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Michael C. Burgess, 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.