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Public Statements

A Lesson from the Past

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KING of Iowa. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is an honor and a privilege to address you here on the floor of the House. And I would say after listening to the presentation of my colleague from Illinois, it's been a little while since I've heard that; and I'm glad to hear the delivery you gave tonight. A little more time here on the floor would be good for this whole Congress. I appreciate the reference to our Founding Fathers and the years in the earlier foundation of our country, the principles that we agree on.

I'm happy to be here. I came here to speak about some subject matter, Mr. Speaker, that I think it's important that you turn your ear to and that the Members of this Congress turn their ear to and that the people in the United States do the same thing.

We are in very dramatic times in the history of this country. They encompass quite a continuum of a ride that we've been on. To go back and capture some of that, to frame the present moment that we're in, I take us back to a time, let's say back to a time in 1995. In 1995, shortly after Republicans won the majority for the first time in 40 years in this House of Representatives. There was a real test that took place. There was a test that took place on the determination on the part of the new majority after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, so to speak, that had determined that they wanted to bring this budget under control. They wanted to cut spending and put us on a path to balancing the budget. That was initiated in 1995 with a real determination, and also with the benefit of having a majority to work in cooperation with in the United States Senate.

That determination to balance the budget brought about a challenge from President Clinton, a number of vetoes on the part of President Clinton that brought about the shutdown in the Federal Government. I remember those years. I was not in government at the time. I was a full-time owner of the construction company that I formed in 1975 that continues to this day. As I watched this in the news and I watched the debate on C-SPAN, I was inspired by the leaders that we had, the statesmen that we had, that stood and laid out the financial circumstances that we were in and the necessity to get Federal Government spending under control and the plan to bring forth a balanced budget.

While this government was shut down because of the vetoes of President Clinton, my recollection is that it was over a $300 billion proposed cut in Medicare that was the crux of this matter, where the whole issue pivoted on it and a Nation watched as there were threats that there were parts of the Federal Government that wouldn't be providing services and others were scared that they would lose theirs; that Social Security checks wouldn't be coming in on time, et cetera, the American public began to roil and boil and rise up and push back. And over a period of time, and I don't think at the fault of the Members of the House of Representatives but by the circumstances of the life and time, the public began to have a higher level of anxiety about what would happen if the Federal Government continued with the shutdown process that they were in. At a certain point there was a request made for a unanimous consent agreement to go ahead and approve the funding in the Senate side. When that happened and the Senate passed a unanimous consent agreement, it washed over the House here and the majority in the House was compelled to accept what had been delivered from the Senate on that day.

It was a sad day for me. As a businessman and a father and a person that was working to make my little part of the world as good as I could, I was disappointed that this Congress couldn't hold the line on spending, couldn't hold the line on this growth in government, and I believed that until I understood it from this perspective of standing here on the floor, Mr. Speaker, that the House had let us down.

Today, I think it's a little bit different equation. I think they did as much as they could have done and under the circumstances because of the UC agreement in the Senate, the House didn't have much choice but to concede to the push that came from the Senate. But here is the point that I've learned on that day and I stand on at this day, Mr. Speaker, and that's this: There's not a time that the Federal Government can spend that's not agreed to by the House of Representatives. We start the spending, we start the taxes, and if we say no, it won't be spent, which means that if we hold our ground here, we can shut off the spending to anything that we choose to shut off.

That's the way it was designed to be by the Founding Fathers, as was referenced by the gentleman from Illinois a little earlier. That's what the Constitution says.

By the way, it's our obligation because we're the closest to the people. Every 2 years, we're up for election or reelection, and if this House is going to change hands, it can change hands within a 2-year period of time. It's a 24/24/7 campaign, meaning for 24 months, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week, we go on in perpetual campaign mode because we are always up for reelection.

That means that the House here is more responsive and more sensitive to the people than is the Senate, which has a 6-year election span of time. They could put up a contentious vote, one that runs against the will of their constituents in the first couple of years or 3 or 4 years of their terms and can trust that the people might forget about it by the time they're up for reelection. Not so in the House. What we do here people are not going to forget about, and they should not. I want us to be accountable all the time, and I want a public that has a long memory, one that is very astute and very well informed and very well engaged.

We've been watching a populace that has been fitting that mold more and more. We've watched, Mr. Speaker, as the tea party groups across the country have brought themselves forward and filled up the town squares and filled up the town hall meetings and surrounded this Capitol, have physically surrounded the United States Capitol, I believe, for the first time in the history of America. We couldn't put a helicopter up there and take the picture because of air security concerns; but I walked around this building, and I saw Americans here surrounding the Capitol--yes, holding hands. It wasn't just a human chain around the Capitol but a human doughnut around the Capitol. It was six- and eight-people deep all the way around the Capitol--no thin spots in it--and thousands of people in the corners who weren't part of the human doughnut but who were around this Capitol.

They came here to say, Keep your hands off of my health care. We reject ObamaCare. We want no part of it.

This went on for days and days. There were people who wouldn't leave these Capitol grounds. Finally, on that sad day last March, when ObamaCare finally passed with all of the legislative shenanigans that enabled that to happen--and they were considerable and they were unprecedented, Mr. Speaker--the people around here put up a groan, not necessarily of despair but of agony, because they'd seen American liberty ripped out by its roots and taken over--our bodies nationalized by the Federal Government, our health care; the Federal Government taking over our bodies, nationalizing our bodies and our skin and everything inside it and putting a 10 percent tax on the outside if you go to the tanning salon. That's what happened with ObamaCare--a nationalization of the second most sovereign thing we have. The first most sovereign thing we have is our soul. The second most sovereign thing we have is our body, our skin, everything inside it, our health.

In the United States of America, we must have the right to manage our health to the maximum of our ability and not have the Federal Government diminish the options or take away the numbers of insurance policies we might buy or diminish the health care providers that are out there and put this into a one-size-fits-all. That's what ObamaCare did, and it's what it does if we let it continue to exist.

The circumstances of the government shutdown in 1995 were within an economic environment that brought us to where we are today, and we should understand what that is, Mr. Speaker.

We should know that, during that period of time, there was a dot-com bubble. There was this unnatural growth in the economy that was brought about because we had learned how to store and transfer information faster and more efficiently and more effectively than ever before. So there were millions of Americans who were investing in these dot-com companies who were involved in the technological era, in this modern dot-com era. They were investing because we could store and transfer information more effectively than ever before. They were investing in our ability to store and transfer but were not adjusting it to the necessity that that information and information transfer and manipulation ability helps our economy only to the extent that we can use it to provide a good or a service more effectively than before to provide efficiencies in our economy.

We found a lot of ways over those last 15, 16 years to produce more efficiencies because of the technology that had developed, but a lot of dot-com companies went under because they didn't add that substance to add to the value of our overall economy. It isn't enough just to be able to store and transfer information better than ever before. You have to store and transfer it and help the efficiencies so that companies can provide profitability. That was the only thing other than if you could market this information for recreational purposes. That was the other component. Only two.

So this dot-com bubble grew out of an overexuberance, an unnatural exuberance, that came from an optimism that we were going to take this economy someplace it had never been before. That bubble was bound to burst. I think it would have burst on its own, but there was a lawsuit filed against Microsoft which lanced the bubble, and the dot-com bubble burst. As it burst, it was like a blister on your skin, where it settles down into the hollow place underneath it.

There was a dip in the economy, and I believe there was a concerted effort at that point to fill this hole created by the bursting of the dot-com bubble with unnaturally low interest rates and long-term mortgages that would allow people to build or buy houses that they otherwise couldn't have afforded, and it created a housing bubble. If you think of the dot-com bubble that burst, then when it collapsed, it went into a trough, Mr. Speaker, and that trough was sought to be filled by an unnatural bubble of the housing boom which was created.

It was a housing boom that was in the process of

unfolding and, I should say, of stretching itself to its max while President Bush was elected in 2000. Then the 2001 September 11 attacks came on our financial centers and this assault on America. That all came with this transition of the bursting of the dot-com bubble, with the growth of the unnatural housing bubble, with the assault on the United States on September 11 of 2001 on our financial centers, and with the attack on the American economy. That was coupled with all of the spending we needed to do to go to war in Afghanistan and subsequently in Iraq. Then in the middle of all of that, we spent billions on standing up the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA, and all of the other security provisions that we put in place to make sure that America could be protected from more and more attacks from al Qaeda.

All of this was going against our economy.

Within all of that, there was also the passage of No Child Left Behind, which took more money, and there were other components of the growth in the compassionate conservatism that was driven by the Bush administration--all of this while we were at war. Now, if I add this all up, it's not a very good formula for a balanced budget, and we had that balanced budget in the late 1990s and rolling into the year 2000.

When I came here to this Congress, elected in 2002 and sworn in here in January 2003, I came down here and said to the chairman of the Budget Committee, Where is our balanced budget? He said to me, We can't balance the budget. It's not possible to balance the budget, and you'll not have a balanced budget to vote on.

I went back to my office, Mr. Speaker, and I began to put together a budget that would balance. My green staff was tasked with the job of putting together a budget that we could offer that would be balanced. We didn't get it completed. At that time, it was about a $2.7 trillion budget. To try to rewrite that in a balanced fashion as a freshman in Congress and with a staff that was at that point not yet experienced was a very, very difficult task. I got to the point where I wasn't confident enough to offer it.

I wish now, looking back on it, that I would have offered a balanced budget, and I wish every year I would have offered a balanced budget. The red ink that we had was getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and the American people have not been informed as to how difficult it is to bring this budget to a balance. One of the important components of offering a budget that balances in this year tells us how big the problem is, and it has been getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

I stood here and sat in this Chamber, and listened to the debate engaged in, and listened to the 30-Something Group. Night after night after night, they would come down here on the floor and make the argument that, if we'd just put them in charge, if they'd just have the gavels, they would fix this country.

So eventually, over time, the Republicans lost the majority. The Democrats won the majority in 2006. Nancy Pelosi came in as Speaker. Now they had what they wanted. They were going to fix this country--and they did all right. They began to take that rather minor deficit and turn it into a huge deficit. They began to make energy more expensive and to take the prospects of success in America down instead of up. They were working on their vision of America, which is the transfer of payments, to tax the rich, and to transfer those payments to other people who aren't as fortunate--or I'll just say not as productive. They may or may not be as fortunate.

While this was going on, the deficit was growing, the dependency class was growing, and that's what was going on.

There was a concerted effort to borrow money from the Chinese and transfer that money over into the pockets of a growing dependency class to create a bigger dependency class because that was the political base that was supporting the Democrats--and still does in this Congress. And we watched this effort to expand the dependency class in America take place during the Pelosi Congress that began in 2007 through 2008. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected President and now this Congress went on steroids because they had a President that would sign the legislation instead of veto the legislation that was sent out of this Congress. And what we saw happen was an accelerated debt, and more and more money borrowed from the Chinese and the Saudis, and that $2.7 trillion or $2.8 trillion budget raised on up another $1 trillion. We've seen an additional $3 trillion beyond our means that has been spent under this Obama administration, supported by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

The American people rose up, Mr. Speaker. They knew that it was irresponsible and they filled up the town hall meetings. They saw what was happening. The summer of, I guess, two or three summers ago--and the year might come to me and I can be confident enough to speak it into the Record--but we had an energy crisis. We had gas at $4 a gallon. I believe that was the summer of 2008 that gas was at $4 a gallon. I went back and did town hall meetings that filled up with people. And they saw what was happening.

And there was an effort in this Congress to shut down access to energy, a belief that if energy costs went up, people would use less. And I remember the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, saying ``I'm trying to save the planet, I'm trying to save the planet.'' Well, I think she believed that she was trying to save the planet. And what I saw happening was the actions were driving up the cost of energy. That $4 gas issue finally broke and it started to spiral back downwards by the time of the election in 2008.

But we had, in August of that year, a monthlong energy debate taking place here on the floor. When we were ready to go home for that August we had several Special Orders that were cued up for the end of business that day. Democrats offered a motion to shut the place down, which would have shut off the Special Orders about energy. Some of the Members here decided we're going to keep talking, and so we came one after another. Eventually the Speaker shut the lights down--not completely off--shut the microphones off, shut the television cameras off and turned them sideways. And still we stood here for the month of August all the way into Labor Day every day making the case that we needed all energy all the time. Now that argument diminished when gas prices went back down again. It's before us again. And we must do an all-energy-all-the-time bill. I want to compliment Congressman Devin Nunes from California for all the work that he's done on legislation that I believe he'll introduce tomorrow on all energy all the time.

America needs to have cheap energy. We need to have cheap energy in a way that--everything that we do costs energy. If you move anything, it takes energy. If you have any product, it takes energy to produce it, energy to delivery it, and energy to go pick it up and bring it home. And so the cost of energy is tied into the cost of everything that we have and do. America cannot be competitive with the rest of the world if we have high energy prices. And yet, that 2008 year drove energy prices up to $4 a gallon gas. We saw crude oil prices go way over $100 a barrel, and we're looking at that happening again.

We've had the President move to shut down drilling offshore by Executive order. We've seen Democrats, in large numbers, oppose opening up ANWR for drilling, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I've been for drilling up there for a long time. I've gone up there. We drilled the North Slope in the early 1970s, and if it did anything with the environment it enhanced it, it didn't diminish it. And the strictest environmentalist we had couldn't fly over that country and point to a well and tell you how it had even defaced the landscape or broken up the scenery. The wells are submersible, they don't show up. There are not roads to each of them. They go out on ice roads in the winter time to service them. It's a good place to go and develop oil in the North Slope, and we need to go get it.

We need to drill offshore. We need to drill in the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana, and it spills over into Canada. And we need to continue to bring Canadian oil down into the United States and refine it here and be the best trading partner for the Canadians that they could possibly ask for. If we fail to do so, they will build a pipeline to the west, and they will

pump that oil and the oil stands out to tankers that will take that oil over to China, Japan, and places in Asia. They will do the logical thing. We need to make sure the logical thing is here in the United States. Mr. Speaker, that's just the energy issue.

And as this rolls forward, another summer we had the issue of health care. And as the effort came to pass ObamaCare here in the House of Representatives, the American people began to realize what was happening to their liberty, and they filled up the town hall meetings. We had town hall meetings in Iowa that got so big that they had to be moved outside because there wasn't room inside the biggest rooms we could find for all the people that came to, in a constitutional fashion, petition the government peacefully for redress and grievances. And they came, and they were well informed. Some of them had read the whole bill. And with great passion--and sometimes with little tact and sometimes with great deference--they made the case to me over and over again, they didn't want ObamaCare. They still don't want ObamaCare. And when it was passed here in the House they rejected it. And so I spent not quite a year of my life fighting the passage of ObamaCare. And since that period of time I introduced legislation to repeal ObamaCare immediately after its passage on that late night last March. We're coming up on a little past 11 months since it's been passed into law. The American people still reject it. They want their liberty, they want their freedom. They want to manage their own bodies, manage their own health care. They want a free market system. They want a doctor-patient relationship. And they sent 87 new freshmen here to the House of Representatives to ensure that ObamaCare would be repealed, that the funding to ObamaCare would be shut off, and that we would see no more implementation or enforcement of ObamaCare.

And what has it brought us, these 87 new freshmen that stand together on that one square? Here's what it brought us, Mr. Speaker: H.R. 2, presumably the second-highest priority of the new Speaker of the House--it brought us a new Speaker of the House, Speaker John Boehner. And he sets the priorities, at least by tradition, for the first 10 bills that come out of the House, H.R. 1 through 10. And H.R. 2, the second-highest priority, was the bill that repealed ObamaCare.

The legislation that I introduced almost 1 year ago and teamed up with Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and others, including Connie Mack of Florida and Parker Griffith of Alabama--no longer in this Congress--and a number of others that were part of this original effort to introduce legislation to repeal ObamaCare, and many others that signed on as cosponsors, and 178 that signed the discharge petition to repeal ObamaCare--the message was very clear. H.R. 2 was debated and passed the House of Representatives in the early stages here in the 112th Congress in January, when it sent it over to the United States Senate. That's an important step.

Another important step is to do as I've said since at least the middle of last summer: At every appropriations bill introduce language in that bill that cuts off all funding that would be used to implement or enforce ObamaCare. That's an essential part of this. I had gone back and read through the history of how this Congress shut down the funding for the Vietnam War and shut off a war that had gone on for over a decade. They did so by putting language in a continuing resolution that shut off the Vietnam War. And it was language that said, in 1974--and they started some of this in 1973, but in 1974 they said, Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds in this continuing resolution for appropriations during the Vietnam War, notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds in this act and no funds heretofore appropriated shall be used to carry out offensive or defensive operations in the air over the seas adjacent to or the land of Vietnam or its adjacent countries. It's a bit of a paraphrase, but it makes the point succinctly, I believe, Mr. Speaker.

When I read the debate on that appropriations bill and when I read the language, that ``notwithstanding'' language that was put into the continuing resolution that shut off the funds going to Vietnam to the point where bullets that were being unloaded on the dock at Da Nang presumably were loaded back up again. None of the funds could be used to carry out offensive or defensive operations.

It cut off the supply support for South Vietnam's military. And we wondered why was it that they ran in the face of the North Vietnamese that spring in 1975? They had nothing left to fight with, Mr. Speaker. Their munitions were gone. They were played out. They didn't have heavy weapons; they didn't have light weapons that were well supplied. And it brought about the collapse of the South Vietnamese self-defense. And millions died in the aftermath--not just in Vietnam. In Cambodia and other places in Southeast Asia.

I disagreed with the decision that this Congress made, but I do agree that the language in the continuing resolution was effective in shutting off the funding to the Vietnam war; and similar language to the language that I've crafted to go into the appropriation bills from this point forward that says, essentially, notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds in this act and no funds previously appropriated shall be used to carry out the provisions of ObamaCare.

That's the language that I sought to introduce and asked the Rules Committee to grant a waiver for--unsuccessfully, I might add. That's the language that I asked be written into H.R. 1, the continuing resolution. It's the language that I tried to get offered here on the floor during H.R. 1 that was ruled out of order. And the amendments that I was able to get passed worked in compatibility with Denny Rehberg of Montana and others--Denny Rehberg, who did very, very good work on this appropriations bill, on H.R. 1. Without his work, we might not have had anything that was in order. Because of his work, we had eight amendments that were in order that were voted on. Each of them cut off funding to ObamaCare in some version or another. I compliment all of my colleagues who worked on that.

But now we've reached this point where we've got to draw a line. H.R. 1 took the hill. It said none of the funds in this bill are going to be used to implement ObamaCare. No funds are going to go to fund Planned Parenthood. No funds are going to be used to fund abortion anywhere in the world out of this continuing resolution.

But that language was not included in the continuing resolution that was passed night before last here in the House--or maybe it perhaps was last night. My nights blur together. That language was not included. We need better language that I'm suggesting here included in the next CR.

This government shuts down March 18 if we don't now extend its funding again. I'd like to get a solution that takes us to the end of the fiscal year.

But standing on the hill and defending the hill to shut off all funding to ObamaCare since every Republican in the House and the Senate has voted to repeal ObamaCare, everybody in the House has voted to cut off all funding to ObamaCare at every opportunity--and that's eight of them--we have this opportunity now to write a new CR and to write the language into it that does unfund ObamaCare. Not just what's in the CR, but what is automatically appropriated.

There are automatic appropriations, Mr. Speaker, that are in the ObamaCare legislation--I will say deceptively written--that appropriate funds that go forward whether or not this House acts, goes forward in perpetuity. Perpetuity. That means forever, if anybody out there is wondering what it is.

And for a 10-year period of time, there are automatic appropriations of $105.5 billion over 10 years that automatically fund the implementation and enforcement of ObamaCare. If this House doesn't act to shut it off, ObamaCare is implemented if we do nothing. Even if we pass the repeal, even if we don't authorize any new funding, $105.5 billion gets spent to implement it, which means that the roots of ObamaCare go deep. The deeper they go, the harder they are to rip out.

And I've said it must be ripped out by the roots. Let's rip it out, Mr. Speaker, in this next CR. Let's retake the hill that we took with H.R. 1. Let's hold the hill. Let's stare the President down. Let's stare Harry Reid down. If we're not willing to do that, they will get everything that they're willing to fight for.

This is the time for this new House with these new 87 Republican freshmen. Every Republican that's voted to repeal and unfund ObamaCare now needs to help us take the hill and hold the hill and stare the President down.

Let's fund the government so it functions legitimately, but let's not cave in to a President who may well shut down the entire United States Government in order to preserve his pet project, ObamaCare, which has been rejected by the American people and this Congress resoundingly.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your attention and yield back the balance of my time.


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