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Providing for Consideration of H.R. William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year Providing for Consideration of H.R. Child Care is Essential Act; Providing for Consideration of H.R. Child Care for Economic Recovery Act; and Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendments to H.R. Taxpayer First Act of 2019

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Woodall), my good friend, for yielding. I thank him for his very eloquent remarks about our departed colleague, John Lewis, as well. It was very appropriately done.

Mr. Speaker, this rule brings just a very mixed bag before the Congress of the United States. It covers four different bills. Two of those bills, quite frankly, shouldn't be on this floor at all. The Democrats actually broke their own rules in bringing those bills, the two bills dealing with childcare.

It is not that the subject isn't important. It is extraordinarily important. That is why it should have gone through the committee process and been marked up. Probably since this deals with COVID-19, it is more appropriately dealt with in what I hope will be another supplemental, but these bills simply aren't ready for the floor.

The other bill, which my friend referred to at length, the lands bill out of the Senate, is a good bill. Now, I would have preferred, as my friend would, that we would have put some other amendments there, some that our good friend, the ranking member, Mr. Bishop of Utah, brought forward. I think we could have made it more prudent and had a better chance of having a sustaining bill.

But getting that authorization done is a rare opportunity this late in the cycle in a divisive year, and I don't want to miss that opportunity. We can come back later and try and make it better, but I certainly intend to support that legislation. It is an important step forward in our environment.

I am going to reserve most of my remarks, Mr. Speaker, for the NDAA. And I, too, like everybody up here, want to thank our colleagues, the chairman and the ranking member, Mr. Smith and Mr. Thornberry, for working together so well and bringing us a really well-crafted product.

That bill came out of committee 56-0. There weren't a lot of amendments. There were 600-odd amendments in the committee, another 700, I guess, that we are going to deal with here on the floor. So this has been working, but the point is they found a way to come together.

Now, we as a House are going to have an opportunity to make their work even better or, frankly, make it worse. I hope we choose the latter.

I am going to disagree very respectfully with my good friend, the chairman of the Rules Committee. We don't overfund defense. As a matter of fact, if you look at it historically, in 1960, the height of the Cold War, we spent 9 percent of our gross national product on defense and 50 percent of the Federal budget. That fell to a third of the Federal budget and 6 percent under Ronald Reagan in a great defense buildup. It fell to 3\1/2\ percent under President Clinton. It is down to between 3\1/2\ and less than 4 percent today.

So we don't overspend. And we have dangerous adversaries overseas that are modernizing rapidly--certainly, the Chinese are; certainly, the Russians are--and making enormous investments. So I think it would be a huge mistake to adopt the amendment that my friend intends to support; although, again, that is what we have these debates for.

It is important to remember that, in the world we live, when it comes to military power, first place is the only safe place. This bill will keep the United States where it belongs: preeminently in first place.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank, again, my friend and thank everybody here for their remarks about Representative Lewis, a giant amongst all of us. He will be sorely missed. His voice would have been a wonderful voice today.

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