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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 527, Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Massachusetts, a superb Member of Congress, Mr. McGovern. I join him in saying that this legislation represents an unwarranted delay on what should be a noncontroversial piece of legislation.

H.R. 527 is a bill carefully written by Chairman Hastings, in consultation with me and with Ranking Member Markey, with Representative Flores, and with many individuals and organizations that depend on a reliable, fairly priced supply of helium. Now, most Americans give no thought to our supply of helium; but a reliable supply of helium is essential for health care imaging, for electronics manufacturing, and for many, many other activities important to Americans today and in the future.

In line with the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, which my friend from Utah mentioned, the bill succeeds in averting a global helium crisis that would result from the closure of the Federal Helium Reserve at the end of this fiscal year. The bill also fixes the mechanism for helium pricing so that we can now provide a fair market price to users and a positive return to taxpayers. So I support the bipartisan agreement represented here in H.R. 527.

Yet by bringing this legislation to the floor under a rule, which is really not necessary, with amendments and by scheduling a debate today, which will end, maybe, an hour or two from now--and amendments tomorrow, which will take an hour or so, stretched over 2 days--the leadership has created a deliberate, irresponsible delay. We could have dispensed with this in 10 minutes. My colleague said 60 minutes--okay. Let's be generous--60 minutes--but we could have dispensed with this.

Instead, we spend 2 days on this, and in the 2 days we spend on this, we are not considering legislation to create jobs, to provide education and training for workers, to consider a conference on the budget resolutions of the House and the Senate, or legislation to undo the sequester imposed by the Republican majority and now affecting airport delays and Head Start limitations and lost food inspections and delayed medical research and so many other things. The bill could have been considered and adopted under a suspension of the rules, but instead we are here debating a rule.

It's an important issue. We've proposed a workable solution. There is no controversy that I know of on this, so let's pass H.R. 527 without delay and get on to all of these other issues. It's not as if there aren't important problems facing this country.


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