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Michael B.
Republican TX 26

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  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3, Keystone XL Pipeline Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 30, Save American Workers Act of 2015

    by Representative Michael C. Burgess

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    Read More about Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3, Keystone XL Pipeline Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 30, Save American Workers Act of 2015

    BURGESS. Madam Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 19 and ask for its immediate consideration.



    The Clerk read the resolution, as follows: H. Res. 19 Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to consider in the House the bill (H.R. 3) to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. The bill shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the bill are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and on any amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided among and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; and (2) one motion to recommit.

    Sec. 2. Upon adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to consider in the House the bill (H.R. 30) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification as a full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replace it with 40 hours. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. The bill shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the bill are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and on any amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Ways and Means; and (2) one motion to recommit.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 1 hour.

    Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.

    General Leave Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Texas? There was no objection.

    Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, House Resolution 19 provides for the consideration of two important pieces of legislation to help the American economy, both of which passed in the 113th Congress with bipartisan support. H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act, is designed to address a critical flaw in the Affordable Care Act which is causing workers to lose hours at their jobs and, thus, lose wages--those wages that help put food on their tables, those wages that help feed their families, pay their utility bills, heat their homes during the winter, and cool their homes during the summer. H.R. 30 fixes this flaw by changing the newly created labor rule in the Affordable Care Act which defines full-time work at 30 hours a week and places that definition back where the American public has believed it to be for the last 100 years, that is, at 40 hours.

    The second bill contained in today's rule is H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, and that would put an end to what has been a 6-year process for approving a pipeline that should have simply been common sense for America's economy a long time ago.

    {time} 1230 The rule before us today provides for 1 hour of debate for each of the bills. This allows the House to fully debate these crucial issues. These bills are targeted pieces of legislation dealing with one single provision in the Affordable Care Act and one single pipeline, respectively. No one is trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act today. For that, stay tuned. But I have no doubt that Members of the minority will claim that this bill is an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But, in fact, it simply makes changes to a definition and interpretation by the Department of Labor in the bill. As always, the minority is also afforded the customary motion to recommit on each of the bills.

    Madam Speaker, as a result of the Affordable Care Act's requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees provide health insurance coverage to those employees working 30 hours per week, employers across the Nation--from schools to universities to municipalities to restaurants--are being forced to cut workers' hours or face unsustainable employment costs to their businesses and to their organizations. As a result, we are seeing--and this is what Republicans predicted prior to the controversial and contentious passage of the Affordable Care Act--but what we are seeing is the bill has fundamentally changed labor law in this country, creating a new, standard 30-hour workweek. As a result, workers' hours are being cut, and productivity in this country--a country that has always prided itself on the work ethic of its citizens--will decrease over time. This is what onerous government regulations do--suppress innovation and hamper businesses.

    Many Members of the Democratic Party have been outspoken in clamoring for an extension to long-term unemployment benefits, which would extend government assistance to all unemployed Americans well beyond a year's worth of benefits. Yet there is something that can be done now, there is something that can be done today, which will have an actual, practical effect of putting more money in more people's pockets.

    We have heard story after story from every State in the Union that employers are dropping workers' hours from less than 39 hours a week to perhaps less than 29 hours or fewer--potentially 10 work hours a week that workers won't see in their paychecks, which could mean hundreds of dollars that men and women won't have to feed their families and pay their bills. Increasing workers' hours increases money that people have to spend.

    The Affordable Care Act fundamentally changed labor law in this country, and the repercussions of this may not be felt for years to come. This is a dangerous, slippery slope. What other labor laws will be reinterpreted now to define ``full-time employment'' as 30 hours per week? Do people intend to impose overtime rules on employers who employ people for over 30 hours per week? This is yet another regulation which would only result in businesses cutting more hours. What will the National Labor Relations Board reinterpret, knowing that the very fabric [[Page H116]] of labor law is now based on a 30-hour workweek instead of the 100-year standard of the 40-hour workweek? Prior to the Affordable Care Act, employers were already overwhelmingly providing health insurance to their employees working 40 hours per week. Making the change contained in Mr. Young's legislation will cause the least amount of disruption to the labor market, and that is an important thing.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor. Because of this, the Congressional Budget Office projects a decline in the number of workers of about 2 million in 2017, rising to 2.5 million in 2024, as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The latest Congressional Budget Office figures show that the Affordable Care Act will increase spending by almost $2 trillion, double the estimate from 5 years ago. And the Joint Committee on Taxation says that taxpayers will be on the hook for over another $1 trillion over the next decade. Americans earning as little as $25,000 annually will pay more because of the law, even after accounting for the $1 trillion in premium cost-sharing subsidies.

    H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, is an issue that Congress and the American people have been supportive of for the past several years. It has now been over 6 years since TransCanada first submitted its application for a Presidential permit to cross the United States- Canadian border with a pipeline bringing oil to refineries in Houston, Texas. The President's own State Department, in a several thousand-page document, stated that the pipeline would be cleaner and more environmentally friendly. It is a way to transport oil than other means, namely, with trucks, trains, and ships. This is common sense. The issue has been debated here in the House I don't know how many times over the past several years. Enough is enough. It is time to approve this application and put men and women to work who will be building this pipeline.

    Madam Speaker, let us be clear about what is happening today. We are not repealing the Affordable Care Act. We are not undermining the Affordable Care Act. The bill does not take health insurance from a single person in this country. It is a fix to a fatal flaw in the legislation, a fix similar to the seven other fixes that have passed both Houses of Congress and, in fact, been signed by the President. It is similar to the 37 unilateral fixes that the President and his Secretary of Health and Human Services have made on their own. This is a fix to stop this legislation from resulting in people losing work. If Democrats can't agree to fix a provision in the Affordable Care Act that is preventing people from working, then it is simply empty rhetoric to claim that they are interested in any fixes at all.

    I will encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the rule and ``yes'' on the underlying legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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