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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 19, 2009 9:30am-10:00am EDT

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some counties in my district are facing 15% unemployment. statewide unemployment is hovering around 11%. well above the national average of 9%. nevada's current unemployment level is the highest rate of joblessness since the began keeping track or keeping record in 1976. our state budget crisis led them to cut back services some 20%. meanwhile, nevada has been hit hardest by the wave of foreclosures sweeping the united states. those lucky enough to have a job are also making tough decisions. moms and dads across the country are sitting around the kitchen table deciding what must be cut from their budgets so they can pay their bills and feed their children as the cost of living continues to skyrocket. meanwhile, our nation as a whole faces an $11 trillion debt. last night in spite of irresponsible journalism this morning by "the politico" to the contrary, i offered and amendment to the rules
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committee that would simply retain the fiscal year 2009 funding level for the m.r.a. this amendment is simple but i believe it shows the americans -- shows the americans figuring out their family budgets at the kitchen table this morning that they are not alone. that someone in congress understands that these difficult times calls for shared sacrifice. we who have been given the honor of serving in this body must be part of the sacrifice and that starts here in our office and it should start now. unfortunately, my amendment was rejected by the rules committee. i urge this body to reject this restrictive rule so that my amendment can come to the house floor, give this congress a chance to lead by example with commonsense fiscal responsibility. thank you. and with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from florida. mr. hastings: mr. speaker, i'm very pleased to yield five minutes to the distinguished gentleman from new jersey with whom i serve on the select committee on intelligence, mr.
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holt. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new jersey is recognized for five minutes. mr. holt: mr. speaker, i thank the gentleman from florida, and i am pleased this morning to speak about technology assessment as a tool for our legislative work. this bill funds the tools that allows us to do our best on behalf of the 300 million americans. every issue that comes before us, virtually every issue has some aspects of science and technology. yet this congress has not brought great credit to ourselves for our ability to deal with science and technology issues or to recognize emerging trends or the implications of technology. fortunately we do not have to reinvent a tool to help us. we created the office of technology assessment, a congressional support agency
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with a professional taff staff. it provides -- professional staff. it was balanced and had an impartial presentation, for their framing and their forward-looking perspective. the o.t.a., as it was known, functioned well for 25 years. it produced reports on such topics as retiring old cars, programs to save gasoline and reduce emissions. that was in 1992. reports on bringing health care online, electronic surveillance in the digital age, impacts of antibiotic resistant bacteria and on and on. the studies of alzheimer's, "losing a million minds," became the bible for alzheimer's policies in america. the o.t.a. study on social security computer systems
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resulted in changes saving hundreds of millions of dollars. hundreds of millions of dollar. the study on sin fuels resulted in policy savings. the o.t.a. study on the use of genetic testing in the workplace as a tool of discrimination and bias laid the groundwork for the excellent legislation that representative slaughter, the chair of the rules committee, developed in the genetic nondiscrimination act. an o.t.a. report on electronic delivery of federal services led to the food stamp fraud reduction act. and on and on. but in a fit of budget cutting, o.t.a.'s work stopped 14 years ago. with the explanation that the work could be obtained elsewhere.
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from other government agencies, from other congressional agencies, from interest groups, from universities, from our friends back home, from some other sources. well, we've done the experiment. it didn't work. we have not gotten what o.t.a. provided in the 14 years since o.t.a. stopped operations. stopping o.t.a.'s functioning was a stew pend us act of false -- stupendous act of false economy. we have not gotten the useful, relevant work. not from think tanks, not from universities or friends back home. a former member of congress described stopping the funding for o.t.a. as a congressional
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self-imposed lobotomy. mr. speaker, we have the opportunity to provide ourselves this useful tool, yet the rule before us today does not allow the funding of this agency. it could have been done, could have been done for a pittance, far less when o.t.a. was fully functioning, it was far less than a percent of the budget of the legislative branch. ms. wasserman schultz: will the gentleman yield? mr. holt: if i may finish a point here. what are we missing? well, let me postlate if o.t.a. had been functioning in recent years, we could have expected helpful relevant reports on
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preparing for global pandemics. congress might well have required that there be communications in mine, such as the sayingo mine. -- such as the sago mine. mr. hastings: i hope that the gentleman will recognize the gentlelady from florida. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. holt: the sago mine would have allowed the miners to get out alive. i would have expect we would have better legislation dealing with corn-based ethanol. i believe that we would have recognized through o.t.a. studies the overdependence of the financial sector on mathematical models. we are missing out on a lot, mr. speaker, but it is -- i've decided that in my
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exacerbation, as i wonder why in the world congress would deprive itself of this useful tool, i decided that the very reason we need o.t.a. are discomfort with things science and technological. our inability to deal with such things is exactly what makes it difficult for us to recognize that we need it. with that i yield the remaining time to the gentlelady. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentlewoman from north carolina, for what purpose do you rise? ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. we need to fund adequately our offices, the capitol police for whom i have the greatest respect, the library of congress, a real jewel for our country, but as my colleague from nevada said, american families are hurting and we're increasing spending 16% in this area over the past two years.
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and here are the problems that we're facing in this country right now which the american people are beginning to truly understand. we will have a $2 trillion deficit for f.y. 2009. the second traunch of the tarp was allowed to be spent, $350 billion. the stimulus package, which was h.r. 1, $787 billion, which was really over $1 trillion with the debt cost. the omnibus bill, which was $409 billion. that was the bill that funded appropriations for this year, which the democrats said they couldn't pass last year in individual appropriations bills even though they were in charge of the congress. but -- and the budget increased total spending to $4 trillion in 2009 or 28% of g.d.p., the
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highest federal spending as a percentage of g.d.p. since world war ii. and now we have this additional increase which they're asking for. federal spending is out of control. somewhere we have got to put a stop to this. republicans offered 94 amendments yesterday which were designed to cut -- day before yesterday in the rules committee designed to cut federal spending. but we couldn't deal with that. the democrats cut off debate because they said it was going to take too much time to deal with this. apparently democrats can't spend the american people's money fast enough. republicans think it's time that congress started practicing fiscal discipline, and this is a good place to
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start. i would now like to yield such time as he may consume to my colleague from iowa, mr. king. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from iowa is recognized. mr. king: thank you, mr. speaker. and i thank the gentlelady from north carolina for yielding to me and for her stall wart representation of her constituents and all americans on the rules committee. it is a difficult place to serve when you find yourself outvoted almost 2-is and you're back in -- 2-1 and you're back in a corner up on the third floor where the press seldom goes, where the cameras almost never are, and behaviors which are not consistent are common and where the rights and the franchise of the elected members of this congress are diminished significantly by the most recent over the last 2 1/2 years, behaviors of the rules
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committee. this is where this congress is controlled. i rise in opposition to this rule. i rise in opposition to rule after rule that comes out of that little room up there on the third floor. and, for example, in the previous bill justice appropriations, the one that the gentlelady mentioned all of the amendments offered, republicans offering 94 amendments, i recall that the rules committee wrote a rule. it was unprecedented. it wasn't an open rule for appropriations the way we thought we might get back to even though democrats were afraid to have appropriations votes in 2008. we did have some in 2007. we've always fought this through. we'll stay late at night if we need to. leadership can get together if it gets too long and negotiate unanimous consent agreements. that didn't happen. i've been what i thought was a victim of negotiated unanimous consent agreements that were struck quickly and the bargain was met before we really got a
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chance to catch up with what it all was. but that was at least leadership coming together compromising, negotiating and agreeing. this was the rules committee, i suspect, directed from above, written a modified open rule that required us all to print our amendments into the record. and once those amendments were printed then, of course, the other side of the aisle had the opportunity to read through all of the amendments and understand the strategy of republicans and then having written the rule to produce a certain result, decided it probably wouldn't reduce the result they intended, so they shut down debate after the very first republican amendment, 20-some minutes into that debate and went back to the rules committee. and i sat there until nearly 1:00 in the morning with a number of my colleagues who had offered constructive amendments that are designed to perfect this legislation, and i saw member after member have to ask the rules committee, will you
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please make my amendment in order so that my constituents can be heard, and they didn't say, but it was also so the american can understand the she in an begans that are -- she in an gains that are going on -- they were afraid their amendments wouldn't be made in order. and i watched that parade in front of the rules committee. and i will tell you it's unprecedented that members of congress are reduced to having to beg in a little room on the third floor to be heard. each of us has a franchise. 1/435 is embodied in us. and speaker pelosi said, that every member has a right to be heard. and on a different date, that this would be the most open congress in history. well, it's anything but that. it's becoming more and more closed. even to the point where we lose the right to offer a motion to arise or adjourn, the right to offer an amendment on
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appropriations bill. and so i had offered six amendments up there. i didn't ask the rules committee to make my amendments in order. they had already made my amendments in order. every single one of them complied with the rule that was written and had been made in order. but one -- when the majority understood they were going to have to take some votes, some tougher votes on the subject matter that they had been ducking from they just changed the rule, i just said, keep the word, you set the standards, we all met those standards and then you made our amendments in order. we shouldn't have done that. it should have been an open rule that allowed any member to offer an amendment down the well unless the title of that bill had passed. that's the standard that's here. that's what the founding fathers imagined and envisioned. but we get anything but that. and so this congress doesn't get a debate on important topics. we have to have a motion to recommit in order to discuss the issue of giving miranda
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rights to enemy combatants in foreign continents. that's what it takes. and that little window will be closed if it makes the majority uncomfortable. we don't get a debate on the very critical national security issue, mr. speaker, of the speaker of the house declaring the c.i.a. to be a group of if lone yuss liars and having lied to congress, the united states of america and then stated that she's going up to receive briefings after this. the united states of america's national security has to be at risk when the third person in line for the presidency declare ours intelligence community to be lying to congress. decisions get made, on this floor, in committee, behind the scenes, sometimes by staff, based on the allegations made by the speaker, the staff wants to please the speaker, the speaker is ducking the issue. we need to have a vote. i offered an amendment to get a vote on the c.i.a. we aren't going to get that vote because the rules committee shut it down. i offered an amendment that
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would also clean up some of this, amendment number two, increases and decreases standing committee by $1 million so we can broad cags the activities in the rules committee. when you go into a committee and realize you're sitting in front of a camera, it causes people to have a better demiddle eastern. some of it ends up on youtube. the rules committee doesn't have that. the room is too small and it's too secret what goes on up there. we need a big room for the rule committees, because that's where the decisions are made in the united states congress today. i offered an amendment to do that. as i move through this process and, by the way, not only the criticism of the intelligence community came from the speaker, but now she's taking on the congressional budget office saying they're the most pessimistic group that they are, we always overestimate things that work against us. if you challenge the integrity
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of the congressional budget office, you have the intimidation of the congressional budget office. when you challenge the c.i.a. and you control their pursestrings, you don't get the same information as if off trust relationship going on. the appropriation that passed last night was managed by an appropriations subcommittee chair that by all the news reports is under investigation. he received the gavel from the speaker of the house, she knew it was -- he was under investigation, two years ago he recused himself from discussions. we've not heard any announcement as to that announcement being lifted or any subpoenas may have been served may have been withdrawn or been shut down. there's no announcement whatsoever. how can we have confidence in this congress if the speaker declares the intelligence community be lying to congress if the rules committee shuts down the debate, if this house is recessed in the middle of important business if an impeachment of a judge is shut down so you can raise money, or
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if the chairman of the subcommittee who is managing the funding for the f.b.i. is being investigated by the f.b.i.? this congress has a long ways to go to get where they're going. i would just conclude with this, mr. speaker. i'm going to paraphrase joe welch. let us not assassinate this process further. you've done enough. have you no sense of decency at long last? have you left no sense of decency? i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. speaker, after that speaker, i find it necessary to correct him with regard to a portion of his screed. please no that in the process that he referenced, one of our members, who is a subcommittee chair of appropriations, the committee chair, mr. obey,
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handled the matters. when the member referred to by the previous speaker recused himself and on the floor, when the matter was brought here, the committee chair handled that matter. now i heard that gentleman talk about shenanigans. let me tell you something, mr. speaker. what happened in the house of representatives yesterday, and i'm only hear 17 years, but the dean of the house of representatives, mr. dingell was down here this morning for a one minute and spoke of the disgrace that took place yesterday and someone would come in here and talk about shenanigans? what was that yesterday? how could we possibly have gotten about the business of dealing with the nation's business when we repeatedly what we saw was a people come -- was people coming in here, delaying the process. i've been here 17 years. we cast 54 votes yesterday. we spent more time casting
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votes on nonsense than we did on any substance that was being sought. now enough already. people have a right to their views. they have a right to their political shots, but the rules committee operates this body and if they want the business of the american people done, they wouldn't conduct the kind of shenanigans they conducted yesterday. i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from florida, the chairwoman of the legislative branch, subcommittee, which i shouth was what we were here to talk about. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. ms. wasserman schultz: thank youing mr. speaker. to my good friend, mr. hastings, i appreciate that it's important to get back to the business at hand. i wanted to address the gentleman from new jersey's remarks about the office of technology an assessment which is an important agency they have -- of the legislative
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branch that remains authorized in the u.s. statutes, but that currently does not receive funding. i -- especially given the age of technology and the advent of scientific progress we are in in the 21st century, i think it is incredibly important that we begin to reestablish the -- explore reestablishing that legislative branch agency. i look forward to working with the gentleman and mr. aderholt and mr. wamp and a number of other members interested in doing that over the course of the next year. >> would the gentlelady yield? ms. wasserman shulingts: i will. mr. holt: the amendment we brought forward today was brought forward by three moneys and me this would benefit all in congress. it has the support of many on both sides of the aisle.
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i thank the gentlelady. ms. wasserman schultz: i thank the gentleman. just to point out we do have $2.5 million that we have carry nerd last two fiscal years in the g.a.o. for technology assessment, but we recognize that the gentleman and many other members believe it would be far better and more effective if we conduct those assessments with a staffed agency of experts and bring in the expertise the congress currently lacks. thank you, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from north carolina. ms. foxx: i yield four minutes to our colleague from arizona, mr. flake. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for four minutes. mr. flake: i thank gentlelady for yielding. i, too, went to the rules committee to testify last night, to try to have an amendment ruled in order. an amendment that was germane, there was no problem with its relevance to the bill.
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it was not dilatory. it wasn't seeking to delay anything. it was to address a very real problem that we have. the problem that we have, mr. speaker, is that we have -- that we know of -- a number of investigations from the justice department going on right now examining the relationship between earmarks and campaign contributions. they're looking at the process of circular fundraising where members of congress will secure earmarks or in other words no-bid contracts for their campaign contributors. the money goes out, taxpayer money, campaign money comes back in. now whether we want to admit it or not, juste department is looking at this. we can talk until we're blue in the face and say, there's no quid pro quo here. we're give eeringmarks to those we think need them. these no-bid contracts are going to companies that need them. whether or not they turned around and individuals from
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that organization or the lobbyists that represent them if they contribute tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars back to my campaign committee, that's ok. because it's not a quid pro quo. whether we say that until we're blue in the face doesn't change the fact that the justice department seems to feel differently. they're conducting investigations. now, i think we do feel differently because just a few weeks ago, we authorized or instructed our own ethics committee to reveal whether or not they were conducting an investigation. that essentially looks into the relationship between earmarks and campaign contributions. they have sense indicated -- they have since indicated that they are. we have the justice department looking into the relationship between earmarks and campaign contributions. we have our own ethics committee looking into that relationship. yet we have, mr. speaker, our own ethics committee still issuing guidance to the members
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of this body that campaign contributions do not necessarily reflect -- i'm sorry, do not constitute financial interest. in other words, whether or not you can contribute -- give an earmark to a company that company's executives and their lobbyists can turn around and give you campaign contributions the next day or the day before, that's ok, according to guidance coming from our own ethics committee. the same ethics committee that is investigating the relationship between earmarks and campaign contributions. the purpose of the ethics committee, mr. chairman, is to ensure that the dignity of this house is maintained, that we rise above it all. that we have a standard that's higher than perhaps others have. we should have a standard that's higher than whether or not members can be indicted or convicted over behavior that takes place here. yet we're allowing the ethics
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committee to issue guidance that says it's ok. that, mr. speaker, is wrong. what this amendment would have done is said that no money can be spent in the bill to implement that guidance. i can't think of many more pressing issues in this house than that. it's germane. there's no reason it couldn't have been brought up and been part of the legislation, i'm sorry, part of the amendments offered today but the rules committee said no, for no other reason than they didn't want to stop the practice. we have come to rely on earmarking to raise money around here. that's the bottom line. and we can't continue it if we're going to uphold the dignity of this body. mr. speaker, at some point, at some point, we will decouple the relationship between earmarks and campaign contributions. we have to. i just hope we do it sooner rather than later, and not have to wait to uphold the dignity
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of this body. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expire. the gentleman from florida. mr. hastings: i would inquire of my friend from north carolina if she has additional speakers, i will be the last speaker. ms. foxx: we do. mr. hastings: then i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from north carolina. ms. foxx: i would yield five minutes to mr. dreier of california. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. dreier: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. dreier: it is absolutely true, we could move move the appropriations process through the house of representatives much more easily if the minority party didn't exist. if we weren't here, creating what my friend from fort lauderdale has called
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shenanigans, using terms like that, we could move this process along very easily. unfortunately, the minority party, the group that represents almost half the american people, is being treated as if they don't exist. and this rule is a perfect example of just that, mr. speaker. i know that people are saying that yesterday was a history-making day because there were more recorded votes on the floor of the house than have ever been held in modern history. but the real history that was made yesterday was the fact that we saw the volume that was put forward in the 108th congress by the now chair of the committee on rules, ms. slaughter, described as -- called the death of deliberative democracy, actually implemented here for actually implemented here for the first time in the 220-year


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