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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1120, Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to both the rule and the underlying bill. The bill is inaccurately named. In fact, quite to the contrary, the bill should be called the Creating Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act, throwing into question actions of this Board, decisions on both sides, as well as agreements that have been reached through the process in the interest of business, as well as working Americans.

Two weeks ago, Congress approved a continuing resolution on a bipartisan basis to prevent the Federal Government from closing. There were give-and-takes. There were things in it from both sides that weren't perfect. Nevertheless, the majority and minority in this House, the Republicans and Democrats, worked together in good faith, successfully, to prevent a government shutdown, consistent with what the American people wanted and consistent with any responsible stewardship of the public trust.

After achieving that, I was initially optimistic that when the House reconvened this week, we might be able to build on the spirit of compromise, perhaps tackling the difficult issue of fixing our broken immigration system and replacing it with one that works, that restores the rule of law, perhaps dealing with some of the gun safety issues that are being debated across society, perhaps dealing with tax reform and bringing down our rates and broadening the base, perhaps dealing with finally battling our budget deficit.

But, instead, here we are back in Congress, picking up where we were before we worked together on the continuing resolution, passing pointless bills for presumably political reasons--bills that have no sign of passage in the Senate, bills that have a direct veto threat from the President of the United States, which is in his Statement of Administration Policy which I entered into the Record last night in the Rules Committee, and just as importantly, a bill that has no positive impact on the most important issue facing our country today--job creation and economic growth.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is an attack on American workers; this bill is an attack on American businesses. Pure and simple, H.R. 1120 would effectively shut down the National Labor Relations Board, invalidate all 569 decisions that the NLRB made between January 12 and March of this year.

My colleagues claim this is a response to the D.C. Circuit Court decision. But when have we ever enshrined an intermediate court decision into statute? It makes absolutely no sense. This court decision found that nearly all recess appointments are invalid; but the reality is the decision of the D.C. Circuit conflicts entirely with judicial precedent and past practice.

President Reagan made 232 recess appointments. George H.W. Bush made 78. George W. Bush made 171. So far, President Obama has made 32--far fewer than his predecessors. In fact, every President since Reagan has appointed a member of the NLRB through a recess appointment.

In the absence of legislative action, any responsible Chief Executive takes the prerogative to make our laws and system of government work. If this body fails to pass immigration reform, the President might build upon the deferred action program and try to do what he can for detention reform. We need to change the laws. But failing that, what can a President do besides try to make those laws work?

In the absence of taking up ESEA reauthorization, in the absence of replacing No Child Left Behind with a Federal education law that gets accountability right and expands and replicates what works in public education and improves what isn't working, in the absence of doing that, the President and Secretary Duncan have taken the prerogative to grant waivers for States on a statutory framework that we know is insufficient and doesn't work.

So, again, it's no surprise that, in the absence of taking up nominees, the President used his recess appointment power to make sure that the important functions of government could continue.

When have we ever, as a House, responded directly to intermediate circuit court decisions by instantly making them statutes? Look, the majority of this House of Representatives wasn't so confident in the D.C. Circuit when it said that ObamaCare was constitutional. We didn't see bills instantly to say ObamaCare is constitutional because the D.C. District Court said it was constitutional. What about when the D.C. District Court upheld the constitutionality of civil unions in Washington, D.C.? Was there a bill from my colleagues on the other side to instantly say that civil unions are constitutional?

Look, this is in process through the judicial branch of government. We need to wait until the Supreme Court has decided if they will even rule in this case before we decide what to do on a statutory basis.

The executive branch needs to make the mechanisms of government work to the best of their ability. The legislative branch makes the laws. The judicial branch determines if either of the other two branches impugn the rights of one another or of the American people. It is a system that has served us well since our founding, and it's one that this bill flies in the face of.

Again, despite this bill's title, ``Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relationships,'' it actually achieves the exact opposite--creates greater uncertainty in labor-management relationships. It throws judicial precedent and nearly 600 NLRB rulings into limbo.

American businesses would be severely harmed if this bill were to become law, which, of course, there is no chance of. It won't be taken up by the Senate. The President would veto it.

But were it to become law, like many other political measures that have been pursued in this body, it would generate regulatory uncertainty that would hang over business, hurting their valuations, preventing hiring of new employees, hurting the public marketplace, impacting entrepreneurs, employers, and workers to the detriment of our economy, destroying jobs in this country. Without a forum in which to mediate disagreements, labor and management, alike, have no recourse to iron out their differences and less incentive to iron out their differences. Passage of this bill could cause more strikes from workers, damaging businesses and hurting workers.

The underlying bill could very well be named the ``Strike Promotion Act.'' Instead of allowing Members and encouraging both sides of labor-management disputes to offer improvements and find common ground, quite the contrary, it destroys the very incentives that they have to reach agreement.

Mr. Speaker, it's too bad that the NLRB has become such a political punching bag, because I and many of my colleagues would certainly enjoy the opportunity to debate commonsense proposals to improve the relationship between employers and employees. If we want to have a debate about the NLRB, let us have that debate directly, not through some imposition into judicial prerogative. Let's bring in representatives from businesses and labor organizations. Let's hear from workers and businesses across America.

Look, if there's improvements to be made to the process that can lead to quicker response times, that can lead to fairer adjudication, if there's improvements that American businesses and American workers can agree on to make the process work better for economic growth and prosperity, let's do it. This bill does none of that. It leads to more strikes, leads to greater economic uncertainty, leads to destruction of jobs, leads to an interruption in the ability of a Chief Executive of this country--whomever he or she may be--from implementing the law to the best of their ability; and it's a bill that is, frankly, a waste of our time to even debate here on the floor of the House since we know that it has no chance of passage.

This bill is purely put before us for political intentions to perhaps satisfy some fringe element somewhere that likes this bill and likes to bash the rights of workers. But there's a lot of important work to be done, work that is too important for us to waste our time on this form of political posturing, which only stands to destroy jobs, hurt the economy, and create greater uncertainty, damaging American businesses and American workers.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. POLIS. Well, it sounds like I agree with the gentlelady on many of our national priorities. For goodness sake, let's reform the Tax Code; let's bring down rates. Gas prices, my constituents are complaining about them; let's take action. Preventing tax increases, balancing the budget, making sure that we have a business climate that's friendly for small businesses, why aren't we talking about any of that on the floor of the House today instead of enshrining a D.C. District Court decision into statute, to the detriment of job creation, to the detriment of American business, against many of those great concepts that my colleague, Dr. Foxx, espoused?

So, I mean, I think there's got to be a connection here. I think the American people are smart enough to make it. It's great to pay lip service to all these wonderful things that Democrats and Republicans want to pursue, but what are we doing with our legislative time that taxpayers pay for here in the House? We're trying to prevent the President from implementing the law that Congress has made.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Andrews).


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

If we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to this rule that will allow the House to hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Here we are in 2013--2013--and yet women make 77 cents for every dollar made by a man for equal work. Equal pay is not just a problem for women, but for all American families who work hard to pay their bills. It's high time that this body took up the Paycheck Fairness Act, which we will do if we defeat the previous question.

To discuss our proposal, I would like to yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DeLauro).


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

I would respond to the gentlelady that most women in this country don't work for the White House. Most women in this country work for private sector employers, public sector employers, and others.

We care about all women. We want to ensure paycheck fairness--same work, same pay. But somehow addressing this among a handful of women in the White House hardly addresses the real needs of American families, where women across our country in Colorado, in California, North Carolina, and Texas are earning 77 cents on the dollar.

It's unfair. And as my colleague Mr. Delaney pointed out, it doesn't enhance American economic competitiveness. It hurts us as a country to have pay based on bias rather than merit. It's simply the wrong way to go.

President Obama needs this body to act and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act for us to be able to make sure that pay discrimination cannot endure in this country.

With that, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).


Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, rather than addressing a number of issues that my colleagues have talked about here today, whether that issue is gas prices, whether it's equal pay for women, whether that's equal pay in the White House or equal pay for Main Street America, that's something that's important to American families. Whether it's balancing our budget, whether it's keeping taxes low and making sure that American businesses can go and create jobs, none of those things are being talked about here today. Instead, we are bringing forward a bill that would be a bureaucratic nightmare, all without protecting a single American worker and without protecting a single American business.

This bill was reported out of the Education and the Workforce Committee, on which I serve, without a single Democratic vote, and it is being rushed to the floor for consideration at a time when we face record deficits, record gas prices, have a crisis for which we need to create jobs; yet here we are, debating a bill that will go nowhere, and if it did, it would destroy jobs in our country.

I'd love to see us spending more time balancing the budget and in training and educating our workforce--preparing kids for the jobs of the future. We have limited floor time here in Washington. Every moment that we have is sponsored by the taxpayers of this great country. We owe it to those who elect us and those who pay for this body to be open as they pay for the very cameras which allow Americans to watch us here today. We owe it to them to invest the limited time we have here wisely, on critical issues of national importance, including making sure that women across our country are paid the same amount for equal work.

If we are going to have a discussion of the NLRB, let's at least do it in a serious way rather than trying to enshrine a D.C. District Court decision into law. Let's bring businesses and workers together and have serious discussion; involve Senate Republicans, involve Senate Democrats, involve the administration to come up with a better framework for ensuring that labor and management can work together to promote American competitiveness, to grow jobs and to grow the middle class.

That's not what today's process is about, but these are just a few of the ways we could improve the broken process. Unfortunately, again, it seems like the Republicans have chosen none of the above.

I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule and on the bill, and I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' and defeat the previous question.

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


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