Providing for Consideration of H.R. 436, Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5882, Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Tim Scott
Date: June 7, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. House Resolution 679 provides for consideration of H.R. 436, a bill to repeal the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices enacted as part of the President's health care law. It also provides for a structured rule for consideration of H.R. 5882, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act. The legislative branch appropriations rule is typically the only structured rule in the appropriations process, and we are continuing that bipartisan tradition here today.

We are voting here today to stand up for more than 423,000 American employees and the health of millions that their work protects. A new $29 billion tax on medical devices, passed as part of the President's health care package, threatens to stifle innovation in the health care industry. If medical device manufacturers are punished with this new tax, we are all punished. Our health is punished. Our parents' health is punished. Our kids' health is punished.

Yesterday, I talked with one of my constituents, Dan Denson, who owns a medical device company in Summerville, South Carolina. He shared two concrete examples of how this new tax will hurt his company, the health care industry, and most importantly, it will hurt those in need of medical care.

For Dan's home health company the profit margin is about 10 percent. That profit is used to pay their employees, improve technology, and expand when it's needed. So if you cut into it by 2.3 percent, you're cutting into their ability to create better devices that then provide better care for patients.

As Dan put it, ``I can assure you that any additional impact to our cash flow will reduce the money available for innovation.

Dan also talked to me about his fellow medical device companies who make the hoses for oxygen tanks and other devices which make life bearable for so many Americans. They are absolutely dependent on these devices. And what happens when we add a 2.3 percent tax to these smaller companies? Well, these companies work on a margin of around 3 percent. So you don't have to be a math major to figure out that when you have a 3 percent profit margin and you have a new 2.3 percent tax, you are pretty close to zero.

You simply cannot afford to run a business in this environment. You certainly cannot start a new business in this environment. We're not only hurting our medical device companies, we're also discouraging new entrepreneurs and innovators from being able to enter the ring.

I felt it was so important to share Dan's thoughts today, as it shows in clear terms how this new tax will not only affect Americans' wallets, but it could impact the health of Americans in this country.

If our medical device manufacturers cannot continue to adapt and move forward with new and better technologies, our medical care system will slow down right alongside it.

Because of innovation, life expectancy in the United States has increased by more than 3 years from 1986 to 2000, and the burden of chronic diseases representing more than 70 percent of the overall health care cost has been reduced. This tax affects devices ranging from cardiac defibrillators to artificial joints to MRI scanners, or, in plainer terms, the very devices that identify and treat patients in their time of need, and even those devices that could save lives. These days, technology is improving every single day.

Why in the world would we want to put our innovators at a disadvantage? Why in the world would we want to take another $29 billion worth of investments out of our future, out of our health care industry and put it in the hands of this government? There's no good answer to these questions, and there's no good reason for another new tax.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this rule and the underlying legislation. I encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the rule and ``yes'' on the underlying bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I find it quite interesting and almost hilarious that my friend to the left would talk about tax increases when in fact embedded in this health care bill is $123 billion in new taxes on property owners. Really? $123 billion of new taxes on property owners in addition to the $29 billion new tax they were talking about today, in addition to eliminating $500 billion from Medicare in order to fund this health care plan.

I think the conversation about tax increases is a conversation we could spend a day on, and we'd be happy to have that conversation. But today, I'm going to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas, Chairman Sessions.


Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, we keep hearing consistently that somehow a tax that isn't a tax is now considered a tax, so the notion of recapturing overpayments from health care subsidies should not be considered a tax. It should be considered being honest and fair. So let me say it one more time: that requiring people to return money not correctly given to them is not a tax increase; it is a matter of honesty and integrity.


Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the remaining time.

My assumption is my friends to the left truly believe if you say it often enough, it might become true. Even if it doesn't become true, if you say it often enough, perhaps someone watching will assume that the words being spoken are somehow true.

We've heard it several times in the last hour, things that have been said over and over again because we are obviously once again in an election year. After hearing the arguments made by the other side regarding the previous question, there is no doubt that we are in an election year.

To clarify, any future changes in benefits to Social Security or Medicare would also and always apply to Members of this body. There are no exceptions, Mr. Speaker, no, not one exception whatsoever. There are no carve-outs in the law giving special treatment to Members of Congress under Social Security or Medicare.

But if you say it often enough, perhaps someone, somewhere watching somewhere in this Nation will come to the conclusion that it must be right. Let me say it one more time.

Members of Congress will comply with the law as it is on Social Security and Medicare.

Secondly, we have heard consistently over and over again--and this is another part of that alternate universe that doesn't exist unless you want someone to believe something that is simply not true--that somehow recapturing overpayments of health care subsidies is now considered a tax. I would say that at a time when we face a $16 trillion debt, we cannot afford to not recapture all the money owed to the Federal Government.

My friends on the left want people to believe that if you recapture the dollars that were given inappropriately that somehow, some way this becomes a tax increase. Let me say it just in case folks listening didn't understand the words that I was speaking.

Requiring people to return money not correctly given to them, this is not a tax, and it certainly is not a tax increase. It is simply a matter of honesty and integrity.

Mr. Speaker, we're talking about the health care bill that took $500 billion from Medicare. We're talking about the health care bill that takes $500 billion out of the pockets of everyday, average middle class Americans in the form of tax increases. There is one tax increase on those folks who own property, $123 billion through a new 3.8 percent tax. Today we find ourselves in the position of repealing a $29 billion medical device tax because the people who need the medical devices will end up paying that tax.

I think we are in a position today, Mr. Speaker, to make sure that over 423,000 Americans who are employed in this country are able to continue to work. I believe that we are in a position, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the health care of millions of Americans continues to be a critical part of the discussion.

Mr. Speaker, we are in a place to make sure that new taxes, $29 billion of new taxes, don't continue to destroy American jobs.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues not only to vote for the rule but to vote for the underlying legislation.

The material previously referred to by Mr. Polis is as follows:

An Amendment to H. Res. 679 Offered by Mr. Polis of Colorado

At the end of section 2, add the following:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this resolution, the amendment printed in section 3 shall be in order as though printed as the last amendment in the report of the Committee on Rules if offered by Representative Connolly of Virginia or a designee. That amendment shall be debatable for one hour equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent.

Sec. 3. The amendment referred to in section 2 is as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

Members who repeal federal benefits for their constituents must forfeit such benefits for themselves.

SEC. __ (a) IN GENERAL.--Any proposed repeal of benefits in Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, or of any benefit provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111 148), shall not take effect until the Director of the Office of Personnel Management certifies to the Congress that a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives and a majority of Members of the Senate have, as of the date that is 30 days after the date of the passage of the repeal in the respective House, voluntarily and permanently withdrawn from any participation, and waived all rights to participate, as such a Member in that benefit. (b) MEMBER DEFINED.--In this section, the term ``Member of the House of Representatives'' means a Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress.

(The information contained herein was provided by the Republican Minority on multiple occasions throughout the 110th and 111th Congresses.)

The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means

This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote against the Republican majority agenda and a vote to allow the opposition, at least for the moment, to offer an alternative plan. It is a vote about what the House should be debating.

Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives (VI, 308 311), describes the vote on the previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or control the consideration of the subject before the House being made by the Member in charge.'' To defeat the previous question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first recognition.''

Because the vote today may look bad for the Republican majority they will say ``the vote on the previous question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an immediate vote on adopting the resolution ......... [and] has no substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition, page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous question vote in their own manual: ``Although it is generally not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of offering an amendment, the same result may be achieved by voting down the previous question on the rule......... When the motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the time passes to the Member who led the opposition to ordering the previous question. That Member, because he then controls the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for the purpose of amendment.''

In Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: ``Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who controls the time for debate thereon.''

Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only available tools for those who oppose the Republican majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the opportunity to offer an alternative plan.

Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.


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