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Providing For Consideration Of Senate Amendments To H.R. 4783, Claims Resolution Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I thank my colleague from Colorado for yielding me this time.

Madam Speaker, I am going to talk about this rule and the underlying bill, but I have to say again, in response to our colleagues who were speaking just before we began this debate, those across the aisle who are in the majority by at least 39 votes, they are in the majority in the Senate also, and they cannot continue to say that Republicans are holding any bill hostage. We do not have the capability of holding bills hostage in this House, and it is really a concern of mine and some of my colleagues on this side of the aisle that our friends keep making that comment. They can bring a bill up any time they want to, just like we will be dealing with these five bills, six bills today. They can't blame Republicans for their inadequacies.

Madam Speaker, I have several concerns with the underlying bill that the Democrats have brought before us today. For a start, this bill is over 270 pages and costs over $5.7 billion; it is not PAYGO-compliant; it was written behind closed doors in the dark of night; it does not afford Republicans the opportunity to amend the legislation to improve the bill and to make it more responsible to the taxpayer; and it combines six pieces of controversial legislation of concern to my colleagues on this side of the aisle.

While there may be merit in addressing each of these items individually, to combine them in one single piece of legislation and to force a single vote with full knowledge that Members and their constituents have several outstanding concerns represents irresponsible behavior. It does not represent the kind of governing that the people of this country deserve.

I do want to say to my colleague across the aisle that Republicans abhor any type of discrimination, and inasmuch as people have been discriminated in this country in the past, we object to that. We abhor it. So our objections have nothing to do with past discriminations but, rather, with the way that money is being spent and the way bills are being brought up continually under closed rules.

This bill contains two bills which settle two different class action lawsuits and four bills approving four different water rights settlements.

It provides $3.4 billion to approve a settlement reached by the Department of the Interior and Native Americans to resolve the Cobell v. Salazar case concerning the alleged mismanagement of royalties owed to Native American tribes by the Department of the Interior.

There is merit to reaching a resolution to this longstanding case. However, individual Native Americans and respected Native American organizations have outstanding concerns with this settlement which they have voiced directly to Congress. Instead of addressing these concerns, Democrats have brought this bill to the floor under a structured rule that does not allow Members the opportunity to fix the concerns.

One of the major concerns with this settlement is it allows plaintiff attorneys to be paid in excess of $100 million. Since every dollar paid to attorneys comes from the pockets of individual Native Americans, Ranking Member Dreier offered an amendment last night in the Rules Committee to limit attorneys' fees to $50 million, but his amendment was rejected by the ruling Democrats, so we are unable to consider it on the floor today.

The second individual bill contained in this legislation provides $1.15 billion to approve the Pigford v. Glickman legal case in which African American farmers alleged discrimination by the Department of Agriculture when applying for loans in the 1980s and 1990s. Alarmingly, when this case was originally brought forward in 1997, it was then estimated that 2,000 farmers may have suffered from discrimination by the USDA. Today, while the number widely varies, it is estimated that approximately 65,000 potential claims exist.

Former Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer stated that, while those who were discriminated against ``should be reimbursed,'' there are other hangers-on trying to game the system. According to former Secretary Schafer, ``The problem you have with the class action lawsuits is a lot of people jump in that may be on the fringe, that maybe don't deserve it, that sounded good because their neighbor got a check. It is very expensive, very time consuming. Some people will get paid that probably don't deserve it. I don't like that kind of thing. I like to settle on merit.''

Therefore, the $1.15 billion provided in this bill may go to claimants who do not have valid claims but, who due to the gross incompetency of the Federal Government, may now receive fast-track payments for up to $50,000 in taxpayer money. Approval of the Pigford v. Glickman settlement is not PAYGO-compliant and is in addition to the $100 million already provided for in this case by the 2008 farm bill.

The next four bills contained in this legislation are four separate water rights settlements with Native American tribes. Taken together, they direct the government to fund nearly $1 billion and to participate in the construction and maintenance of the specified local water systems.

The first water rights settlement included in this bill provides $324.5 million to create a new rural water system with the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona. The second water rights settlement included in this bill provides $136 million to approve a settlement agreement among the Taos Pueblo, the Federal Government and the State of New Mexico. The third water rights settlement included in this bill provides $465 million to approve the 1999 settlement between the Crow Nation and the State of Montana. The fourth water rights settlement included in this bill authorizes $199 million to approve the controversial Aamodt Litigation Settlement in New Mexico.

Although some of these settlements are well-intended, there are fiscal concerns and a multitude of unanswered questions that still need to be addressed.

It is unclear whether these settlement amounts are in the best interest of U.S. taxpayers. The Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee asked the Department of Justice months ago whether these settlement amounts represent a net benefit to taxpayers as compared to the consequences and costs of litigation, but we have not yet received a response.

Voting to approve these water rights settlements forces Congress to be an arbitrator between sides involved in litigation. That is not a role that Congress should be forced to assume without sufficient information, information which still has not been provided by the Department of Justice. These settlements would be better resolved at the local level.

As Representatives, we owe it to our constituents to make sure settlements are not being made that will overcompensate a group or locality at the expense of the taxpayers. There is no documentation that these settlements would save the taxpayers money, and therefore it is unclear whether Congress is fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayer.

As my colleague from Colorado said a little bit ago, the philosophy of our friends across the aisle is that spending saves money. That isn't an argument that the American people are buying anymore. As you can see, Madam Speaker, each of these six bills has individual concerns that must be addressed on the floor of the House. Instead of affording Members the opportunity to fix these bills, however, the bill before us today is another representation of the failed Democrat strategy for passing legislation: throw numerous bills together into one cumbersome legislative vehicle; slap an outrageous price tag on it; waive PAYGO; and call for an immediate vote under a structured rule which does not allow for any amendments.

The American people have grown tired of waiting for real solutions to their problems. Fortunately, help is on the way, and in January, this House will set a new course toward protecting individual liberty and shrinking the unending expansion of the suffocating Federal bureaucracy. That's why I will urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this irresponsible rule and on the underlying legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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

I think the debate on this bill today points out why we have such a broken system in this country right now.

The Federal Government has no business being in the farm business. We need to get our Federal Government back to the intended purposes of the Federal Government, which are very limited in our Constitution. Every time the Federal Government gets involved in things it has no business getting involved in, they go awry, and I think the arguments from our colleagues across the aisle point that out.

I also want to point out that contrary to statements repeated over and over again by our colleagues across the aisle, Americans have not enjoyed any tax cuts in the past 4 years since they have been in charge of this Congress. To the contrary, the House Republican Ways and Means Committee has highlighted more than $680 billion in tax increases that have been imposed on the American people since the ruling liberal Democrats took control of Washington in January of 2009. Now, because of Democrat inaction, the American people are looking at the largest tax increase in the history of our country, which would affect all married couples, all families with children, seniors, and small businesses. That would destroy an average of 693 jobs every year through 2020; drain $726 billion from disposable income, $38 billion from personal savings, and $33 billion from business investments.

That would raise taxes on the 55 percent of all joint filers earning more than $250,000 who run small businesses that employ others; cost the average nonfarm small business owner $3,500 more in taxes; cost the 49 percent of all seniors with income below $250,000 525 more dollars in additional dividend taxes, and cost the 25 percent of seniors with income below $250,000 $742 in higher taxes.

President Obama's plan to allow portions of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates to expire, resulting in steep tax hikes beginning in January of 2011 for small businesses and those earning $250,000 or more would significantly affect the economy in North Carolina, most notably in the number of jobs and changes in personal income.

According to the Heritage Foundation, from 2011 to 2020, North Carolina's Fifth Congressional District would lose, on average, 1,577 jobs annually; lose, per household, $4,647 in total disposable income; and see total districtwide individual income taxes increase by $827 million.

The job-killing consequences continue with evidence based on a simulation of the Moody's Analytics macroeconomic model, which indicates that an across-the-board tax increase would precipitate a double-dip recession during the first half of 2011; leave employment in decline throughout 2011, ultimately leading to 8.6 million fewer jobs than we had in 2007; aggravate the unemployment rate, which would remain above 10 percent through late 2012; promote a sluggish GDP growth of 0.9 percent in 2011; and prevent a return to full employment until 2015.

Although the proposal to increase income taxes for those earning over $250,000 technically applies to 2 percent of taxpayers, the simple truth is that the top two income brackets play a critical role in keeping the economy running, as they already contribute 50 percent of all tax dollars, spend 25 percent of U.S. personal outlays, and generate 50 percent of small business income.

Those with income under $250,000 will be impacted by the increase in dividends and capital gains taxes as 24 percent of tax filers with incomes less than $250,000 would be hit by increased dividend taxes and 10 percent by increased capital gains taxes. Furthermore, half of seniors earning under $250,000 would have to pay higher taxes for dividends, capital gains, or both. Over the next 10 years, the Heritage Foundation projects a $1.1 trillion GDP loss if current tax rates are not extended.

The case is clear. The Democrats' misguided tax plan is motivated by class warfare, not sound economic policy.

Fortunately, Americans roundly rejected this incompetent governance and Republicans stand ready to promote policies to help restore America's economic vitality.

With that, Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I realize that we are here to debate something other than the continuation of the tax cuts and staving off the tax increases which are coming right around the corner. However, it is important that we continue to remind the American people that our colleagues across the aisle continue to refuse to deal with what's the most important issue that we need to be dealing with. Instead, we are here day after day, day after day naming post offices and celebrating anniversaries of sports figures when our colleagues have known that the tax increases were going to occur on January 1, 2011, since that bill was passed. But they have been in control for 4 years, and they have refused to deal with it.

Furthermore, we have a President and a Congress of the same party. They both know this had to be dealt with, but they seem to want to leave everything until the last possible minute and then blame Republicans because something isn't being done. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that is just not the case. Our colleagues across the aisle, the Democrats, are in control. They could have brought the tax increase bill up any time they wanted to. They refused to do it. They have left it until the last minute. We need to remind the American people of that, and we are not going to be told that we are holding something hostage.

I would also like to point out to my colleague from Colorado that when the stimulus bill was passed, what you call the Recovery Act, we were promised, the American people were promised that unemployment would not go above 8 percent. The Treasury Department recently issued its Final Monthly Treasury Statement for Fiscal Year 2010. This statement indicated the deficit for that fiscal year totaled $1.294 trillion, or 8.9 percent of GDP. This is only the second time in history that an annual deficit has exceeded $1 trillion. When was the last time? Last year, when again we had a Democratic President and Democrats in control of the Congress.

Over the past 22 months, President Obama and congressional Democrats have embarked on an unprecedented spending spree that has lowered economic growth, reduced investment, increased the cost of borrowing, and killed American jobs. Now, rather than reducing spending, Democrats hope to move a $1.11 trillion omnibus discretionary spending bill that would increase expenditures by hundreds of billions of dollars. In doing so, Democrats are ignoring the clear message of the American people and endangering the well-being of future generations.

Since President Obama took office in January 2009, the liberals ruling over Washington have implemented an agenda of record spending and deficits that's unprecedented in this country's history. Since the liberals seized control of the White House and Congress last year, profligate spending has led to $2.51 trillion in budget deficits. To give a little perspective, the total amount of deficit spending in the first 22 months of President Obama's administration is more than the combined deficits of President Bush 43's administration over 8 years, which were previously the highest deficits of any President in history.

In the 22 months since President Obama moved into the White House, Democrats have spent $6.1 trillion, which is more than the first 22 months of the administrations of President Clinton and Bush 43 combined.

The Treasury Department reported that in October 2010 alone, the government spent $24.1 billion to make interest payments on the money it borrowed. In fiscal year 2010, the government has spent $414 billion on interest payments, an amount equal to 32 percent of our deficit.

Americans made it very clear they want the Washington spending spree to end. Democrats, however, have turned a deaf ear, and still want to pass a disastrous $1.1 trillion spending bill in the lame duck session of Congress. The growing deficits under the Democrats' leadership will ultimately lead to a lower standard of living and less opportunity for future generations of Americans. As spending by the Federal Government grows to unsustainable levels, the U.S. will sacrifice its sovereignty by becoming dependent on debt borrowed from foreign countries. As the Nation's debt grows, confidence in financial markets will erode and propel the U.S. into a perpetual economic spiral.

Everything from a senseless energy tax, government takeover of health care, bailouts of the auto industry, megabanks, and the European Union, combined with endless tax and spending increases leave the American people sitting in amazement wondering where the imagination of these European wannabes will lead us next.

As the American people have been scared to death witnessing the deterioration of everything from the economy, foreign policy, and national security, they should know that fortunately there is a choice between the same old tired liberal agenda and new, innovative solutions being offered by the GOP.

In September, House Republicans put forward a pledge that will put America on a path toward economic prosperity. The pledge includes actions that will create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive. Specifically, the pledge would permanently stop all job-killing tax hikes; allow small business owners a 20 percent tax deduction against income to allow capital formation and investment, which will stimulate business expansion and new hiring; require congressional approval of costly regulations to reduce the cost burden that government growth imposes on businesses; repeal the ObamaCare 1099 requirement, to eliminate the wasteful and expensive mandate that all businesses report vendor purchases in excess of $600 annually; immediately cut government spending to pre-bailout levels to save at least $100 billion in the first year, and put the Federal Government on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt, moving away from a debt-driven economy, and eliminating the fear that unsustainable spending has created.

The evidence is in, Madam Speaker: The liberal Democrat agenda has failed. They need to go back to the drawing board and come back to the American people with real solutions to their real problems. This isn't the time to dither and blame the Republican minority for the disappointing collapse of governance we have seen since the liberal majority seized control of Congress in 2007.

I urge my colleagues to take this opportunity to force the ruling liberal

Democrats to rethink their misguided proposals by rejecting this rule and the underlying bill to protest the liberal agenda that continues to distract from private sector job creation and getting the economy back on its feet.

With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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