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Relating to Consideration of H.J. Res. 59, Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARTON. I thank the chairman of the Rules Committee as I rise in support of this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, it is past midnight. Officially, the government is shut down. That is not a good thing, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. We have been arguing politically the last several weeks various proposals to fund the government short term in a continuing resolution. We've been having some debates on the debt ceiling. If you're like me, most of your constituents, regardless of whether they're Republicans or Democrats, they're saying, Why can't you guys just get together in Washington and work things out. I think the Republican leadership in the House has been trying to do that. I know there's some disagreement on the other side about that.

In any event, we've come up with the novel idea of going to conference. I know a lot of the junior Members on both sides of the aisle don't know what a conference is. It's where the Speaker of the House and the House minority leader each appoint a certain number of Members, normally senior Members of the committee of jurisdiction, and the Senate Majority Leader and the Senate minority leader appoint Members of their respective parties. If they actually do it, according to regular order, lo and behold, the Members meet and they discuss things.

House Republicans would put a proposal on the table, House Democrats would; Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans. They would argue over it and debate it, maybe amend it. Then you take a vote. The House Members vote. If they agree, that's the House position, if the majority agrees. The Senate votes, and if they agree, that's the Senate position. If they don't agree, they have a stalemate. At least we'd be talking, and it would be Members, not leadership, rank-and-file Members. And it's just possible, if they open the conference, C-SPAN could cover it and the American people could see what's going on. There's no preordained outcome, Mr. Speaker, but it would be good for democracy.

I can see no reason why my friends on the minority side don't want to go to conference with the Senate. I would assume that the distinguished ranking member, Nita Lowey, would head the Democrat conferees and that Hal Rogers, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, would head us. That's up to the Speaker and the minority leader to appoint that, but I assume that. I trust them. We can disagree on what the solution is, but for Heaven's sake, I can't see why we can't agree that actually doing what the rules say we should do is somehow partisan and somehow is a negative thing.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the rule, and I rise in strong support of the resolution that we should go to conference with the other body and hopefully make it an expeditious conference and work this out.


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