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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4078, Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 6082, Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. FOXX. House Resolution 738 is a structured rule providing for consideration of H.R. 6082, the Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan, from the Natural Resources Committee and Chairman Hastings, and seven other bills that will be considered as a single package, including mine, H.R. 373, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act; H.R. 4078, the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act by Mr. Griffin; H.R. 4607, the Midnight Rule Relief Act by Mr. Ribble; H.R. 3862, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act by Mr. Quayle; H.R. 4377, the RAPID ACT by Mr. Ross of Florida; H.R. 2308, the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act by Mr. Garrett; and H.R. 1840, which is a bill by Mr. Conaway to improve consideration by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of the cost and benefits of its regulations and orders.

H.R. 6082 is a bill to replace the Obama administration's final offshore drilling plan announced on June 28, which keeps 85 percent of America's offshore areas off limits to energy production, with one that would establish a timeline for 29 specific leases, some of which are not open for drilling under the Obama plan.

The legislation would also require the Interior Department to prepare a multilease environmental impact statement for any leases required under the bill not in the June 2012 plan.

The remaining bills are rolled into one package; and while each has its own unique virtues, they're all intended to provide for Federal regulatory relief.

H.R. 373 is the culmination of nearly 5 years of work to build on the success of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, or UMRA, which is a bipartisan initiative that has not been modernized since its inception in 1995.

Given his express support for regulatory reform, my hope is that President Obama will support my bill, which incorporates many of his ideas, including those embodied in Executive Order 13563.

Mr. Speaker, so often we thank people for working on our legislation and for working in the Congress only at the time that they retire, but I want to give some thanks today for the hard work that's been done, particularly on H.R. 373. There's an enormous amount of work that has gone into bringing this bill to the floor.

I'd first like to thank Brandon Renz, my legislative director, who has worked with this for over 5 years. I thank Kristin Nelson and Peter Warren with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for providing the diligence and creative thinking needed to shape the product we're considering today.

I also thank Ryan Little, Austin Smythe, Daniel Flores, and Hugh Halpern for their help shepherding this bill through the various committees of jurisdiction. It's this kind of cooperation that's necessary to ensure the proper functioning of this legislative body.

I thank Chairman Darrell Issa for bringing this bill to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He is providing extraordinary leadership for that committee and our country. But it's my colleague and good friend, Congressman James Lankford, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform, who is deserving of my most sincere appreciation and praise.

Mr. Lankford's dogged work and determination to build upon and improve on my initiative is only one demonstration of his keen intellect and exceptional legislative acumen. For a freshman with no prior legislative experience to have received such immense respect by peers of both parties further underscores his professionalism and amiable personality. Undoubtably, this House would be better off if it were filled with legislators as serious about seeking tangible solutions to problems as Mr. Lankford and Mr. Issa.

Mr. Speaker, it's on that note that I urge my colleagues to support this rule and the underlying bill and reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, I just would like to point out to my colleague from Florida that we certainly agree on our side of the aisle with Governor Romney that we need regulations. These bills don't do away with all regulations. Republicans know you need government. We just want some common sense brought into our government. We want a cost-benefit analysis done to rules and regulations.

After all, we're here, we're breathing the air, we're drinking the water, we're eating the food. Our children, our grandchildren are, too. It doesn't make any sense these tired old accusations against Republicans that we don't care anything about our environment or our food because we're here living with them, also.

I don't think the American people are going to buy the arguments that my colleague made.

I would now like to yield 5 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Lankford).


Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, as I often do when I'm handling a rule, I have to make sure that the public understands the facts.

It's my understanding that the amendment that the gentleman spoke of that was adopted in the committee and then presented in the way that it was presented for this bill was not germane. I need to point out to the public that it was not the majority, it wasn't the Republicans, who decided the amendment wasn't germane. It is our Parliamentarians, who are nonpartisan.

I would now like to yield 3 1/2 minutes to my colleague from Texas, Representative Canseco.


Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The rule before us today provides for consideration of my bill, H.R. 373, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, as I mentioned before. While working on this legislation over the years, I have come to appreciate that the subject matter is not one of the most thrilling ever to be considered by this House. In fact, I'm confident that reading a summary of my bill would provide an effective remedy for even the most stubborn case of insomnia.

Some have compared observing the legislative process with that of making sausage. Admittedly, in the case of my bill, it more closely resembles watching paint dry. Nor do I expect many in the media will sell many advertisements dissecting legislation entitled the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act. However, this certainly does not diminish the meaning or value of this important work.

By collaborating with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, we've worked to create a comprehensive legislative package that promotes the principles of good government, accountability, and transparency that my constituents sent me to Congress to represent. These principles have been a top priority of mine throughout my legislative career, starting in the North Carolina State Senate.

Very simply, H.R. 373 advances these priorities by drawing upon bipartisan initiatives to expand access to information. The legislative text, itself, identifies the stated purpose of H.R. 373 as improving:

the quality of the deliberations of Congress with respect to proposed Federal mandates by providing Congress and the public with more complete information about the effects of such mandates, ensuring that Congress acts on such mandates only after focused deliberation on their effects while enhancing the ability of Congress and the public to identify Federal mandates that may impose undue harm on consumers, workers, employers, small businesses, and State, local, and tribal governments.

But it does so much more than that. The strength of the bill is that it serves to inform more fully decision-makers engaged in the policymaking process while letting affected State and local governments and those in the private sector who must put Washington dictates into practice know what's coming and better participate in the process.

Many provisions of the bill simply codify, clarify, and streamline existing practice. Others enhance the purpose of UMRA by applying its disclosure requirements to more circumstances while initiating more complete, detailed, useful, and accurate cost estimates to expose otherwise hidden costs. Yet others still protect legislative intent by closing loopholes in current law, allowing enterprising rule-makers to circumvent disclosure requirements while imposing costly mandates.

All of these provisions are harmonized in a way that provides something for everyone--which, unfortunately, is a rare legislative virtue--yet underscores the unique opportunity Members of both parties have to vote for a modest, yet effective legislative solution.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, the various elements of the comprehensive reform contained in title IV of the underlying bill can be overwhelming, which is why it may be helpful to elaborate on the purpose of some of the most prominent individual provisions within the package.

In that light, it is important for the American people to understand the oppressive nature and full scope of the costs associated with complying with Federal mandates.

As a former small business owner, I experienced a myriad of costly, overly burdensome Federal mandates, and I hear from my constituents every day about the challenges that they face in dealing with them.

In my position as chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, I have become familiar with an example of a ridiculous rule that will unnecessarily complicate student access to higher education. As we all know, in recent months, students and families have urged Congress to act to stem the ever-increasing cost of higher education. In response, the Obama administration has offered several proposals claiming to reduce student loan debt and rein in tuition. However, these initiatives only further entrench the Federal Government in the affairs of States and institutions.

In response, higher education officials are crying foul over a 2010 Department of Education rule establishing a Federal definition of a credit hour. Higher education personnel believe this regulation will restrict innovation, limit flexibility, and pave the way for additional Federal overreach into higher education. As we've seen many times before, onerous Federal regulation always come with a price, which in this case is paid by students or their families.

It's time to take a comprehensive view of the problems facing our Nation's higher education system and eliminate burdensome Federal regulations that pile unnecessary costs on institutions and students. Rather than getting the Federal Government further entrenched in higher education, we should be working together to remove costly mandates that pile unnecessary financial burdens on colleges and universities.

Mr. Speaker, I enter into the Record a statement from the 2012 edition of ``Ten Thousand Commandments'' issued by the Competitive Enterprise Institute relative to the explosive growth of regulations by Federal agencies in the past 2 years.

Mr. Speaker, again I want to say that Republicans, contrary to what our colleagues have said across the aisle, are not opposed to all regulations and rules. We are not opposed to government. We understand that we have to have government in order to have a civil society. We understand that we have to have regulations to protect us in some cases from each other and to make sure that we have an orderly society.

We live in the greatest country in the world, Mr. Speaker; and we got here not because of the government, but we got here because of the hardworking Americans who have good values, who love this country and want to see it continue to thrive. We can count on those hardworking Americans to do the right things in almost every case. What Republicans want are commonsense regulations, and we want to stop the flood of regulations that have come particularly from this administration. And the materials that I have submitted to the Record, Mr. Speaker, will document the unnecessary rules and regulations that have come, particularly in this administration.

We have heard today many reasons for Congress and President Obama to pursue Federal regulatory reform as a cost-free way in which the Federal Government can promote economic growth. We have the worst deficit, the worst debt we've ever had in this country. We have an unemployment rate that is stifling economic growth. What we're proposing here today will help our economy, will help revive our economy, and will bring jobs to this country.

This legislative package, with the passage of this rule, represents a variety of ways we can move towards these ends. As Americans look to Congress for innovative solutions to spur private sector job growth, I call on my colleagues to support this rule and the underlying legislation.

The 2011 Federal Register stands at 81,247 pages. That number is just shy of 2010's all-time record-high 81,405 pages. These years are the only two in which the number of Federal Register pages topped 81,000.

In 2011, agencies issued 3,807 final rules, compared with 3,573 in 2010, a 6.5-percent increase.

Proposed rules appearing in the Federal Register increased even more than the number of final rules, from 2,439 to 2,898, an 18.8-percent increase that signals a likely future rise in final rules.

Although regulatory agencies issued 3,807 final rules in 2011, Congress passed and the president signed into law a comparatively few 81 bills. Substantial lawmaking power is delegated to unelected bureaucrats at agencies.

Of the 4,128 regulations now in the pipeline, 822 affect small businesses and 212 are `economically significant' rules wielding at least $100 million in economic impact. That number represents a 32.5-percent jump over the 160 rules five years ago, in 2006, and a higher level than any year of the past decade except for the 224 rules in 2010.

The number of final `major rule' reports issued by agencies and reviewed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has grown. The 99 rules of 2010 represented the highest number since this tabulation began. Five years ago, there were 56 such reports.

The five most active rule-producing agencies--the departments of the Treasury, Commerce, the Interior, and Agriculture, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)--account for 1,733 rules, or 42 percent of all rules in the Unified Agenda pipeline.

The government's reach extends well beyond the taxes Washington collects and its deficit spending and borrowing. Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations cost hundreds of billions--perhaps trillions--of dollars every year over and above the costs of the official federal outlays that dominate the policy debate.

Economics 101 on tax incidence explains how and why firms generally pass along to consumers the costs of some taxes. Likewise, some regulatory compliance costs that businesses face will find their way into the prices consumers pay and into wages earned.

Taxation and regulation can substitute for each other because regulation can advance government initiatives without using tax dollars. Rather than pay directly and book expenses for new programs, the government can require the private sector--as well as state and local governments--to pay for federal initiatives through compliance costs.

Because such regulatory costs are not budgeted and lack the formal public disclosure of federal spending, they may generate comparatively little public outcry. Regulation thus becomes a form of off-budget or hidden taxation.

As the mounting federal debt causes concern, the impulse to regulate instead can also mount. Deficit spending, in a manner of speaking, can manifest itself as regulatory compliance costs that go largely unacknowledged by the federal government. Worse, if regulatory compliance costs prove burdensome, Congress can escape accountability by blaming the agencies that issue the unpopular rules.

Openness about regulatory facts and figures is critical, just as disclosure of program costs is critical in the federal budget .....

[But] Disclosure of and accountability for regulatory costs are spotty. This allows policy makers to be reckless about imposing regulatory costs relative to undertaking ordinary--but more publicly visible--government spending.

The material previously referred to by Mr. Hastings of Florida is as follows:

An Amendment to H. Res. 738 Offered by Mr. Hastings of Florida

At the end of the resolution, add the following new section:

Sec. 3

It shall not be in order to consider a concurrent resolution providing for adjournment or adjournment sine die unless the House has been notified that the President has signed a bill to extend for one year certain expired or expiring tax provisions that apply to middle-income taxpayers with income below $250,000 for married couples filing jointly, and below $200,000 for single filers, including, but not limited to, marginal rate reductions, capital gains and dividend rate preferences, alternative minimum tax relief, marriage penalty relief, and expanded tax relief for working families with children and college students.
(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.


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