I suppose we'll need more doctors to care for sick children, since the FDA will be prohibited from monitoring the safety of baby formula. We will need caregivers, I'm sure, willing to provide free care for older Americans, as Medicare will be unable to change its payments to providers. And we'll need new water treatment plant workers, as corporate polluters will have increased freedom to dump harmful chemicals into our drinking water, as they have for years.

If I sound extreme, Mr. Speaker, it's because this bill is extreme. A blanket prohibition on new regulations is not any kind of solution to grow our economy. The FDA, the EPA, and the Veterans Administration, these agencies are not responsible for the failure of our jobless recovery.

What is irresponsible is the failure to address the real needs of the American people. Rather than preventing the Federal Government from ensuring clean drinking water, we ought to be investing in the infrastructure that makes clean drinking water possible and that desalinates salt water.

We ought to be investing in economic development projects, in the national infrastructure, in clean energy technology, in education, and in the kinds of programs that support those Americans who are struggling the hardest. Rich CEOs of big polluters aren't one of those that are in need.

But speaking of rich CEOs out of touch with everyday Americans, it was Mitt Romney who said in 2009 that, ``You have to have regulation.'' He said that regulations need to be modernized, reviewed, and effective, and that Republicans ``misspeak'' when they say they don't like regulation.

I guess what Mitt Romney calls ``misspeak'' other people might call ``outright ridiculous'' because that is what the ideology behind this bill is. It is as ridiculous a notion that yet more drilling for oil will somehow--drilling in these places where companies like BP can cause the kind of incidents that we saw in the gulf--that somehow this is going to benefit the country. It won't.

The other bill to be considered under this rule is just the latest manifestation of the Republican energy doctrine: ``Only drilling, all the time, and everywhere.'' This legislation does exactly two things. It tears up environmental protections, and it further enriches oil company executives.

The House, under the Republican majority, has taken 142 pro-oil-and-gas drilling votes this Congress. Using the hourly cost of voting in the House, as calculated by the Congressional Research Service, the more than 90 hours we have spent debating these measures that everybody in this House knew were going nowhere when they left this House, we've spent $54 million of the taxpayers' money debating, and these are the people that would tell me they want to cut costs.

I suppose, Mr. Speaker, that there's always a chance that the Republicans will achieve success the 143rd time and additional hours that they try something. But once again, the majority's efforts reflect a dogged determination to rely on an outdated ideology that seeks only to reward the wealthiest corporations.

We are already drilling at historic levels in this country. The United States is home to more offshore drilling rigs than the entire rest of the world combined. Seventy percent of offshore areas currently leased are not even active yet.

This legislation isn't going to change the price of fuel for the average American. It does not mandate that oil drilled in the United States--Mr. Markey brought an amendment that allowed that if it's going to be drilled here, it ought to stay here. But this legislation doesn't allow for it to even be sold in the United States.

In fact, oil will simply be shipped out to the highest bidder, similar to what's going to happen with Keystone when it's completed, on the world market, generating enormous profits for the oil companies while sticking the American public with the bill.

I recently saw an editorial cartoon by Joel Pett. And in the cartoon, a man stands up at a climate change summit and asks, what happens if climate change is, indeed, a hoax, but we achieve energy independence anyway, that we preserve the environment anyway, that we create green jobs anyway, and livable cities, and have cleaner air and water. The answer, of course, is that we will all be better off.

Republicans can stick their heads in the tar sands all they want, but pumping more fossil fuels out of the ground and into the atmosphere will not sustain the American economy, nor provide the kind of economic prosperity that will benefit all Americans. And as I've said before, and I repeat again, I'll be the last person standing against drilling offshore of Florida.

At the same time, preventing the Federal Government from acting on behalf of public health and safety will not create new jobs. It won't return the unemployment rate to 6 percent, and it won't send a signal to the American public that their elected Representatives are ably minding public resources.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I would say to my good friend and colleague from Florida that when he speaks about 120,000 jobs that may have been created, Governor Rick Scott categorically rejected money for light rail between the I-4 corridor of Orlando and Tampa that would definitely have produced 18,000 jobs.

You can't have it both ways. You can't one minute say that you don't want something, and then the next minute say that some fictional number is going to take place that's a magic bullet. We worked hard to get that money appropriated. The last statement that he made was that you can't give something unless you get something. Well, they got from Florida, and that money went to the east coast corridor, to California, to Illinois. I'm not certain about whether any of it went to Kentucky, but I'm sure that the next speaker would be prepared to address that.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to my good friend, the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Yarmuth).

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

We could go back to the days when government was helpless against the robber barons who abused our public resources. We could go back to the days when citizens had no recourse against corporations who valued profit above individual health and safety. And we could go back to the days when unelected oligarchs drove this Nation's destiny, rather than democratically elected governments representing the interests of the American public.

Prohibiting Federal agencies from carrying out necessary and essential public protections will not create new jobs. It will not boost our economy. It will not protect the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Americans in a time of extraordinary uncertainty.

Drilling for oil everywhere and anywhere is not a solution. It won't even provide much benefit, unless you consider further enriching oil executives to be a benefit for millions of struggling Americans.

What Americans need is government that is willing to invest in its citizens.

Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to this rule to make in order an amendment which proposes that Congress will not adjourn until the President signs middle class tax cuts into law.

We have an opportunity to extend the middle class tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000. This should not be a partisan fight; this is what we were elected to do. We should not adjourn into August recess while American families across this country are trying to make ends meet. It is imperative that Congress act on behalf of families across this Nation and bring them the certainty and security that their taxes will not go up in 6 months.

I don't know about all of my colleagues here, but I have had the misfortune of having been involved in lame duck sessions; and the one that is coming up where we are about to go off the cliff is going to be brutal for some of the newcomers in this institution who do not understand that it seems to be a methodology to wait until the last minute before we do something. We can do it in August. We can give 98 percent of the American people certainty about their taxes and be assured that if they make less than $250,000 their taxes will not go up in December, or that their taxes will not be leveraged so we can avoid seeing to it that the Bush tax cuts on the 2 percent of Americans that are even concerned about the little bit of money that each one of them would have to provide in order for us to ensure safety for children, education for children, safety for old people, and understanding that the middle class has this great need.

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

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