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Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Florida for yielding.

It's not often that I find agreement with both of my friends from Florida at the same time. When I listened to my friend from Florida, my Democratic colleague on the Rules Committee, in his opening statement, he's absolutely right. We're bringing five completely unrelated provisions to the floor in this conference report today, and we're bringing it in a rushed fashion so folks can get out of here and go home for the 4th of July week.

I agree with my friend from the Republican side of the aisle, my freshman colleague, who says this is just a standard conference report rule. That's absolutely right. All of these things that the gentleman from Florida, my Democratic colleague, finds troubling are just part of the standard conference report process.

I've been watching this process for a long time. I may be a freshman, but I've been watching it for a long time. And it's just the way things go around here. We've done better. To be fair to this House leadership, over the 18 months that I've been here in Congress, we've done better. We've made a commitment to bring one idea to the floor at a time, and 99 percent of the bills I've voted on have been 10 pages or less, and I could read them. I didn't have to staff it out. I could do it myself.

But something happens when we get to this conference report time. Mr. Speaker, the question goes to our colleagues. I suspect if we put the question to our colleagues--my friend from Florida knows it's true: Would you rather rush these five unrelated bills to the floor today and get home for all the commitments you've made over the weekend, or would you rather stretch this thing out and do it right?


Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time, I absolutely do not believe it should be standard procedure, but it is. It has been the entire time my friend from Florida has been serving here in this House.

Again, we've done better. To the credit of my freshmen colleagues, we've done better over these last 18 months, and we will continue to do better. But Chief Justice Roberts had it right yesterday: elections have consequences. The American people are responsible for what goes on here. Mr. Speaker, we keep this calendar for a reason. We do it out of a need for service. You and I both have commitments to constituents starting at dawn tomorrow morning.

We have commitments to constituents to keep transportation bills going, to work with student loans, to reauthorize flood insurance, on and on and on. We have competing commitments to our constituents. I would just hope, Mr. Speaker, that if you were asking your constituents, that they would say, You know what; I would rather you cancel on me this weekend and stay up there and get it right than rush it through.

Now, with that said, it has not been partisan politics that's kept us from getting it here until this point. We've been working hard on this. To the credit of the folks on the transportation conferee committee, they have been working hard. And this was just the best they could do, getting it done today, for whatever reason. This town only operates in crisis.

I say to my friend, if we can work towards regular order, I would love to see regular order come to this institution. We have done better. Eighteen months on the job since I have been here, you and I. We have done better. My colleague from Florida and I. We have done better. But we can still do better. But we're only going to do better if the constituents demand it.

The Supreme Court had it right. You can throw out the folks who aren't doing it right. Mr. Speaker, I encourage you to encourage all voters to look at what we do, see when we're getting it right and tell us, and see when we're getting it wrong and ask us to do better. We can do better. We will do better.


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