Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3624, Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act of 2016by Representative James P. McGovern
Posted on 2016-02-24
McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Georgia
(Mr. Collins) for yielding me the customary 30 minutes.
I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. McGOVERN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.) Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this rule and in strong opposition to the underlying legislation. In short, this is a lousy bill.
At the end of last year, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass four major pieces of legislation that were sent to President Obama's desk and enacted into law.
We passed a bipartisan budget agreement, a multiyear tax package, a highway bill, and legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that had all been stalled for years.
That is how Congress is supposed to work, Mr. Speaker. Quite frankly, I thought at the end of last year that maybe these successes would be contagious and that it would become the norm to actually work together in a bipartisan way and to pass meaningful legislation that would actually become law.
But this Republican leadership, I am sad to say, has returned from the holiday break with more of the same tired ideas and partisan legislation that is going nowhere. We are wasting time with this legislation today, which is going nowhere. We are wasting taxpayer dollars spending our time dealing with legislation that is going nowhere.
Instead of considering legislation to create jobs, boost our economy, or lift struggling Americans out of poverty, [[Page H870]] this Republican leadership is once again bringing to the floor a completely unnecessary bill that puts the interests of large corporations ahead of the rights of the American people to pursue justice through our court system.
It is not even the first time this week Republicans have played politics with our judicial system. Just yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed that Senate Republicans will not hold hearings or any votes on any nominee by President Obama to fill the current vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving a vacancy on our highest court for at least a year or more.
Mr. Speaker, for the life of me, I can't understand why my Republican friends have spent so much time during the last 7 years doing everything they can to try to obstruct this President's agenda and every idea that this President has had.
The contempt that Republicans have demonstrated for this President from day one, when the Senate majority leader made clear that they wanted to make President Obama a one-term President and that the Republicans were going to do everything they could to stop every piece of legislation that he proposed because they wanted him to have no success stories, I think illustrates why this place has become the Congress of dysfunction.
We need to do better. We need to understand that, in Washington, D.C., our job is to try to get things done, not simply put roadblocks in the way.
Interfering with our judicial system to score political points sets a dangerous precedent, and the underlying bill that we are set to consider later today is just one more attempt to unbalance the scales of justice.
H.R. 3624, the so-called Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act, works to create a wild west environment for big corporations by making it harder for ordinary citizens to hold them accountable for their actions. It is simply another Republican handout to big business.
H.R. 3624 is an attempt to create a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. The issue of determining if a local party has improperly joined a case is already dealt with in our judicial system. There is no real evidence that the current system is failing to address any fraudulent joinders.
This bill creates redtape and bureaucracy, something I am constantly hearing my Republican friends complain about, all to make our courts friendlier to big business.
H.R. 3624 looks to move judicial cases that are supposed to be handled in State courts up to the Federal system, where trials take longer and are more expensive.
This makes it significantly harder for an individual who has been injured by a corporation to take them to court and to be able to receive the compensation that they may be entitled to, that they deserve.
The costs are even higher for those seeking justice when you consider that this change would force many individuals to travel long distances.
This is unjust and unfair. Maybe it pleases a certain group of contributors, but it is certainly not in the interests of the average American citizen.
Clogging up our Federal court system with unnecessary cases that should be handled in State courts is simply not in the best interest of the American people. Congress should not be taking away the power of the courts to determine where a case should be heard.
Mr. Speaker, Americans would be outraged to learn that we are even considering a bill that would tilt the scales even more in the direction of big corporations.
This is the people's House. We are supposed to be on the side of the people, not on the side of big corporations.
So I urge my colleagues to reject this rule, to reject this underlying bill, and to get on the side of the American people. If we want to do something constructive, maybe what we ought to do is pass a bill that allows the American people to sue the Congress for malpractice because that is what this is about.
This really is malpractice, that we are wasting our time on a bill that essentially is a giveaway to big corporations and we are not doing the business that the people sent us here to do.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to oppose this rule.
I reserve the balance of my time.