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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1309, Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. I thank my friend from Texas for yielding.

We do have the great pleasure of serving on the Rules Committee together, though serving on the Rules Committee can be a benefit and a burden because historically there's been kind of a gentleman's agreement, I would tell you from what I've read about the institution; that if the committee of jurisdiction brings out a clever idea, they only bring out those clever ideas that they really like. And then the leadership of the House, whichever party is in control of the House, then only allows those reported bills that they really like to show up here on the floor of the House for us to debate. So then when the Rules Committee gets around to considering amendments, well, maybe the only amendments that are allowed are things that nibble around the edges but don't really make any substantive changes to the underlying bill.

Five months, six now, I've been here in the U.S. House of Representatives as part of this freshman class, and what we're doing today excites me. And to folks who have been here a little bit longer, maybe it's not as exciting to you as it is to me. But what is happening here today, not only did we get a bill that went through the regular order process--coming out of committee, no special games played, went through the amendment process in committee, everybody got a vote, and in fact was reported unanimously out of committee, as I understand--then it came to the Rules Committee. We had about 30 amendments offered up at the Rules Committee. A couple weren't germane, a couple were duplicative, but everything else we allowed. And one of those amendments was an amendment that said this is just a dumb program, let's scrap it, send it to the States and start over again. Wow.

And now there are a lot of amendments that we allowed that said let's change a ``six'' to a ``five'' or let's change this number of members to this number of members, things that would improve a bill, nibble around the edges. But this rule today, for the first time that I can recall, allows an amendment that says the entire underlying legislation is headed in the wrong direction. Let's take a new direction.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are folks who would be scared about that kind of amendment, folks who would be intimidated to let something come to the floor. We have absolutely no idea what's going to happen.

But this House has made a new commitment, a renewed commitment to expressing the voice of the American people. And guess what? The only amendments that are going to pass on the floor today are ones the American people are behind. The only amendments that are going to pass the floor today are ones that get 218 votes and represent the majority will of this U.S. House of Representatives. It just makes me so proud.

And I hope, Mr. Speaker, for folks who don't follow the process as closely as you and I do, that they will see what a difference that is. And it is a difference from administrations going back 2 years, 4 years, 8 years, 10 years, 12 years. Folks say if it's an idea that has the support of the House, then it deserves to be heard, and we're going to hear all of those amendments here on the floor today.

Mr. Speaker, it's not easy to maintain that level of openness in the House. It takes a lot of cooperation between both sides of the aisle to make openness work. We have had that cooperation. And I don't mean cooperation in the sense that folks agree on absolutely all of the ideas. I mean cooperation in the sense that folks know that when the House works its will, the people's work gets done. When the House works its will, the American people's voice is best heard.

And I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their commitment to making that work. And I again thank my friend from Texas for yielding me the time this morning.


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