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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3630, Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this closed rule and to the underlying bill. This bill and this process is so lousy, I barely know where to begin today.

Let's start with the process. The bill, the way this bill was conceived, drafted and brought up may be the worst yet under this Republican-controlled Congress. Simply, this process is shameful. It's an embarrassment. This 369-page monstrosity was presented on Friday afternoon.

The gentleman says that this was reported by the Ways and Means Committee. It was presented by the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. It was not reported out of that committee. I use the word presented because it was introduced on a day when no committees met and we had no votes in the House.

It was referred to 12 committees, 12 different committees. That's more than half the committees in the House of Representatives. But not a single committee held a hearing or a markup on this bill. It never saw the light of day in any of these committees.

There are 348 Members who sit on the committees that have jurisdiction over this bill. That's 348 Members of the House who should have had an opportunity to offer amendments and question witnesses about this bill in committee hearings or markups. Not one of these Members had an opportunity.

And last night in the Rules Committee, Members came up, 12 amendments were offered. Every single one of them was rejected.

Mr. Levin, the ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, asked for a Democratic substitute to be made in order. That was rejected too.

The gentleman from California says that it's traditional, when Ways and Means bills are presented, that they be done so under a closed rule. That's when it's a tax bill. This is a tax bill plus 1,000 other things that have nothing to do with tax issues.

And this lousy process, I will say to my colleagues, leads to bad legislating. Just look at this bill. It's long, and it's sloppy. The Republicans who rushed to put this bill together have already found an error which we're trying to correct in the rule. Who knows how many other errors there are?

Last year Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor, Whip McCarthy and other members of the Republican leadership rolled out their Pledge to America, their campaign pledge to run this House in a more open way. Yet all year long they have been chipping away at their pledge, and now we have this bill that flat out breaks their pledge.

In their pledge, the House Republicans promised to, and I quote, "end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with 'must-pass' legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.'' That's what they said.

Yet we have three provisions--extension of the payroll tax cut, extension of unemployment insurance, and SGR, or doc fix--that are must pass by the end of this year. And do we have a clean bill that is free from unrelated provisions? Of course not. That would be logical and make too much sense.

No, Mr. Speaker, the bill we have before us is loaded up with goodies to mollify the extreme right wing that is in charge of this House. Along with the extension of the payroll tax cut and doc fix, this bill includes the following: Requires the approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline; requires millions of seniors to pay more for health care; increases taxes on working families by forcing large, end-of-the-year health care payments; slashes prevention funding that actually reduces Medicare and Medicaid costs; undermines air quality, endangering the health of children and families by blocking mercury pollution reduction; cuts retirement programs for Federal workers; and extends the pay freeze for Federal workers.

Each of these provisions are different. They have nothing to do with one another. Why are they all bunched together in this one bill?

And these policies are bad for America. They are bad for the American people. Yet the Republican leadership continues to push these extreme and harmful policies.

And even though the unemployment insurance program needs to be extended, this bill actually erodes the support program by cutting unemployment insurance benefits for 1 million Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. And it imposes new limits on unemployment compensation by restricting benefits employees have paid for.

Why is it so difficult for this Republican-controlled House to help the middle class and those struggling to get into the middle class? Why do they throw roadblock after roadblock in front of middle class Americans who are trying to make their lives better? Why do they continue to make it virtually impossible for us to help average people, while at the same time they do everything in their power to protect subsidies for big oil companies and tax cuts for the Donald Trumps of the world?

Extension of the payroll tax cut, extension of the unemployment insurance program, and the doc fix should not be controversial. And these extensions should have been done a long, long time ago.

My friends on the other side of the aisle are playing a very risky game. We know this failure to extend the payroll tax cut will mean a $1,500 tax increase on middle class Americans. We know that 160 million Americans will see their taxes go up if we don't act before the end of the year. So why are Republicans bringing a bill to the floor that we know will not pass the Senate?

We know, by the way, the President will not sign it. I have a Statement of Administration Policy, which I would like to place in the Record, which basically makes it very clear that the President would veto this bill.


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