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James M.
Democrat MA 2

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  • Rules of the House

    by Representative James P. McGovern

    Posted on 2015-01-06

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    McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished ranking member for the time.

    Mr. Speaker, I suppose I should simply take this time to say to my colleagues: welcome back, happy new year, and I missed you.

    Technically, we are considering, debating, and voting on the Republican majority's ``rules package,'' but that is sort of a misnomer. The word ``rules,'' as most of us understand it, means a set of procedures that someone is required to follow, but if my Republican friends have demonstrated anything over the past few years, it is that they have absolutely no intention of following the rules of the House. They routinely waive, ignore, or break the rules of this House whenever it is convenient or politically expedient for them to do so.

    The gentleman from Texas says the Speaker of the House promised the most open Congress in history. I hate to remind him that the Republicans presided over the most closed Congress in history during the 113th Congress.

    Let me just mention a couple of the most egregious provisions in this package before us today. First, my Republican friends believe we should adopt the voodoo economics of so-called dynamic scoring. Under this fairy tale, they would have us believe that tax cuts for the very wealthy don't increase the deficit. Never mind that time after time after time in our history, those tax cuts for the rich have caused an explosion in our deficit. This rules package would have us believe that up is down and left is right.

    Second, this package would allow committee staff from the Ways and Means Committee, Financial Services, Energy and Commerce, and the Science Committee to take depositions under oath. Currently, only the Oversight Committee has that authority.

    Mr. Speaker, I served as a staff member in this House for the late Congressman Joe Moakley. Our staff members are dedicated public servants who work incredibly hard, but this provision, quite frankly, goes too far.

    Mr. Speaker, we ought to be spending our time on rebuilding our aging infrastructure and increasing workers' paychecks rather than making it easier to conduct more political witch hunts, which the American people are fed up with.

    Mr. Speaker, I am honored to serve on the Rules Committee, and that word ``rules'' used to mean something. My hope is that in this Congress, enough of my Republican colleagues will demonstrate the political courage to make it mean something again.

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