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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4402, National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentleman from Colorado.

We are just hours removed from House Republicans' voting to take away health care for 30 million Americans and put the insurance companies back in charge of our health care system. And it's back to business as usual for the GOP-controlled House.

Yes, it's time to get back to more giveaways to the Nation's wealthiest companies. Because when House Republicans aren't voting to take away health care from ordinary Americans, from poor Americans, they're voting for ``wealth care'' for the most profitable industries in the history of the United States of America. In fact, the majority continues to bring largely the same legislation to the floor over and over again, only the name of the industry reaping the windfall changes.

Two weeks ago, the Republican majority voted to give away nearly all of our onshore public lands to the oil and gas industry. The majority has passed bills to put rigs off our beaches in California, off our beaches in Florida, and off our beaches in New Jersey without passing any new safety requirements after the BP oil spill just 2 years ago. They have passed legislation to allow old-growth forests to be clear-cut and to hand over land to a multinational mining company without protecting Native American sacred sites or local water quality.

In fact, this Republican majority has cast so many votes to give away our public lands to the oil, the gas, the mining, and the timber industries, it's almost hard to remember which industry is getting a special giveaway each week.

So I have a suggestion that I think could help everyone out there keep track. Each week, we can consult this handy-dandy chart, the ``GOP Wheel of Giveaways,'' to figure out which industries are going to get their turn benefiting from handouts from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle on the same day they're going to take away health benefits from the poor, the sick, the elderly, and ordinary families in America.

Let's see who the big winners are on the House floor today as they take away the health care benefits for ordinary people. Let's give it a spin here. Let's see what happens as we look at what is happening out there in this great land of ours this week.

This week, it's the mining industry, ladies and gentlemen. Come on down. You are this week's big winner in the GOP giveaway game. The mining industry is the big winner on this giveaway show here today on the House floor. That's because the bill that the majority is bringing to the floor tomorrow, despite being entitled the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Act, has absolutely nothing to do with developing these minerals. In fact, this bill is all about gutting the environmental safeguards and the proper review of large mining projects on public lands for virtually all minerals, including coal.

Under this legislation, sand apparently could be considered as rare. Gravel could be a critical mineral. Crushed stone or clay could be a strategic resource. Even abundant minerals like gold, silver, or copper could potentially qualify as a rare Earth product under this bill and have lower environmental standards as a result in drilling for them that would endanger ordinary families again and their health. But of course they would never provide any health care benefits for them because that's the other bill we're going to be having out here on the House floor and gutting here today.

Indeed, the only rarities created under the Republican bill would be environmental protections or public input.


Mr. MARKEY. And while this bill provides new giveaways to large multinational mining companies, it does nothing to change the Mining Law of 1872--1872, ladies and gentlemen--which allows mining companies to pull taxpayer-owned hard rock minerals out of our public lands without giving Americans a fair payment. In fact, under the 140-year-old law, mining companies can extract gold, silver, uranium, copper, and other hard rock minerals without paying taxpayers one cent in royalties for the minerals on the public lands of the United States of America. This law isn't just outdated, it's outrageous.

These are the same people here who are saying we can't afford to pass the law which protects against preexisting conditions in health care of ordinary Americans. These are the people here saying we can't pass a bill to protect against discrimination against women in our society.


Mr. MARKEY. This law isn't jut outdated, it is outrageous.

On the game show ``The Price is Right,'' a $1 bid is strategic. But under the Republican giveaway game show, it is an actual price that these huge industries can continue paying for the rights to our public lands. The Republicans want to continue giving away grazing rights for a little more than $1 per acre and allow oil companies to warehouse public lands for $1.50 an acre.

And after more than 250 votes against the environment and more than 110 votes to benefit the oil and gas industries, the American people are going to look at the record of this Republican majority and say, ``No deal.''

I urge a ``no'' vote on the Republican proposal.


Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentleman.

And if it were possible to retard the aging process, that would be something that I think all of us could agree upon. But in the absence of that breakthrough medically, I thank the gentleman for his bipartisan wishes of a happy birthday.


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