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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3523, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act; Providing for Consideration of Motions to Suspend the Rules; Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4628, Interest Rate Reduction Act; and for Other Purposes

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. POLIS. I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding me the customary 30 minutes, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the rule and the underlying bills: H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, and H.R. 4628, the Interest Rate Reduction Act.

Both bills are being brought to the House under a hyperpartisan, closed process that limits debate and discussion that can improve the legislation and allow the House to work its will. Many of the meaningful amendments that would have protected privacy under CISPA were not allowed under this rule, and under the Interest Rate Reduction Act, no amendments were allowed.

I want to address both of the bills that are contained in this underlying rule. First, the Interest Rate Reduction Act. This is a bill of rather mysterious origin that appeared in the Rules Committee yesterday mere hours after having been introduced by its lead sponsor, Mrs. Biggert of Illinois. No regular order was followed for this bill. This bill received no hearings and no markups by the committee of jurisdiction, and within hours of its being introduced, it was brought immediately to the Rules Committee with direction to go to the floor of the House of Representatives without a single member of either party having any opportunity to amend the bill and with only 1 hour of debate.

What is new about this cliff with regard to student loan rates? This was a well-known fact with regard to the expiration date that, in fact, the Stafford student loan interest rate would increase from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. I've joined my colleague, Mr. Courtney, who will later address these issues as a sponsor of his bill that would address extending the lower student loan rate, and yet, there had been no interest from the committee chair or Republicans with regard to this issue until yesterday afternoon, when a new bill, without the benefit of a markup, was presented in committee and to the Rules Committee, going completely around the committee of jurisdiction.

Look, there is a legitimate issue here. Middle class families are having a tougher and tougher time affording college for their kids at the same time that a college education is more necessary than ever for young people to have the skills they need to compete in the global economy. It's a serious issue that deserves serious treatment. There's a lot of cost drivers with regard to education. Some have commented about a higher education bubble that has led to higher and higher tuition rates. Certainly, how the State and Federal share of higher education funding is targeted and the manner in which it's spent absolutely affect tuition rates and whether there's a bubble.

But instead of a thoughtful approach, an approach that looked at drivers of cost, an approach that looked at outcomes from higher education, and an approach that looked at employment levels pre- and post-higher education, a bill was immediately created and brought to the floor within a day. Again, there is technically a 3-day rule that the majority has said that they would follow. They would give Members of this body on both sides 3 days to consider legislation, but they calculate 3 days in a very funny way. There were, as far as I know, no Members of this body who saw that particular student loan bill before yesterday afternoon. Here we are today on the rule, with final passage vote--without any opportunity to amend--expected to occur midday tomorrow.

By most calculations, it sounds like, well, less than 3 days. They had maybe 6 hours, 7 hours yesterday, 24 today, and maybe 10 tomorrow. It seems like, in fact, less than 48 hours, less than 2 days. But, nevertheless, it's yet another example of only governing out of a sense of crisis, and with regard to this issue one in which we do have time, fundamentally, to follow regular order, and even more importantly, we did have time. This is not an issue that appeared from nowhere. Why has the chair of the committee of jurisdiction not been working on this issue for weeks or months? While many of us on our side, including myself, appreciate the sudden interest in helping middle class families afford college, it would be good to do so in a more thoughtful manner that truly addresses the cost drivers of education.

I also take issue with the other underlying bill, the initial bill that we thought would be debated under this rule before this other mysterious bill appeared out of nowhere and came to the Rules Committee. This was a bill that did follow regular order in the Intelligence Committee, and while a number of amendments that are meaningful are included in this rule, several of the most meaningful amendments that truly would have addressed the privacy concerns with regard to CISPA are not allowed under this rule.

CISPA asks Americans, once again, to make a false choice between security and liberty. Now, we all agree, on both sides of the aisle, Americans in general, that cybersecurity is an important issue that needs to be addressed. That's why it's critical that we get information-sharing correct. This bill in its current form before us is an unprecedented, sweeping piece of legislation that would waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity. It would even

waive the terms of service and would supersede the terms of service that most American consumers, American people, believe they are entering into in a contract with a provider of a Web site or service of their choice. That information, without any safeguards, would be shared with the government.

As a former tech entrepreneur myself, I know very well how important cybersecurity is. Frankly, it's something that I've never thought we could rely on the government to do for us, and I think a lot of tech companies feel the same way. But that doesn't mean that in the effort for expediency we should give up our privacy rights and liabilities to protect online networks.

While I appreciate the efforts the sponsors of the bill have made to improve the bill slightly in the direction that people can have more comfort with, they haven't gone nearly far enough to ensure that customers' private information remains just that, private. There's nothing in this bill to stop companies from sharing their private information with every branch of the government, including secret, unaccountable branches, including the military. And allowing the military and the NSA to spy on American citizens on American soil goes against every principle that this Nation stands for.

A lot has been made of saying, oh, it's optional. Well, it may be optional for the corporations to share information, but is it optional for their users, whose information they have, who entered a specific terms of service agreement, to have their information shared without their consent? In many cases, under a terms of service agreement, the users, in fact, may be the owners of the information. The company that it's hosted on may, in fact, merely be a host or provider. But, again, outside of any legal process, this gives that company, whether it's hosting or providing, the ability to share wholesale information that can include health records, that can include firearm registration information, that can include credit card information, that can include account information, and that can include political information, with secret government authorities.

Now, we have government authorities that have the responsibility and are charged with keeping America safe on American soil, namely, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. They've worked hard over decades to strike a fine balance between protecting our liberties and security. The military and the NSA are unaccustomed to that balance. That's why even within the military many from DOD have expressed opposition to this bill. Eric Rosenbach, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy within DOD, said that a civilian agency, and not an agency within DOD, should be responsible for securing the domestic civilian Internet.

According to Mr. Rosenbach:

It's almost certainly not the right approach for the United States of America to have a foreign intelligence focus on domestic networks, doing something that throughout history has been a domestic function.

So, not only will the military and the NSA be able to receive private information if CISPA passes, but they'll be able to use it for almost any justification. Now, while ostensibly a cybersecurity bill, CISPA allows information-sharing ``for the protection of national security,'' a broad and undefined category that can include practically everything under the sun. Is a Tea Party activist a threat to national security? Is a Communist activist a threat to national security? The danger that this can be used for political oppression and to stifle political speech is very real under this bill.

In addition, because of the immunity clauses of this bill, there's no incentive at all for companies to withhold their customers' sensitive private information. Companies are exempted from any liability for violating their own terms of service and sharing information with secret government agencies. In fact, given the high compliance cost for this sort of sharing, CISPA actually incentivizes companies to dump all of their information on the government so they can take advantage of this blanket immunity that this bill includes.

This legislation also has glaring omissions when it comes to the Nation's future capacity to be competent in cybersecurity. The bill lacks adequate support and direction for paths that can actually improve the cybersecurity of our Nation: Training in the pipeline for cybersecurity experts, including STEM programs in our K 12 schools in computer science; embedding cybersecurity in computer science; and providing scholarships and ways that students can attain the highest levels and enter public service to support the cybersecurity of the Nation.

Mr. Speaker, there should be an open rule for both of the underlying bills to give Members of this House across the ideological spectrum the opportunity to address the deficiencies in both these bills.

Now, we've heard from supporters of the cybersecurity bill that privacy concerns are overblown. ``Trust us,'' they've said. Republicans say: Trust Big Government bureaucrats. Trust anonymous intelligence officers to use that information responsibly.

Well, under this bill, we have no choice but to trust them, because the bill imposes no serious limitation on what corporations or secret government agencies can do with our private information.

It's outrageous to have a closed rule on the student loan interest bill--a bill that no Member of this body, Democrat or Republican, has had any opportunity to amend. And it is also outrageous to not allow a full discussion of the thoughtful amendments brought forth by Members of both parties that would remedy some of the very severe deficiencies in the cybersecurity bill.

I, therefore, cannot support this rule or these flawed bills, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. POLIS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to the rule to provide that, immediately after the House adopts this rule, we will bring up H.R. 4816, Mr. Tierney's bill, to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates, fully paid for and then some, reducing the deficit by $7 billion by repealing tax giveaways for big oil companies.


Mr. POLIS. Mr. Tierney's bill will not only provide the House, as was passionately argued by the leader, Ms. Pelosi, and Mr. Tierney, the opportunity to decide between women's health or special tax breaks for oil and gas companies, but will also reduce the deficit by $7 billion. The time of record deficits when restoring the fiscal integrity of our Nation is critical to our competitiveness in job creation. I hope that this House acts boldly by defeating the previous question and allowing us to vote on reducing the deficit by $7 billion.

With regard to CISPA, it simply strikes the wrong balance between security and liberty. Information-sharing is important. I think a bipartisan consensus can be reached. And while I appreciate the spirit with which CISPA was offered and members of both parties worked on it, the bill is so far from perfect, we need to continue to work on it and defeat this rule and allow more amendments.

Any American who values his or her privacy should be concerned by the implications of this bill trusting Big Government and secret agencies with our most personal information. The reality is that CISPA represents a massive government overreach in the name of security. We need accountability and we need oversight. We can't have secretive agencies accountable to no one with vast powers over American citizens on our soil.

For these reasons, I oppose the underlying pieces of legislation. I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule and the previous question.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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