A picture of Representative James P. McGovern
James M.
Democrat MA 2

About Rep. James
  • 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 James P. McGovern

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    McGOVERN. Madam Speaker, it appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Republican majority talks a good game. They talk about an open process, but when push comes to shove, they fall back on the same old tired, closed, heavy-handed, undemocratic business as usual.

    If you believe their speeches, you would think they believe in regular order. You would think that they believe that all Members, Republicans and Democrats, deserve to be heard and that a fair and substantive process will be the practice of this body. But actions speak louder than words, Madam Speaker, and if the American people judge us by our actions, as they should, the House is off to a very, very bad start.

    [[Page H118]] Just look at the rule before us today. On two incredibly important and controversial issues, the Keystone pipeline and making major changes to the Affordable Care Act, the Republican majority has decided to shut the House down, to say to every single member of this House, ``Take it or leave it.'' Do you believe that the Keystone pipeline won't actually do much to move the United States toward energy dependence or might harm our environment? Too bad, your amendment won't be made in order.

    Do you believe that the 54th vote to undermine the Affordable Care Act is a waste of time? Too bad, the Republican leadership doesn't want to hear about it.

    Are you a duly-elected Member of the House of Representatives with an interesting and substantive idea about how to change the underlying legislation? Too bad, according to the Republican leadership, your voice doesn't matter.

    It is no wonder that an almost unprecedented number of Republican Members voted against the current leadership. They are fed up, and I don't blame them. That is where we are in the House of Representatives.

    What about the Senate? According to Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, a Republican spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: Restoring the Senate to a place where legislation is debated and voted on, rather than simply using it as a campaign studio, is a priority for Senator McConnell.

    Frankly, Madam Speaker, given Mitch McConnell's past record, I will believe it when I see it, but at least he is saying something constructive. Unfortunately, here in the House, we have the same old- same old: a completely closed process that denies all Members the opportunity to be heard.

    If this week is any indication, it is clear that the Republican leadership will keep using the House of Representatives as a campaign studio. They will continue to bring legislation to the floor that the President will veto, with no chance of amendments.

    What a waste of time, what a squandered opportunity--but I have got an idea. This is a radical idea. Let's restore the House of Representatives to a place where substantive issues are debated and considered and voted on. My friends on the other side of the aisle like to talk about democracy. Let's restore a little bit of democracy in the House of Representatives.

    Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to reject the temptation to close this process down. I urge them to vote ``no'' on rules like this one that are closed for no good reason.

    Let me just say to my Republican colleagues: this is a lousy way to start the new Congress.

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