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Providing For Consideration Of Conference Report On H.R. 2997, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010.

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.


Mr. WALDEN. I want to thank the gentlelady from North Carolina for her leadership consistently in this House for common sense. I'm glad that she understands agriculture like some of us do in the West as well.

I want to talk today about the rule and the rules of this House. As my colleague from California said pretty clearly, for too long we have had a process that's been followed in this House, regardless of who was in control of this House, to make sure that the people and the press and we politicians have a chance to read the bills before they're voted on.

Consistently, when the will of the majority has been exercised, we have waived the House rules of the 72-hour requirement. We need to change that, and we can do it on a bipartisan basis.

My colleagues, Mr. Baird and Mr. Culberson, have legislation, H. Res. 554, introduced in June, to change the House rules to require 72 hours for bills like this, the so-called ``stimulus,'' to be put on the Internet for the people, the press, the public, people affected, and us, to actually read them.

Now this bill was 1,073 pages. It cost $787 billion. And we were allowed 12 hours to consider it. This legislation is the national energy tax, the cap-and-trade bill. It's 1,420 pages, 16 1/2 hours to review, and it cost $846 billion.

Now, this House recently passed a resolution saying that on the Ag appropriations conference report, the issue before us at the moment, that we should have 72 hours to consider it before it's voted on. That hasn't always been the case on all these rules. As I mentioned, on the national energy tax, on the stimulus, even the health care bill before it came to the Energy and Commerce Committee, 1,026 pages, we had 14 hours and 43 minutes to consider.

You know, it's kind of interesting. If you go back to the beginning of our country, and I just put it in comparison, the Declaration of Independence, same type-face size, nine pages, 4 days; the entire United States Constitution, 82 days, 24 pages; Bill of Rights, 57 days and 3 pages. Yet one-sixth of the economy, we're given, what, 14 hours and 43 minutes for health care in committee; 16 1/2 hours for the national energy tax, 12 hours for the stimulus.

It's time to change how our House operates. It's time for the Rules Committee to bring forward H. Res. 544. And since that doesn't appear to happen, that's why I filed the discharge petition No. 6 to bring forward House Resolution 544 so that we can improve this process and gain some credibility with the folks back home who think we actually should have time to read these bills, that they should have time to read these bills, including bills like the Ag conference report.

Now, 182 members, as of yesterday, have signed this petition. It only takes 218. We have six Democrats who have signed it. Yet there are 35 Democrats who have cosponsored the underlying resolution, but have not signed the petition.

I know the Speaker has been supportive of this similar process of changing the House rules a couple of sessions ago. It is a bipartisan calling. It is difficult when you're in the majority to change the rules that affect how you operate. But isn't that what real reform is all about? It's saying, For once, we will stand up; we will listen to the people; we will change the rules; and we will have a more open and transparent process, which should lead to better policy.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Ms. FOXX. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

Mr. WALDEN. And it is a wonderful cleanser, if you will, to a process that, frankly, has lost most credibility among the people of America. You see, they think we should read the bills, and they think we ought to understand them. Moreover, they now, in this modern age of Internet communications, believe we should post them on the Internet so that they, the public, the taxpayers, the people writing the checks to pay for this government, can have an understanding of what is in there.

So I would encourage my colleagues to vote against the previous question and to allow us to move forward on reform and transparency in this House.


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