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Steny H.
Democrat MD 5

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  • Rules of the House

    by Representative Steny H. Hoyer

    Posted on 2015-01-06

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    HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlelady for yielding. Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond to many of the representations that Mr. Sessions made with reference to our economy, but we can all agree that our most important responsibilities as Members of Congress is to grow this economy, create the kinds of jobs that Americans need so that they can succeed and support themselves and their families.



    I want to speak about a couple of things in this rules package. Traditionally, Democrats will vote against and Republicans will vote for because traditionally this is a partisan vote. I urge the Rules Committee chairman to adopt a couple of changes which I thought would make this rules package a better one.

    First, I ask the House to move to ban discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees. We provide in our rules that you cannot discriminate against people based upon race, nationality, gender, and other arbitrary distinctions. We should have added this as we have in so many of our laws. Currently there are no protections for a congressional staffer fired or refused promotion simply for LGBT status. I regret that the Rules Committee was unprepared to offer such a protection to our employees.

    Secondly, since Republicans assumed the majority in 2011, Delegates from the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico have been denied the opportunity to vote in the Committee of the Whole. They can vote in committees, and the Committee of the Whole is of course a committee of the House. It is not a final arbiter.

    When I was majority leader, I offered that amendment in the rules. It passed. My Republican friends took it to court, and the court said that it was sustainable and sustained it. This effectively, unfortunately, denies representation to nearly 5 million Americans, Americans, one of whom is on the Republican side of the aisle from American Samoa. So this is a bipartisan concern that I have. Unfortunately, this rules package put forward by the Republican majority does not include either change.

    In addition, this rules package does not live up to the responsible governing the American people expect and deserve from Congress. Mr. Sessions spent a long time talking about scoring, static scoring versus dynamic scoring.

    Dynamic scoring I would suggest to the American people is a gamble. It is a gamble that your projection is correct. If your projection is not correct, as it has so often been, then you end up putting the deficit even higher because you bet on the come.

    The more conservative policy, I would suggest, would be to get the money first and then decide how you are going to apply it. Don't gamble on the fact that you are going to get the money, which is what dynamic scoring is. The gentleman admitted--he did not argue--that cutting taxes always paid for themselves. In fact, Alan Greenspan said exactly that in the last decade.

    What it means is the Republicans will be able to hide the true cost of tax cuts behind a debunked mantra that tax cuts pay for themselves. They do not. This provision will allow them to explode the deficit as they did the last time they were in charge.

    The last time the budget was balanced was not under the Bush administration when you had a Republican Congress, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President. It was when Bill Clinton was President of the United States. For 4 years we had a balanced budget.

    It also threatens to politicize the Congressional Budget Office, which has maintained its role as impartial and nonpartisan arbiter on budget scoring for four decades, which makes us be honest, which is what the American public expects. Rely on the figures that are not political figures but are independent analytical figures on which we can rely.

    I urge my colleagues to vote against this rules package. It can be a better package; it should be. And if it is defeated, we can adopt a better, more fair package.

    Mr. Speaker, we are at the start of a new Congress, and we have an opportunity to right two wrongs in the rules of this House.

    I wrote to the Chairman of the Rules last month asking that two changes be made in today's rules package.

    [[Page H18]] First, I asked that the House move to ban discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees.

    Currently, there are no protections for a Congressional staffer fired or refused a promotion simply for LGBT status.

    Second, since Republicans assumed the majority in 2011, delegates from the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, have been denied the opportunity to vote in the Committee of the Whole House.

    This effectively denies representation to nearly 5 million Americans.

    Unfortunately, this rules package, put forward by the Republican majority, does not include either change.

    In addition, this rules package does not live up to the responsible governing the American people expect and deserve from their Congress.

    First, it includes something called ``Dynamic Scoring.'' What it means is that Republicans will be able to hide the true cost of tax cuts behind a debunked mantra that ``tax cuts pay for themselves.'' They do not--and this provision will allow them to explode the deficit, as they did the last time they were in charge.

    It also threatens to politicize the Congressional Budget Office, which has maintained its role as impartial and nonpartisan arbiter on budget scoring for four decades.

    The rules package also extends the Benghazi select committee, placing conspiracy theories above fact.

    At least three committees--two led by Republicans--exhaustively investigated the Benghazi tragedy.

    Everything has been reviewed; a million dollars in taxpayer money last year were wasted.

    And, furthermore, these rules would limit the ability of Congress to reallocate resources between Social Security trust funds, making it more difficult to prevent automatic cuts to Social Security disability insurance.

    We can do better--and should do better--in this House for the 114th Congress.

    I urge my colleagues to reject this rules package, and I call on Chairman Sessions and his Republican colleagues to work in a bipartisan way with Democrats to enact rules that enhance the work of this House, protect LGBT employees, include all of the voices in our democracy, and set guidelines that facilitate greater cooperation, not more partisan gridlock.

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