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Michael B.
Republican TX 26

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  • Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762, Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015

    by Representative Michael C. Burgess

    Posted on 2016-01-06

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    BURGESS. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

    Mr. Speaker, since this bill passed the House in March of 2010, probably half of the Congress has changed. So for the benefit of people who were not here in March of 2010, who did not see this debate in its full-throated entirety in 2010, I want to just revisit a couple of the salient pieces that led up to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    People may ask themselves, why doesn't this law enjoy more popularity? In fact, the night it was passed, as reported on CNN, the American people were opposed to the passage of this law by about 52 percent. That number is essentially unchanged almost 6 years later.

    And what was the promise of the Affordable Care Act? Well, let me remind people. And don't take my word for it. This is in the inestimable words of Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor from MIT who published a graphic novel about the Affordable Care Act.

    Yay. Hooray. Everyone will be able to afford insurance. You won't have to worry about going broke if you get sick. We will start to bring the cost of health care under control, and we will do this all while reducing the Federal deficit.

    Why wasn't it more popular when it was passed? Well, Mr. Speaker, here we are, about 2 weeks after Christmas Eve, and it was Christmas Eve of 2009 when this bill passed the Senate.

    And I would remind people in this body, it was not a House bill that passed the Senate. Well, I take that back. It was a House bill. It was H.R. 3590. That was a bill dealing with veterans' housing that had passed this House July of 2009 and had nothing to do with health care.

    But because this bill, this law, was a massive piece of tax policy, it had to originate in the House. Except it didn't, but the bill number originated in the House.

    So the bill that was passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve in 2009, with a big snowstorm bearing down on Washington, D.C., every Senator wanting to get out of town and get home to their district, the bill that was passed read as follows: ``Strike all after the enacting clause and insert--'' That means it took out all the housing language and put in all the healthcare language and, more importantly, all of the tax policy.

    {time} 1500 That bill passed the Senate with 60 votes. Of course at that time, Democrats held a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and it allegedly was to come back to a conference committee with the House except that the Senate lost a Democratic Senator in that timeframe. Harry Reid told the then-Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that he no longer had 60 votes and there was simply nothing more he could do. It was up to the Speaker of the House to pass the Senate bill with no changes because he could not bring it back before the Senate because he no longer had 60 votes.

    So the next 3 months, literally, were consumed with arm-twisting, kneecapping, and trying to convince people to vote for something that was against their fundamental best interest. So is it a surprise that it did not enjoy popular support on the day it was passed and it has not achieved popular support even with all the giveaways and even with all the Federal money pumped into it since that time? The reason, Mr. Speaker, is very simple. At the heart of this--at the heart of this--is a very coercive--really, it is unique in Federal policy. The Federal Government tells you what you have to do. You have to buy a healthcare policy. Then they seek to regulate it under the Commerce Clause.

    It was the most convoluted logic anyone had ever seen. But it was coercive, and that coerciveness led to the corrosiveness that has underlain the Affordable Care Act ever since.

    No wonder people look at this. It was conceived--it was conceived--in a falsehood and then delivered to the American people under a false promise. Indeed, it has harmed--as we have heard over and over again from people that it has harmed--individuals in individual districts across this country.

    Mr. Speaker, I stand today in support of the rule and in support of the reconciliation bill.

    The material previously referred to by Mr. McGovern is as follows: An Amendment to H. Res. 579 Offered by Mr. McGovern of Massachusetts Strike all after the resolved clause and insert: That immediately upon adoption of this resolution the Speaker shall, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1076) to increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of a firearm or the issuance of firearms or explosives licenses to a known or suspected dangerous terrorist. The first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. General debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary. After general debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. All points of order against provisions in the bill are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report the bill to the House with such amendments as may have been adopted. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and amendments thereto to final passage without intervening motion except one motion to recommit with or without instructions. If the Committee of the Whole rises and reports that it has come to no resolution on the bill, then on the next legislative day the House shall, immediately after the third daily order of business under clause 1 of rule XIV, resolve into the Committee of the Whole for further consideration of the bill.

    Sec. 2. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the consideration of H.R. 1076.

    ____ The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote against the Republican majority agenda and a vote to allow the Democratic minority to offer an alternative plan. It is a vote about what the House should be debating.

    Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives (VI, 308-311), describes the vote on the previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or control the consideration of the subject before the House being made by the Member in charge.'' To defeat the previous question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first recognition.'' The Republican majority may say ``the vote on the previous question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an immediate vote on adopting the resolution . . . [and] has no substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition, page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous question vote in their own manual: ``Although it is generally not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of offering an amendment, the same result may be achieved by voting down the previous question on the rule. . . . When the motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the time passes to the Member [[Page H50]] who led the opposition to ordering the previous question. That Member, because he then controls the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for the purpose of amendment.'' In Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: ``Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who controls the time for debate thereon.'' Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only available tools for those who oppose the Republican majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the opportunity to offer an alternative plan.

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