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Waiving Requirement of Clause 6(a) of Rule XIII With Respect to Consideration of Certain Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PUTNAM. Madam Speaker, House Resolution 1046 is a same-day rule that allows the consideration today of certain legislation that may be reported from the Rules Committee.

Specifically, it allows for the consideration or disposition of a bill to authorize the trial by military commission for violations of the laws of war, a bill to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and the Homeland Security appropriations conference report for fiscal year 2007: Three very significant pieces of legislation that need to move through this body before we break for the October District Work Period.

It is imperative that we pass this same-day rule. This resolution lays the foundation so that the House can complete its business and send outstanding legislation to the Senate and to the President's desk. We are working to move this process along toward the adjournment of the 109th Congress.

The House Committee on Rules will meet later today to provide the rules for possible consideration of these items, such as the Homeland Security appropriations bill, the legislation to deal with these violations of the laws of war, modernizing our approach to dealing with terrorists and those who plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic, who fly planes into the symbols of our military power, the symbols of our economic power, those who would blow up our embassies, those who would target innocent civilians in a way that is unprecedented in the history of modern warfare, as well as legislation to update and modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Obviously, you can tell by the title of the act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, that it is badly in need of reauthorization. Clearly, technology changes, the sophistication of communications, and the diversity of the threats that face this Nation all beg for us to act and modernize that legislation so that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the tools they need to prevent future attacks on American soil and to protect our forces and our civilians abroad.

I am pleased this same-day rule will facilitate the timely deliberation, discussion, debate of these important issues. I urge my colleagues to support this. This is a procedural motion that allows us to move forward with the meat and potatoes that are important for the safety and security of this country, those legislative items that will be considered later in the day.

So this is an important procedural obstacle that we need to clear out of the way to allow for consideration of these items so that we can move forward to the remaining agenda items for this Congress.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend's comments on the prescription drug debate, the energy debate, and the student loan debate. I would remind my friend that we are here to facilitate action on the Homeland Security appropriations bill, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act modernization, and the military tribunals bill, and with her help we can move this procedure along and continue to act on behalf of the American people to make them safer.

Madam Speaker, we need to get the boots on the ground to secure our borders, the money for 1,200 new Border Patrol agents, new Customs officials, and the modernization and authorization for our intelligence and law enforcement officials to utilize the best technology and the best communications to prevent and disrupt any potential plans to attack our homeland. Those are the items that are embodied in this bill that we are considering at this time, and, as I said, with her assistance we can move forward and then be able to again address the other issues that she mentioned, on top of the work that we have already done in passing three major energy bills in the past 18 months that deal not only with fossil fuels and the need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, that deal with the expansion of refining capacity in this country, which was largely blocked by the other side of the aisle, an energy policy that provides prizes in the form of monetary grants to those innovative individuals around America who find the next big thing, who can innovate on a hydrogen type of fuel cell or the hybrid and continuing to build on that, building on the tax incentives that we passed through this body that encourage people to purchase hybrid vehicles, looking at renewables, solar, and wind.

All of those things, Madam Speaker, are part of the energy bills that we have passed in this House, and now we need to pass these items of important national security. That is what this bill does.

Madam Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I think the gentleman protests too much because he failed to acknowledge that he had an opportunity to vote on the minimum wage on this floor in this body. He had an opportunity to vote to extend tax credits for research and development, something that is certainly important to California, his home State, the birthplace of the silicone revolution and which allows us to keep on the cutting edge of the economy.

The research and development tax credits allow us to compete in the global marketplace so that companies can be global headhunters and bring in the best talent from around the world, create jobs and build businesses here in this country. Not only did he vote against the minimum wage for the lowest end of the workforce spectrum, but he voted against extending those same incentives to invest in laboratories, to invest in innovation, to invest in intellectual capital in this country at the high end of the workforce spectrum as well.

He also denied the opportunity for 10 States in this country to be able to extend the sales tax deductibility, the same type of State and local deductibility that other states enjoy on a regular basis in this country. And he denied hundreds of thousands of small businesses around this country and family farms the opportunity to keep what they have built, to allow their business to pass from one generation to another.

He has had the opportunity to vote on a minimum wage, and he chose to vote against it. I think he protests too much about the success of the agenda that this House has put forward.

When it comes to education, we have increased student loan limits from $3,500 for first-year students to $3,500 and to $4,500 for second-year students. There are now 1 million more students today receiving Pell grants than there were 5 years ago. That is substantial progress in higher education, investing in the future, investing in the intellectual capital of this country. That is the real story.

And what is it that prevents him from talking about the actual issue at hand? Why can't we hear from the other side as much eloquence about the need to modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? Why don't we hear the same eloquence about the need to complete our work on the Homeland Security appropriations bill, which will continue the work of securing our border, add 1,200 new Border Patrol agents, add new Customs agents, continue to make our ports safer, continue to build on the good work that goes on throughout this country by hard-working men and women who are doing their best to prevent future terrorist attacks?

Why can't he talk with the same eloquence, the same emotion, the same passion, about the need to pass meaningful legislation on tribunals to deal with those terrorists who have already been captured trying to do great harm to this country? Those are the issues before this House, and that is the debate that is missing from the other side.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, the gentleman has been on this floor a number of years longer than I have, and certainly he understands the rules. But he also understands it is normal procedure that when one Member asks a question of another Member, that surely it is appropriate for the other Member to rise and ask that that Member yield so they may be given the opportunity to answer.

I regret the personal tone that this debate has taken, because these are important issues, these are important challenges our Nation faces. And the simple fact is, the gentleman doesn't want me to answer those questions, because he knows that we have acted in each and every one of those cases.

Since the beginning of Medicare, the Democratic majority did not take advantage of the opportunity to modernize it so that it actually helped the people it was intended to serve by providing them a prescription drug benefit. It was this majority that provided that. Today, millions of Americans have access to prescription drugs who did not have that same access under the old regime.

Why is there such a bitterness that Wal-Mart and Target and other chain drugstores who will undoubtedly follow have used the marketplace to lower drug costs? Are you so angry that the government didn't force them to do it? Are you so angry that they responded to market conditions, and today millions of people will be able to get $4 pills without the government having to have intervened?

Does it require a fiat to make you feel fulfilled? The simple fact that they made a good business decision through competitive forces in the marketplace and they lowered prices and people will benefit and consumers will benefit, and they will be healthier and they will live longer lives, does it make you angry that that did not come out of this body, that it didn't come out of some law, some decree? Is that what the bitterness comes from, that the market worked?

There are good things coming out of this body, but, more importantly, Madam Speaker, good things come from functioning markets. $4 pills by the largest retailer in the world that didn't come out of legislation, that didn't come by fiat, that didn't come by decree. It came because market forces worked, and consumers benefit and patients are healthier and patients have access to pills at a lower cost than they would have before.

This is a same-day rule to deal with foreign intelligence surveillance, to deal with Homeland Security appropriations and military tribunals. Let's move it forward.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's remarks. I am glad he does not represent the collectivist view of some on the other side of the aisle in that he appreciates that market forces, not government decree or government fiat, are driving down prices. I am glad that he recognizes the role that free enterprise plays in delivering better, faster, cheaper health care to patients in need.

This bill before us, though, Mr. Speaker, is about updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, moving forward on homeland security appropriations, and moving forward on a tribunal issue so that we deal with the terrorists who have already waged war on American soil and those who have been collected in the battlefield in the subsequent conflicts. This is the issue before us.

While there has been a great deal of passion and bitterness thrown around this Chamber, this is a same-day rule to move forward on those three items.


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

Mr. Speaker, in my short 6 years here, I don't think I have ever seen nerves so raw on a same-day rule. It is, I think, a function of the calendar, a function of the end of the session where temperatures run high and passions are certainly in overdrive as we all are watching the clock wind down and wanting to make our points to the American people.

The points that are embodied in this legislation before us at this moment are keeping America secure. Most of the debate on this same-day rule has not been on the topic at hand.

We have successfully passed Medicare modernization, something that was not accomplished in the previous 40 years. It was this majority that accomplished that and gave seniors the modern access to prescription drugs that they did not have previously.

It was this Congress that delivered not one but three substantial energy independence bills.

Bills that would allow us to reduce our reliance on countries that often don't like us for the economic lifeblood that this Nation requires, by expanding our own capacity, expanding exploration, expanding refining capacity, expanding renewables, putting an emphasis on American agriculture so that we can grow our way to energy independence, investing in renewables like solar and wind and hydroelectric, investing in long-term technologies like hydrogen. That was this Congress that passed those items in three different vehicles, including a passage that would have fixed the Clinton administration's billion dollar giveaway to Big Oil in the Gulf. That was this Congress that passed that legislation, over the objections of the minority.

The issue at hand is homeland security appropriations, the funds that are necessary to put boots on the ground on the border; to hire 1,200 new Border Patrol agents; to expand the Customs capabilities; to use the technology and communications capacity that this great Nation brings to bear to break up, disrupt, and arrest terrorists who are plotting to do us harm. That is in this bill.

To update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Surely, surely, there must be agreement that this Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 should be modernized to reflect things like the cell phone, multiple access to the Internet, all the tools the terrorists use to plot against innocent women and children and civilians and our military personnel at home and abroad. This is the vehicle to accomplish that. This is the vehicle that allows us to move those items that are so important to this agenda.

We have already moved the energy items they were talking about. Passed. We have already passed out of this body a minimum wage that they were so eloquent and so passionate about. Many voted against it, but it passed this body under this majority. We have passed the prescription drug plan. We have increased the number of students benefiting from Pell Grants.

But this piece of legislation that nobody wanted to talk about deals with national security, protecting our people, securing our borders, listening to the bad guys, locking them up and keeping them from doing future harm.

Let us move this same-day resolution. Let us move this agenda to keep America safe, secure, and prosperous. Let us continue to have a free society that creates free enterprise, that creates capitalism so that companies can choose to do things like lower drug prices on their own, not by government decree. Let us foster that type of environment. Let us foster the type of research and development and the investments that are required for research and development that were opposed by the other side when we moved the minimum wage bill. Let us continue to press on with that agenda, the secure America agenda, the economic prosperity agenda, and embrace the free enterprise and entrepreneurs. That is the agenda that we are moving forward in this same day.

The material previously referred to by Ms. Matsui is as follows:

Previous Question for H. Res. 1046, Martial Law Rule-Waiving Clause 6(a), Rule XIII

At the end of the resolution add the following new Sections:

SEC. 3. Notwithstanding any other provisions in this resolution and without intervention of any point of order it shall be in order immediately upon adoption of this resolution for the House to consider the bills listed in Sec. 4:

SEC. 4. The bills referred to in SEC. 3. are as follows:

(1) a bill to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

(2) a bill to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

(3) a bill to provide authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

(4) a bill to repeal the massive cuts in college tuition assistance imposed by the Congress and to expand the size and availability of Pell Grants.

(5) a bill to roll back tax breaks for large petroleum companies and to invest those savings in alternative fuels to achieve energy independence.


The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means

This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote against the Republican majority agenda and a vote to allow the opposition, at least for the moment, to offer an alternative plan. It is a vote about what the House should be debating.

Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, (VI, 308-311) describes the vote on the previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or control the consideration of the subject before the House being made by the Member in charge.'' To defeat the previous question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first recognition.''

Because the vote today may look bad for the Republican majority they will say ``the vote on the previous question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an immediate

vote on adopting the resolution *.*.* [and] has no substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition, page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous question vote in their own manual: Although it is generally not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of offering an amendment, the same result may be achieved by voting down the previous question on the rule *.*.* When the motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the time passes to the Member who led the opposition to ordering the previous question. That Member, because he then controls the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for the purpose of amendment.''

Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who controls the time for debate thereon.''

Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only available tools for those who oppose the Republican majority's agenda to offer an alternative plan.

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