Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 1433 and ask for its immediate consideration.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 1434 provides for the consideration of H.R. 6842, the National Capital Security and Safety Act, under a structured rule. The rule provides 1 hour of general debate controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The rule waives all points of order against consideration of the bill except clauses 9 and 10 of rule XXI. The rule makes in order the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the report if offered
by Representative Childers. That amendment is debatable for 1 hour. The rule also provides one motion to recommit with or without instructions.
Mr. Speaker, I stand before this House as a supporter of the second amendment, but also as a strong supporter of sensible gun safety legislation. I also stand here as a strong supporter of the elected Government of the District of Columbia, and I respect their right to enact and execute their own laws.
Apparently, and unfortunately, not all of my colleagues agree. They believe that Members of Congress from other States have the right to dictate matters that are best left to local governments.
On June 26, 2008, by a 5-4 decision in the Heller case, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling of the Federal Appeals Court which found the District's ban on handgun possession to be unconstitutional. It is important to note that the court stipulated that this right is not unlimited; they reaffirmed that ``any gun, anywhere'' is not constitutionally protected.
In response to the ruling, the D.C. City Council passed, and the mayor signed, emergency legislation to temporarily allow District residents to [Page: H8169]
have pistols in their homes. The council will continue their work this week by making those changes permanent.
Mr. Speaker, the elected D.C. City Council and the elected mayor are committed to complying with the Heller decision. The plaintiff in the case, Dick Heller, was quickly allowed to keep a gun in his home.
But that is not good enough for my friends on the other side of this debate. They believe it is not good enough for the D.C. Government to comply with the court's ruling. They believe they can take this opportunity to shove the agenda of a single special interest, the gun lobby, down the throats of the citizens of the District of Columbia.
Mr. Speaker, it is beyond insulting; it is arrogant. I ask my friends on the other side, how would they like it if Congress enacted laws that took away local control in their own communities? Maybe Congress should decide whether the ``Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'' can be assigned in the Dallas County schools. Maybe Congress should decide whether a new Wal-Mart can be built in Tupelo, Mississippi. Maybe Congress should decide how many firefighters the Macon, Georgia Fire Department should have.
I promise you, Mr. Speaker, that if we tried to bring any of those things to the House floor, my friends on the other side of the aisle would be down here screaming about big government and local control. But when it comes to doing the bidding of the gun lobby, they have decided that Congress knows best.
It is bad enough that the citizens of the District of Columbia have to endure taxation without representation every single day. And it is bad enough that even though soldiers from the District of Columbia can fight and die wearing the uniform of the United States, they do not have the right to a full vote in the United States Congress.
We should be strengthening the District's right to govern itself, not trouncing on it. For years, Congress treated the District of Columbia as its little fiefdom. The amendment made in order under this rule would take us back to those bad old days.
Again, the purpose of the underlying bipartisan legislation before us today is to require that the D.C. Government comply with the Heller decision within 180 days. There is simply no need, there is no justification for this Congress to go beyond the Heller decision and impose sweeping changes to the self-governance of D.C. But that is exactly what the Heller amendment would do, easing access to guns, eliminating gun registration, and making D.C. law enforcement's job to protect its residents
and the visitors that come here that much harder.
This will, in no way, make our Nation's capital a safer place.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Congresswoman Holmes Norton for her steadfast representation of the District, and for bringing H.R. 6842 to the floor today. I urge my colleagues to support her legislation and to vote ``no'' on the Childers amendment, and I look forward to the debate today.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, as you might guess, I rise in opposition to this rule, to the underlying legislation, and, I believe, to the entire process that got this bill here today, which I believe represents little more than an opportunity for this Democratic majority to thumb its nose at the Supreme Court's recent ruling upholding an individual's right to keep and bear arms, while also providing some of its vulnerable Members with a meaningless political cover vote leading up to this fall's
Since taking control of this House almost 2 years ago, Mr. Speaker, this Democrat majority has done everything in its power to prevent Republicans who agree with the Supreme Court that residents of the District of Columbia have the right to self-defense, like every other American citizen, having a vote on this issue, is very important. In fact, last year it was the Democrats' need to prevent a vote on this very issue that brought the debate on providing the District of Columbia with a voting
Member of Congress to a screeching halt.
Today, however, the Democrat majority has been forced to bring this measure to the floor because of a rapidly growing bipartisan support for a competing measure to comply with the Supreme Court's affirmation of D.C. residents' constitutional rights. Isn't it amazing? The District of Columbia went to court and found out that they had to follow constitutional rights.
And there's also a fear by the Democrat majority that a discharge petition that has already won the support of 166 Members of Congress, the passage of which the Washington Post has recently said would be ``deeply embarrassing to the House leadership and could infrastructure the party's House contingent.''
Mr. Speaker, instead of providing real, meaningful policy solutions to make the lives of law-abiding citizens of the District of Columbia safer, today we are taking up a measure that would continue to subvert the wishes of our Founding Fathers, as recognized and affirmed by the Supreme Court, while also allowing Members to have a vote on an excellent substitute amendment which I fear will be dead on arrival when it reaches the Democrat-controlled Senate.
This substitute amendment, which I strongly support and have cosponsored, along with 115 other bipartisan colleagues, would recognize that D.C.'s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the second amendment, as does the District of Columbia's prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.
To correct this injustice, the substitute amendment would repeal the District's illogical ban on the most popular home and self-defense weapons, restore the right of self-defense in the home, repeal the District's intentionally burdensome registration process, and allow D.C. residents to finally purchase handguns and defend themselves in their own homes.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that as early as today, that the D.C. City Council may be meeting to address this issue. But I remain concerned about what the same authors of the so-called ``emergency'' legislation that violated the Supreme Court's ruling just a few months ago, may try to pass in order to continue to drag their feet and to deny D.C. residents their constitutional rights to protect themselves and their families in their own home. This Congress should not be on record trying to avoid
what is the law of the land.
Because of the Council's demonstrated past willingness to abide by our Nation's laws, I believe that it is important that this House pass the substitute amendment on behalf of all law-abiding citizens who want to exercise their constitutional rights within the District of Columbia.
Additionally, as the administration notes in their statement of policy on this legislation, the underlying bill in its current form would do nothing more than direct the D.C. City Council to reconsider within 180 days the emergency firearms legislation it passed in July, and which will expire in October, regardless of this House's action on this matter. This means that if this legislation is passed without the substitute amendment provided for by this rule, the legislation's only effect would
be to give the City Council even more time to drag its feet and remain non-compliant with the directives of the highest court in our land.
Mr. Speaker, it really should not be so difficult to write a law that is compliant with the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit this Statement of Administration Policy in opposition to this bill and in support of the substitute amendment in the Congressional Record.
Statement of Administration Policy
H.R. 6842--NATIONAL CAPITAL SECURITY AND SAFETY ACT (Del. Norton (D) District of Columbia and Rep. Waxman (D) California)
The Administration supports the objective behind H.R. 6842 of revising the District of Columbia's firearms laws to ensure their conformity with the Second Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller. The bill in its present form, however, would do nothing more than direct the District's City Council to reconsider the emergency firearms legislation that it unanimously passed in July. Because that emergency legislation must by law expire in October, H.R. 6842
simply requires the Council to do what it is effectively required to do already (in far less time than the 180 days that would be required by this bill). Therefore, the Administration strongly opposes this legislation unless it is amended to include the provisions of H.R. 6691, the Second Amendment Enforcement Act. [Page: H8170]
The Administration strongly supports H.R. 6691 because it would immediately advance Second Amendment principles by directly protecting the individual right of law-abiding District residents to keep and bear commonly used firearms not only to protect themselves and their families but also to protect their homes and property. H.R. 6691 would ensure that law-abiding residents of the District have a meaningful opportunity to procure lawful firearms without undue delay, as well as the ability to keep
those firearms readily accessible for self-defense without having to unlock or assemble them in the face of imminent danger. H.R. 6691, which has bipartisan support, would responsibly balance individual rights with the public safety by expanding the practical opportunities to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes in the District within the reasonable limits imposed by the Federal firearms laws.
Mr. Speaker, I encourage all my colleagues to support the substitute amendment to hold D.C. accountable to the Supreme Court, to the laws of this land, and to provide its residents with all the constitutional rights enjoyed by other American citizens, and to oppose the underlying legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, this debate is nuts. The Childers amendment, among other things, would allow stockpiling of military-style weapons with high capacity ammunition magazines. It would undermine Federal anti-gun trafficking laws. It would prohibit D.C. from enacting commonsense gun laws. It would repeal commonsense restrictions on gun possession by dangerous unqualified persons. It repeals all age limits for the possession and carrying of long guns, including assault rifles. It
allows gun possession by many persons who have committed violent or drug-related misdemeanor crimes. It allows many persons who are dangerously mentally ill to obtain firearms. It repeals registration requirements for firearms. It repeals all safe storage laws.
Mr. Speaker, it is my view that, if, in fact, we enacted the Childers amendment, that we would create a situation where we put more people in danger.
This is not about security for the citizens of D.C. This, quite frankly, is about insecurity. What this amendment is is one big fat wet kiss to the National Rifle Association.
At this point, Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from the District of Columbia, Ms. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON.
Ms. NORTON. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I very much appreciate that the Rules Committee, under the gentleman, has made the Waxman-Norton Home Rule bill in order, and particularly Chairman Waxman for affording a hearing which exposed the dangers of this bill, so much so that the NRA was driven back to the drawing board to change at least some of it. Unfortunately, they've left a very dangerous bill anyway.
Our Home Rule bill says 180 days after the Heller decision, the District must respond, and, of course, within two weeks it had responded. Council was about to go out of town; could have gone out of town and waited until the Council reconvened today, but it allowed registration to occur by passing a stopgap measure. It didn't change much because there was no time for hearings. But Heller himself, Dick Heller, has registered under that bill.
They are voting, ironically, as I speak, on a permanent bill that I think every Second Amendment advocate would support because it more than meets the Heller decision.
Mr. Speaker, I understand the very painful dilemma that the Democratic leadership and our own caucus has been put in. 5 days after commemoratingÐ9/11, Democrats were met in a dark alley with a ``do or die'' demand from the NRA pointing a proverbial gun at their re-election. This puts many Democrats in a terrible position.
For example, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer have spent their careers protecting the Federal presence. They have spent their careers supporting home rule and voting against bills just like the substitute amendment which has been made in order.
It is this substitute amendment which has dismayed and, I must tell you, even angered many in this House, because what the rule gives with one hand, it takes back with another.
Some people are dismayed because they are gun safety advocates, and we haven't been able to get a new assault weapon bill passed through the House.
Some people are dismayed because it is the energy bill they want to continue to talk about and other national business, and now they're talking about a local council issue.
Some are dismayed because they've always supported home rule. And some are dismayed because this is a bill that threatens, in the worst way, the Federal presence. We're putting not just the District at risk. That's par for the course. We're putting the entire Federal presence, every Federal official, every dignitary, from the President of the United States to Federal employees working in cabinet agencies, every man, woman and child who works, visits or lives in the District of Columbia, is put
at risk by a bill that the NRA has insisted come to the floor.
We have before us, if this bill passes, one of the most permissive gun laws in the country. Post-9/11, the United States House of Representatives would be passing a bill, should this rule survive, that arms an entirely new set of people that most jurisdictions would prefer not to have guns at all, children. No age limit, for example. People just released from a mental institution, like John Hinckley, that is people who are voluntarily committed and then released, people convicted of very serious
crimes, all could get a gun because of the NRA bill. Why?
The Waxman-Norton bill passed 21-1 because there wasn't any reason to vote against it and because people didn't want to be seen voting against such a bill.
So why the substitute?
The short answer, Mr. Speaker, is because the NRA says so. It's a short answer. It's a long answer. It's the only answer. NRA has proudly announced to every reporter in town that they wrote the bill, that they told the Members what to do, and that's why the bill is coming to the floor. They have used a combination of campaign funds and, frankly, terror in the hearts of some Democrats at least about their own re-election. Who knows if the NRA will succeed, but people are afraid.
The public lie that's being pandered here is that the NRA bill was necessary because the District isn't complying and won't comply. Never mind that if D.C. didn't comply Congress could overturn District law because Congress can overturn any law the Council passes. But D.C. has already begun to comply. They put in a stopgap measure. Heller is, in fact, registered. They did that as they were going out of town.
Ms. NORTON. As we're speaking, the Council is voting on permanent legislation that no gun supporter could oppose. It puts no limit on the number of guns you could have in your homes. It allows unlocked semi-automatic firearms in the home, and it uses other measures to protect District residents and to protect the Federal presence, such as restrictions, for example, on the age when a child can get a gun.
But Members are being asked to cast a dangerous vote on a dangerous rule, followed by a vote on a dangerous bill that not only has no public purpose, but flies in the face of the overriding public purpose of the Congress of the United States since 9/11, and of the current administration, to protect the country beginning with protecting the Nation's Capital.
You didn't hear it from me. You heard it from the Capitol Police if you were at the hearing. You heard it from the Park Police which has jurisdiction throughout the region. You heard it. These are the Federal police that have enforcement authority. And you heard it from the head of the D.C. Police Department, the largest Police Department in the region, the woman who set up the Department's Homeland Security section, which put her in daily touch with the top Federal security network.
I have no idea, Mr. Speaker, what will happen if this matter passes this session. I know what I will do. But even if the danger penetrates here or in the Senate, let me give you fair warning, your districts are going to hear about what you do today. This has been blown up into a national matter because you are threatening the safety of the entire Federal presence and every [Page: H8171]
dignitary and every Federal employee here.
No Member of Congress who regards herself or himself as responsible Members should want their name attached in the 110th Congress to this bill, not to the attached bill. I ask you to consider that before you go home and try to explain why you endangered the President of the United States and visitors to Washington like themselves.
Mr. SESSIONS. I appreciate the gentleman clarifying that.
Reclaiming my time, the gentleman accused those who are on the other side of the debate of forcing this issue today.
Well, Mr. Speaker, this is an internal struggle within the Democratic Party. The gentleman who brought the bill to the floor today chaired the Rules Committee last night. I heard no voice opposition to the rule, to the substitute; and yet today we hear they were being forced into doing this by the other side, those who opposed the bill. But it's their bill. It's their internal fight. It's their internal disagreement. It's their argument that they're having among their own family members.
So for the record, let me just state the Republican Party is for following the law. We do believe the Supreme Court got it right. We believe that it is wrong to bring a bill to the floor as the majority party, the Democratic Party, has done to try and circumvent and lengthen out the time that was given by the Supreme Court for someone to come into compliance with the law.
And we do believe that what the Rules Committee did last night was not open and honest and not about more accountability. We believe what they did was to handle a political matter that is a fight that they're having among themselves.
The Republican Party is pleased to be here on behalf of taxpayers and law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves. We believe that this substitute amendment, which has been made in order by the Rules Committee, is the better of the two bills.
But to say that somebody is struggling or some outside forces are forcing this bill upon this Democrat majority is absurd.
Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Georgia and my former colleague on the Rules Committee, Dr. Gingrey.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I rise very forcibly in favor of this bill. I think that it is a good rule and a good underlying bill, and I'm proud to support it.
I agree with my colleague, my former colleague on the Rules Committee, the gentleman from Texas, when he says that this is an internal struggle within the Democratic majority, within the Democratic Party over this piece of legislation just as I think, Mr. Speaker, that they're engaged in an internal struggle over the issue of whether or not to allow drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf for both oil and natural gas and to utilize our own resources to bring down the price of energy and the price
at the pump to the American people who are suffering so badly.
In that particular legislation, of course, the leadership is in favor of, Mr. Speaker, of saving the planet. The leadership of the Senate is in favor of getting rid of all fossil fuels, which he characterizes as poison; the leader of Sierra Club says it would be a good thing if we had to pay $10 and $12 a gallon for gasoline at the pump. That's the leadership.
But there are many, Mr. Speaker, in the Democratic majority rank and file, if you will, the Blue Dog Coalition, they're struggling. They're struggling very badly with that type of policy. And I think they would feel just as we do on this side of the aisle that in these dire economic times, it's time to save not the planet, but to save the United States of America.
Mr. Speaker, I rise, as I say, in strong support of the amendment in the nature of a substitute the Rules Committee has made in order for this legislation. The right of an individual to keep and bear arms is one of the most basic rights provided to all Americans by our Bill of Rights.
On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that very right for the residents of the Nation's capital in its ruling on the case of the District of Columbia v. Heller. The Court's 5-4 decision rightfully deemed the longstanding ban on handguns in the homes of law-abiding citizens in the District of Columbia to be unconstitutional.
Mr. Speaker, in theory, the result of this ruling should have simply allowed Washington, DC, residents to have the same second amendment rights as the rest of this country. Unfortunately though, the D.C. City Council chose to ignore the will of the Supreme Court by passing an ordinance that continues to infringe upon the rights of individuals constitutionally protected.
The strongly bipartisan amendment in the nature of a substitute for H.R. 6842 properly addresses the underlying issue to enforce the will of the Supreme Court. It does so by repealing the District of Columbia's current ban on semi-automatic pistols, which are the most commonly owned handguns in this country. It also repeals the needless requirement that a lawful firearm in the home must be either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock; these provisions undermining an individual's ability to
provide for their own self-defense and the self-defense of their family and their children.
Currently, there are no registered firearms dealers within the District of Columbia, so the amendment made in order will waive Federal law for D.C. residents and simply allow them to lawfully purchase a handgun either in the State of Virginia or in the State of Maryland.
Mr. Speaker, it's imperative that we fully enforce the Supreme Court's rule and restore second amendment rights to residents of our Nation's capital. I strongly support the amendment in the nature of a substitute. I urge all of my colleagues to support this amendment and, if it is adopted, the underlying bill.
Mr. SERRANO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the rule that would allow the Norton bill and in strong opposition to the amendment that treats the District of Columbia as a colony.
I have said many times that Congress needs to stop imposing its will on the residents of the District of Columbia. As chairman of the subcommittee that overseas the District, I have made noninterference in District affairs a priority of my oversight. D.C. does not need a second mayor and does not need a second city council, although there are Members here today who seem interested in serving for both.
The amendment to Delegate Norton's bill is particularly offensive. Under the cover of forcing D.C. to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, it instead guts D.C.'s ability to protect its citizens from unnecessary violence.
I sincerely believe that supporters of this amendment are seeking to impose on D.C. that which they would never impose on their own communities simply because D.C. is under their control and they're not accountable to D.C. residents. What the heck, it's the District of Columbia; use it as a testing ground for anything you can't do back home.
One of the most unpleasant features of our current democracy is the fact that many millions of U.S. citizens in the District, Puerto Rico, and other territories do not have fair and equal representation here in Congress but instead are left to the subject of the whims of a Congress elected by citizens.
D.C. is a jurisdiction that does not need constant congressional meddling in local affairs. Their gun laws are no exception. They know best how to keep their citizens and residents like us safe from the threat of deadly gun violence.
The Supreme Court asked them to modify their laws to comply with the Constitution. The District is doing so [Page: H8172]
in a responsible manner. In fact, today they are meeting to consider amendments to bring their firearm laws in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling. The underlying Norton bill would ensure that they continue to do so.
Unfortunately, this amendment would tie the hands of city officials to impose even the most basic reasonable safety measures and goes far beyond what the Supreme Court has required. It would, for instance, prohibit gun registration, prohibit any ban on purchasing in another State and bringing the gun to D.C., remove a clip limit--now, are you ready for this one--prohibit the D.C. Government from discouraging gun purchase and ownership.
In other words, you can tell people not to drink and drive; you can tell them to practice safe sex; you can tell them not to drop out of school; but you can't tell them that it's not a good idea to buy a gun.
This is, my friends, congressional colonialism at its worst. Our rule is not to override and interfere with local compliance with Supreme Court rulings. The citizens and residents of D.C. deserve our respect. This amendment fails that basic test.
Mr. PENCE. I thank the distinguished gentleman from Texas for his leadership and for yielding this time.
And I rise to oppose this rule. I support the Childers amendment in the form of a substitute. I am left to wonder, as I'm sure any of our countrymen looking in are wondering why, after only learning of the Democrat's energy bill last night at 9:45 on the House, we have taken some sort of a timeout from a contentious, and I thought, substantive debate on the Democrat energy bill that will be brought up, I assume, within an hour.
The Supreme Court of the United States has already ruled on this issue. I understand there is some disagreement in the Democrat majority over how it's to be handled from a funding standpoint, but what I don't understand is the timing.
Mr. Speaker, to be honest with you, I look across this aisle, I see men and women that I respect deeply and with whom I have worked on issues, sometimes in nontraditional ways. And so I would not accuse my colleagues that are here on the floor doing their duty of any ill motive. But I have to wonder about a Democrat majority that introduces this discussion about gun control on the one and only day that they are going to permit us to debate their energy bill.
And I think the American people are entitled to know, Mr. Speaker, the Democrat Party in the Congress, after spending the last 20 months telling their constituency and the American people that there would never be a vote allowed on this floor that would permit more domestic drilling, abruptly announced last week that they were going to bring an energy bill to the floor with drilling.
Now for those of us who have been clamoring for a comprehensive energy bill that included more drilling, more conservation, more fuel efficiency, solar, wind, nuclear, this was welcome news. And imagine how anxious we were late last week to wait for the Democrat bill to be filed, assuming we would have the weekend to examine it.
And as we waited throughout the first day of the week yesterday, it wasn't until 9:45 last night that a 290-page bill was filed on this floor. And we found that the drill-nothing Congress has introduced legislation that is essentially a drill-almost-nothing bill; and I want to speak about that in the very limited time that we have.
So while I oppose the rule, I want to speak about what is bearing upon the American people, bearing upon American families and school systems and seniors, and that is the unbridled and unprecedented weight of the cost of energy in America.
As Wall Street reels from another financial crisis, as we hear unemployment numbers that are heartbreaking to real working Americans, most Americans know the high cost of energy is costing American jobs.
And so on the one day that the Democrat majority will allow us to debate their comprehensive strategy for energy independence, I want to speak about what the substance of that bill is.
Now, as I said, the drill-nothing Democrat Congress announced they were going to bring this energy bill to the floor. It includes more drilling, and now many of them have said in many corners of the national media that Republicans have to take ``yes'' for an answer. Well, I would suggest to my countrymen, before you sign a contract, read the fine print.
The fine print of this contract is profoundly disappointing to those of us that were looking to give the bipartisan majority of this Congress that supports a comprehensive energy strategy, that includes a real access to America's domestic reserves, a fair up-or-down vote.
The drill-nothing Democratic Congress is essentially, as I said, a basically drill-almost-nothing. Here's some examples. They say ``yes'' to drilling in their bill but not in Alaska, not in the eastern gulf and not within 50 miles of our country.
They say ``yes'' to drilling in the bill, but they say States can decide on whether we drill off their coasts, but we will give the States no revenues whatsoever for allowing us to drill. The Governor of a coastal State was on the floor of the Congress today. When I said, ``What's the likelihood that your State will permit drilling if we offer your State legislature no revenues from the drilling in your waters?'' And he only laughed out loud.
I assume that the Democrat majority, in saying that unlike the Gulf States that get some 39 percent of the revenues that are drilled in their waters under existing agreements, I assume the Democrat majority believes that States will opt in to drilling out of the goodness of their hearts, out of their patriotism. Maybe not.
They say ``yes'' to drilling, but the lack of litigation reform will allow environmental lawyers to swarm over any new leases, even those that are permitted more than 50 miles out, and they'll be tied up in court for years before a single drop is pumped.
In their legislation, there's a renewable mandate that literally could cause electrical rates between now and 2012 to skyrocket on working Americans. There's no commitment to increasing our refinery capacity. There's huge tax increases on oil companies. As I've asked before to my citizens in Indiana, ``Who among you thinks by raising taxes on oil companies you're going to lower the price of gasoline at the pump?'' That's usually a laugh out loud moment in town hall meetings. That's what passes
for the Democrat bill.
Mr. PENCE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I say to my Democrat colleagues, many of whom I respect deeply and with whom I work on a broad range of issues, on behalf of our constituents that are struggling under the weight of record gasoline prices, don't do this. Don't do it this way. This Congress is better than that.
We have a bipartisan majority in this Congress, including some men and women that I am looking at right now, who, if given the opportunity, would come together in a bipartisan way and pass legislation that said ``yes'' to more real drilling, but also ``yes'' to conservation, ``yes'' to fuel efficiency, ``yes'' to solar and wind and nuclear. But we can't say ``yes'' with a backroom deal brought to the floor of the Congress, given one day of debate, no amendments, and jammed through the American
Let's end the charade. Let's stop playing politics with American energy independence. Let this Congress work its will, and we will come together on a strategy that works for all of our Nation.
Mr. McCOTTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose the rule, and like our previous speaker from Indiana (Mr. Pence), I do support the Childers amendment in the nature of a substitute. But I, too, find it ironic that we are discussing this today when we have so little time to discuss America's future energy security and energy independence.
Earlier today we've heard that we will be confronting landmark legislation. I concur with this assessment. Unfortunately, it will not be a landmark energy policy. It is going to be a landmark in political cynicism.
We've heard much about a compromise being struck. Yet as a member of a party that has not been consulted on this legislation, let alone involved in a free, open, and transparent process, we are left but to assume there's a compromise amongst the Speaker herself, potentially radical special interest groups, and maybe members of her own caucus that were privileged to be a part of its drafting behind closed doors.
Then what do we celebrate, as we've heard the word ``celebrate'' this landmark legislation so much? What do we celebrate? Do we celebrate the end of the House as a free, open, transparent institution where the voices of the American people are expressed through their servants in this Congress, to have an influence on legislation, to have an impact on legislation? Or do we actually, more, commemorate the loss of an individual's ability to serve as legislators rather than as radical rubber stamps
for legislation placed under their noses?
What does this legislation do? Well, it increases a lot of things. It increases utility prices. It increases gas prices, increases taxes, increases everything but energy. And as we know, this is not what the American people demand. It is not what the American people deserve.
So we ask ourselves why. Well, there are two reasons. The first reason comes to us out of the curious visage that we have before us as Members, who in the past would not vote to drill a tooth, now embracing oil derricks as if they were endangered darter snails.
The question is why. It's because, as has been pointed out by many of my colleagues, this bill is not a drill bill, and drilling is, by the way, a technique. It is a technique that meets the goal which is maximum American energy production, and in that, this bill falls short. In fact, while you might be tempted to judge this book by its cover, the Dems are in the details and no drilling will occur, for many of the reasons put forward earlier.
So you ask yourself why. Why would we not expand supply? Why would we not allow Americans to access their own domestic energy resources to help successfully transition to American energy security and independence?
The reality is this. There are people who believe that high energy prices will help make this transition necessary, will force the American people to radically change their lifestyles in the pursuit of some abstract dystopia put forward by radical environmentalists and others who seek to undo the industrial age in American economic prosperity during this transition to a globalized economy.
That is the real basis of this discussion. That is the basis of this debate. We can have an all-of-the-above energy strategy that responsibly transitions America into a future of energy security and independence, or we can have a radical restructuring of their very lifestyle through the government regulation and rationing of American energy.
The consequences upon the people of this country will be devastating and, in the end, they will not be fooled. For while this bill comes before us and we are told the Republicans should not take ``yes'' for an answer, the reality is this: The American people will not mistake ``no'' for a solution, and in the end, they will also come to the conclusion that by not increasing American supply of their own energy resources, this deadbeat, drill-nothing Democrat Congress is Big Oil's best friend.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I know this debate's getting a little wacky, but I want to thank the gentleman from Michigan. In those 5 minutes that he spoke, the big oil companies that the Republicans have been so supportive of have made $1.7 million in profits.
I yield 2 minutes to the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey).
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I happen to agree with the Supreme Court decision on the gun issue. I've always felt that those who claimed that there was not an individual protection in the second amendment for gun owners were oddly mistaken. But the issue facing us today is not about guns. It's about the Federal relationship with local communities.
The first fight I ever had on this floor was when Bob Giaimo and I pried loose the money for the District subway when the Appropriations Committee was trying to dictate local transportation policy. I didn't like bullying then, and I don't like it now.
That's why, since that time, I've generally voted ``present'' whenever the Congress tries to play city council and dictate local business. I do that as a protest against Congress acting like we're elected city councilmen.
Most Members of this Congress would fight to preserve local authority for their own communities, but they don't hesitate to destroy it when the District of Columbia's around. Well, I, for one, was not elected to be a D.C. city councilman. I'm not paid to be a D.C. city councilman. If I'm expected to vote on their issues, I want to know where is my check from the District government?
If Members of this body want to decide D.C. policy instead of running for the Congress, they ought to run for the district council, and they ought to cut their paychecks to the District council level. That's what I believe, and that's why I will vote ``present'' on the underlying bill, and I will vote ``present'' on any amendment thereto as a protest to Congress idiotically playing city council on this or any other issue.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, we respect this Congress's ability to consult with and work with city councils and local governments. But to suggest in any way that this Congress should be trying to help anyone or collude with them to extend time frames that have been established already by the highest court of this land, that I believe was a reasonable answer--the gentleman from Wisconsin believes it was a reasonable answer--is a different kind of issue.
And that's all this bill really does today, gives the city council more time; wait till after the election before this tough issue can be decided any further by that body and by this.
I think it's a mistake to wait. I think it's a mistake to intervene, and I think it's a mistake not to follow the law that the Supreme Court has laid out for the D.C. government. D.C. government needs to follow the law, needs to follow the Constitution. They've been told that a long time. They've fought it. They've done all they can. They lost. The Supreme Court issued the decision. It's time to follow the law.
Mr. Speaker, we reserve our balance.
Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the Rules Committee for allowing me this 2 minutes.
Those of us who support the Childers amendment are not here of our volition. We're here because the Supreme [Page: H8174]
Court of the United States, in a clarification ruling regarding, in this case, the second amendment to the Constitution, said that it's the law of the land and certain things must be done.
This Childers amendment does this and only this. It does not, for example, have any provisions that would limit the ability of the independent authorities of D.C., such as a public housing authority, from restricting firearms. It does not repeal the ammunition ban. It does not do anything in terms of strict liability for gun manufacturers, as the District law provides, provisions regarding exemptions.
All it does is what we would do routinely around here if it were any other group of American citizens in any State or territory. We would say, look, the Supreme Court changed the law of the land that Congress is going to enact enabling legislation to allow for that decision to be instrumental and put into place. And you will do the same whether you live in California, New York, Tennessee, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, wherever. This is done routinely. I don't understand how people can argue
that since its the District, it ought to somehow be different than any other American citizen.
And so, Mr. Speaker, this Childers amendment is very narrowly drawn to only enforce the Supreme Court decision as it relates to that decision; nothing more, nothing less. And whatever the District wants to do outside the parameters of that is perfectly all right with me.
Mr. ROSS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Childers amendment to H.R. 6842. I want to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts for giving me 2 minutes to address this issue.
Some folks may say, why would a Member of Congress from Arkansas be concerned about D.C. gun laws? It's quite simple. Number one, I'm a pro-gun Democrat. Number two, if the Government of D.C. can take your guns away from you in our Nation's capital, Prescott, Arkansas and many other small towns across this country could be next.
Now, why are we here? In June, the Supreme Court struck down D.C.'s ban on handguns and operable firearms within the home for self-defense. The District responded by passing an emergency bill that fails to comply with the Court's ruling. Here's what D.C.'s response was to the Supreme Court ruling saying, yes, the second right applies to the citizens of the District of Columbia just as it does to all the other citizens in the United States of America, and this is how the Government of D.C. responded.
They did not correct its machine gun ban, which, unlike Federal or State laws, defines machine guns to include semi-automatic firearms. Well, guess what, Mr. Speaker, almost every weapon in America today is a semi-automatic firearm. You can't duck hunt without a semi-automatic firearm. Very few pistols can be purchased that are not semi-automatic firearms.
D.C. failed to eliminate its ban on operable firearms within the home, allowing a person to assemble and load a firearm at home only if a criminal attack is underway. In other words, if someone breaks into your house in D.C., you've got to say, excuse me, Mr. Intruder, would you pause a moment while I assemble my gun? This bill makes no sense, and that's why the Childers amendment is in order and that's why I will be supporting it today.
Ms. NORTON. I thank the gentleman.
I think I should make an important announcement. The District of Columbia has just passed permanent legislation that has no gun lock provision; instead, substitutes a child access bill and allows semi-automatics and allows more than one. And they were always on their way to doing it. And the good faith was shown by the fact that they passed a stop-gap measure as they left town, which allowed immediate registration. This bill federalizes gun laws. It takes D.C. out of the gun business. It leaves
a naked law with no regulations.
Scalia gave us a very narrow 5-4 decision. By 5-4, it's because that's the only way he could get it through. And you know that he got it through that way because it leaves it to local jurisdictions to tailor the bill to fit their local needs. D.C. is fitting its local needs and the needs of the Federal presence. This bill, the NRA bill, throws the doors open to guns and throws away all we've done in homeland security.
Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I want to voice my strong opposition to the substitute amendment that this rule makes in order because it usurps D.C.'s home rule authority and imposes upon the residents of our Nation's Capital laws that they don't support and that will make them less safe.
The substitute amendment goes well beyond anything contained in the Heller decision. It leaves D.C. City Council with little authority to impose sensible regulations on deadly weapons. It will repeal requirements that guns be properly stored in the home, requirements that we know prevent the accidental deaths of hundreds of children every year. States with safe storage laws have seen substantial drops in unintentional firearm deaths compared with States without those laws. And, in fact, a gun
in the home is 22 times more likely to kill a family member or a friend than it is to ward off an intruder or be used in self-defense.
The substitute amendment will repeal the District's ban on semi-automatic guns. Even a .50 caliber semi-automatic sniper rifle is allowed, whose manufacturer publicly advertises that it can pierce the fuselage of a jet airplane from miles away. Talk about making a mockery of our homeland security rhetoric.
And the amendment will require Virginia and Maryland to sell guns to D.C. residents, breaking with decades of Federal gun trafficking laws, forcing the Commonwealth of Virginia to allow guns to fall into the hands of the mentally unbalanced and into the hands of criminals. We have already seen this happen with Virginia Tech. How dare this Congress overturn Virginia's State laws without even consulting them.
Who does the NRA think it is? There is no reason we're debating this issue today other than to appease the NRA at the expense of public safety. The Members who would impose this unwanted law onto D.C. residents would never do this to their own constituents, but it's being done because D.C. residents can't fight back. And that's the definition of bullying. It is beneath the character of the Congress to be doing this.
And let me tell you, when you have a Presidential motorcade, you clear all the streets in other cities. But in D.C., by this law, you're going to be able to have a loaded gun in your window that poses an immediate danger to the President.
What are we thinking of? This is wrong. It needs to be defeated. It is beneath the dignity of this Congress to even bring it up, and if it passes we will live to regret it.