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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 471, Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, first, let me thank my friend for his superb management of this rule and to say that I have the utmost respect for my colleague from the District of Columbia. Since I reside here in the District of Columbia, she represents me here in this institution. And when I'm here--of course I'm a Californian, first and foremost--but when I'm here, I get her newsletters in the mail. She and I have served on a commission together, focused on reform of this Congress in the 1990s, and I do have the utmost respect for her.

That is one of the main reasons that we chose, when she offered the one amendment to this measure, to make it in order, because there's been a commitment that Speaker Boehner and I and others have made that we want to have a free-flowing debate. And I think that the notion of concluding that somehow this is a cut-and-dried issue was really wrong.

I have to say that I felt, as I sat in the Rules Committee last night and listened to my good friend and I listened to Mr. McGovern, I was really saying, my gosh, maybe there is no support for this measure at all. Especially when Mr. McGovern, the second ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, said every city council member in the District of Columbia is opposed to this measure. In fact, he said it not once but two, maybe even three, times.

And then I was handed a list. And I have just been told that Mr. Bishop raised at the beginning that there are going to be lists on either side.

But the notion, to conclude, Madam Speaker, that we somehow are imposing the will of the majority on the people of the District of Columbia, that there's no support for this whatsoever, which is what I inferred from what was offered in the Rules Committee last night, is just plain wrong.

I don't often cite the editorial work of The Washington Post, but The Washington Post has editorialized strongly in support of this notion. Why? Because they're committed, as I believe we all are, Democrats and Republicans alike, I believe that all of my colleagues are committed to improving educational opportunities for our fellow Americans.

I think that what we need to recognize is that educational choice is an important thing, and that's why The Washington Post has editorialized in support of this.

And then when one looks at the list of D.C. leaders, some currently holding office, some formerly having held elective office here in the District of Columbia, the notion that there's only one voice that's elected by the people of the District of Columbia is an inaccurate one.

The fact is, the chairman of the city council, chairman-at-large, Kwame Brown, is a supporter of this measure. The former mayor, Adrian Fenty. I recognize that he did not win reelection. I don't know that this was the sole determinant in the outcome of that election. But Adrian Fenty, in fact, is a supporter of this measure.

The mayor before that, Anthony Williams, is a supporter of this measure. Marion Barry, the former mayor; Kevin Chavous, former chairman of the D.C. City Council Education Committee; Patrick Mara, the D.C. school board member; and, of course, the often-cited Michelle Rhee, the former D.C. school chancellor, they all happen to be supporters of this measure.

And so that's why, some elected, some not elected, some hold office today, some formerly held office, but I believe, Madam Speaker, that every single one of these people, along with the editorial pages, as I said, of The Post, The Journal, a number of other publications, lots of organizations are very, very committed to ensuring the quality of education is improved in the District of Columbia, and, Madam Speaker, they are very, very committed to ensuring that we see the quality of education improved across this country.

[Time: 13:20]

It is very important for us to do that. And that is why I find it very interesting that the previous question battle that we are dealing with here is one that is designed to focus on the issue of international trade and creating jobs here in the United States.

I can understand there is a great deal of concern about the fact that jobs have fled overseas. That has happened because of the policies of the United States of America. The fact that we have the highest tax rate on job creators of any country in the world, the fact that we have chosen over the last few years to stick our heads in the sand when it has come to market opening opportunities through trade agreements which have been signed by our past administration and the leaders of other countries, is an indication that we have chosen to ignore great job-creating opportunities. And I am speaking about these trade agreements, the ones that President Obama said that he would like to see us pass here in the House. First, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement which he talked about. And I am grateful that he talked about the importance of Colombia and Panama, two agreements that were actually signed before the completion of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Now, Madam Speaker, if we were to focus attention on those items, plus reducing that top rate on job creators from 35 percent to 25 percent, that would do more to create job opportunities than almost anything we could do.

And then we get back to the core issue here, and that is education. We need to make sure that the United States of America, as we seek to remain competitive in this global economy, that we have the best educated young people. That is why educational choice, I believe, is critically important.

We are going to have an opportunity for debate. The Rules Committee has chosen to make in order and give 40 minutes of debate to my friend from the District of Columbia so we will be able to continue this exchange.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' in favor of the previous question, and in so doing, we will be able to pursue tremendous items like the pending three free trade agreements and reducing the top rate on corporate income, those on job creators, so that we can generate more job opportunities in this country.

Vote ``yes'' on the previous question. Vote ``yes'' on the rule. I believe that the underlying legislation will dramatically enhance the opportunity for young people in the District of Columbia to have educational opportunities that they otherwise would not have.

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Madam Speaker, how much time do I have remaining?

[Page: H2057] GPO's PDF

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman has 2 minutes remaining.

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. I yield 1 minute of that time to the gentlewoman from the District of Columbia, Ms. HOLMES NORTON.

Ms. NORTON. No one ever said that everybody in the District of Columbia or even every public official was against vouchers.

Mr. DREIER. Will the gentlewoman yield?

Ms. NORTON. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. DREIER. I just said that Mr. McGovern in the debate last night in the Rules Committee said that every city council member, and then I was given this list.

I thank my friend for yielding.


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