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Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, if I understood the chronology correctly, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis) was pointing out that there were Reagan administration witnesses, of which people had similar complaints. And I would stipulate to that. But this is not a question of just one administration or another. It is a disturbing failure of this House to carry out its constitutional responsibilities for independence.

Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. LEWIS of California. I appreciate the gentleman yielding because, indeed, that was the Reagan administration. And during that time the Democrats were supporting the Sandinistas and we were fighting for freedom.

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Reclaiming my time, first of all, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis) got here and I do not think most people understood that he was talking about the Reagan administration. He talked somewhat vaguely about a previous administration, as if we were somehow being partisan, and he cited the Reagan administration did the same thing.

Then he follows that up with this outrageous comment that we were supporting the Sandinistas and they were supporting freedom. If that is the gentleman's example of how not to be partisan, than I do not think the gentleman is going to be finding many people follow his example.

The problem we have here is a failure of this House to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.

You say, oh, nobody was trying to be dishonest. Have people forgotten so soon the prescription drug issue? When the Department of Health and Human Services responsible officials refused to let one of their officials tell the truth, threatened their officials with retaliation, that was not an honest error. That was a deliberate pattern of suppression.

I mean, what we have here is a degree of submissiveness on the part of the Republican majority and the executive branch that I believe is unprecedented in American history.

You want an example of it? I believe the Republican membership has over the years become more afraid of its own leadership than of anything else, including terrorism. And you want the proof?

We had a very prolonged rollcall yesterday which had to be interrupted because we had a potential terrorist problem. The rollcall that was extended, because we had to evacuate and deal with the terrorist threat, took a lot less time than the rollcall that you used to pass the prescription drug bill. You were more afraid on your side of retribution from your leadership if you did not get that bill passed than you were of a terrorist threat.

I remember when the Clinton administration was new and the Democrats were in power. I served on the Committee on the Judiciary that had a very tough oversight hearing on Waco, called Janet Reno up and was very tough on her. I served on the Committee on Banking that had hearings on Whitewater.

Oversight has disappeared; and when we do have conscious and deliberate lies and we know the Health and Human Services misrepresented the cost of the prescription drug bill, they knew one thing and they threatened with retribution somebody who might have told the truth, and there was not any complaint from the Republican side.

As to the veterans budget, I do not think it is accidental that the underestimate came. It was not an overestimate, and it was not just an arithmetic error. There were people saying you do not have enough, you do not have enough. We remember. The gentleman from Wisconsin reminded me when the veterans affairs people sent out a notice telling their own people not to try to do outreach, do not bring us more people, and the gentleman from New York said it is going to be fixed. Well, at the cause of some disruption. Having the heads of the Department have to stop and say, well, we will take some capital funds, that is not a useful way to run things.

So there has been a deliberate pattern here of a failure to oversee, and that is what the gentleman from Wisconsin's amendment seeks to remedy.


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