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Public Statements

Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlelady for the time.

The bill before us here, referencing H.R. 783, is the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2011. It is a bipartisan bill, sponsored by the gentlemen from Virginia, Mr. Moran, Rob Wittman, Bobby Scott, and Gerry Connolly.

My party did intend to withdraw the objection and allow the change to proceed. Unfortunately, absent any change, we are still talking about a change to the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2011.

This act extends Federal recognition to several tribes in Virginia and establishes their relationship with the Federal Government. The tribes that it establishes are the Chickahominy Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

This makes members of those tribes who apply and enroll eligible for services and benefits provided by the Federal Government to federally recognized Indian tribes. It also requires the Secretary of the Interior to take the specified lands into trust for the benefit of those tribes.

This bill does have bipartisan support, and I think it's a good thing that we're taking up a bipartisan bill. We were willing to, again, withdraw our objection and allow a change to be made. The only problem now with the discussion of this bill is that the corresponding change indicated in the resolution doesn't really make sense, as applied to this bill. Again, this is a bill that establishes several tribes, and yet a corresponding change is being made to the definition of the unemployment rate, which I can't find in the bill.

So I would like to ask my colleague, Ms. Foxx, where in the bill is the reference to the unemployment rate that is being changed in this resolution?

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Mr. POLIS. Reclaiming my time, this is the bill that is referenced in the resolution that the Clerk read. I heard that. And I am here ready to discuss the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2011, but I can't find the corresponding change that this resolution makes.

I just would like to ask the gentlelady, where in the bill is the unemployment reference in this Thomasina Indian Tribes recognition bill?

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Mr. POLIS. But let us get on to it.

Again, the corresponding change does not exist in the spirit of bipartisanship. I was informed that my party was willing to withdraw their objection to a change that would have made a proper reference in this resolution to a corresponding bill that made sense.

Absent that, the change does not make sense. I think it speaks to, again, the broader issue of: Why the great rush on a bill that is not an emergency bill by any sense of the word?

There are critical bills we face that we need to move quickly on. My goodness, the Senate just passed the middle class tax cut. If the House doesn't pass a corresponding middle class tax cut, taxes will increase for tens of millions of American families on January 1. There should be, likewise, some urgency around reining in our budget deficit and balancing the budget. Likewise, there should be some degree of urgency about creating jobs and ending the recession, putting people back to work.

Here we have a bill, H.R. 4078, which, of course, is referenced under either version--the corrected or noncorrected version of this particular resolution--that is not a bipartisan bill. It's a bill that, in Judiciary Committee, did not have any Democratic support.

It is a bill that the President has indicated he does not support. It is a bill that we have no indication from the Senate that they would proceed with or pass. And I fail to understand the urgency of moving forward so fast that we don't only make--that there is not only a mistake that was made in the original bill, but there is also a mistake apparently that was made in the correcting resolution, and there seems to be some uncertainty about whether we are even talking about a change to this bill or a Virginia tribe bill or an unemployment definition.

And again, I would fully understand that if this was an emergency situation that required this body to move forward on behalf of our Nation. If this was a last-minute deal and something was expiring at midnight, we would need to immediately correct that and move forward. And I don't think there would be any games from either side because that's for the importance of the country. But that's not the situation that we are facing here today.

Now the American people, unfortunately, have grown to expect inefficiency and ineffectiveness from the House of Representatives. But this set of errors, this comedy of errors here today, is really just icing on the cake.

The Republicans have put together a partisan, omnibus bill that they later find out had a typo. Then there was an effort to correct the typo, an effort that our side was willing to allow to move forward after briefly discussing. And then inexplicably, the Republicans decided not to correct the mistake. And now it is unclear whether we are talking about a tribal recognition bill or a nonexistent bill, a bill that has not been introduced. If there is no H. Res. 783, we are referencing a nonexistent bill, unless it references H.R. 783 from a previous session. But in any event, these matters need to be corrected before we can proceed in any manner. This is an example of how the House of Representatives is run of late.

There are many bipartisan, job-creating ideas that we can take up and we should take up on behalf of the country.

Instead, we have a partisan approach that lacks bipartisan support, an innocent error made in the bill, another innocent error made in correcting the error to the bill. And that leaves us in a quandary, frankly, because we are discussing a fix to a nonexistent bill that it is hard to debate or talk about because how can one be for or against a change to a nonexistent bill. And that puts all of us in a very difficult situation.

I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, the American public, even more so, the dismay that they show at this Congress, is only doubled and tripled, just throwing up their arms and saying, How are you even talking about a bill that makes reference to and changes a nonexistent bill which may or may not be a Virginia tribal bill, an underlying bill that is a partisan bill that confuses employment with unemployment?

So that's where we are, Mr. Speaker. We'll get through this together. We'll move forward as a country, but we can do better.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. POLIS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I didn't like this underlying bill in its original form. I voted against several components of it on Judiciary Committee, and it's a lost opportunity because there was real opportunity to do bipartisan regulatory reform. Both parties agree with streamlining government processes, reducing red tape, and helping important projects move forward, but that was the path not taken.

Unfortunately, this body is moving forward in a different way now. With the underlying flaw in the bill, I would imagine it would have very little support from either side of the aisle--namely, prohibiting agencies from promulgating regulation until employment reached, or unemployment, reached 94 percent, which is nonsensical. But even this new bill now, this correction to the bill, which corrects a nonexistent House Resolution 783, which, it has been indicated, needs to be changed. And there was an effort to do that, which was inexplicably withdrawn. No one from my party indicated that they planned to object; they simply reserved the right to object and find out what exactly was going on.

We have found out what is going on. Apparently, the Republicans need to change the resolution that is referenced in H. Res. 741. And I hope they do so. At the very least, then, this bill, while bad policy, will not be nonsensical as it is now, referencing a nonexistent bill. But consideration of all of this is the equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns.

Consideration of this rule and this bill and the change to the bill and the change to the rule that changed the bill is all a major time sink while the country has real needs, like a middle class tax cut, like investing in infrastructure and like creating jobs.

The only thing preventing tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses from going into effect now is this House of Representatives. We should not hold these tax cuts hostage to a change to a bill and a change to a rule that changes a bill that doesn't exist. No--a change to a rule to a bill. Well, that's where we are today in the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Speaker. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, this country deserves better. I cannot support this wasteful rule or bill.

I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule and the underlying bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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