|10:21 AM EDT||
Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th
Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for that comment.
I thank the gentleman, and I apologize for taking this many minutes, but it is the only time I have been able to be unmuzzled through this whole process, so it feels sort of good.
I just want to also want to state for the RECORD that in terms of the way this committee functions, when I first got to Congress, and I used to go to Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee meetings, there would be people that would come in and testify from around the country. They would talk about the country's needs. In addition to that we heard from Members of Congress, and they would come in, and they would talk to us about how
they view the situation, whatever it might be in their area. And then we heard from people from the Executive Branch, and they would come in and they would make their plea. I always thought that the Committee on Appropriations ought to leave Washington and go out into the country and hold some hearings out there too. We never did that.
But in the last 3 years, what has happened is all outside witnesses have been asked not to come to our committee, and so we began to hear from the narrower band of people. And then this year, even the Members of Congress were not brought into our committee; they were told we will just send a letter. And so we were left only, Mr. Speaker, with dealing with people from the administration.
But the point is, whether it is the way this bill was handled or whether it is the way we are receiving information about the needs of rural America and agriculture in our country the viewing lens has gotten extremely myopic, Mr. Speaker, and that affects the way a bill looks when it comes forward here onto the floor of Congress. [Page: H9213]
So, Mr. Speaker, I would beg my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the rule based on the way we have been treated. This is an emergency situation. If the leadership hears us, we can produce a bill that meets the needs of our country. We have had no conference report to look at. Members on our side, and I would daresay I would guess Members on the other side on our committee, have had no materials to really review. Then late last night after midnight, the Rules Committee met and then we were directed
to come to the floor first thing in this morning. Members are saying to us, ``Jeez, are you really up at 10 o'clock in the morning with the agriculture appropriation?''
But yes, we are, and yet we have not had the opportunity even for an orderly briefing by our own conferees. Then some members ask us to put in the $500 million for natural disaster in that was inserted in the Labor, Health, and Human Services bill yesterday into this bill, but procedurally we cannot do it. So we are asking the Members to help us produce a good bill.
We can do this. Give us the chance to do this. Please vote no on the rule. Please vote no on the bill when it comes before the membership.
Mr. Speaker, with the crisis in rural America, the country knows we need to do the right job here. Give us the chance to do it.