tv [untitled] CSPAN June 12, 2009 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT
excuse me -- of maine. the democrat is ron wyden of oregon. and they crafted language that would put strings on. that would have said, maybe if things aren't going so good and we are giving billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to wall street firms maybe we should have a limit on what they can get, but then a funny thing happened. the house passed its version, the senate passed its version. madam speaker, you know when we have bills that pass each chamber and there's some differences in them we have to appoint a conference committee and they meet and work out the differences and then send back to us a conference report. . somehow, somewhere in that conference committee the language that was put in by senator snowe and senator wyden was taken out of the bill and the words about 40 words that are located on the easel to my
left were inserted into the bill and, madam speaker, as you read that language, not only were there no longer any strings on those bonuses, but this paragraph specifically protected any bonus that was given to any official, including the ones that became controversial a little later, a.i.g., and said any bonus that was agreed to before february 11, february 11 was the day that the stimulus bill was passed, so anything that had been agreed to before that day was protected. then about a week later the news came out that a.i.g., the insurance company that's received billions of dollars of taxpayers' money, was going to pay its executives $173 million in bonuses. and you should have heard the hugh and cry around this place -- hue and cry around this place, madam speaker, the president of the united states was shocked, members of congress were shocked, members of the united states senate
were shocked. people at the department of treasury were shocked. they shouldn't have been shocked because after this language was inserted the bill came back to both the house and senate. every republican voted against it. every democrat save 11 voted for the stimulus bill that included in this paragraph that protected the $173 million in bonuses. we have been coming to the floor for the last several months to try to find out because nobody's fessing up, nobody has said, you know what, i took out the first language and i put in this language and maybe you could tell us why. but nobody will do that. everybody wants this issue to go away. as a matter of fact people were so shocked that their reaction, the majority's reaction, was to come up with really a stupid bill and that was to tax these bonuses. rather than going back and doing the right thing and
taking out their mistake, to tax these bonuses at 90%. i'll tell you why i call that a stupid bill, madam speaker. i call it a stupid bill because the person who got the biggest bonus at a.i.g. got $6.4 million. so if you're really mad at that guy, why just take away 90% of his bonus? why don't you take away 100% of his bonus? that stupid piece of of legislation, thankfully president obama didn't think much of it, neither did the senate, but the legislation over here still would have left that guy at a.i.g. with $640,000. madam speaker, in my district in northeast ohio it takes -- it would take 16 years for somebody making 40,000 a year to make $640,000. so again rather than correcting the mistake, they came up with, it wasn't even a fig leaf, it was a fig tree to pretend they
were really mad about the bonuses they authorized with their vote. so we have been coming myself and other members, mr. mccotter from michigan, have been coming to the floor and i grew up playing a game called clue. very wonderful came to play around the kitchen table with your kids. hasbro i think is the manufacturer of it. so with apologies to hasbro, we came up with clue, because we -- if you played clue, madam speaker, i don't know if you're a clue player or not, the way it works is you start with a murder has been committed. in this case there wasn't a murder. it was pretty bad, but it wasn't murder, you start with what happened. what happened is that somebody put in a bill in the middle of the night, language that protected these bonuses that everybody became shocked about. so that's the crime in this particular instance. and so you have to find out who did it. you have to find out where it
happened. in clue. you have to find out where the weapon is. now, the great news is that we know what the weapon is. it wasn't a gun or the lead pipe or rope or any of that stuff, it was a pen. somebody took a pen, took out the language that would have prohibited the bonus, and then took the pen and wrote in this paragraph into the bill. we got a third of the way there. i was feeling pretty good about it. and our subsequent discussions here on the floor we have pretty much narrowed it down. here you have the banking committee, the speaker's office, the conference room. pretty clearly it either happened in the speaker's office or in the conference room. we get get that from published reports that shuttle diplomacy. i wish i could tell you there was a republican be suspect in this. there weren't any republicans permitted in the conference room. we believe and i think for the purpose of this exercise we are going to say it happened in the conference room. the missing piece and where i
really thought we were getting close was who did it? let's finish clue. it was colonel mustard with the pen in the conference room. and around this board we have the people that we believe, we know, were in the room and were capable of making this insertion. just, madam speaker, i know you know who they are, but just sort of running around the board here, down here charlie rangel, the distinguished chairman of the ways and means committee, here a former colleague of ours, rahm emanuel, president obama's chief of of staff, up here mr. or zag -- orr zag, the -- orzag, the o.m.b. bean counter. senator dodd from connecticut. in the upper corner ms. pelosi, the distinguished speaker of the house of representatives. and mr. harry reid, the distinguished majority leader over in the united states senate. so we have narrowed it down to
one of these folks. the question mark down there is sadly, and this is really a disappointment to me, sadly some are just saying that it was some staffer that put the thing in. the question mark is this staffer who apparently has the power to change law and make law. i really don't think it was -- it may have been a staffer who was using the pen. clearly a staffer had to be directed by somebody to do that. we thought originally that senator dodd, the chairman. banking committee, might be the person we should focus in on. he's made some public statements. the public statements now have gone back and forth. his office says that they put it into the bill at the request of the treasury. the treasury says that they put it in at the request of senator dodd. so here's what we did. we being the sleuths we are attempting to be we went out and filed a bill that basically would have required these folks to hand over some documents and
fess up and tell us why they did it. it went to the financial services committee here in the house and to his credit one of the heroes of this clue game is congressman barney frank of massachusetts who chairs the financial services committee. he called up the resolution and that committee voted for it 64-0. i'm feeling pretty good about it now. i think we are actually going to get someplace. but sadly the way that this place works is that when legislation is reported out of a committee, it doesn't come here to the floor for discussion or debate unless it is scheduled by the distinguished majority leader of this body, mr. hoyer of maryland. even though that event occurred a couple months ago, mr. hoyer has apparently determined that we are too busy here in the house of representatives to deal with this issue and we are going to talk a little bit about how busy we have been in a couple minutes.
but we have had a setback. chairman frank again deserves credit because even though the majority leader won't bring this bill to the floor so we could figure it out with documents, chairman frank said to the treasury, look, just sit down with the people that are interested in finding out the truth here and hand things over. so we had some conversations and sadly i have to report to the house, madam speaker, we have had a setback. while i wanted very much to come and be able to solve this game so we could get on to something else, but there was a meeting, a conversation had on june 3 between representatives of the financial services committee and a fellow by the name of munchus who is the deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs. he indicated that this meeting where we were talking about and i was promised a letter talking about who did this, he
indicated in that conversation the treasury thought that meeting was to talk about policy options and had nothing to do with this particular issue. and then he then stated that if the true goal of the meeting was to reconstruct conversations between treasury and senator dodd and his staff, regarding this bonus provision, and how they got into the stimulus bill. i would say duh, what have we been trying to do here for the last three months, that on the advice of counsel the treasury department would be unable to provide any documents about those conversations. i again had become kind of important that we have the majority leader schedule this resolution so we can get the document so we can figure it out and we can move on to something else. i see my friend from michigan's here. i yield to mr. mccotter of michigan. mr. mccotter: i thank the gentleman for yielding. just two quick inquiries of the
distinguished gentleman from ohio. first, i was wondering if you have considered the response from mr. munchus to be ndic -- to be indicative of the most transparent administration in history. and the question mark signifying the poor staffer who will be blamed if we continue this, unless of course someone confesses or the media actually looks into the matter, because i remember growing up and i watch reruns of "star trek" whenever captain and bones or spock would get on that transporter platform, there would always be somebody you didn't recognize. and you knew they weren't coming back. so when i see that question mark, i just think of the poor staffer that at the direction of someone else actually utilized the pen because if this inquiry continues as it will, you know that they may not be coming back. i yield. mr. latourette: i thank the
gentleman. the answer to your question, first part, is clearly this is not indicative of transparency. all we want to do is move on and find out why somebody felt it necessary in a dark room, in the dark of night to put in language that protected these $173 million in bonuses and why they did it. they may have a great explanation. i doubt it. but they may have a great explanation. we want them to come forward and tell us, i did it. and why they did it. so i can't report, madam speaker, that we have solved this particular episode of clue. sadly we have another mystery that has sort of reared its ugly head here on capitol hill. mr. mccotter: i thank the gentleman for yielding through the chair. also point out that we have in fact understood from the white house in fairness to them that the president has taken responsibility for the a.i.g. bonus. he said so. which i think is only
appropriate since he signed the bill that executed it into law. but what we are looking for is that shadowy figure between the president of the united states who may or may not have known the bonus was in the bill, and the poor staffer that may have been directed to do this. we want to point out that we are trying to be fair. we have not determined whether the president even knew the a.i.g. bonus was in the stimulus bill which was rushed in a crisis atmosphere upon a deadline he set, and a staffer who may potentially received all the culpability unfairly. mr. latourette: i thank the gentleman for that. i go a step further. i am certain president obama did not know that this had been inserted into the stimulus bill because he appeared on television after the bonuses were given and said he was shocked that these bonuses had been given and people in his administration said they were going to do everything within their power to get this money back. so i agree with you 100%. the president did not know to the best of my knowledge that
this was occurring. even our colleagues in the house, mr. mccotter, the democrats who voted for the stimulus bill except for 11 of them, i don't think they knew it, either. and one of the problems here is -- i'm not just trying to be a nitpicker. i will tell you that one of the problems is you may remember that stimulus bill that spent $789 billion of our constituents' money. it was about 1,000 pages long. it was like the phone book of new york city. and as that bill was coming to the floor that week, one of our colleagues on the republican side made a motion and came up with this novel idea about how about if we have 48 hours, two days, to read the 1,000 pages and here's another novel idea what, if we put it on the internet so our constituents who are paying $789 billion, they have two days to sort of of digest it and call their representatives and express their views. the problem is that was
tuesday. the problem is the bill was taking a little longer than people anticipated. the president had promised he was going to sign it by presidents' day. the bill was filed thursday at midnight. . i've apologized to my constituents for not being up thursday at midnight to immediately begin reading the 1,000 pages. when we arrived the next day on friday, we were told, you're not going to have 48 hours to read the bill, you'll have 90 minutes to read the bill that spends $780 billion and good luck to you. i would suggest to you, when you legislate that way, silly things happen. i think a lot of our friends on the democratic side of the aisle who voted for the stimulus bill that protected those bonuses didn't know it either. in fairness. but that's why it's important. doing protect the integrity of the house and both republicans, democrats, the president of the united states, who did it? and why did they do it?
just tell us, then we'll be done. but we've come to sadly a second mystery, and this one is more catastrophic when it comes to the lives of people in this country. as you know, madam speaker, the auto industry is in big trouble. and we are now faced with the bankruptcies of chrysler and general motors. chrysler going first. in the days leading up to the filing of the bankruptcy for chrysler, there were a number of events occurring i want to describe. the -- on april 30, at 11:30, the white house orchestrated a conference call with members of congress, governors, senators, anybody interested in what was going on with chrysler, and in that conference call, they indicated this is a great day. we're saving 30,000 jobs.
and everything's going to be ok. there's going to be some pain, but everything is going to be ok. at noon that day, the president of the united states took to the airwaves and made the announcement that bankruptcy was the way we were going to go and over here on the far' zell, president owaugh because ma's exact words. no one should be confused about what a bankruptcy process means. it will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at chrysler or live in the communities that depend on it. and then at 1:00, after the president had his press event, there was a second conference call with robert nardelli, who was the chief executive officer at chrysler, with again the same group of governors and members interested in it and the first question on that conference call came from governor granholm, the democratic governor of the state of michigan where my friend, mr. mccotter, is from.
she was concerned that because the president's announcement said 30,000 jobs had been saved. while everybody was celebrating that fact we knew there were more than 30,000 people that work for chrysler in the united states of america. so governor granholm said, listen, we congratulate you. we congratulate the president. i think this is really good news. but i hope that the president wasn't speaking in code. the president said that 30,000 jobs had been saved. we know that the number is about 39,000. so was he sort of just giving good news and we'll find out about the bad news later? or have really all of the jobs been saved and will there in fact be no plant closures? in response to that, mr.
nardelli said, no, the president was using a round number we don't expect plant closures and we don't expect any difficulties. now, governor granholm did what i did. i don't know what my friend the gentleman from michigan did, but i issued a press release praising the administration, praising the auto task force and saying this is wonderful news because i in fact had, i used to have, a chrysler stamping plant in my district in a place calls twinsburg, ohio. i sent out a notice saying this is really good news. sadly, that afternoon, and it's kind of a famous picture now, but this guy with a cart is taking all these banker boxes into the bankruptcy court up in new york and in that filing, and clearly they weren't written between the president's announcement at noon and 3:00
when they were file. located in there is an affidavit from a guy named robert manzo, one of chrysler's consultants. in there, they identify eight plants that will be shuttered and 9,000 people, mostly united autoworker members, that are going to be out of jobs. imagine if you go with the scenario i just indicated, there were some people a little surprised. two more observations i want to make about that, during this conference call, we served with a member by the name of gwen moore who is a democrat from wisconsin, milwaukee. during the course of that phone call she specifically said, hey, you know what, i have this auto plant in ke show -- kenosha, wisconsin. a chrysler plant in kenosha, wisconsin. i want to ask you, under this plan, are we going to be ok? mr. ma -- nardelli waxed on
ability the -- how important the plant was, the 800 people who work there, and you need to rest easy, it's going to be ok. sadly after the bankruptcy documents were filed, kenosha, wisconsin's engine plant was on the list of closures. representative moore had questions, as did the govern i don't have -- governor of wisconsin. they said, what are you talking about? you told us you weren't going to close kenosha. mr. nardelli sent a letter of apologies. i want to begin my expressing my apologies. he goes on to say that in response to congresswoman moore's question about kenosha, i mistakenly answered about the plant in trenton, michigan. trenton, michigan, doesn't sound like deke know shah,
wisconsin, to me, and not only are they not a sound-alike, but they're in different states. the speaker pro tempore: so ordered. mr. latourette: oh, mr. speaker, i apoll jismse the other thing that occurred, you may remember, mr. speaker, that the u.a.w., the united auto workers were asked to enter into a new contract, gave up benefits, gave up wages, gave up off days, but they were told if they supported this new contract, that was going to lead to a new, vibrant chrysler where their jobs would be secure. they voted on april 28, all the chrysler workers went to the polls on april 28, to say whether or not they approved or disapproved this new contract. i don't know all of the election results, but i do know in my community of twinsburg, ohio, that has 1,200 -- did
have 1,200 u.a.w. member they voted 88% of the members voted for it. voted to give up benefits, give up wages, as long as it helped the company that they worked for survive. well, so they voted for it and the thing passed and then the next day, they find out that they're out of a job. and mr. doug rice, the president of u.a.w. local 122, which covers pittsburgh, -- covers twinsburg, indicated, his quote was, i don't know if i was told the whole truth on everything. i don't feel like i was. it would be a shame if this was something known for some time if they kept this back from people, that's wrong, that's wrong. he was then asked, what do you think would have happened if you'd known you were going to be out of a job by approving this contract? he said, needless to say, people ain't going to vote to eliminate their jobs. i think that's right. i don't think any of these
9,000 people who worked at the eight plants would have said, hey, let's approve this new contract and vote ourselves out of a job. i ask unanimous consent to put mr. rice's quotes from the "cleveland plain dealer" into the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. latourette: and then, the mayor of twinsburg, ohio, if you haven't been to twinsburg, come this summer, it's famous for its twins festival, twins from cradle to very elderly twins show up. last year, i think we had 4,000 sets of twins. if you think you're seeing double, you'll see double in twinsburg in the twins festival. the mayor rote to mr. bloom, ron bloom, on the president's automobile task force and basically said, what happened? she was on the call she heard that everything was going to be ok. now all of a sudden she finds that a chrysler plant that
provides 13% of her city's tax base is going to be closed and 1,200 people will be out of work. so basically she said, look, i watched the president, i was on these telephone calls. what happened? and mr. bloom, in a letter dated may 6, writes back that what the president's comments were meant to convey, they meant to convey the message that the bankruptcy of chrysler had in no way changed these plans. i ask unanimous consent to put this into the record as well. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. latourette: what the plans are they're talking about, both car companies, chrysler and g.m., filed viability plans with the task force in february, february 17, i believe. they were both rejected. but somewhere in conversations between the auto task force and chrysler, it was indicated there would have to be plant closures, but nobody told anybody. there was no public document,
no public discussion, no notification to the united auto workers, at least at the local level, that plants would be closed. that was the response from mr. bloom. i yield to the gentleman for his thoughts. mr. mccotter: i appreciate that recap. exactly what happened. and now, subsequent to these events which have had such a devastating effect on my community, michigan, the entire midwest, and america's manufacturing base, we hear the administration and the task force saying they do not determine which plants would be closed. they did not determine which dealerships would be closed. that is a factually true statement. but by omission, they do not add that they determined how many plants would be closed and how many jobs would be lost and how many dealerships would be closed. because when they rejected those viability reports, they said they did not go deeply enough, quikely enough to
provide viability to chrysler or a path forward for general motors. put in terms of the human cost that means more people had to lose their jobs, more plants had to close, more dealers had to be culled from the franchise ranks. so i would hope that in the future with the task force, again the most transparent administration in the united states by its own admission would admit where the decisioners in lost jobs came from, not merely which ones faced the ax. mr. latourette: i thank the gentleman and that leads to the next point. mr. bloom, from the president's task force, testified yesterday, or the day before, in the united states senate and there are some people, we'll talk about, aside from -- well, let me finish this point. going back to the plant closures, what's now on that far' zell, that's a paragraph that was in the u.a.w. contract that people were asked to approve and it specifically was
bargained for by the people in my district in twinsburg. this paragraph certainly doesn't tell them their plant's going to close the next day but it indicates chrysler will bring more work to the stamping plant. when my folks went to work, they voted not that they'd be out of work but that more work would be coming via the agreement with chrysler. but what the gentleman is now referring to is, in addition to the 9,000 people out put out of work and the eight chrysler plants, and on top of that, i think it's 14 general motors plants we've now been told, for some reason, in this bankruptcy, somebody's come up with the brainy idea that you can have better car companies, if you don't have auto dealers.
the initial request in the bankruptcy was that chrysler close 789 car dealerships in its network and we now know that general motors is going to close about 2,600 of theirs. so according to the national automobile dealers association, about 60 people work at every car dealership and if you take the combined closings of car dealerships at chrysler and general motors, it's north of 200,000 people are going to be thrown out of work that work at these dealerships, and what my friend, mr. mccotter, was referring to is that when you question the administration and again, not the president, i want to be crystal clear about this. when president obama said on april 30, this statement that nobody's going to be negatively impacted no communities will be negatively impacted, i believe he meant it. i believe he believed it to be i believe he believed it to be so.
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