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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 6213, No More Solyndras Act, and Providing for Consideration of Motions to Suspend the Rules

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this structured rule. Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Republicans have brought up yet another closed process in what was supposed to be a more open and democratic House. After 2 years of broken promises, we shouldn't be surprised by this action. And we shouldn't be surprised that the Republicans are bringing up this overtly political bill just 55 days before election. H.R. 6213, the No More Solyndras Act, is just political theater. It's a bill that's going nowhere. We know the Senate won't consider it. The only thing it does is give the Republicans another talking point to use on the campaign trail.

My friends on the other side of the aisle are trying to make it seem like there was a big conspiracy to inappropriately give money to Solyndra, a company that was trying to manufacture solar panels here in the United States. They claim that there was a political effort to award Solyndra funds in an improper, and possibly illegal, way. And in doing so, they are attacking a Department of Energy loan guarantee program that allows private investors to invest billions of dollars in order to create thousands of jobs here in America.

The Republican response to a company that went bankrupt after receiving Federal loans--a company that was manufacturing alternative-energy products here in the United States--was to begin investigations that turned into political witch hunts. And those investigations appear to have led us to this point by consideration of this bill that purports to end the loan guarantee program altogether. Of course, the reality is that those investigations have really been used as ammunition on the campaign trail.

But what the Republicans claim they're doing today and what they're really doing are two different things. They say that they're eliminating the loan guarantee program, getting rid of it completely. But what this bill really does is bar the Department of Energy from considering new applications submitted after December 31, 2011. That leaves $34 billion in the pipeline for applications for the Department of Energy loan guarantee program that were submitted before December 31, 2011. And there's no deadline on when these applications must be approved.

Not only that, but most of the available loan guarantee funding is for fossil fuel and nuclear projects. That's right, Republicans are claiming to end this loan guarantee program but are still allowing it to spend tens of billions of dollars. And they are still picking and choosing the winners and losers by putting an artificial end date on the application submissions. The result will be billions more in loan guarantees for projects dealing with nuclear and fossil fuels like coal and oil and much less for wind, solar, and hydro projects.

America should be about innovation, about creating new things. We're the country that put a man on the Moon. We're the country that created the car, airplane, and iPad. We should be fostering, not stifling, innovation, especially in energy like wind, solar, and hydro. Yet the Republican leadership is showing, once again, that political victory is more important than American success; that winning this election is more important than fostering American manufacturing and leadership in areas like alternative energy.

Mr. Speaker, this is just another example of how this Republican leadership likes to talk the talk but not

walk the walk. In this case, they say they don't like the loan guarantee program, but they want their own pet industries to be able to use it. It's another example of how their rhetoric doesn't match up with their actions.

But we've seen this hypocrisy for years now. This is the same Republican Party that opposed the stimulus plan, but requested and touted funding from that same stimulus plan. In fact, Republican Members in this House have requested loan guarantees for businesses they support, including those in the nuclear industry; but they oppose this program for alternative-energy businesses that want to manufacture in America. And this is the flip-flopping that kind of makes my head spin.

It's clear that my Republican friends don't let the facts get in the way of their political argument. It's a fact that this loan guarantee program is a success. For example, this loan program has ultimately supported 40 projects that help keep 60,000 people employed during this economic downturn alone. It's also a fact that the Solyndra bankruptcy represented a fraction of the entire loan guarantee program. In fact, loans and loan guarantee programs only cost taxpayers 94 cents for every $100 invested. That's a pretty good return on investment.

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the Republicans that Congress needs a robust oversight program that examines the executive branch and ensures that they are not overstepping their bounds. It's ironic that these Republicans are conducting a vigorous oversight plan of President Obama, but simply looked the other way when it came to the oversight of the Bush administration.

But there's oversight and then there's overreach. Republicans looked into this issue, they held hearings, and conducted an investigation. And despite their claims of political manipulation, there is simply no evidence of such manipulation. Don't take my word for it. Bloomberg Business Week reported that there was ``no evidence of wrongdoing.'' And The Washington Post reported: ``The records do not establish that anyone pressured the Energy Department to approve the Solyndra loan to benefit political contractors.''

Mr. Speaker, we all know what this is. This is an election year stunt, political theater that is more appropriate for the campaign trail rather than the House of Representatives. It's a bill that supporters claim will do something that it simply will not do. And this closed process is, once again, breaking Speaker Boehner's promise of a more open House.

This is a bad bill, it's a bad rule, and I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the bill and the underlying bill.

Mr. Speaker, I just would like to close with one observation. We have just returned from a recess. If the rumor mill is true, we will only be in session for 8 days before the election. I'm hearing that we're going to probably give away the first week in October. And given the fact that we're here such a short time, one would think that this would be an opportunity to come together and to pass legislation that both sides can agree on--legislation that might, in fact, help stimulate economic growth; might, in fact, help put people back to work; might address some of the real challenges that the American people are facing. We don't have to agree on everything to agree on something. And that something we agree on, we ought to able to come together and pass it.

Yet what we're doing during these 8 days is debating hot-button issues and bills that are going nowhere. This is a hot-button issue. They will be debating another hot-button issue later. Hot button, hot button, hot button. Never any legislation that has any real meaning in the lives of the American people.

Bring the President's jobs bill to the floor. Let us have that debate. Let us be able to have a vote on whether or not we ought to invest in our economy and invest in our people. My Republican friends are squandering this opportunity. I think one thing is clear, and I think it's evident by the low esteem that the Congress is now held in by the American people: the American people want us to work on their behalf. And I understand the lust in this place for political power and winning elections and winning elections. I used to think that good government was good politics.

But what we are doing here for these 8 days, with the exception of passing a continuing resolution, which is kicking the can down the road on a whole bunch of other budgetary issues, what we're doing these 8 days is nothing meaningful, nothing that matters to anybody. And I just think that that's a sad commentary on the leadership of this House.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, you know what, one of the things that Speaker Boehner promised was a more open House and this would be a place where we could actually deliberate and various points of view would be heard.

I want to now yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Green), the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy whose amendment was not made in order, so he will not have an opportunity to debate it here on the floor.

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Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, let me again repeat for my colleagues what Bloomberg Business Week reported, and I quote again: ``There was no evidence of any wrongdoing.'' The Washington Post reported: ``The records do not establish that anyone pressured the Energy Department to approve the Solyndra loan to benefit political contributors.

I mean, you know, it's clear what's going on here.

Again, bringing this bill, a bill that's going nowhere--we heard about the bridges to nowhere; this is the legislation to nowhere--I think is bad enough, but then bringing it up under a closed process.

The gentleman from Massachusetts, the distinguished ranking member on the Committee on Natural Resources, had three amendments. All three of them were denied by the Rules Committee, including a Buy America provision. What a radical idea that we should make it in America and we should buy it in America. That radical amendment was denied by the Rules Committee. It's hard to believe.

With that, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Markey).

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Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman who just spoke for pointing out how bad this rule is. He's on the other side of the aisle, and even though I disagree with the amendment he had, he ought to have been able to offer it to the floor. I hope that he will join with us in opposing this rule because I don't think his leadership will get the message if he rewards bad behavior by giving them a vote.

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

We ought to have a debate in this Chamber on energy, on an energy policy, whether or not we should invest in innovation, whether or not we should invest in renewable, green, clean energy. I believe we should.

My friends on the other side believe not just in the status quo, they believe in going backwards. They believe in investing, not in new technologies, but in the old technologies.

But we should have that debate here.

This bill really is not that debate, because this bill is a political stunt. It is not anything real. It is not anything that is going anywhere. This is just politics as usual, and that's what makes this so frustrating.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to end where I began in my opening, which is to say we're only here for a few days. I mean, I've never been part of a Congress that has worked less than this Congress and that has produced less than this Congress. Today's Roll Call has a great piece: ``Congress on Pace to be the Least Productive.'' Is that what my friends on the other side of the aisle are aspiring to--to be known as the least productive Congress?

We're back for these few days. We ought to do something meaningful for the American people. We ought to be debating a jobs bill. We ought to bring the President's jobs bill to the floor. If you don't want to vote for it, vote against it, but at least we'd be doing something of substance. We ought to be extending tax breaks for middle-income Americans. Why would you leave town without making sure that middle-income Americans continue to get their tax breaks?

We ought to have a responsible farm bill passed and signed into law. As we're running out of time, we're told that's probably not going to happen at all. We ought to be talking about legislation that will actually strengthen this country, that will help improve the quality of education and give more access to education for our young people.

We are doing none of those things. We are squandering this opportunity. With the exception of passing a continuing resolution, which is tantamount to kicking the can down the road, these 8 days that we have been back in session have been useless. They have just been about politics. That is why the American people are so sick and tired of this Congress. That is why the approval rating is so low. They want us to come to Washington to legislate and deliberate on issues that will make a positive difference in their lives. Instead, what we have is the same old, same old--politics as usual. There has to be some common ground between Republicans and Democrats on energy. Let's find that common ground and move forward. Enough with the political stunts. It is time to start doing the people's business, and this is not it.

So I urge my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, to vote against this, again, restrictive rule that denies a multitude of amendments, including an amendment that would make sure the jobs that we are talking about are in America. Buy American. What is so wrong with even debating that? We're not even given that opportunity. So vote against this restrictive rule, and vote against the underlying bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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