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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5, Protecting Access to Healthcare Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate that. I thank my colleague on the Rules Committee for yielding.

I wanted to come down here and talk about the rule. My colleague from Florida has just made a very impassioned case for why he is likely going to be voting ``no'' on the underlying legislation. If I understood his comments correctly, I'm guessing that it's going to be a ``no'' vote after we have finished 6 hours of debate on this bill--6 hours of debate--which is the kind of debate that a bill of this nature demands. And I'm very proud that the Rules Committee set aside that kind of time. I was fortunate enough to have one of my amendments made in order by the Rules Committee, as was my friend from Florida, but a lot of Members were not.

I wanted to come down here, Madam Speaker, to speak to the authorizers, the chairmen out there who are sending this legislation to the floor. Because what we have in this House is called the CutGo rule, which says if you bring a bill to the floor that's actually going to do some reducing of the Federal deficit, if you're going to be bold enough in this House to send a bill to the floor that's going to reduce the burden that we're placing on our children and grandchildren everyday, then nothing that happens on the floor of the House as we try to amend that bill will be allowed to reduce that savings.

So when a bill comes to the floor, as this bill has, H.R. 5, that has a very high CutGo number in it, we're in a box. It cannot be amended with different ideas because those ideas are either not germane--germaneness means that it has to be relevant to the underlying legislation--or they can't cut any additional funds. So what we had to do in the Rules Committee yesterday was reject amendment after amendment after amendment that our colleagues offered that we would ordinarily have made in order here on the House floor in what has been the single most open Congress that I have seen in my lifetime. I'm a freshman on the floor of this House, but I've been watching this institution. This is the single most open Congress I've seen in my lifetime, but we were not able to make more amendments in order because they were not germane or they violated CutGo. To the Rules Committee's credit, we did not waive CutGo. We complied with the rules of this House.

But I just say to my friends who are on those authorizing committees, if you want to take advantage of the Rules Committee in this Congress that is providing more opportunity for more debate and more amendment and more discussion than we have seen in decades, you need to be cognizant when you send those bills to the Rules Committee that we are not inclined to waive CutGo--and rightfully so--and we are not inclined to waive the germaneness rules--and rightfully so.

What that means today is we're going to have the narrow discussion, that my friend from Florida has laid out, on the merits of this bill for over 6 hours today. I want to thank my friend on the Rules Committee for his leadership in bringing such an open rule to the floor, in bringing such an expansive rule to the floor and in genuinely providing the kind of opportunity for debate, even though I disagree with my friend from Florida on his underlying assertions, providing the opportunity for debate the likes of which America has not seen in decades.


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