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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3463, Terminating Presidential Election Campaign Fund and Election Assistance Commission; Providing for Consideration of H.R. 527, Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011; and Providing for Consideration of H.R.

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, House Resolution 477 is a structured rule for the consideration of three bills: H.R. 527, the Regulatory Flexibility Act; H.R. 3010, the Regulatory Accountability Act; and H.R. 3463, a measure to terminate the Election Assistance Commission and end taxpayer financing of presidential elections and campaigns.

Not only do these bills show this House's commitment to small businesses, but they also demand that agency rulemaking be held accountable, reclaiming that authority that is vested here in this House.

H.R. 527, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, requires agencies to analyze the impact that a new regulation would have on small businesses before the regulation is adopted. By requiring all Federal agencies to obtain input and develop and conduct regular regulatory reviews of existing regulations, this bill, I believe, complements and codifies President Barack Obama's commitment in Executive Order 13563 that directs agencies to review their regulations and solicit public input.

H.R. 3010, the Regulatory Accountability Act, makes further positive changes. It reforms and modernizes the Administrative Procedure Act. It makes agencies more accountable and regulations more cost effective. In a recent study, Madam Speaker, that the Small Business Administration commissioned, they estimated the cost of the U.S. Federal regulatory burden at $1.75 trillion. Now, that's not to say there aren't benefits that outweigh that burden; but when the burden is that substantial, Madam Speaker, we have to have a process in place that balances those benefits and those burdens, and that's all H.R. 3010 asks to do.

Madam Speaker, time and time again the American people have demanded more accountability from their Congress, more accountability from their government. This collection of bills today not only provides that accountability of Congress, but requires that accountability of our executive branch agencies.

As we talk about accountability, Madam Speaker, it's important to note that these bills are paid for by terminating the Election Assistance Commission. You will remember, Madam Speaker, that was a commission created in 2002 that was supposed to sunset by 2005 and yet has continued even until today. That commission was set up in the aftermath of the hanging chads of the 2000 Presidential election to help States implement election reforms, to help States make sure the integrity of their electoral process was preserved. And yet today, 6 years after the expected sunset of that commission, we hear from our Secretaries of State that they no longer need that commission, that that commission is not providing useful benefits to them. By terminating that, we're going to save the American taxpayer more than $600 million over the next decade.

Madam Speaker, taken together, these three measures, H.R. 527, H.R. 3010, and H.R. 3463, help small businesses, increase agency transparency, and increase public participation in the entire regulatory process. They save money for hardworking American taxpayers and are positive reforms that this Congress can pass in a bipartisan way.

I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support these underlying measures, and I hope they will support this rule so that we may consider them today.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


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

I look at the clock above your head. I think it's been about 11 minutes since my colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz called for a toning down of the rhetoric and focusing more on policy. I don't think we were able to make it to minute 15.

I will quote my friend as he referred to Republicans: Either they don't care about the economy, or they are just acting for political gain.

Is that all there is? Either folks don't care, or they're just acting for political gain. It could be that their principles are different. It could be that their principles are different, but I don't actually believe that. I believe our principles are the same, because what these bills do is one thing and one thing only. Let's balance the regulatory burden with the benefits that it provides.

Madam Speaker, who is it in America that does not believe that balance is important in what we do here in Congress? I hear it back home all the time: ROB, balance. I want you to get things done, but I don't want you to get things done that are the wrong thing for the wrong reasons. I want you to come together and work on these issues.

Who is it, Madam Speaker, that does not believe that regulation to protect health and safety is important? I do. I come from one of the farthest right districts in the country. I believe health and safety are important things to regulate, but I believe we should balance those regulations.

When we doubled the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency between 2008 and 2009, where do you think that money went, Madam Speaker? The environment that I live in in Georgia was clean and thriving in 2008. But when you double the amount of money that you give to regulators, they have only one thing that they can do with it, and that's regulate more, regulate more.

We need balance, and that's all these bills are asking for. I have all the committee reports here, Madam Speaker, if any of my colleagues would like to come and look at them. There is not a line in any of these pages that says: Thou shalt not regulate. Not one. What they say is: Thou shalt regulate with balance--with balance.

A friend of mine was walking through the Occupy Atlanta protest the other day, Madam Speaker. A fellow came up and shook his fist at him. One of the protesters shook his fist at my friend and said, It's all about jobs. And my friend looked him in the eye and said, You know, you're exactly right. You should go out and hire somebody. You should go out and hire somebody. The fellow said, I'm not talking about providing jobs. I'm talking about I want a job myself.

Well, that's right. Every single bill that this Congress considers that helps job creators helps jobs.

We've got to end the rhetoric of loving jobs and hating job creators, Madam Speaker. There's only one opportunity that we, as Americans, have for employment, and that is finding an employer. And line after line after line of these bills say, before you punish American industry, make sure the balance is there, because, let's be clear, Madam Speaker, it's not that these jobs don't have to be performed.

Time and time again I hear my colleagues bemoaning the fact that we're not creating jobs. I, too, bemoan the fact that this administration has not created jobs. But that's not our only problem. Our problem is jobs that are leaving this country, Madam Speaker. Our problem is destroying even more jobs.

Industry is going to continue to operate around this planet. We can either embrace it here in this country in a balanced way or we can run them all overseas.

There's something that I believe we sometimes do disagree about here in this Congress, and that is that government cannot create jobs. Government can create an environment in which job creators can create jobs.

I cannot pass a bill in this Congress, no matter how hard I try, Madam Speaker, no matter how hard I work, that will make everybody in this country rich. I cannot do it. But this Congress has succeeded all too often at passing bills that can make everybody poor.

Balance, Madam Speaker, is what these bills contain. What this rule does--and it's important because it's a new operation that we're doing here in this House; and I'm very proud of it, and I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle are proud.

This is not an open rule today. I don't want to claim that it is. It's not on open rule. What we did, though, as the Rules Committee, is we asked all of our colleagues, anyone who has a proposal that they believe will make these bills better, send those amendments to the Rules Committee for consideration. Anybody--Democrat, Republican--send those amendments to the Rules Committee for consideration. This is what we did in the Rules Committee.

We received six Democratic amendments for H.R. 527, six ideas from the 435 Members in this House, six ideas for making these bills better. They all came from the Democratic side of the aisle, and we made every single one of those ideas available for debate here on the House floor today. You didn't used to see that. You didn't used to see it under Republican administrations. You didn't used to see it under Democrat administrations. That's what we're doing here today in a bipartisan way.

H.R. 3010, sent out a notice to the entire Congress, Send your ideas for making H.R. 3010 better. Send them to the Rules Committee so that we can consider them for consideration on the House floor. There were 12 ideas that were submitted, Madam Speaker--one Republican idea, 11 Democrat ideas. Three of those Democrat ideas were later withdrawn, said, We don't want to bring those ideas to the floor. So that leaves us with eight, and we brought all but one.

My colleague from Georgia (Mr. Johnson), his amendment was not made in order because my colleague from Texas (Mr. Olson) had an amendment that was substantially similar, and knowing that time is valuable on the House floor, we wanted to consider all ideas, but not all ideas from everybody, each idea only once.

Seven Democratic amendments, one Republican amendment made in order because we invited the entire United States House into this process.

This is the time on the rule, Madam Speaker. I'm not here to debate the underlying provisions. We've provided time to do that. But I do want to defend this rule as an example of what we ought to do.

Is it a little more convoluted than I would have liked? Yes, it is.

Is it a little outside of my issue areas? Yes, it is.

But does it make in order all of the amendments that our colleagues want to submit? It provides for time for debate on every single idea submitted.

That's an important change in this House, Madam Speaker. I'm grateful that we've been able to do it, and I reserve the balance of my time.


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

Even though I'm a freshman in this body, I have been working hard to try to find metrics by which I can judge what's happening here because this body is not like so much that happens back home. The metric that I have found while we're debating a rule is that the less folks are talking about the rule, I think the better job we did crafting it. I think that's right. Because if it was an awful rule, we'd spend our time talking about what an awful rule it is. When it's a pretty good rule, we spend our time talking about other issues on the floor.

I happen to agree with my friend from New Jersey. A thousand dollars for a family earning $50,000, that's real money. Now, I would say, though, to my friend from Massachusetts that if you take that $1.75 trillion burden that the Small Business Administration tells us is upon the American people because of regulations, that's actually $5,000 per person. That's $15,000 per a three-member family. And so yes, I agree with my friend from New Jersey that we should absolutely cooperate on focusing on those burdens. The burden we're focusing on today? Even larger, by orders of magnitude.

Mr. ANDREWS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I'd be happy to yield.

Mr. ANDREWS. I would just ask the gentleman, then, if he is prepared to tell us whether the majority will put on this floor before the 31st of December a bill that suspends this tax increase on middle class Americans.

Mr. WOODALL. My friend flatters me by thinking I have the answer to that information as a young freshman on the House floor, but I'll tell you this. I'll tell you that two things are true, and it is a puzzler for me on the payroll tax holiday that's gone on this year.

On the one hand I will tell you that Republicans are absolutely the party of lower taxes and not higher taxes and that actually speaks to this issue. We're also the party of making sure that we're paying for those commitments that we're making. Social Security is different from any other tax, and when I go and talk to my grandfather, he'll say, ``Rob, I want that Social Security. I paid into it all my life.''

Well, we're not paying into it right now. The proposal is not to pay into it next year, the proposal was not to pay into it last year. I'd be interested to ask my friend if he's prepared to support lowering those Social Security benefits because, again, this is something we're paying into.

Mr. ANDREWS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I'd be happy to yield.

Mr. ANDREWS. I am most certainly not in favor of that. I would frankly make up for the lost revenue with a surtax on people making more than a million dollars a year to cover it.

Let me ask the gentleman another question.

I understand that there are differing views in his party, and frankly ours, as to whether an extension of the cut for middle class families should continue. And I'm not asking him to say it would pass. That's beyond the reach of any Member, even the Speaker.

But is the majority prepared to make a commitment to the American people to at least get to vote on it, that it will let the majority work its will and either vote ``yes'' or ``no'' on avoiding this tax increase on middle class Americans?

Mr. WOODALL. I would say to my friend that the majority, again speaking out of school as a young freshman here on the House floor, but I know enough about my leadership to know the majority is absolutely committed to protecting and preserving Social Security not just for this generation but the next generation and beyond. And the question is going to be can we find a proposal, because the one that was passed last year was not a proposal that both lowered tax burdens and protected the solvency of Medicare and Social Security.

We must be sure not to further bankrupt a program that we all agree is already going bankrupt. I look forward to that debate, Madam Speaker, between now and the end of the year.

And it's not just that tax that's expiring. I know my friend is also concerned about the Bush-Obama tax cuts that were extended in December of 2010 and wants to be sure that those will be extended in 2011 on into 2013.

Mr. ANDREWS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WOODALL. I'll be happy to yield.

Mr. ANDREWS. Those income tax reductions, of course, were extended to December 31 of 2012. So there's not an urgent imminence to addressing that issue the way there is with this.

I would just again put the question this way. I fully understand there are different views as to whether or not we should avoid this middle class tax increase. I'm simply asking whether the gentleman supports giving us a clear up-down vote on having that happen.

Mr. WOODALL. I would say to my friend that I happen to support up-down votes on all sorts of things. I'm an open rules guy, and I'm very proud of our Speaker who believes that the House works best when the House works its will. That's really one of the changes that I understand we've seen in this year that we haven't seen in years past.

I think that's important, Madam Speaker, for us to be able to bring those votes to the floor.

But it's also important to make sure that folks have all of the information in the same way that folks might be tempted to mischaracterize these balancing provisions that we're bringing forth today as some sort of Republican chicanery.

Folks might also be tempted to characterize something that is going to hasten the bankruptcy of Social Security as being something that has no consequence at all. There really are consequences to this decision. And to say to my friend I look forward to a robust debate on that because it's an important issue for American families.

With that, Madam Speaker, I would like to reiterate that on H.R. 527, six Democratic amendments offered, six Democrat amendments made in order. The House works best when the House works its will. The rule today is providing that opportunity.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. I yield myself such time as I may consume, Mr. Speaker, to say I'm always happy to find things that I agree on with those across the aisle.

I'll say to my friend from California that we're both new in this House and that I spent my Saturday doing those very same things. My small business owners told me that very same thing, though they told me one more thing.

They said, Do get the foot of government off the throat of my small business. They did say, ROB, you cannot help me by doing more, but you can help me by doing less. You can help me by getting out of the way and by letting me do what I do.

The question then becomes how we get those customers in that store, and there are absolutely two visions for making that happen. We can either try to dispense more favors from Washington, DC, Mr. Speaker. We can try to pump more money that we don't have out of Washington, DC, money that we're borrowing from our children and grandchildren; or we can try to get folks higher- and better-paying jobs--more jobs--which is what this rule is about today.

We are running jobs out of this country. We are forcing jobs out of this country. The new report came out of over 150 nations, Mr. Speaker. We are number 69 in how easy it is for businesses to comply with their tax burdens, for example. Number 69. We should be the best place on Earth to do business.

What is it that raises salaries?

Sometimes my friend on the left suggests that we could just raise the minimum wage and just guarantee everybody money, but I don't believe we can. What we can do is give folks an opportunity to increase their productivity. No worker on the planet works harder than the American worker. No worker on the planet has more productivity than the American worker, and regulation after regulation after regulation slows the American worker down. If you want to put more money in the American worker's pocket, you let the American worker be more productive by providing some balance.

Again, nothing we're talking about today, Mr. Speaker, says thou shalt not regulate. We know we're going to regulate. What we're saying is, let's regulate with balance. Then my friend's small businesses and my small businesses will have those customers that they need to get this economy moving again.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I could likely go back and forth all day long with my friend from Massachusetts believing that he loves workers more, with my believing that I love workers more and with his believing that to define ``loving of workers'' means we have to regulate them differently from Washington, D.C. For me, ``loving workers'' means we're going to free them to do those things that they do best, which is to produce.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. I yield myself the balance of my time.

I'm proud to be here with you today, Mr. Speaker. When we talk about jobs, jobs, jobs, that's why I came to Congress, and that is exactly what we're talking about in this rule today. And I hope, Mr. Speaker, you have seen with great concern what I have seen here today, and that is a complete disconnect, it appears, with my colleagues on the other side with the understanding that increasing regulation, needlessly increasing regulation, burdens the American worker, undermines the American economy, thwarts jobs. And I say, Mr. Speaker, this is one of those things on which if we disagree we're just going to have to agree to disagree, because it is as clear to me as it is that the sky is blue that when you increase the regulatory burden you make the American family poorer for it.

I know I can't ask for a show of hands here, Mr. Speaker, but if I did and said, Who is it, who wants dirtier drinking water back home in their district? Who is it that doesn't drink from the same spigot as the rest of us? Who is it that doesn't shop at the same grocery stores as the rest of us? Who is it who doesn't drive on the same roads as the rest of us? We're all in this boat together. We're all this boat together, Mr. Speaker.

I come from the Deep South, and whenever we start talking about environmental issues, it always gets me so pumped up, because, dad gum it, nobody spends more time outside than I do. Nobody cares more about the environment than I do. And yet time and time again you hear that characterization that somehow asking for a balanced regulatory environment, a balanced regulatory environment, is somehow anti-environment or anti-American.

I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, these bills before us today, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, the Regulatory Accountability Act, that's why I came to Congress. That is why I came to Congress.

We cannot make everybody rich, but we can make everybody poor. And when we regulate without regard to the benefits of that regulation, without regard to the burdens of that regulation, that's exactly what we do.

My friend quoted the OMB, talking about the values of regulations. I don't dispute that at all. I'm absolutely certain there are some regulatory initiatives that do, in fact, produce a benefit. All I'm asking for is that we balance that benefit with whatever burden it causes, because--and this is a rhetorical question, Mr. Speaker, but do folks honestly believe that the regulatory burden should exist irrespective of the benefits that it provides. That's what we do. In these two pieces of legislation, Mr. Speaker, we ask regulatory agencies to examine those benefits and burdens.

Now, as my friend from Massachusetts talks about partisan politics, I come from a district that was a proud ``no'' vote on both the ridiculous stimulus bill from the Bush administration and the ridiculous stimulus bill from the Obama administration.

We are equal opportunity ``no'' votes on ridiculousness. And that is what we have here as we try to reclaim some regulatory authority from the executive branch agencies.

I'll be the first to say, Mr. Speaker, that I think the Congress went a little light on President Bush. And I certainly believe the last 2 years of the Democratic Congress went a little light on President Obama. I think we have a constitutional duty to defend our legislative prerogative to make the rules that this Nation abides by, not an unelected bureaucrat downtown, but elected officials right here in Washington, D.C., here in the people's House, those of us who have to go home and subject ourselves to voters every 2 years. This is where that authority belongs. And we should have those votes. Yes and no, we should have those votes on whether or not that's our shared vision of America.

Now I'm going to get a little off topic, Mr. Speaker. It's clear to me that we're going to be talking about the payroll tax over the next week or 10 days. I want to encourage all of my colleagues to understand that's not a free discussion. Every penny that you choose not to deposit in the Social Security trust fund is a penny closer to bankruptcy the Social Security trust fund comes.

It's easy to say you're going to get something for nothing, but we're not. $15 trillion in debt, Mr. Speaker; $15 trillion. We've already been giving away something for nothing for far too long. The question is how can we both help the middle class taxpayer with their tax burden and preserve Social Security for generations to come. It's not a freebie, Mr. Speaker. These are tough questions that require serious answers, not on a motion to recommit, not on a motion to instruct, but in thoughtful committee consideration.

I'll get back to the rule now because this has had thoughtful committee consideration. Both the underlying provision and the rule itself have gone through regular order. Mr. Speaker, there's no need to rush these bills to the floor. We can take them through the process to make sure that they are thoughtfully examined line by line by line. And these bills have been.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, that's all these bills are asking of our administrative branch agencies--that the regulations that they're promulgating be examined line by line by line to make certain that the benefits outweigh the burdens.

It's a surprise to me, Mr. Speaker, that it's even something that we're arguing about today. I would have thought that this is common sense. Certainly in my district it's common sense. Perhaps other constituencies feel differently--balancing the benefits with the burdens. Don't let folks tell you, Mr. Speaker, that regulations come without a burden. I'll give you an example. I have a cardboard box manufacturer in my district, manufactures cardboard boxes. It may not be glamorous work, but it's important work. I was visiting the plant the other day. They said: ROB, when they were talking about the ethanol regulations, did they ever talk about the impact the ethanol regulations would have on cardboard box manufacturers?

I said I wasn't in Congress then, but I never heard about it.

They said when you decided that you were going to insert ethanol in every gallon of gasoline, you also decided you were going to raise the price of corn. And we use corn starch in the glue that holds our boxes together, and we use corn starch with our fiber to make our boxes stronger. And every time you pass a regulation that increases the use of ethanol and decreases the availability of corn to other sources, you raise the price of our boxes. You can produce boxes anywhere in the world; and if we can't stay competitive, we're going to lose this business overseas.

Mr. Speaker, there are unintended consequences to the work of this body every single day, and the arrogance to believe we can foresee them all astonishes me. We must understand our fallibility. We must understand that we cannot foresee all of those consequences.

So every time we have an opportunity to measure, Mr. Speaker, every time we have an opportunity to look at the pros and the cons to ensure that we're getting it right, Mr. Speaker, every time we pass a regulation, we steal freedom from someone somewhere. Understand that. Every time we pass a regulation, we steal freedom from somebody somewhere.

Our government is a social contract where we agree to give up individual liberty so we can exist collectively. We have public services for safety and fire, on and on and on. But every single one of those comes at the expense of personal liberty. But we have decided that the expense is worth it.

Mr. Speaker, these bills do that today: balance benefits and burdens, provide that information to the American voter, and let's make sure that what we're doing is worth it.

Mr. Speaker, this is an example of how one ought to do a rule, how one ought to open up the process, how one ought to encourage debate on all of the ideas that are brought to this House floor. I encourage strong support for this rule. I encourage strong support for the underlying legislation.


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