Providing for Consideration of H.R. 37, Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Actby Representative Jared Polis
Posted on 2015-01-13
POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding
me the customary 30 minutes, and I yield myself such time as I may
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this rule.
First of all, when we have spending bills that make it here to the floor of the House, we traditionally have had an open amendment process for those appropriations bills. That allows Members on both sides of the aisle to offer cuts to move things around.
At the time of bloated budget deficits, why aren't the Republicans allowing any cuts to be made from this bill? They are not allowing Democrats or Republicans under a closed rule to offer savings to the Federal Government from bloated budgets.
They are limiting amendments on two other bills, a completely unrelated anti-regulatory bill and also a bill with regard to Financial Services that I offered an amendment along with Mr. Issa to improve are not allowed under this rule as well.
It is a very bad precedent for congressional procedure here in our second week to shut down ideas from both sides of the aisle to make either of these bills better beyond a select few ideas that have apparently been blessed by the Republican majority.
I heard in the Rules Committee last night--and my friend, the chair, did as well--a number of very good amendments that were offered, some that I didn't agree with, but I still thought we ought to be able to discuss and debate--I offered a few myself--but hardly any of these are actually allowed to be debated or voted on by the Members of this body.
Instead, what the Republicans have done is effectively hijack the discussion of homeland security and safety to instead have a discussion about our broken immigration system. Well, I was ready to go for that.
I offered an amendment that would have allowed us to vote on an immigration reform bill as part of the rule, one that passed the Senate with more than two-thirds support last session, one that I believe would still carry the support of more than 60 Senators--I think it would likely pass the House if it had been made in order--but I was shut down.
Instead of allowing a discussion about a solution to our broken immigration crisis, the Republicans seek to keep it alive, conflict for the sake of conflict, and to somehow lump families and children in with criminals for the same enforcement priority, which makes no sense to any law enforcement professional or any of our communities, which is why we have a broad coalition of the business community, the faith- based community, the law enforcement community, all outraged over the most recent Republican actions, which seem to cater to the far rightwing of their party, rather than seek pragmatic practical solutions to replace our broken immigration system with one that works.
With regard to the Financial Services bill, I offered a bipartisan amendment along with my colleagues, Mr. Issa and Mr. Ellison, to improve transparency, to modernize our financial reporting standards, to ensure that digital data was available and searchable by investors everywhere, to increase transparency with regard to public companies. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to be debated or voted on here on the floor of the House to improve this bill.
This is truly an obstructive and undemocratic approach to governing. Instead of the Members of this body--Democrat and Republican--being able to work together and propose ideas to improve bills, we are presented with bills that are ``our way or the highway,'' bills that will never become law, bills that have the threat of veto from [[Page H239]] the President of the United States, and are presumably only being done to appease the rightwing Republican base.
Well, we should have started off this Congress with a fresh sensibility. We could have brought forward a clean Homeland Security Appropriations bill, allowed Members to improve it, to make cuts, to balance our budget deficit, to move things from programs that didn't work to programs that did. We could have brought forth a real jobs bill addressing the needs of working families.
Instead, what the Republicans have chosen to do is to play politics and jeopardize the safety of our country and our homeland security over a debate that they want to have with regard to immigration without offering any solutions.
One of the things that I took away from the meeting in the Rules Committee last night, in the testimony from Members on both sides of the aisle, is that nobody thought--Democrats or Republicans--that this Republican bill that defunded DACA and undid the executive action would actually solve our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats acknowledged it wouldn't.
So rather than playing politics with our defense of our homeland, why don't we roll up our sleeves and get to work to actually fix our broken immigration system and replace it with one that works? Now, look, the bill provides for consideration of the Homeland Security bill, but everybody knows it is not a serious attempt at funding the Department of Homeland Security. There is a manufactured crisis, the first step in a sure-to-fail legislative process that the President himself has said he would veto.
Why is anybody in this body--reasonable lawmakers, all of them-- placing the funding of Homeland Security at a time of increased national threat--we saw the events in France this last week--putting our defense of our homeland at risk? Yes, our President took action. Some agree with it; some disagree with it. He used the authority that he has been given by this body to establish enforcement priorities with regard to the 10, 11, 12 million people who are here illegally.
Guess what, Mr. Speaker, if we don't solve our broken immigration system, there is only going to be more people here illegally; instead of 10 or 11 million, there could be 12 million, 14 million, 15 million, until we get serious about border security, about enforcement, about restoring the rule of law.
This bill doesn't do it. This bill says let's support children rather than criminals; let's prevent people that have registered, gotten right by the law, paid a fee, had a background check, had their fingerprints taken, let's prevent them from legally working or going to school; let's hang the threat of tearing them apart from their American kids over their heads.
Both sides acknowledge that is not the answer to fixing our broken immigration system. So let's move past this discussion, let's secure our homeland, and let's get to the discussion of how to fix our broken immigration system, which both sides agree this debate is not about.
This bill also provides for consideration of the Regulatory Accountability Act, another recycled bill from the last Congress. It is not an immigration reform bill; it is not a jobs bill. It is actually a bill that makes government function even less efficiently than it currently does.
It adds 84 new bureaucratic hurdles to make sure our food is toxin- free and safe to eat. It would bury agency rulemaking under a bureaucratic blizzard of hurdles and documentation requirements. This is a paperwork creation bill, this is a government inefficiency bill, the opposite of the direction we should be moving with regard to making government streamlined and more efficient.
Finally, this rule provides for consideration of the Financial Services bills, which this body considered last week, but again, when something doesn't pass under suspension, a procedure that requires two- thirds, the rule should hopefully enable Members on both sides of the aisle to improve upon the bill. I offered just such an improvement, as did some of my colleagues.
If the goal was to get to two-thirds rather than just pass this bill with a Republican majority, why don't we begin the difficult work of making this bill better, of improving on it, of taking ideas from Democrats and Republicans, to get this bill to the point where two- thirds of this body support it? Unfortunately, that did not occur, and this bill is being brought under a very restrictive rule.
We can do better. We can do better than closing down the traditional open process we have around amending appropriations bills. We can restore regular order and allow bills to actually be considered through the committee process here in this Congress, instead of appearing with 48 hours to read for Members of Congress, without even giving the opportunity to amend them. Unfortunately, in the second week here, the Republican majority is already making good governance a farce.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this rule, to show that Congress can and will do better if you give the Democrats and Republicans who serve in this body the ability to legislate, to offer their ideas, to work with Members on their side of the aisle and the opposite side of the aisle, and to get to a point where we can present a bill that the President of the United States will sign and will become the law of the land.