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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2218, Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1892, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DREIER. I thank my friend for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my friend on his very strong and passionate commitment and let him know that I share our desire to ensure that human rights are recognized in Colombia and anyplace in the world. I worked with him in the past when he was a staff member working for Mr. Moakley on this issue in El Salvador. It is imperative that we resolve it and ensure that our tax dollars are not being used for any kind of nefarious purposes.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, I want to rise in strong support of this rule. I do it because it's been a long time since we've had the occurrence that we did yesterday in the House Rules Committee. We just came back, as we all know, from this 5-week district work period of August, and we had the first meeting in the Rules Committee.

In that meeting, we began with the chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, Mr. Kline, and the ranking member of that committee, Mr. Miller; the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. Rogers, and the ranking member, Mr. Ruppersberger, coming before the Rules Committee and offering bipartisan proposals on both charter schools for the Education Committee, obviously, and the authorization bill from the Intelligence Committee. In fact, I quipped at one point during the Rules Committee that maybe we should have a 5-week break between each Rules Committee meeting so that we can, in fact, come together in a bipartisan way and deal with these critically important issues.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, it is a great day, especially as we prepare, in just a little less than 7 hours, to hear from the President of the United States on an issue that Democrats and Republicans alike say needs to be addressed. We all know, from having been in our States over the past 5 weeks, that job creation and economic growth are the top priorities for the American people. We all represent constituents who are hurting. I have friends who have lost their homes, their businesses, their jobs, and we want to make sure that we get our economy back on track.

It's my hope that the example that we're going to have today as we begin consideration of the charter schools bill and then tomorrow as we deal with the intelligence bill--and obviously the bill that we're going to be considering today, because of the President's speech tonight, will have to carry on into next week, so we will obviously have this continued bipartisan spirit on the issue of charter schools next week. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we're in a position where we can use these two as a model to address this issue of job creation and economic growth.

Now, there is recognition that there are a wide range of views on the issue of job creation and economic growth, and we were reminded by the Senate minority leader just today of the proverbial Einstein directive that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

I think that many of us--most all Republicans and some Democrats--have come to the conclusion that this notion of dramatically increasing spending, which is what we went through with the stimulus bill and several other issues, is not, in fact, the panacea that we have. And, frankly, I don't believe that there is an absolute silver bullet, there is not an absolute panacea, but I do believe that we need to try to put into place an effort that will reduce the regulatory burden imposed on those who are seeking to create jobs in this country. That's one of the proposals that we have. And again, I hope that we can work with the President on that issue.

There has also been recognition that, since the Japanese have reduced their top rate on job creators, we in the United States of America have the highest tax rate on job creators--it's the corporate tax rate--of any country in the world. Now, I realize that obviously we know there are corporations that, through the tax structure that we have today, don't pay that 35 percent rate, but I think that we need to make sure that we close loopholes and reduce that top rate. And I'm not the only one who has spoken in support of that. Former President Bill Clinton has spoken in support of that idea. President Barack Obama has spoken in support of that idea.

And I know that, as I look at my friends on the other side of the aisle--at this moment I'm looking at one who shares my view. I'm not going to name names, Mr. Speaker, but I'm looking at one who does share my view and another who might share my view as well on this issue. So there is a bipartisan consensus that if we can reduce that top rate on job creators, we have the potential to create jobs and also--and I know my friends on both sides of the aisle share this notion--generate an increase in the flow of revenues to the Federal Treasury, thereby dealing with this tremendous fiscal problem that we have.

We have our joint select committee that is going to be dealing with the issue of deficit reduction. And we know that economic growth would be the single best way to generate the revenues that we need to pay down the debt and deal with the overall fiscal challenges we have and have the resources necessary for the priorities that are out there.

Another issue, building on what was said by my friend from Worcester earlier, he mentioned the issue of Colombia. I happen to believe that if we look at the pending trade agreements that have been, unfortunately, languishing for 4 years, we need to make sure that we bring those forward. I am very encouraged by the fact that the President of the United States has indicated his willingness to do that. I also want to congratulate Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor for the letter that they sent to the President saying we want to find these areas of agreement, and the trade issue is one of them.

I don't speak for every single Republican, but I speak for most all Republicans who believe very, very strongly that the notion of opening up new markets around the world for job creation and economic growth here in the United States, creating union and nonunion jobs is something that would take place if we were to pass the Korea, Colombia, and Panama agreements.

Mr. Speaker, there are many people who believe that somehow passing these agreements will open up a flood of foreign products coming into the United States, undermining the ability to create jobs here in the United States, when, in fact, the opposite will be the case because Korea, Colombia, and Panama today have, by and large, free access to the U.S. consumer market. That's a good thing. It's a good thing because it allows that single mother who is trying to make ends meet, going to Wal-Mart or Kmart or Target or wherever, to buy products that are affordable. That's a positive thing. That's a good thing for our economy.

What we need to do is we need to recognize that now we need to open up those markets so that while things come in from Korea, and Colombia especially, we need to do what we can to get into their markets. There are 40 million consumers in Colombia.

Manufacturing jobs will be created here. Caterpillar, John Deere, Whirlpool, other great manufacturing companies here in the United States would have access to those markets.

And on the Korea deal, Mr. Speaker, it will be the single largest bilateral free trade agreement in the history of the world, allowing us to have the ability to sell our automobiles and other products into the Korean market.

So this is an area where I believe that, again, recognizing that union and nonunion jobs will be created here in the United States, that this can be an area of bipartisan agreement, and I know that the President will clearly talk about the imperative of these in the address he's going to be giving right behind me early this evening.

What we're dealing with today, Mr. Speaker, is a very positive thing on the issue of charter schools, and I laud my friend from Colorado, who has done such a great job in starting charter schools and improving charter schools.

I also want to comment on the statement that was made in the Rules Committee yesterday by the former chairman and now the ranking member of the Education Committee, Mr. Miller, who said that for many years he was a strong opponent of charter schools and now, for many years, he has been a strong proponent of charter schools, recognizing that we can go through a learning process here. And I quipped that one of our former colleagues said that ours is one business where you can never admit to having learned anything because, obviously, if you admit to having learned anything, you've flip-flopped.

The fact is we all are learning and we should be proud of the fact that we've learned. I congratulate--I probably will hurt my friend Mr. Miller by praising him here, but I will say that the process that he has gone through on this issue of charter schools is something that I believe is a very, very good and positive thing. It's something that we all need to learn from, that experience that he had on the issue of charter schools, to be willing to listen to our colleagues on both sides of the aisle on a wide range of issues.

That is why I think that this rule, enjoying bipartisan support--we have allowed many more Democratic amendments than Republican amendment in the rule itself. We're going to have a free-flowing debate on this issue, and then of course the very important intelligence authorization bill. Then tonight, I hope we can have again these areas of agreement so that we can get our fellow Americans who have been losing their homes, their businesses, and their jobs back on track.


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