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Get Your Facts Straight

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, Special Orders, such as I am now entered into, are a time when Members can fairly freely say things without fear of contradiction because generally no one is here. And as you listen to many of the Special Orders, there is a very good reason why no one is here: No one ought to want to pay any attention to them. And we have a certain amount of tolerance when it comes to Special Orders, but sometimes the stupidity level, it seems to me, is exceeded.

In a Special Order yesterday, the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King) said the following. He was denouncing the notion of financing public transportation from the gasoline tax. It does seem to me that having public transportation available is one of the good ways to reduce the use of oil. High prices have driven more people to use public transportation, but that's a legitimate subject for debate. What is not a legitimate subject is to make things up.

The gentleman said yesterday, and I quote from the Record, ``And if you go to Barney Frank's district and you jump on--I don't know what they call it, the subway, the ``Big Dig,'' the major multibillion dollar boondoggle--and you buy a ticket to ride along on that thing, you get a cheap ticket because it's subsidized by H5321.'' Well, you can't buy a ticket to ride on the Big Dig, but if you could, it should be cheap because there's nothing to ride on.

In fact, quite contrary to what the gentleman from Iowa made up yesterday, the Big Dig is not a subway, the Big Dig is a highway. Now, it did cost a lot of money, but it was money that was spent on a highway. So when the gentleman says, ``I don't know what they call it, the subway, the Big Dig, the major multibillion dollar boondoggle''--and by the way, it's not in my district. But that is such a small error compared to the major errors the gentleman made that I mention it only in passing. But I am baffled by why the gentleman would get up and purport to talk about something in Massachusetts and so mis-describe it.

So let me be very clear: The Big Dig is a highway, it is not a subway. A subway is a mass transit conveyor that goes underground. A highway is something on which cars go. So you can't buy a ticket on the Big Dig, and it is not a subway.

He said further, by the way, that you get a cheap ticket because it's subsidized by H5321. I don't know what H5321 is. There is a bill, H.R. 5321, which has absolutely nothing to do with public transportation, but accuracy does not appear to have been the governing principle in that conversation.

I do note that the gentleman from Iowa singled out three districts to discuss: San Francisco, represented by the Speaker, New York City--and he imputed all New York City to the gentleman from New York, Mr. Rangel--and myself. Why we three districts were singled out--myself, San Francisco, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Rangel--I don't know what emotions the gentleman from Iowa was seeking to evoke by, out of all of the public transportation districts, picking the three of us. Again, that's something he is entitled to do, but he is really not entitled to call a highway a subway and denounce us for that.

So, as I said, I understand that when you are here under Special Orders, you can generally get away with a great deal because there is no one to point things out. And I actually felt sufficiently concerned about the accuracy of what's said in the House that I waited around for a while. And I learned many interesting things about NASA, more than I had planned to, but that was an educational experience. But I would hope that Members in the future, when they want to go and attack things, would put a little effort into trying to know what they are talking about. It might elevate the debate.

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