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July 23, 2012

House Legislative Program

   Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of inquiring of the schedule for the coming week, I yield to the chief deputy whip.
   Mr. ROSKAM. I thank the gentleman from Maryland, the Democratic whip, for yielding to me.
   Mr. Speaker, on Monday the House will meet at noon for morning-hour and 2 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House will meet at 10 a.m. for morning-hour and noon for legislative business. On Thursday, the House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business. The last votes of the week are expected no later than 3 p.m.
   Mr. Speaker, the House will consider a number of bills under suspension on Monday and Tuesday, and of particular note will be H.R. 459, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Congressman Ron Paul. A complete list of the suspensions will be announced by the close of business tomorrow.
   Beginning on Tuesday, the House will consider H.R. 6082, the Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan. And finally, the balance of the week will be spent on H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act. This is a compilation of bills that are sponsored by Representatives Tim GriffinReid RibbleBen QuayleDennis RossVirginia FoxxScott Garrett, and Mike Conaway.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that information. I appreciate it. I know the majority leader could not be here this afternoon, but he said last week that we should expect legislation on the floor the week of July 30 dealing with the tax questions; in particular, the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. The gentleman may remember my discussions at that point in time. I don't think decisions had been made.
   We are hopeful on this side of the aisle that there will be hearings next week, obviously, because it's going to be the week of the 30th it'll be on the floor, and also there will be a markup of that bill before it comes to the floor. Can you tell us whether or not in fact there will be a hearing on that legislation and also whether, pursuant to those hearings, there will be a markup on that bill?

   Mr. ROSKAM. As the gentleman knows, the 2001 and the 2003 tax rates have been well vetted and well discussed. They're not news or breaking ground in any way, shape, or form. So my understanding is that the current thinking is to bring those directly to the floor and that there's not a plan for a markup.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that information. As the gentleman understands, although they may be well known, the situation that exists today is radically different than existed in 2001 and 2003 when President Bush, who recommended both of those tax cuts, projected a $5.6 trillion surplus, as the gentleman may recall. Unfortunately, that prediction was radically wrong. And when I say radically wrong, in fact, we increased the debt by over $4 trillion rather than have a surplus--a $10 trillion turnaround in the projections.
   As a result, I would suggest to the gentleman and his party that the situation confronting us, as I said, is very, very different than it was in 2001 and 2003 when the Bush administration projected those surpluses, which it inherited, of course, from the Clinton administration.
   In addition to that, the Republican majority has said that we'll govern based on their pledge to America. Openness in the House is a key part of that pledge that you made.
   I want to read you a quote:
   ``We have nothing to fear from letting the House work its will, nothing to fear from the battle of ideas.''
   The Speaker of the House, Mr. Boehner, went on to say:
   ``That starts with the committees. The result will be more scrutiny and better legislation.''
   He said that in October 2010. Of course, it was in the throes of a campaign. But I would hope and I tell my friend very sincerely that that premise prevails today. In light of the change of circumstances, but much more than that, in light of the significant differences between the two parties in the Ways and Means Committee, the transparency and openness to which Speaker Boehner referred, referencing that that would apply in committees as well, would almost dictate that you would have a markup in the committee and give members of the committee the opportunity to vote on that legislation, offer amendments, offer alternatives, and offer their opinions for the consideration of other members on the committee as to the ramifications of the actions proposed in the committee by the majority party.
   
[Time: 19:20]
   I would ask my friend if he has a view on whether or not, notwithstanding the fact that the position of the majority is that the subject matter is well known--it is also well known there are differences of opinion on this. And what the Speaker said in his quote was, let that difference be spread across the Record, let Members have the opportunity to express their differences through their vote; and that premise applied to the committees. I would hope that the gentleman could assure us that, in fact, there would be a markup in the committee.
   I have talked to Mr. Camp, who is a good friend of mine and for whom I
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have a great deal of respect, and asked him to have a markup. I would hope the leadership would support that effort and urge that markup to occur consistent with what Speaker Boehner said in October of 2010.
   And I yield to my friend.
   Mr. ROSKAM. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
   One of the points I think that's important to focus in on is the last time this Congress dealt with the '01 and the '03 tax rates was not in '01, not in '03, but in December of 2010 when President Obama signed these into law. So this is an arena where we do reflect back, but ultimately we need to look forward. So the question is how do you create a sense of predictability by which businesses can deal with these situations?
   So the gentleman is right to point out past forecasts that were incorrect. But it's also correct to point out that the White House made one error after another--this White House--one error after another as it relates to the predictions of the stimulus, for example, where unemployment was promised to peak at 8 percent, and it didn't turn out to be so.
   So as we move forward, this is not new ground, these are not new concepts, and it's consistent with what then-Minority Leader Boehnersaid in the Pledge to America. This process has been open, this process has been dynamic, this process has been participatory, and this bill will be considered under the same rules and the same commitments that were made in the Pledge to America.
   Moving forward, what I would like to announce to the gentleman and to the membership is that there will be an opportunity, I'm told, for the minority party to offer the President's alternative as an amendment on the floor, to have the debate. Because as the gentleman and I both know, that's really the crux of the matter. So to have an up-or-down vote, as I would characterize it, is a bad idea. I know the gentleman has a different view of that, but I think, particularly in light of this week's study from Ernst & Young, I think we should be chastened, actually, with the notion of moving forward and raising taxes on anybody.
   I accept the world view of the gentleman who has been articulate in the past in communicating that. But I think that really is the crystallization of these two competing views of how to create economic growth, and I think the gentleman will be fully satisfied.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for those comments. That is new information for us. I will tell you, please, I would still like to have a markup in the committee, which I think is consistent. No matter how much this has been discussed, there has been no markup of this bill. So while it may have been discussed for a long period of time and while there have been hearings on tax reform, there has been no markup of this bill in the committee, as the gentleman well knows.
   But I'm pleased to hear that the minority will be allowed an amendment to be made in order of our choosing to offer on this floor. I think that's a positive sign. I appreciate the gentleman's notice of that, and I will certainly notice our Members of that ability. We're pleased at that.
   I will say, however, to the gentleman that I did note the Ernst & Young story. I noticed it was paid for by people who may, absent its conclusions, receive a tax increase to help us bring down the deficit. But notwithstanding that, I was sure we were going to hear about that on the floor. I'm not surprised, and you're not going to be surprised that there will be other studies referenced on the floor as well. So I thank the gentleman for his information, and I'm pleased with that.
   As I said, I will note that, in fact, there will be an amendment, and hopefully that amendment will be allowed some significant period of time for debate. That is much superior to the only other alternative that we would have had, which was an MTR 5 minutes on each side. So I thank the gentleman, and I thank the leadership for that information.
   Let me ask the gentleman, does the gentleman expect the farm bill to come to the floor before the August break?
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. ROSKAM. I thank my friend for yielding.
   As the gentleman knows, the farm bill has created a lot of concern on our side of the aisle. It's my understanding that there is concern on the gentleman's side of the aisle. Your ranking member supports the bill. It's my understanding that Leader Pelosi does not support the bill. So we're in conversation with our Members, as I'm sure you are with yours; and we're not prepared to make an announcement today in light of continuing to get Member feedback.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman.
   For the gentleman's information, which may help you in determining whether or not you have the votes for the farm bill, I think it fair to say that we would have a majority of our party for the Senate-passed bill which passed, as the gentleman knows, with 62 votes, 12 Members of the Republican Party voting for that bill, 50 members of the Democratic Party. Obviously, it is a significant bipartisan bill. If the gentleman perhaps is talking to Mr. McCarthy, you can convey to him information that if that bill were to come to the floor, we would try to work with you to pass that piece of legislation.
   Obviously, there are a lot of farmers in our country who are struggling right now. We have an extraordinary drought in America. They are suffering, they're at risk, and the gentleman talked about certainty. I agree with him on certainty. By the way, because I didn't ask him when he brought it up, does that certainty mean that you would be suggesting that the tax cuts that were in effect in '01, '03 be made permanent?
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. ROSKAM. Well, as the gentleman knows, making things permanent in this arena with this conundrum of rules and limitations--and limitations particularly in the other body--make that difficult. I, speaking on behalf of myself, think that that rate at that level permanent is a wise course. But as the gentleman knows, based on the difficulty of the rules, what I have to say on that is fairly limited based on the reality of the rules.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that answer.
   Going back to the crisis that the agriculture community is confronted with by the drought, if the farm bill--and we would urge that the bipartisan farm bill be brought to the floor for consideration to give certainty to farmers, to give some sense to farmers as to what they might rely on in the coming year or coming years; but absent that, the gentleman did not mention, do we have any expectation that we will deal with drought emergency legislation vis-a-vis the farm community prior to our August break?
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. ROSKAM. I don't have information to announce at this point in terms of the timing. I have a high level of confidence that no one is going to be going home for very long absent a remedy and a joint response on all of our parts.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that answer.
   Lastly, Mr. Cantor is not on the floor, but both Mr. Cantor and I have made representations that we are going to work together, as we do from time to time, cooperatively and effectively, I might say. We are very concerned that the Iran sanctions legislation, which is in conference, be passed by this Congress prior to our leaving on August 2 or 3--I'm not sure which days we are going to be leaving, but one of those days.
   Does the gentleman have any information on the status of the Iran sanctions legislation which we passed overwhelmingly in this House and the Senate has passed? It's in conference, and I know Mr. Cantor and I both support getting this done before we leave.
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. ROSKAM. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
   Yes, there is every intention to move forward on that which the gentleman and the majority leader have been working so cooperatively on, and there is an expectation that that will be done before the August recess.
   Mr. HOYER. I'm very pleased to hear that. I thank the gentleman for that information, and I yield back the balance of my time. 

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