|12:41 PM EST||
Michael C. Burgess M.D., R-TX 26th
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), 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.
|12:42 PM EST||
Michael C. Burgess M.D., R-TX 26th
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 420 provides for the consideration of a critical piece of legislation that was passed by the Committee on Energy and Commerce designed to address the costly and unnecessary delays which many businesses experience when trying to get a final determination to be made by the Federal Government in relation to a pending pipeline.
A member of the committee, Mr. Pompeo from Kansas, the bill's author, has drafted a meaningful piece of legislation, taking into account the various competing interests involved in the permitting process and has found a fair and just balance for ensuring that our critical infrastructure moves forward.
The rule before us today provides for 1 hour of general debate on the bill. Five of the six amendments submitted to the Rules Committee were made in order, all Democratic amendments. The sixth was neither germane nor did it meet the CutGo rules of the House. Finally, the minority is afforded the customary motion to recommit on the bill, allowing for yet another opportunity to amend the legislation.
H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, is the product of hours of work with stakeholders that Mr. Pompeo has put in to improve the legislation. The bill streamlines our Nation's pipeline permitting processes in an effort to allow for greater capacity and promote safe infrastructure. Specifically, the bill directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or deny a permit application for a new natural gas pipeline within 12 months.
Natural gas is one of the clearest examples of how this country can move itself toward a more sustainable energy-independent future while at the same time allowing and encouraging our economy to grow. My own district in north Texas sits 8,000 feet above the Barnett shale, a natural gas formation that industry has been using to produce gas for decades. Indeed, due to the technological advances and strong market, the area that I represent felt few of the effects of the recession until at least
a year after the recession was initiated due to the booming economy that resulted from the development of the resources under our feet.
Obviously, with increased production and demand, as we have seen with the natural gas industry, comes an increased need for infrastructure. I welcome any legislation which would streamline the permitting process and allow companies to spend less time with Washington bureaucrats and more time creating jobs, producing products that consumers want and are eager to buy.
Indeed, with the increase in supply that hydraulic fracturing has created with natural gas, the pace at which the Federal Government has approved increased infrastructure, namely pipelines, to transport this commodity has not kept up.
Pipelines provide the safest, fastest, and cleanest mode of transportation for natural gas, as we in the Energy and Commerce Committee have heard from witnesses again and again. Making certain that our country has the number of pipelines necessary for transporting the gas we need to heat our homes and run our cars is a critical step toward energy independence.
Moreover, Members of this body who annually support more robust funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, commonly referred to as LIHEAP, should be joining with Republicans today in supporting an increase in pipeline infrastructure in our country, as the natural gas being produced in Western States could more efficiently be transported to the Northeastern States, reducing home heating costs and lessening the need for government assistance for many families.
Mr. Speaker, this bill is an important bill. It will create opportunity to put thousands of workers to work, creating the infrastructure that this country has needed for some time due to the energy boom in natural gas. I encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the rule and ``yes'' on the underlying bill.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
|12:46 PM EST||
Jim McGovern, D-MA 2nd
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding me the time, and I yield myself such time as I may consume. I also rise in opposition to this rule and to the underlying bill.
Mr. Speaker, it appears that this Republican-controlled House of Representatives is incapable of doing anything that matters in people's lives. When the history is written on the 113th Congress, especially as it pertains to the House of Representatives, they have accomplished nothing. They have made a lot of noise. They shut the government down. They whine about the health care bill every chance they get, but they have accomplished absolutely nothing.
And it is frustrating because our country is facing great challenges. Our economic growth is slower than it should be, thanks to the Republican shutdown of government, and their willingness to play politics with the debt ceiling has had a negative impact on our economy. Job growth is too slow, and we should be working together to invest in education and in job training and in infrastructure projects to help put people back to work. We ought to have a long-term highway bill. I think every Governor
in the country, Republican and Democrat, would agree with me on that statement. Yet this House of Representatives just seems incapable of accomplishing anything to help rebuild our infrastructure.
The sequester that my Republican friends embraced has taken a terrible toll on our science and research programs. Talk to the people at NIH. Potentially lifesaving research into diseases like cancer and Parkinson's disease have been crippled, yet there is no urgency over on the side of my friends on the other side of the aisle to try to do anything about it. They just sit there and twiddle their thumbs and life goes on; meanwhile, we are losing our competitive edge in medical research and in
The Senate has passed a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill. The Republican leadership claims that we simply don't have the time to take it up. That is nonsense. We had time to take up this horrible bill that my colleague from Iowa (Mr. King) authored that would allow for the mass deportation of young, undocumented immigrants, the so-called DREAMers who were brought here as children by their parents. They have time to demagogue these issues, but to actually fix our broken immigration
system, they claim we don't have any time.
Mr. Speaker, I will insert into the Record today's Washington Post editorial, ``John Boehner Must Act on Immigration Now.''
And just so my colleagues understand this, when my friends on the other side of the aisle say they don't have time, the Republicans will take 4 out of 5 days off for the rest of the year. That is how hard they are working on behalf of the American people. Four out of 5 days remaining from now until the end of the year they are going to take off. That is not doing your job, Mr. Speaker. That is not doing your job.
Instead of dealing with these important issues, we have this bill before us now that has come to the floor, H.R. 1900. The bill before is rather curious. Rather than solving a problem that actually exists, it is a solution in search of a problem, and it is just another partisan messaging bill that is going nowhere in the Senate. The White House has already said they would veto it.
H.R. 1900 would require FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to approve or deny an application for a natural gas pipeline within 12 months of its filing date. FERC already [Page: H7269]
decides 92 percent of permit applications within 12 months, and the GAO has concluded that its pipeline permitting process is predictable and consistent and gets pipelines built. The small percentage of applications that have taken more than a year involve complex proposals
that deserve a more thoughtful review.
Instead of speeding up the permitting process, this bill will lead to unnecessary permit denials and increased litigation that will ultimately slow the process down. If FERC cannot properly review permits within the rigid 12-month deadline, they may be forced to deny applications that would otherwise end up being approved.
For me, the most troubling part of H.R. 1900 is that it may result in truncated or inadequate environmental analysis, which threatens the health and safety of communities these potentially hazardous pipelines run through. Just last week, a Chevron pipeline exploded in Milford, Texas, forcing the entire town to evacuate. Mr. Speaker, it isn't too much to ask the oil and gas industry to go through a process to make sure that these pipelines are safe.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this rule and on the underlying bill, and I urge my Republican colleagues to get back to work on solving real problems on behalf of the American people.
Enough of the press releases, enough of this polarizing rhetoric and these meaningless debates that we seem to be consumed with here in the House of Representatives. People want us to work on their behalf, to do things that will improve their lives, that will strengthen our country; and instead, my friends on the other side of the aisle seem to be cheering for our country to fail all the time and bringing this kind of stuff to the floor, which is going nowhere and is meaningless.
At this point, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
[The Washington Post, Nov. 19, 2013]
John Boehner Must Act on Immigration Now
(By Editorial Board)
Poor John Boehner. The beleaguered House speaker can't even eat breakfast in peace. The other day, a pair of teenage girls, activists for immigration reform, accosted him at Pete's Diner, his early-morning hangout, to ask how he'd like to be deported.
``How would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age of 10 that you were never coming home?'' 13-year-old Carmen Lima, of California, asked Mr. Boehner. ``That wouldn't be good,'' allowed the Speaker.
He got that right. The rest of his remarks on immigration that day, not so much. Mr. Boehner, who pledged to press ahead with immigration reform a year ago following Mitt Romney's dismal performance with Latino voters, now says the House will not negotiate with Democrats on the basis of the sweeping reform bill passed by the Senate in June with bipartisan support. Translation: Don't hold your breath for immigration reform this year, and don't get your hopes high for next year, either.
Mr. Boehner says he still wants to ``deal with'' immigration, but ``in a commonsense, step-by-step way.''
The trouble is, no one knows what those steps would be. The only immigration bill on which Mr. Boehner has permitted a vote by the full House would allow for the mass deportation of young, undocumented immigrants brought to this country illegally as children by their parents--the so-called Dreamers.
Deporting hundreds of thousands of youngsters who grew up and went to school in the United States does not seem an especially promising way to resolve the broader issue of the nation's broken immigration system. Neither does heaving billions of dollars more at border security without tackling the entire problem. Some partial reforms, such as opening the visa spigot for high-tech engineers, scientists and mathematicians, may make sense, but they don't get at the fundamental problem.
As it happens, border security and high-tech visas are addressed in the Senate bill, along with more fundamental reform; that's why it's 1,300 pages long, a fact that Mr. Boehner cited to dismiss its viability as the basis for negotiations. In the wake of Obamacare's rollout troubles, large-scale reforms are in poor repute, we understand. But there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The country needs to deal with them in some way. When it does so, it needs to set up
a sensible system for future immigration so we don't wind up in the same fix 10 or 20 years from now. That requires legislation of some complexity, it's true, but members of Congress are elected to solve complex problems.
President Obama said Tuesday that he is open to dealing with immigration in a piecemeal fashion. But the House can't dictate that only border security and deportation are on the table. Mr. Boehner should let House Republicans vote on the parts of immigration reform they consider priorities and take that ``sensible step-by-step'' approach into negotiations with the Senate. It is unserious, and unconstructive, to tell the Senate what it can and cannot bring to the table in negotiations with the
|12:52 PM EST||
Gene Green, D-TX 29th
Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague.
I rise today in opposition to the rule and to H.R. 1900.
As many of my colleagues are aware, natural gas is extremely important to the State of Texas. It seems like every day more and more natural gas deposits are being found. More importantly, with the commercialization of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, we are now able to develop these resources effectively and economically, but that is only half the story. Once we have found these resources, we need a way to move them to market in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
In 1956, the United States decided it was in our best interest to build a network of highways. These highways, totaling approximately 47,000 miles, moved goods to market and dramatically expanded commerce. It may surprise some, but the interstate and intrastate pipeline system is approximately seven times larger than the highway system in the United States.
The natural gas pipeline system in this country is critical and extensive infrastructure. The permitting and review process that is required to site and construct pipelines in this country has ensured an environmental safety record that is second to none. That doesn't mean there aren't still going to be problems, when you consider the amount of miles we have.
Unfortunately, I can't support this particular bill. I support an expedited review process and expansion of the pipeline system. Our intrastate natural gas pipeline system is not broken. I cannot support a bill that would issue a license or permit or approval after merely an expired time line. In testimony in our committee, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the FERC, has an average of about a year turnaround.
I want to continue to support the construction of pipelines, and my ardent support is firmly backed by a safety record that is unmatched. I will continue to support an industry that has been an engine of our economic growth for the last decade.
This bill is a solution in search of a problem. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the future on another approach that will benefit all stakeholders, our environment, and our economy.
I encourage my colleagues to oppose the rule and the bill.
|12:55 PM EST||
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I see four people in the gallery. I see three Members on the floor. The galleries are empty, the floor is empty because we are not doing anything, and it is not because we don't have a lot of things to do.
We have 6--7 if you count tomorrow where we will leave by 12:00--6 full days left in the session in 2013, and yet we fiddle here while the country sees itself burning on bills that are going nowhere, that have no priority and deal with a subject, energy, which, happily, is one of the most successful places we are at in America today, where we are fast becoming the energy-independent, low-cost energy situs of the world.
We have no budget conference coming to this floor scheduled in the 6 full days that we have left and the 2 other days that may be counted in which we come in at 6:30 and meet for probably a half an hour or 45 minutes and vote on suspension bills. Yet we have spent this entire week--and we left, of course, hardworking day yesterday, we left doing work at 2:30 in the afternoon. No budget conference, no fiscal policy, no solution to the crisis that confronted us when we shut down government.
I urged that we have a budget conference report by November 22--that is tomorrow--so that we didn't, as our practice has been in recent months and [Page: H7270]
years, confront real issues only when crisis gives us no other alternative.
No immigration reform has been brought to the floor, although it passed the Senate with 68 votes, comprehensive immigration reform, which will address a problem that every Member of this House says is an immigration system that is broken. The majority leader said that the other day, and I asked him about the four bills that our Republican friends, Mr. Speaker, have reported out of committee but they languish somewhere in the netherworld, not brought to the floor for consideration by this House.
And yet we have time to consider bills that will have no impact, which the President says he will veto, and are not bipartisan bills, were reported out of the committee in a partisan fashion, as so much of the legislation that we consider on this House floor is, partisan, confrontational, no-consensus pieces of legislation.
Yet a comprehensive immigration reform bill that had 68 votes, over two-thirds of the United States Senate, 14 Republicans voted for that bill, yet the Speaker says he is not for it and won't bring it to the floor. That is the same Speaker that says let the House work its will. The House cannot work its will if the legislation is not brought to the floor by the House, which can only be done by the Republican majority, Mr. Speaker, as you know. So they keep that bill from being considered, although
CBO says it will help the economy, grow jobs, and fix a broken system.
There are 6 full days left to go on the schedule in 2013. And yet the farm bill, which was reported out of the committee 2 years ago in a bipartisan fashion in the last Congress but was never brought to this floor, while we twiddled our thumbs while Rome burned--the farm bill lies languishing in conference committee because a bipartisan bill, passed by the United States Senate, was not considered in this House.
|1:00 PM EST||
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th
Mr. HOYER. But a partisan bill with almost no Democratic votes, and the second piece of that farm bill, the nutritional part, receiving not a single Democratic vote, lies languishing in the conference committee because it was passed in an extraordinarily partisan fashion, where the gentleman from Oklahoma's (Mr. Lucas) bill, reported out in a bipartisan fashion. The American public, Mr. Speaker, says, Let's act bipartisanly. We did. With Democratic and Republican votes, the farm bill
came out of the Agriculture Committee and was turned into a partisan bill on this floor by my Republican colleagues. So it languishes with 6 days left, with the farm bill expiring on December 31, no action, no progress.
We need to pay our doctors a proper compensation for the services they give. I am sure the gentleman from the Rules Committee, who, himself, is a medical doctor, understands this necessity. We need to fix the sustainable growth, but it languishes somewhere out in the netherworld while we have 6 days left. Unfixed, unscheduled. I have asked the majority leader numerous times: Is that going to be brought to the floor? It has not been brought to the floor.
Discrimination in the workplace, passed by the Senate in a bipartisan fashion, ENDA, is not going to be brought to this floor. The Speaker says he is opposed to it, so the House will not be able to work its will again on a piece of legislation that, in my opinion, would have a majority of the votes on this floor. There is no doubt in my mind, and I am the whip. I count votes, Mr. Speaker, as you know. It would have the majority of votes on this floor, but the Speaker and the majority leader will
not bring it to this floor.
Unemployment insurance for 1.2 million people ends on December 31, and we have 6 days of full work left and two partial days when we come in at 6:30. Yet unemployment insurance has not been brought to this floor to be extended for those 1.1 million people, with still 7.2 or 7.3 percent unemployment. Unemployment insurance is a critically important issue. It is somewhere out there, but it is not on this floor. This, while we have considered legislation this entire week that the majority knows
will not pass the United States Senate and, even if it did pass, would not be signed by the President of the United States.
But they send a message, perhaps, to their base: politics. With the budget conference, immigration reform, the farm bill, the sustainable growth rate, doc reimbursement for Medicare patients, discrimination in the workplace, unemployment insurance, and, yes, I would add to that tax extenders--none of it on this floor.
|1:03 PM EST||
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th
Mr. HOYER. No one ought to ask themselves why the American people hold this institution in such low regard. None of us who have served in this institution for any period of time are proud of what we are doing in this Congress. We lament the unwillingness of the leadership of this House to have us do the work that the American public knows we must be doing.
So, Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the previous question. This is not just an ordinary previous question. What this previous question says is, We will not adjourn, American people. We will not adjourn on December 13, as is projected by the majority to be the date on which we adjourn. We will not adjourn until such time as we have done the important work that the American people expect of us, the responsible work that the American people expect of us, the work that we ought to expect
of ourselves until we consider this bill.
I would hope that we would defeat the previous question, and if we defeat the previous question, then we will bring to this floor a resolution which will say, We shall not adjourn until we have done a budget conference that precludes fiscal crisis, shutting down government, a refusal to pay America's debts; that we pass an immigration reform bill that fixes what everybody knows is a broken system; until we bring a farm bill to the floor which will preclude farmers and consumers and those who
need nutritional help from being put at risk.
|1:05 PM EST||
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand a letter. This is not a letter from Democrats. This is a letter from 13 Republican leaders, chairs of the subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee, who say to the budget conference committee: Bring a solution to the floor before the Thanksgiving break and no later than December 2. Yet, ladies and gentlemen of this House, Mr. Speaker--and yes, Mr. Speaker, all of us speak to the American people, who ought to be asking us, Why? Why? Why do we waste
time when so much important work remains to be done?
Defeat the previous question. Allow us to offer a resolution which will say to the American people, We will continue to work until we get your work done.
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS,
Washington, DC, November 18, 2013.
Hon. Paul Ryan,
Chairman, Budget Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Hon. Chris Van Hollen,
Ranking Member, Budget Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Hon. Patty Murray,
Chairwoman, Budget Committee,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Hon. Jeff Sessions,
Ranking Member, Budget Committee,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Chairman Ryan, Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Sessions, and Ranking Member Van Hollen: We call on the Budget conference to reach an agreement on the FY 2014 and 2015 spending caps as soon as possible to allow the appropriations process to move forward to completion by the January 15 expiration of the current short-term Continuing Resolution. We urge you to redouble your efforts toward that end and report common, topline levels for both the House and Senate before the Thanksgiving
recess, or by December 2 at the latest.
If a timely agreement is not reached, the likely alternatives could have extremely damaging repercussions. First, the failure to reach a budget deal to allow Appropriations to assemble funding for FY 2014 will reopen the specter of another government shutdown. Second, it will reopen the probability [Page: H7271]
of governance by continuing resolution, based on prior year outdated spending needs and priorities, dismissing in one fell swoop all of the work done by the
Congress to enact appropriations bills for FY 2014 that reflect the will of Congress and the people we represent. Third, the current sequester and the upcoming ``Second Sequester'' in January would result in more indiscriminate across the board reductions that could have negative consequences on critically important federal programs, especially our national defense.
In addition, failure to agree on a common spending cap for FY 2015 will guarantee another year of confusion.
The American people deserve a detailed budget blueprint that makes rational and intelligent choices on funding by their elected representatives, not by a meat ax. We urge you to come together and decide on a common discretionary spending topline for both FY 2014 and FY 2015 as quickly as possible to empower our Committee, and the Congress as a whole, to make the responsible spending decisions that we have been elected to make.
Harold Rogers, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations; Jack Kingston, Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Tom Latham, Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; Kay Granger, Chairwoman, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies; John Abney Culberson, Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; John R. Carter, Chairman,
Subcommittee on Homeland Security; Tom Cole, Chairman, Subcommittee on Legislative Branch; Frank R. Wolf, Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice Science, and Related Agencies; Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense; Robert B. Aderholt, Chairman, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development,
Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Michael K. Simpson, Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Ander Crenshaw, Chairman, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government; Ken Calvert, Chairman, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.
|1:07 PM EST||
Jim McGovern, D-MA 2nd
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I want to associate myself with the remarks of our distinguished whip. It is frustrating to serve in the people's House and watch as this leadership purposely tries to avoid doing the people's business. It is frustrating when you go home and you talk to farmers, and they want to know where the farm bill is. It is frustrating when you talk to people about immigration, and they look at what happened in the United States Senate, where it passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support,
and we can't even get anything scheduled here. We can't even get anything scheduled here.
It is frustrating when people are still reeling over the fact that the Republicans shut the government down, and they want to make sure we don't repeat it. Yet we have no budget resolution, no budget conference that has been put together to make sure that we are on a road where we don't have any more of these Ted Cruz-led shutdowns around here. So it is very frustrating.
I think the gentleman from Maryland said it very clearly--that the American people are frustrated. It is not just Democrats. It is Democrats and Republicans that are frustrated.
|1:08 PM EST||
Jim McGovern, D-MA 2nd
Mr. McGOVERN. So we don't want another Ted Cruz-led shutdown here in the House of Representatives. I think the American people are fed up with that.
Then, as the distinguished minority whip pointed out, I mean, we are not even in session more than 6 full days from now until the end of the year, which is absolutely unconscionable.
You say to yourself, Well, maybe the Republicans are planning to do something in the future; maybe they have an agenda for the future. Then we read in Politico that last Thursday, a group of House Republicans filed into Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Capitol office suite and received a blank piece of paper labeled, ``Agenda 2014.'' This is their agenda for 2014. A Republican political aide put it more bluntly by saying, ``What we have done so far this year clearly hasn't worked.''
This is their agenda for next year. It might as well be the agenda for the rest of this year. It is nothing, nothing that is improving the quality of life for the people that we represent. Again, it fuels a cynicism all across the country that the majority party here doesn't seem to care about what happens to regular people, and that is very, very disconcerting.
I guess they could go back and say that their big accomplishment was that they complained about the Affordable Care Act. Over 40-something times, they brought bills to the floor to try to repeal it, never once offering an alternative to improve it, never once giving an alternative idea that would help address the fact that tens of millions of our citizens don't have health insurance. Millions do have health insurance, but it is really not health insurance because when they get sick, they realize
they have been paying for a policy that provides them nothing. There is no alternative agenda to try to address those issues; it is just that they are against it. I guess it is easy to say ``no,'' but the bottom line is, I think the American people are looking for us to say ``yes'' to some things.
So, Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to the rule to bring up House Resolution 424, Ranking Member Slaughter's resolution prohibiting an adjournment of the House until we adopt a budget conference report.
What that means is that we should not adjourn until we do our job. That shouldn't be a radical idea. I would like to think there is bipartisan consensus that we ought to do our job, and that is what this would require.
So, Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of the amendment into the Record, along with extraneous material, immediately prior to the vote on the previous question.
|1:11 PM EST||
Jim McGovern, D-MA 2nd
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' and defeat the previous question.
I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule and on the underlying bills which, to be honest with you, are a waste of our time. They are going nowhere in the Senate, and the President has already issued a veto threat on them.
With one last urging of my Republican colleagues to stay here and do your work, Mr. Speaker, with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
|1:12 PM EST||
Michael C. Burgess M.D., R-TX 26th
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
You know, Mr. Speaker, it was a little over a year ago that the American people went to the polls, and in their wisdom, they elected a divided government. They knew what divided government looked like. They had seen it for the 2 years prior.
The President came to town in 2009 and promised a lot of sweeping changes, and he delivered on those sweeping changes during the first 2 years of his administration. He had a health care bill passed. The health care bill passed without a single Republican vote. You talk about a partisan vote--the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a partisan vote. Unfortunately, we are seeing now, as we have convulsed the country with these changes that are occurring within the insurance system, we
are seeing the changes that are going to occur to our providers, our doctors, our hospitals, our nurses in the months ahead. This is a serious situation, and it requires serious action to be taken.
I won't apologize for any action that has been taken by the majority in this House to try to rein in the excesses of the administration and the previous Democrat-controlled Congress when they took over one-sixth of the Nation's economy in a partisan fashion without a single Republican vote.
The sequester was passed in August of 2011. It was passed at the request of the President. The gentleman has talked about shutdowns and defaults of the government. Do you remember that the sequester was a compromise [Page: H7272]
proposed by the President and the Office of Management and Budget at the White House in order to prevent defaulting on our debt? It was a very difficult vote for many of us in this House.
What has the sequester delivered? The sequester delivered what no one had been able to deliver in the 4 years previously, and that is a Federal budget deficit that is below $1 trillion. It doesn't sound like a big ask that the American people had: We want you to stop spending so much money. The sequester delivered on that promise.
I find it strange now for the gentleman from Massachusetts to impugn the integrity of people who voted in favor of that sequester when the President and the minority leader of the House of Representatives now want to take credit for the fact that the deficit was cut in half over the last 4 years.
The only reason it was cut in half was because they raised it to unsustainable levels, and now the sequester has reined that back in. It is quite likely that the deficit at the end of fiscal year 2014 will in fact be lower if we don't do something to damage the trajectory that we are on.
I don't think the immigration bill passed by the Senate is here at the House. I think it has got an origination problem, and it is unconstitutional. If there is a bill at the desk, I will be happy to look at it, but I don't think that has occurred. The gentleman knows that.
This bill that we are considering today would lower the price of natural gas delivered to consumers in the State of Massachusetts. I have a table prepared by the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The national average for natural gas is $9.19 per thousand cubic feet. In Massachusetts, it is $13.18.
So this is a bill today that could deliver product to the gentleman's constituents in Massachusetts at a much more reasonable price. This sounds to me like a bill that will help the economy. This sounds to me like a bill that may provide jobs for the American people.
The minority whip talked about the doc fix. Our committee, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, did pass, in a bipartisan fashion, the repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula. I think it is a good bill. I think it is a bill where we had participation from both sides of the dais and not a single dissenting vote when we voted on the bill in committee right before the August recess.
There is another body here in the Capitol Building. They are considering their own version of a similar bill in the appropriate Finance Committee over in the other body. I don't want to prejudge or preclude what they will or won't do. I am anxious for them to do something that would give us a negotiating point where we could consider moving forward with a final repeal of this problem, but in fact, the legislative branch consists of two bodies--this body and the body on the other side. Until the
Finance Committee acts, there is little more that the Energy and Commerce Committee can do to push that bill forward.
Mr. Speaker, today's rule provides for consideration of a critical bill to ensure our energy infrastructure needs are being met. Mr. Pompeo has done a good job. I applaud him and our committee for the thoughtful legislation.
I urge my colleagues to support both the rule and the underlying bill.