Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis), my friend, pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only. [Page: H5611]
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, we are here at the end of the work that we have done before our break home for the August recess, where we will have an opportunity to go back to the American people and talk with them as they are in our homes, our cities, our neighborhoods, our schools, our firehouses, and our places of worship; and we will have a chance to meet and talk with them about the great work that Republicans have achieved and done up here in Washington, D.C., during this first half of the
I am very pleased to know that today, as we are preparing to leave to go back home for our district work session, that we are going to be presenting several bills on the floor that are done to try and move forward not only thoughts and ideas that we have for the House of Representatives but, really, to work in the spirit of things with the other body, the United States Senate, so that we can make sure that the American people, their vision, their needs are before the American people. That is
why I am here today.
Mr. Speaker, last year, the American people were shocked, once again, by the news that dozens of our Nation's veterans were left to die while they waited for medical care in the VA. The VA hospital, which is located in so many of our communities around this great Nation, has simply not performed well and, in several instances, has had shocking results. That is also why we are here today.
In response, Congress passed something called the Choice Act, which makes it easier to remove senior executives at the VA who had underperformed, who have not done their job properly on behalf of not just the taxpayers of this country, but on behalf of a grateful Nation who is serving the men and women who have given their very best years and lives to this country through their service to the United States military.
We believe that removing people who cannot make wise choices and decisions at the VA was the right thing to do. We were trying to put the President, his administration, the Secretary, and senior managers at the VA not only on notice that we would not tolerate bad behavior, poor decisions, and ineffective management, but that we were going to do something about it. By the way, we felt like they were underperforming to a deserving crowd, and that is our veterans.
Well, the President agreed with us, too. The bill was signed into law. We got that done last year, the Choice Act. It was a good decision by this body when we faced the times where we recognized in not only a public way, but in an outpouring of support from veterans who said this has to change. The Republican Congress did just that.
Our chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs from Florida (Mr. Miller) very quickly and clearly went and did an investigation on a bipartisan basis, looked at the VA, and made these decisions. That was what we did a year ago.
Since then, only two VA employees have been fired for their role in what is now known as the waiting list scandal. What is this waiting list scandal? The waiting list scandal is a way by which the VA denied veterans an opportunity to come and get the health care that they needed by stringing them out and then deceiving others--including themselves in the VA--about what the waiting times were. They deceived not only these people who were given these long dates; they deceived the management. They
also deceived the United States Congress.
Well, as happens many times, people find out. Well, we did find out. This meant that the deaths that were covered up, the veterans that were neglected, and the statistics that were provided to us and others were altered.
One year later, the waiting list grows longer and longer and longer for everyone. No doubt, we gave the administration the tools that they asked for that they agree with. Only two people have been fired.
Mr. Speaker, we were sincere about what we did by giving them the authority and the responsibility. We expected them to clean it up. I look to not only our chairman, Jeff Miller, but we look to the VA also to stand up and say they disagreed with that. Not much has happened--certainly not enough.
We are back here again. Poor performances and bad actors still continue to undermine the VA. They continue to undermine not only the scheduling, they undermine the service; they undermine the quality that should be available to our veterans. As a result of this, the ability that we think we are providing to our veterans is diminished. The care for our veterans, wounded and sick veterans, continues to lag.
Republicans are back at the table. Our young chairman, Jeff Miller, has stayed at the table. He has stayed working on this issue on a bipartisan basis with the members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs by knowing what is happening all across this country, learning more about not just the facts of the case, but the stories that come from the veterans themselves, the stories that may come from people who are inside the VA. They are important to us learning what is really happening.
Because the VA has a long and well-documented history of failing to hold employees accountable, we are back here today with another bill. That is right, another bill that we are going to handle on the floor by this Republican House with Democrats on a bipartisan basis, to make it easier to remove or demote employees who do not do their job and who need to be out of that organization.
We are going to give this organization exactly what they are asking for again. We are going to give the VA and their new Veterans Secretary the ability to clean up their mess. We are trying our best to hold them accountable yet, at the same time, expect them to do the right thing.
Yesterday, in testimony, we had our chairman say he has confidence in the Secretary; he has confidence that the Secretary can adjust and make these changes, but the law needs to be updated and changed.
That is why we are here today, to give the VA the tools that they need--just like when I was a manager in the private sector, I needed the tools to run my organization properly and effectively--the ability to move employees that were not doing their job--perhaps it is a bad fit--or to get rid of employees or even fire them if they are not only not performing their job, but deceptively trying to harm patients in the process.
Mr. Speaker, this bill would send a clear message to employees of the VA, and we intend to do that today. We
are going to send a very clear message to them that they either perform properly or, if they are harming our effort to help our veterans, it is time for them to leave. If they are not up to doing the task very well, this Department will be given the opportunity, the law, and the leverage to do just that.
This bill would send another important signal also. If you choose to demonstrate the moral courage necessary to stand up for veterans and to blow the whistle on those who are not, we want to make sure that you are protected, that you can come forth inside your own organization of the VA to report and root out bad behavior. We must fix this.
Mr. Speaker, too many times, the testimony yesterday revealed that these VA facilities in location after location after location around this country are deathtraps for our veterans.
These elder gentlemen, veterans who go to seek help, they know it is a deathtrap; and that is why we need to also address this, for the safety of men and women who have protected this great Nation.
Congress needs to make it clear--and we can today--that supervisors at the VA cannot retaliate against whistleblowers.
If there is somebody in the organization who is willing to tell the truth and come forward, you cannot retaliate against them because they are going to tell the truth about the poor service and responsibility toward aiding our veterans. It will not be tolerated.
Every Member of this body will have an equal opportunity today to say that is the right thing to do because this is what the Secretary is asking for. [Page: H5612]
Mr. Speaker, the American people deserve to know that, when our veterans are treated poorly, this bill would help them; when our VA employees understand that somebody who was going to turn a blind eye before now, we will no longer do that.
We are going to give the VA the tools to root out the problems, to make this better, so that we can honestly look at our men and women and say: Thank you for your service; this grateful Nation does care about you.
Mr. Speaker, it is time for sweeping cultural changes at the VA. It is time to remove the bureaucrats who will make excuses, who will hide things, and who will make circumstances dangerous and worse for our veterans.
It is time to hold senior executives accountable when the VA underperforms, and that is why I am joining the American Legion, the VFW, and other veterans associations in supporting H.R. 1994. That is what the testimony revealed yesterday at the Committee on Rules when we heard from not only the chairman of the committee, but others about the importance of this bill.
This rule would also provide for debate for H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. We have two specific purposes that we are here for: first, for the VA; and, second, to make sure that we authorize an extension for the Federal surface transportation program through October 29.
It is a well-known understanding that our young chairman, Bill Shuster, of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has been working and working and working. We indicated last year in November and, again, in December that we would allow an extension to this date from last year; and Chairman Shuster said he thought he could have a deal by now.
Well, as it turned out, the United States Senate is debating that this week. They are going through a weeklong process to determine what they would like their transportation bill to be like. The bottom line is a thousand-page bill that has not yet passed, that we do not know the substance of, and we are not going to agree with sight unseen.
Our young chairman, Bill Shuster, has asked that we offer a very polite and reasonable option, and that is give us an opportunity to review this. They have done the hard work, the United States Senate. We will do the same, and we will get that done by October 29.
It would also avoid a shortfall that would keep the VA from closing hospitals across this country.
Mr. Speaker, this is the substance of what this rule and the underlying legislation is all about.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. 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 consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule and the underlying bills, H.R. 3236, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act, and H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act.
Yet again, we have a grab bag rule that covers multiple bills on wildly different subjects--in this case, transportation and veterans care--in one bill; and yet we have a closed rule that is pushing through a last-minute deal that kicks the can down the road yet again on highway reauthorization when there is reason to believe that, if we simply stayed in town and worked another week, we might be able to work with the Senate to get to an end point with regard to a long-term reauthorization.
The closed rule here limits the discussion of alternatives on the issue of transportation funding. Even worse, the bill has two entirely unrelated aspects. I have never heard of a crazier name than the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act.
This is part of the problem of this body over the last several years. Republican leadership has moved towards doing more and more omnibuses and minibuses. That means combining disparate bills--transportation, veterans--into one bill, which isn't healthy for the accountability of this body among the electorate.
If you vote against this bill, for instance, because you don't like the transportation provisions, does that mean you are against veterans? If you don't like the veterans provisions and you vote against this bill, does that mean you are against transportation? How easy it would be to simply have two votes on each of these bills so Members on both sides of the aisle can vote their conscience and our constituents can hold us accountable.
Of course, it is necessary to give the VA the authority to transfer $3.3 billion for healthcare services. There is strong agreement on both sides. We could run the bill through on suspension. We wouldn't even need to open it up for a rule. It would pass with more than a two-thirds vote. But there are problematic additions attached to that part of the bill. It is also combined with yet another temporary fix for our Nation's highway system, instead of trying to stay in town another week and work
on a more permanent fix to help meet the needs of the transportation arteries of our country.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, 54 percent of our Nation's major roads and bridges are rated poor or mediocre. Forty-five percent of Americans don't have access to public transit. Congestion produced by our legislative failures here wastes valuable time and money and detracts from the growth of the American economy. It is estimated Americans will lose 8.4 billion hours and 4.45 billion gallons of gas over a decade. That means the average consumer is wasting $800 a year and 5 full days of their life
away from their kids, away from their family, simply sitting in traffic. Mr. Speaker, that is unacceptable.
My constituents are no strangers to traffic. If you have been to Fort Collins, one of the largest cities in my district and home to one of our great universities, you will find that on highway 25 my constituents endure gridlocked traffic at rush hour, doubling or tripling their commuting times.
Expansion of highway 25 and high-speed rail along highway 70 and highway 36 have been given completion dates of decades from now--60 years, in some cases. Try to imagine being told your doctor wants to slowly break down blockages in your arteries over a period of 60 years. You won't make it that far.
Our communities need to do something about traffic now. Tourism and commerce are the lifeblood of Fort Collins, Boulder, and our mountain communities like Vail, Frisco, and Breckenridge. For these towns to survive and thrive, we need to tackle our transportation funding needs head-on.
From our other speakers, you will hear a lot about the Export-Import Bank, the one item that somehow, with this grab bag that includes veterans and transportation, there is a strong bipartisan majority for reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. In fact, 67 Senators in the Republican-led Senate voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, and yet somehow that item didn't make the grab bag.
If Congress fails to act, one of the most important items is it will result concretely in the loss of tens of thousands of American jobs and make American companies less competitive for exports at a time when global competitiveness and the global economy is more important than ever, which was left out of this grab bag of bills.
I understand ideological issues with the Export-Import Bank. In a perfect world, I would agree with my colleagues who argue we shouldn't need to do this kind of effective subsidy for exporters; but if other countries are doing it and it is permissible under WTO and trade rules, we would truly be idiots to unilaterally disarm and not engage in a legal practice that facilitates the credit of American exporting businesses. Effectively, it would lead to the exporting of more jobs overseas and making
American companies less competitive in selling their products.
So, by all means, let's have the discussion around multilateral adjustments to the type of credit facilities that countries can engage in with exporting countries, but let's not look at unilateral disarmament that makes America less competitive and destroys jobs.
You will hear a lot about how simple it would be, my colleagues would indicate, to simply get this done before we leave. Isn't it worth another week of our time to save tens of thousands of American jobs? [Page: H5613]
The second part of the rule, H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act, one of the main problems with it is it would create a culture of fear that would imperil the services our veterans need and deserve.
The tragedy in the Phoenix VA system is an example. It became known because of a few courageous whistleblowers. Had this legislation been in place, this tragedy could have been swept under the rug for many more years.
Without whistleblowers and strong whistleblower protections, the VA hospital debacle in my State of Colorado, in Aurora, could have even been a worse situation, if you can imagine that.
This legislation is not just bad for whistleblowers, it is also unconstitutional. Supreme Court case law has clearly outlined the due process that employees have before their jobs are taken away. This bill turns its back on due process and allows any VA employee to be fired on the spot for retribution.
The limited process provided in this legislation is far below the constitutional requirements, which is why the President has promised to veto this bill. All this bill is attempting to do is destroy the whistleblower and professional civil service system and, thus, the livelihood of thousands and the quality of service to our veterans.
The appropriate action is to get the VA to do their job through appropriate legislation which creates true accountability, which this bill fails to achieve, or discuss how we might reform the dollars we allocate to the VA to best serve our veterans, however possible.
We will debate an alternative today by my colleague, Mr. Takano of California, that would retain due process but allows the VA to immediately fire any employee who poses a health or safety risk to veterans. Additionally, it prevents employees from staying on paid administrative leave--even being bounced around the VA--by limiting the time to 2 weeks, a similarity to one of the positive aspects of the bill before us today.
Mr. Takano's legislation, for example, would have allowed the VA to immediately fire those responsible for the Phoenix scandal and kept in place the whistleblower protections that allowed us to find out about the Phoenix scandal.
Mr. Speaker, for these reasons, I oppose the rule and the underlying legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I admire the gentleman very much. We work very well together. But I think it is a misstatement to say that this bill would allow people to be fired on the spot at the VA. That is certainly, I don't believe, true at all. I believe it would have to be with cause, and the VA would have to have a reason.
There is nothing in this legislation where we would empower people to do things that would not follow proper Federal law nor established rules of procedure for the employee to have the proper amount of protection. But what is stated and understood is, where an employee has been underperforming, misperforming, or has violated their oath of office, where they have a diligence to people under their care or where they have done intentional deeds and then tried to cover it up, that would be cause,
and that is what this is about.
This is not about firing someone on the spot. I think it would be a misstatement to try and characterize this important legislation that has been well thought through, as well as worked out with the VA, as being from that perspective.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to allow the House to vote on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, as proposed by Mr. Fincher yesterday. It is the same exact language that passed the Senate by a vote of 67-29.
Mr. Speaker, the Export-Import Bank allows American businesses to compete in global markets and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs.
I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer), the Democratic whip, to discuss our proposal.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, let me thank the gentleman from Colorado, and let me thank my good friend from Texas as well. Let me use a great philosopher's statement of a couple of decades ago: ``Can we all get along?''
As I stand here, on the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 that is now with the rule before us, it is obvious that we are trying to take a divergent pathway.
I was one of the first Members of Congress to go down in front of my veterans hospital to stand and to demand quality health care for our veterans, to ask that the system be fixed. I take no backseat, along with other Members, to ensuring that our veterans get what they need, and stand in line to make sure that they are not defaulted on by the American people.
H.R. 1994 eliminates the due process rights of whistleblowers who have been key to drawing attention to any manipulation or coverups taking place. They are bringing back to the floor this bill, calling it an accountability bill; but, in essence, it is to go after hard-working employees and fire them and eliminating their opportunity to explain or to have due process. That is not the American way.
This is not a bill that helps veterans. In fact, it takes away consistent, long-working employers who see something and say something, and so I am voting ``no'' on the bill and this rule.
Then the surface transportation had a wonderful opportunity to do a 6-year bill, to look for pay-fors that Members could bring together and support; yet my metro, the Houston metro, will be suffering. Our highways and other surface transportation entities, safety will be suffering. Employees will not be paid.
Here we go again with a short-term opportunity. I remember doing a 6-year transportation bill, where I opened up the hike and bike trails of my community in Houston.
Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, this weekend, 64 Senators voted to renew the Export-Import Bank's charter, which expired on June 30. More than 240 Members are on record supporting the Bank, and according to The Wall Street Journal, there are many more.
As I quote, ``some Republicans estimated that as many as 300 of the 434 current House Members'' would support a measure similar to the one that passed the Senate; yet despite this overwhelming support, we have been denied a vote on the House of Representatives to renew the Export-Import Bank.
Last year, Ex-Im helped underwrite over $27 billion in U.S. exports. It supported thousands of small businesses and about 164,000 jobs across our country. Since 2009, the Bank has supported over 1.3 million jobs. The Bank does all of this at no cost--no cost--to the American taxpayer. In fact, the Ex-Im Bank sent over $675 million to the Treasury last year--actual dollars--to help pay down the deficit.
According to a letter sent by CBO just last week, using accounting standards, reauthorizing the Ex-Im would save taxpayers $2.3 billion over the next 5 years; yet American companies have been disadvantaged. They have been unilaterally disadvantaged of having the export assistance that over 60 different nations are providing their export-import banks.
Only 1 of the top 10 exporting countries in the world does not have an export credit agency now that can finance export deals--just one--and that is the United States of America. That is because this Congress failed to do what every other Congress has done since FDR, and that is to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
It creates jobs, creates money for the Treasury. It helps small businesses.
Vote ``no'' on the previous question, ``no'' on the rule. Let's bring it to the floor today for a vote.
Mr. HECK of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask the Chamber to reject the rule so that we might, indeed, offer an amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for three reasons.
One, it is the will of the United States Congress; two, it does good; three, if we don't do it, great harm will be visited upon the American economy.
It has already been, I think, very clearly demonstrated it is the will of this body, both in the Senate and here.
I do want to remind you that, for 81 years, 16 times, Democrats and Republicans, no matter how conservative or how liberal, the United States has reauthorized the Export-Import Bank. It does good. That is why they do it.
In fact, I would respectfully suggest that the votes were there in Rules Committee yesterday to allow this amendment. The good gentleman from Texas who chairs--and he is a gentleman; he is a good gentleman--opened up his comments by saying 9,000 jobs in and around his district in the State of Texas, attributable to the Export-Import Bank, they hang in the balance.
It does good--last year, 164,000 jobs supported by the Export-Import Bank, $675 million transferred to the Treasury. It reduces the deficit. It creates jobs. Why don't we want more of this? Call me crazy, I guess.
If we don't do it, harm will come to us. Read this morning's Wall Street Journal. Small businesses already--not prospectively--are already suffering job loss in States throughout this great country.
The fact of the matter is not reauthorizing does constitute unilateral disarmament. About 3 weeks ago, two academics, one from Canada, one from New York, concluded the big winner if we fail to reauthorize. It is China. They are rubbing their hands. They are rubbing their hands.
Listen, this isn't about software or apples or film.
Mr. HECK of Washington. It is about our manufacturing base. Who says we don't need more good manufacturing jobs? We need more good manufacturing jobs.
Let me conclude on this note. Ominously, and without drama, hear me, from my heart to your ears. In the very near future, major manufacturers will announce that they are offshoring certain manufacturing capacity because they have to, to compete in a global economy. The global economy has increased fivefold since 1980.
Get in the game, people. Reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Defeat the rule.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman for his kind words, not only of truth, but also I want to thank him for coming up and being with several other Members who sat through hours' worth of debate and discussion.
Mr. Heck served honorably well yesterday, and he does again today, and I thank him very much.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I say to my colleague from Texas, we have so many speakers on our side of the aisle--in fact, both sides of the aisle--folks like Mr. Fincher and others who want to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
If he has additional time, I know that our Members would also appreciate the opportunity to talk about it, as our time is running short.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 3/4 minutes to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Kildee), a member of the Financial Services Committee.
Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for yielding.
I urge a ``no'' vote on this rule so that we can bring up, as my colleagues have said, something that ought to be done in a bipartisan fashion, with little significant opposition, and that is the reauthorization of an entity that helps drive the American economy, put Americans to work, and helps us to compete in an increasingly competitive global environment, and that is the Export-Import Bank.
In 2012, Ex-Im was passed with 330 votes in the House, 78 in the Senate, 60 percent of Republicans in both bodies supporting the Export-Import Bank, joining Democrats in doing so.
There is so much partisanship that invades and infects this place. But when it comes to American jobs, supporting American manufacturers, putting hard-working Americans to work in jobs that have higher wages, we have great discussions here about the growing inequality in wages.
We don't all agree on the solutions. But one solution we ought to agree on is the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank because we know export jobs pay higher wages. This ought to be a no-brainer.
There are 59,000 jobs in my own State of Michigan as a result of the Export-Import Bank and the work that they do. In the last 6 years, there have been $200 billion in exports.
We can have big disagreements on how we ought to deal with income inequality in this country, but we ought not have any disagreement when we see the Export-Import Bank, which delivers money to the Federal Treasury, helps us deal with that problem, puts Americans to work, and makes us more competitive. We ought to do this in a bipartisan fashion, and we ought to do it now.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy, and I appreciate the way he framed this rule debate.
Mr. Speaker, we have sort of a hodgepodge here of items that really deserve careful, sustained attention. There is no reason to lump this together. These are important items. And, sadly, the way it has been structured shuts down debate. [Page: H5617]
There is no room under this rule for the Ex-Im Bank. I appreciate person after person coming to the floor, acknowledging that there is broad bipartisan interest in the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank and no rational reason to reject it. It is going to have serious consequences, as my friend from Washington pointed out.
But there is another area that we are discussing here today that could also make a huge difference for our economy because we are dodging again our responsibilities to deal with a country that is falling apart as it is falling behind.
My friend from Texas was too polite. The reason we don't have a 6-year reauthorization is because the House has not met its responsibility to outline how we pay for it. We are still trying to pay for 2015 infrastructure with 1993 dollars.
Now we have got legislation that actually mirrors what Ronald Reagan did in 1982, when he called upon Congress to come back, raise the user fee 125 percent, and be able to put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work, and maintain our roads and bridges and transit. We are not doing that.
We have legislation in Ways and Means that has the broadest support of any major piece of legislation in Congress--organized labor, business, contractors, truckers, AAA, engineers--all committed to raising the user fee. They say: Charge us more so that we are going to be able to thrive.
My friend from Colorado pointed out that the American public is paying now in congestion, in damage to their cars.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Work next week. Fund the transportation bill. Let the committee know what parameters they have and be able to revitalize and rebuild this country. It is time for us to step up.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, our colleagues are making really, really good points about what we need to do.
The gentleman from Pennsylvania, Bill Shuster, and the Republican majority is committed to doing exactly what they have talked about: getting our work done.
In fairness, it has taken the United States Senate until this week, and they have a 1,000-page transportation bill that we are not simply going to say: Let's just agree to that.
It is going to come over to us after they have done their work. With great respect, we are trying to make sure that we are continuing the funding. We are using mechanisms that would be available.
The right thing to do is to measure three times and saw once. We are not going to accept, by unanimous consent or another agreement, a 1,000-page bill.
On the Republican side, we read bills before we pass them.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Heck), a leader in the bipartisan efforts to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and a member of the Financial Services Committee.
Mr. HECK of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I said earlier that the first, most immediate damage as a result of our failure to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank will be visited upon small businesses.
It occurs to me that a little bit of color in that regard would serve us well, giving the benefit of the doubt to those who are opposing our opposition to the rule so that we can reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Let me give you the data. The Export-Import Bank has approximately 90 percent of its transactions going to small businesses, about 90 percent.
Most of us tend to think about those as all direct loans, but they aren't. The fact of the matter is the bulk of them are what we would call accounts receivable insurance.
But there are also revolving lines of credit. There are also loan guarantees, not actual direct loans. And these, again, are small businesses.
These are businesses like Manhasset Specialty Company in Yakima, Washington, which makes music stands and has a global market. Thirty-five percent of its sales are exports, and a good portion of them are assisted by the Export-Import Bank.
In my district, Pexco in Fife, Washington, makes traffic control equipment. They are growing their export business with the assistance of the Export-Import Bank. So it is the small businesses that first will feel the damage.
But for those of you who say, yes, but the biggest share of the dollars go to big businesses, let's go back to Economics 101.
A lot of people point to Boeing. Ladies and gentlemen, Boeing does not manufacture airplanes. If that surprises you, please pay attention to what I am about to say.
Boeing does not manufacture airplanes. They design them. They assemble them with the assistance of 15,000 businesses in their supply chain, about half of whom are small businesses.
In the tiny town of Puyallup, relatively speaking, in my district, there are 17 businesses within the city limits whose principal customer is Boeing.
Mr. HECK of Washington. Small businesses will be hurt first. Over the long term, big businesses will be hurt.
I did not say earlier lightly. I did not say earlier in hyperbole that we will have major announcements causing grievous damage to the manufacturing base of America. We cannot allow that to happen.
We simply must, for the sake of small businesses and for the sake of our manufacturing base, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. It reduces the deficit. It creates jobs.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the remainder of my time.
Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of my amendment in the Record along with extraneous material immediately prior to the vote on the previous question.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' and defeat the previous question so we can bring forward the bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Now, again, I have a great deal of sympathy and respect for my colleagues who believe that these kinds of back-door subsidies have no place in a global trade regime. That is a reasonable and defensible viewpoint.
The proper avenue to advocate for that is multilaterally. There are a lot of ways that companies have and will and governments have and do try to give themselves a nationalistic advantage in international trade.
In the competition between Airbus and Boeing alone, books could be written about the efforts of both sides--whether it is our side through military contracts; whether it is their side, Europe--to give back-door allowable subsidies that put their own companies at an advantage.
If we unilaterally fail to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, we are putting American exporters at a disadvantage because the dozens of other countries that engage in these allowable kinds of credit facilities will still do so to the detriment of American jobs and American businesses.
We recently had a debate in these very Chambers about trade promotion authority. Soon there will be discussions about TPP and T-TIP.
Where was that discussion around TPA in the instructions to the President about credit facilities and Export-Import Bank and what would and wouldn't be allowable?
These kinds of discussions need to be had multilaterally. To unilaterally disarm makes no sense.
Even if one ideologically believes that we should not be engaging in these efforts, surely what is more important and what trumps that is to make sure that this is not a part of the global trade regime.
So long as it is, for America not to engage in this allowable practice of credit facilities extended through the Export-Import Bank puts American jobs at a disadvantage, will lead to further outsourcing of American jobs and hurt American businesses.
Mr. Speaker, this rule covers two significant, but wholly unrelated, bills. [Page: H5618]
We have heard arguments here in this limited time, this limited debate, about Federal highway funding, about veterans' care and VA workers, about the Export-Import Bank.
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that many viewers are confused as to what we are even talking about or how is it even possible that, in 1 hour, we are covering the transportation needs of our country, the VA system, and a program allowable under trade rules that helps make American companies more competitive.
Unfortunately, rather than continuing our work next week, the majority has put several pieces of disparate legislation into a grab bag in a smoky backroom manner that, unfortunately, will continue to fail to address the most important transportation concerns or the already expiration of the Export-Import Bank before this body goes home for a month.
It is unfortunate that, under this rule, this institution is not even allowed to bring forward an amendment we know would pass to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
It is a shame that veterans' issues have somehow been combined with a highway issue and a minibus that detracts from transparency.
That is why I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' and defeat the previous question. Vote ``no'' on the rule.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
I want to thank not only the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis), but also our colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle who I thought most generously fought this battle today.
The bottom line is that they know and we know, Mr. Speaker, that we are addressing two vitally important issues that Congress must step up to the plate on.
One is a request that comes directly from the VA, for us to fund a gap of $3.4 billion that is necessary to fund hospitals of the VA to make sure that they are able to provide services to our veterans. It is critical. To vote against that I think is a mistake.
I think to vote for a chance where Republicans are trying to balance the needs through not only the appropriators--Hal Rogers, our chairman, Jeff Miller, our Veterans Committee chairman, are trying to come together, Mr. Speaker, to put together the money and the need to run the business based upon a reality discussion with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of their need to run the business, to have the money, but also to have the managerial abilities to move their employees
that are not performing satisfactorily, employees who do have an oath as healthcare providers to do their very best and to be honest about the scheduling and the proper procedures necessary to our veterans.
What this rule is about and the underlying legislation is vital--vital--to our Nation's veterans. That is why we are here today.
Now, secondly, we are here because Republicans want to make sure that we are faithful. We understand that, in each of our congressional districts, that we are active and involved to try and ensure that the roads and bridges and railways and ports and all these activities that deal with infrastructure and transportation are continuing down a pathway without us getting frustrated, without us throwing up our hands and giving up, but actually to work with the existing chairman, who is doing an awesome
job, Bill Shuster, to make sure that we are putting forth the money--Paul Ryan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee--trying to find the money necessary, lots of hard work, hours of discussion, moving towards a correct target.
In this process, we have our colleagues on the other side of this wall--who are literally there now as they are working in the Rotunda--to move legislation; we are allowing them that time because they are moving a transportation bill as we speak, but it is a 1,000-page bill.
Mr. Speaker, I am not in favor and I think my colleagues in here are not in favor and Bill Shuster is not, which is really what matters, as the chairman, to say give me a shot at looking at the bill when they finish it.
Speaker Boehner is saying let's make sure we deal with the things that must be dealt with before we go on our work time back home for the month, where we go back home and deal with the American people, because we plan to do this. That is what we are doing.
This is not unusual; it is perfectly normal, but I think we are doing a heck of a job and the right thing to address the issues--veterans, straight up, money, the ability to run their business right, so that we know we have done what we can do; and, secondly, to move transportation.
I think every single Member of this body, Democrat and Republican, should support these because they are worthy ideas about moving us forward, our country. We can look at the American people straight on and say we have addressed two of the issues that were on our plate.
I urge adoption of the rule. I know that our colleagues want to get moving today, so I am going to look forward to debate that will follow. I urge support of the underlying legislation in the bills.