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Providing for Consideration of H.R. Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, the 114th Congress will be remembered as the Congress that tried and tried again to unravel the extraordinary and great achievements of that American President of a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt.

President Roosevelt was a Republican. He believed in capitalism, he believed in profit, he believed in commerce. But he understood something that this Congress seems to forget: The axiom that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, applies to Wall Street and to large corporations as much as it does to oligarchs and despots.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation does end any realistic opportunity for consumers who are hammered by corporate negligence or irresponsibility or outright deceit from joining together to get the justice they are entitled to by using the only practical means available to obtain it, the class action lawsuit.

Instead, this legislation would deny class action status to all consumers affected by the exact same corporate misconduct--say, faulty brakes--unless they suffered the identical injury, a broken arm, but not a broken leg.

In a case of current moment, of real corporate misconduct and actual deceit, Volkswagen lying about its emissions control and, really, fudging the numbers on its mileage, the 3,000 Vermonters and 11 million Americans would have to file individual suits unless each suffered the same exact economic loss.

What is the justification for building this barrier to access to the courts? There is none.

But the proponents of this legislation are advocating, idealistically and ideologically, the underpinning of so much other legislation for Americans who are seeking safety, who are seeking opportunity, who are seeking justice.

Think about it. Repealing the ACA, Affordable Care Act, with no replacement for those 17 million Americans who are now covered; unraveling Dodd-Frank, leaving Wall Street to its old ways that led to the collapse of the economy in 2008; denying Puerto Rico, at the last minute, the option that every other municipality or State has if there is a credit situation to go into bankruptcy, all in service of hedge fund billionaire investors from Wall Street.

Starving the FTC and the SEC of their budgets so that they are no longer able to provide protections to consumers and small investors that they are entitled to.

Teddy Roosevelt, capitalist that he was, would never have stacked the deck so high against everyday Americans.

You know, we are talking a lot in this country about income inequality that is real. We can debate the causes.

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Mr. WELCH. But the reality is we are building a structure of inequality, bill by bill, brick by brick. Denying class action access to the courts for everyday Americans injured by similar or the same corporate misconduct is to deny them a basic American right.

Mr. Speaker, I urge our colleagues to vote against this legislation and stand up for access to justice.

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