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tv   U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House UK Rep. Lipinski D-IL Farewell  CSPAN  December 24, 2020 7:28pm-7:56pm EST

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>> next, a look at some of the final speeches from members of congress who are retiring or lost reelection. first, we will hear from representative dan lipinski who was defeated by marie newman. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i rep. lipinski: when i was a professor teaching american government, before i was elected to congress, the first thing i would do when beginning to teach a class about congress and the legislative process would be to show this video -- the three minute "schoolhouse rock" cartoon video from the 1970s, called "i'm just a bill." the cartoon begins with a group of constituents calling their congressman with an idea for a new law. the congressman introduces a bill, which goes through house committee debate and amendment before a vote to report the bill
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favorably to the house floor. on the house floor, the bill goes through debate and amendment before a majority vote that sends bill over to the senate, where the process continues. this is a process that we call order. regular order in the house is a standard way of legislating in the house that facilitates extensive participation of members in a deliberative, consensus-based decision-making process. more importantly, this is how the framers of the constitution not only intended the house to work, but believed that the house needed to work if the united states, then in its infancy, was to succeed. congress was created in article i of the constitution because the legislative branch, being closest to the people,
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was necessarily the linchpin of american representative democracy. while the framers didn't include in the constitution the rules by which the house or senate would operate, they understood that the way in which the lawmaking process was conducted was critical to the creation of laws that were good for the nation as a whole and to the legitimacy of congress and those laws. of congress and those laws. james madison oftentimes called the father of congress -- james madison, often called the father of congress, thought it was essential that the legislative branch made policy that well represented the vast and varied republican and best served the nation as a whole. remember, our nation began as a unique experiment in self-governance. there's great doubt about whether the views of people so diverse could successfully be forged into good policy that
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serves such a large nation. madison believed that the way to do this was for members of congress to represent the multiple diverse interests and ideas of their constituents in an open marketplace of ideas in congress. through the legislative process, the people's representatives would debate, deliberate and put together a consensus on legislation that served the common good of the nation. what the constitution created was not a parliamentary system, because the framers did not intend to empower temporary majorities. instead, they wanted to compel compromise in a diverse society. the exercise of power was shared so that all american voters had an opportunity to be heard in the law making process. and to ensure that only the will of broad, durable majorities
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could be acted upon. especially because america was a large and diverse country whose unity needed to be nurtured, it was critical that the legislative process work this way, so that the american people saw congress as an institution that truly represented them and aw american law as legitimate. but today the house doesn't often work this way. especially when we deal with issues that are of the greatest importance to our nation. those bills, when they get considered, don't get shaped through an open process in committee and on the house floor. each member doesn't have the opportunity to represent their constituents by bringing their ideas and interests to the legislative process, where debate, deliberation and compromise produce the best policy for our nation. instead the process runs through the speaker's office, where the
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content of legislation is shaped to get enough votes just out of the majority to pass something that pleases various partisans. now, before i go any further, i want to make clear that this is not a criticism of the current speaker or any former speaker. this is a problem of our institution. so, how did we get here? well, there's been a big change in the way washington reacts every two years after a congressional election. it used to be the case that when election results came in, everyone would look to see which party has the majority in the house, who has the majority in the senate, and whether it had 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and which party held the white house. understanding that balance of power and the issues facing our nation over the next two years, members of congress would get to work figuring out what issues
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they may be able to come to an agreement on and get passed into law over the next 20 months or so. before the next campaign cycle began. now, today what happens is after understanding the balance of power in washington, after an election, each party retreats to its corner and begins plotting what their party's going to do over the next two years. if there's unified government, that is one party has the majority in both chambers of the congress and the presidency, here in the house the speaker will consider the priorities of the party and decide what issues to make their legislative priorities over the next two years, to create party-preferred laws and keep that majority. if there is divided government, which is the norm, having occurred 30 out of the last 40 years, and if you include the
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filibuster, 39 1/2 out of the last 40 years, if the case, the speaker plans what the party can do over the next two years to help the party gain unified control of the government with the hope of them passing all of the party's preferred policies. and on the other site of the aisle, they figure out -- side of the aisle, they figure out what they can do over those two years so they can get control. in order to help the party carry out this biannual plan, members of congress have given up much of their power to represent their constituents in the legislative process to party leaders. so what has this led to? gridlock. there are so many issues we need to address in this nation. and we fail to act. health care costs, the federal debt, immigration, climate change, the economic and military threat of china, social
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security and medicare finances, transportation infrastructure, the continuing decline of good works class jobs, reforming the -- working class jobs, reforming the war powers act. these are just some of the major issues which congress has been failing to address. and i'm sure there are other major ones that i just missed. the one obligation that congress has each year, passing appropriation bills to fund the government, is almost never ccomplished on time. presidents have stepped in to fill the policymaking void. they now wield power even to address issues that were specifically put in the hands of congress in the constitution. increased presidential exercise of power on policy has resulted in policy whip-sawing back and forth, depending on the
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presidential administration. law making by executive order has become the norm. so much so that "saturday night live" even did a parody of "i'm just a bill," replacing bill with an executive order. and this president has taken it to a new level. but no matter who the president has been, few of us stand up for our institution. we only criticize presidential overreach when it's a policy that we don't like. and it's not only the president who has gained power because congress is failing to act. the courts have also stepped in as activists turn to the judicial system to decide policy issues in the absence of congress. so what we have now is an imperial presidency and powerful courts with a congress that largely sits gridlocked.
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what happens when we have unified government? in those rare times? the last two twimes this occurred -- times this occurred, major policy changes were passed on completely party-line votes. the minority party then attacked the legitimacy of these laws. now, i'm not saying that these laws were illegitimate. they were not. but the framers knew that this kind of attack would happen if we did not come together to forge compromises. now, in both cases, after this occurred, these unified -- case of unified government, the last two times it happened, in the next election the house majority was changed by the american people. today congress is failing in ways that the founders feared. in senator lamar alexander's
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farewell address to the senate, he defended the filibuster saying that what is needed to make the senate work better is not a change of rules but a change of behavior. unfortunately in the house, i believe that we need some of oth. over the past four years i have been a member of the house problem solvers caucus. the caucus is a bipartisan group of about 50 member, evenly divided between democrats and republicans. we meet every week to talk policies and build relationships. our goal is to work together to get to yes on policies that are good for our country. i have greatly enjoyed the caucus because not only have i been able to build friendships, but was able to participate in a microcosm of what madison envisioned for the house. problem solvers caucus doesn't
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always succeed in forging compromise because sometimes it's been out of our reach. but we have taken on some big issues. i was part of a problem solvers caucus working group put together after president trump said he would eliminate daca and told speaker pelosi and democratic leader schumer he would help work out legislative solutions to protect these immigrants brought to the united states as children. the dreamers. the president never followed through on that. but the caucus believed there was a bipartisan agreement that we could work out that granted the opportunity for citizenship to millions who, we argued, were deserves of -- deserving of this, while putting in place policies to prevent future illegal immigration. our working group meeting usually started at 9:00 p.m. because that was a time of day that everyone was free from
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every other obligation that we had around here. we'd get together, democrats and republicans, learn from each other and from experts about current law, discuss our views and our stites' views on what the law should be. what should be done. honestly, work through every minute detail of a compromise. we would work late into the night. a few times i had to run out to catch the last metro train to union station at 11:30 to get back to my apartment. it was hard work. but enjoyable. and we came up with a compromise that was endorsed by a ipartisan group of 50 members. just as we'd come up with compromise legislation in the same manner that would have strengthened the affordable care act and made it more affordable. in the end, despite our agreement, we could not get legislation on either of these issues to the floor. we had good policy for our
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nation which probably could have gotten a majority in the house to pass it and constant listen -- and possibly been able to get through the senate with bipartisan support. got there by bringing our ideas but the rules didn't give us an avenue to bring this idea to the house. in the summer of 2018, when the problem solvers caucus proposed changes to the house rules, i said this our constitution empowered the american people by empowering congress and their representatives. congressional rules are now rigged in a way that diminishes our ability to represent our constituents. this has resulted in a congress that doesn't work and is frozen in partisan gridlock, allowing the president and the courts to grab the power that's supposed to be held by the american people. by instituting these proposed reforms we will begin to restore this power, create partisan gridlock an facilitate
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congressional problem salving to help us build a better america for future generations. we made a little bit of progress in changing rules but much more is needed. much more is needed to make this great institution work as it was intended by the framers of the constitution to work for the american people. and i'm hopeful that those changes will occur and the problem solverers -- and the problem solvers caucus will be successful. for the next couple of weeks and in the next congress. because the american people need us. now despite the way -which the house falls short these days, good work still happens here because everyone who gets elected to the house does so because they want to make a difference. there are still ways that we can succeed for our constituents. during my time representing the people in the third district of illinois, i have always said my goal every day was to make life
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a little better for my constituents and our country. and i knew the whole team of staffers there to help. recently, as i was driving out to washington, i was listening to former senator al franken's book "giant in the senate." as a big "saturday night live" watcher, i enjoyed the book very much. senator franken was very candid on a lot of things. one of the most important truths franken mentioned which is rarely spoken here, members of congress are never supposed to admit their staff was responsible for an idea or been indispensable for getting something done. he says that he once publicly gave credit to a staffer for an idea and he was told by a colleague not to do that. it's always the senator who has the idea and does the work, he was told.
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franken thought that was wrong and i agree. maybe because i was a staffer before i was elected. as i look back on everything that i have done over 16 years, i want to thank all the staff that worked for me over the years. these are some of the things that we were able to accomplish. we were able to offer 16 laws and i was chief democratic co-sponsor on 11 other laws. american manufacturing jobs is a priority for me having grown up and representing the southside of chicago. we were able to get signed into law the customs training enhance. act to stop illegal goods coming into the country. the small aircraft rescythelyization act to help american aviation manufacturers. the steel and aluminum energy conservation an technology competitiveness act re-authorization to help these
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manufacturers thrive. and numerous buy america provisions we were able to get into transportation and other laws. but the one i'm most proud of is the american manufacturing and competitiveness act which took five years to get done but resulted in a first comprehensive american manufacturing strategy plan to be produced by the federal government since alexander hamilton. it's a good plan. i'm hope they feel biden administration considers its recommendations. to protect the environment against climate change we got the bright energy savings act into lew. to protect victims of sexual assault in the military we got the sane deployment act into an ndaa. for veterans we got the purple heart and disablesed veterans act and the recovery act. as an engineer i love the
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science, space, and technology committee. we did much on that committee to increase funding for scientific research, and to boost technological innovation activities of the federal government. i was proud to author a national science foundation re-authorization act of 2010. n.s.f. continues to be the gold standard of all international scientific research in an innovation agency. the most successful program that we were involved with has been the innovation corps or i-corps program. i was a nonstop promoter of this program which teaches university faculty and graduate students about entrepreneurship and helped launch dozens of startups. we were able to grow that program at n.s.f. and expand to many other federal departments and agencies. we were able to get an option for the senate set up at the d.o.d. representing the heart of the transportation hub of our nation, we were able to
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accomplish much for northeastern illinois and the nation in transportation. locally we brought home hundreds of millions of dollar -federal money to improve local transportation including roads for bridges, sidewalks and bike lanes and airports. we helped get $1 billion for the great rail modernization program to improve the rail network in the region and alleviate blocked crossings. we had a train service, we got funding for a new tower at the airport and for rail underpasses in betford park and bridge port. midway airport has been made safer and more successful as an economic engine for the southwest side. i want to thank individually the staff here in d.c. that made all this possible. staff assistance, veronica, sarah, legislative
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correspondents brian freedman and elizabeth kelly. legislative assistants keith devereaux, wendy adams, chris lines, jacoby, adam white, andrew hoff for the and paul orsey. senior legislative assistance for policy advisor, joel, the late andrew davis, sophia, jonathan, kaitlyn, ashley. our office administrator jennifer. our communications director over the years, joel reed, phil davidson, the late chris danshaw. isaac, and our digital press manager grace. vaseyative directors john
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ii, john ratliff, jason day and alexander beckman. an chiefs of staff jason thai, jacqueline o'day, mike laughlin and eric. i thank all of them for the great work that they've done for me and for the people of the third district of illinois. i was going to start naming members that helped me get all the work done but i know think danger in this business of leaving anyone out so i just want to thank all my colleagues for the work that we have done together over the last 16 years. we had he district, what i would argue is hands down the best constituent service in the nation. whether it was related to social security, veterans benefits, military service, immigration issues, passport issues, and
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any, many more issues. , e staff included anthony fiorelli, dawn courtney, alvador difranco, jessica, josh, john h, gene, mcglenn, grayson sol embing rno, mary e zack, the late ann. we've had over the last few staffers. a number of t's been very difficult. we have come together as a staff and are thankful to all those departed staffers and their
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families. over the years, jerry was the chief of staff in the chicago office for most of my time in congress and ran that office, ran the district. he forewas there for most of -- lenore was there for most of my time, is well loved by veterans across the district. joe binomo, now my district director, has been with me for all 16 years. paul belmonte who spent 16 years lso and helped so many immigrants in -- we had a few that we saved from being deported. nd last but not least, jerry mulvado, who has probably, i would argue, the best caseworker in the history of congress. jerry has been called a saint
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more times than i could ever count for all the work he did for so many people, for so many years. not just on federal issues but any issue that anyone ever brought to jerry. he is the only staffer i know who has ever written up multiple time - chicago newspaper for what he did for people. all these people made it work. and did so much for all the residents of the third district. i want to thank them so much. finally, i want to thank my mother, who gave me a love of learning, my father who helped give me a love of politics. but above all, they both gave me a love of helping others. as my mother was a teacher, and my father served in chicago city council before he served here. i also want to thank my wife judy who thought she was marrying a lifelong professor,
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and then provided me with more support than i could have ever hoped for in this job. it's only those spouses of members who know everything it takes, everything they go through. i want to thank judy so much for her support. an last, i want to thank the people of illinois' third district who gave me the honor and privilege of serving as heir representative. mr. speaker, the greatness of our nation springs from ethis founding principles which sound common to us today but were radical for their time. we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable right that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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i still believe this is the greatest nation in the world. it is perfect, because humans aren't perfect. but we must pray and work every day that each of us and our nation better upholds the principles of equality and we better protect the life and for every ry day person. from the very first moment of life until natural death and with god's grace, we will do that. and we will be the shining city upon the hill for all the world to see and follow. god bless this institution. and god bless the united states of america.the the state of texas, mr. hurd, for five minutes. mr.


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