CongressHouse FloorSenate Floor • U.S. Capitol: 202-224-3121

July 16, 2012

House Legislative Program

   Mr. HOYER. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Virginia, the majority leader, for the purposes of inquiring about the schedule for the week to come.
   Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman from Maryland, the Democratic whip, for yielding.
   Madam Speaker, on Monday, the House is not in session. On Tuesday, 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 Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10 a.m. for morning-hour and noon for legislative business. On Friday, the House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes of the week are expected no later than 3 p.m.
   Madam Speaker, the House will consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules, a complete list of which will be announced by the close of business tomorrow.
   In addition, the House will consider H.R. 5872, the Sequestration Transparency Act, sponsored by Congressman Jeb Hensarling. This is a bill that will bring needed transparency to the administration's process for implementing devastating cuts to our national defense and many social programs on January 2. Chairman Paul Ryan and the Budget Committee passed this bill in a bipartisan fashion, so I expect it to be brought up under suspension of the rules.
   Finally, and in keeping with funding our national security, the House will consider H.R. 5856, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, sponsored by Congressman Bill Young. This will be the House's seventh appropriations bill of the year.
   I expect the defense funding bill to be on the floor for the balance of the week. Members should be aware that late evening votes are possible on Wednesday, July 18, and Thursday, July 19.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that scheduling information.
   As the gentleman knows, we have, as I calculate, 12 legislative days left to go in July and the beginning of August, of which 3 of those days we will be coming in at 6:30. As a result, we don't have much time left, and I would ask the gentleman if there is any expectation of having bills other than the regulatory--I understand one of those weeks will be the regulatory week. Other than the regulatory bills, will we have any jobs legislation on the floor?

   Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman for the question.
   Madam Speaker, we've been, as the gentleman knows, very transparent about scheduling the floor, sending out a memo making Members aware of where we're headed for the remainder of the July period. I would say to the gentleman that, after next week, we will be focusing on cutting red tape, reducing the regulatory burden on our job creators. As we know, the regulatory atmosphere in this country is making it more difficult and more expensive for small businesses and large to create jobs. We'll be focusing on that.
   The following week, Madam Speaker, will be the week in which we will bring forward a piece of legislation to stop the tax hikes to ensure that all Americans know we are not going to see taxes go up for them at the end of this year.
   In addition to that, we'll bring forward a bill that will be focused on how we get to a pro-growth tax system in this country, laying out the principles for tax reform and suggesting an expedited procedure so that we can actually achieve results for the American people so that our job creators and working families can get back to work.
   Mr. HOYER. I understand the gentleman's answer, and I think we have consensus on this floor about cutting red tape and facilitating decisions by the Federal Government or by the State government or by local government. We have all heard that complaint throughout our careers. I think that's a legitimate concern for us to have. However, when I ask about a jobs bill, the gentleman responds on a couple of levels.
   I think I may have mentioned this before, but what concerns me is that Bruce Bartlett, whom I think the gentleman probably knows, a former President Reagan and President H. W. Bush administration official, says that no hard evidence is offered for the claim that regulatory issues have increased. But he says that Republicans have embraced ``the idea that government regulation is the principal factor holding back employment. They assert that Barack Obama has unleashed a tidal wave of new regulations, which has created uncertainty among businesses and prevents them from investing and hiring.''

[Time: 13:00]

   As I said, he says no hard evidence is offered for this claim. He then says:
   In my opinion, regulatory uncertainty is a canard invented by Republicans that allows them to use current economic problems to pursue an agenda supported by the business community year in and year out. In other words, it's a simple case of political opportunism, not a serious effort to deal with high unemployment.
   Now, that's his opinion, I understand that. But my concern is, if you ask an economist whether or not many of the pieces of legislation we've passed that we've called jobs bills--the gentleman's pointed that out--economists say in the short term--which is really what

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we need to deal, we need to deal in the short term and the long term--is not going to create jobs. This week, we haven't done anything to create jobs.
   By the way, might I ask the gentleman, because I didn't see it next week, do we expect a 32nd or a 33rd vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act either next week, the week after, or the week after that? As the gentleman knows, CBS opines that we've spent some 80 hours on that issue, with whatever cost is attendant to that. You can answer both questions, I suppose, but certainly I would be interested and the Members would be interested to know whether or not we're going to have another vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act.
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
   I would say to the gentleman about this week's vote--in fact, today--today we voted on a bill that helps us ``Mine it in America.'' The gentleman likes to speak about ``making it in America.'' Why shouldn't we also be mining it in America? So it's very much a bill to facilitate that business and industry in this country in an environmentally sensitive way. In fact, 22 of the gentleman's caucus Members joined us in that vote--"Mine it in America,'' Madam Speaker.
   As to the gentleman's question about the suggestion that perhaps the regulatory environment does not affect the potential growth or real growth in this country, that is something that I don't believe the gentleman agrees totally with that statement, because I know he and I both have worked on trying to streamline regulations here. We don't want overly burdensome regulations on small or large businesses or working families.
   So again, I would take issue with the suggestion that economists would say that regulatory atmosphere and framework don't have anything to do with job creation. Of course it does. It has to do with the environment for one to take a risk, for investors to put capital to work, for entrepreneurs to go out and sign their name on the dotted line with the bank. Of course regulation has something to do with job creation and growth. That is exactly our point. And I hope the gentleman will join us in the week that we bring these red tape reduction bills to the floor to help us accomplish something so that we can roll back the unduly burdensome framework and make sure we have a smart framework of regulation so that we can see America grow.
   As to the gentleman's final question about scheduling another repeal vote of ObamaCare, if the gentleman would like to do so, I'm happy to meet with him. Right now, as the gentleman knows, we have done that this week. And I would say to the gentleman, the reason why perhaps we spent so much time on that issue, it is the most personal issue to many millions of Americans. It's their health care; it's their family's health care. At the end of the day, this election season will underscore the importance of people engaging in this discussion and participating in our democracy because the kind of health care that we will have in this country will be determined by the outcome of the election.
   The real question is, Madam Speaker, are we going to have Washington-based health care or patient-based health care? That's what it comes down to. Who's in the driver seat, patients and their doctors, or Washington-based bureaucrats deciding what kind of coverage we can have? We all know what's happened with that approach under ObamaCare: costs have gone up, employers are beginning to shed the plans, and people will not be able to have the health care they have. That's why we've spent the time we have on this bill.
   Mr. HOYER. Well, the gentleman knows full well I think you have wasted a lot of time on this House floor, wasted a lot of effort on this House floor knowing full well that that had no chance of passage and that you were simply appealing to the base that you were just appealing to. In fact, this gentleman believes that what you would do if your bill is passed, you would take away benefits from millions and millions and millions of people. I think that's incontestable. It's incontestable that seniors, who are now getting more help with the doughnut hole for their prescription drugs which enhance their quality and length of life, would lose it if we repealed the Affordable Care Act.
   It is incontrovertible, I will tell my friend, that millions of young people who can't find a job unfortunately in this economy--and we haven't gotten any immediate jobs legislation that was offered by the President on this floor to even consider, pass or fail--millions of young people would lose their insurance.
   Millions of children who have a preexisting condition, who now, under the Affordable Care Act, cannot be precluded by the insurance companies--which is really who you want to put in--not you personally, but who the defeat of the Affordable Care Act would put insurance companies back in charge, not government bureaucrats, but insurance companies.
   So many of your Republican Governors don't want to set up the exchanges. All the exchanges are is setting up a free market of private sector insurers where people can make a judgment: Do they like policy A, B or C? It's very tough for consumers to determine right now whether they're getting a good bargain for the price they're paying for their health insurance, which is very expensive. And I will tell the gentleman that the Affordable Care Act will also create--CBO says, economists say--millions of jobs in the health care area. So, contrary to the gentleman's assertion that we are taking away care, in fact we are adding 30 million people access to affordable quality health care.
   As Mr. Romney said, we are requiring responsibility. So everybody takes personal responsibility to make sure that, if they can, they will insure themselves. So, what? So that the rest of us won't have to pay when they go to the hospital or get sick. They will be responsible for themselves. And if they need help, as Mr. Romney said in Massachusetts when RomneyCare was adopted--a model just like we've adopted for the Nation--it's important to make sure that they get some help. That's what that bill does.
   In addition to that, we've made sure that people didn't have a serious illness and have the insurance companies--not government bureaucrats, not the government, but insurance companies--say you're too sick, we're not going to cover you anymore.
   So I will tell my friend, he and I have a radically different view on what the consequences are of the 31 votes that we've had, that the gentleman knew were not going to pass the Senate, knew the President wasn't going to sign, and knew you didn't have the votes to override. You're making a political point, I understand that. There are people who disagree with the Affordable Care Act; I understand that as well. But I frankly think that, had we dealt with jobs legislation during that period of 80 hours and considered the President's jobs bill, we would have millions of more people employed today in America right now.
   Now, let me just, so that there's no misunderstanding, so I don't neglect to respond to the gentleman's assertion, he's right. He and I agree: we need to cut government red tape; we need to speed approvals; we need to make sure that we do not impede, by regulation, the growth of our economy and the growth of jobs. I couldn't agree with him more. I think we ought to deal with that on a bipartisan basis, and hopefully we will continue--or perhaps start to do that, I might say, or continue to do that in some instances. But the gentleman is correct.
   Now, let me ask you something, however, about the tax vote, because you also mentioned bringing taxes down. Let me ask you something: Do you expect that vote to come the last week that we are in session before the August break? I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. I'd say, Madam Speaker, to the gentleman, can you repeat the question?
   Mr. HOYER. Yes. Do you expect the vote on taxes, which you have referred to, to occur the last week--which I believe is the 29th of July, the week of 29 July--to be on that week?
   Mr. CANTOR. I would respond to the gentleman, Madam Speaker, that, yes, we have scheduled for that week a vote on the bill to extend existing rates. That extension will be for a year.
   We will also be bringing up a bill that will outline the principles for tax reform that I know the gentleman also

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has said we need to reform our Tax Code so that we can help make it fairer, more simple, and so that we can see the economy grow again. Those vehicles will be brought up that week, yes, Madam Speaker.
   Mr. HOYER. I'll look forward to seeing the latter bill because the gentleman is correct, I think we do need to reform our tax system. We need to make it simpler. I would like to see us reduce preference items and bring rates down, as the Bowles-Simpson/ Domenici-Rivlin--Gang of Six, whoever you want to refer to--has suggested. I think that's moving in the proper direction.

[Time: 13:10]

   I also think we have to, however, frankly, make sure that we bring down the deficit and debt confronting this Nation. And I think, as Bowles-Simpson pointed out, you've got to do that in a balanced way.
   Let me ask you something on these packages that you said are coming that last week. There have not yet been hearings on the ramifications of either of those bills, as I understand it, in the Ways and Means Committee.
   Does the gentleman expect there to be hearings on those? And does the gentleman expect there to be a markup of either one of those bills in the Ways and Means Committee?
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I'd say to the gentleman, I think I disagree with the gentleman, there haven't been hearings.
   I think, for the last year and a half, Chairman Camp and his committee have been fast about looking at the Tax Code, talking about tax reform, divulging what it would mean for us to have an increased tax environment for this economy. We've been all about the economy and growth.
   I'd say to the gentleman, he likes to say, why can't we do jobs bills? We have been doing jobs bills. He complains about the 30-some bills we've been doing relating to ObamaCare. I would say we've done even more than that relating to jobs.
   I would ask the gentleman to just remember where those bills sit right now. They're on the doorstep of the Senate, and the leader over there refuses to bring them up.
   And so, again, I'd say to the gentleman, we stand ready to work together so that we can produce results for the people that sent us here, and that is the purpose of bringing forward the bills that have been talked about, have been dissected, in terms of existing tax rates, where they may or may not go, how they affect growth in this economy. That's what we're doing.
   We've had multiple votes, multiple hearings on tax reform, on what the tax rates mean, and this vote will be very clear. If you want to stop the tax hike for all Americans, at all income levels, you'll vote for the bill. If you want to engage in tax reform, if you feel the Tax Code is too complicated, it needs to be simplified, rates brought down, loopholes closed, you'll vote for the bill. It's that simple.
   Mr. HOYER. When you say, I presume, as the gentleman said, we're talking about two different bills, are we not?
   Mr. CANTOR. I would say to the gentleman, that is correct.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that clarification.
   Let me say to the gentleman that when the gentleman says there have been hearings on tax reform, I think that's probably accurate. What there has not been, in my view and in Mr. Levin's, who's the ranking member of the committee, there's been no hearing on the ramifications of the bill, which, apparently, is going to be brought to the floor, which simply extends all the Bush-era tax cuts, ramifications to the deficit, ramifications to the debt and, indeed, ramifications to the economy.
   I would say, with all due respect to my friend, the majority leader, I don't believe there have been hearings on that issue. There have been hearings on, should we reform the Tax Code. The gentleman and I agree. We should simplify it. We should reform the Tax Code. We should make it more compatible with economic growth, and very frankly, for average individual Americans who want to pay their taxes, would like to pay as little as possible, all of us would like to do that, but want to support their country as well.
   So I don't really share the gentleman's view that there have been hearings on the ramifications of the bill that the gentleman says he's going to bring to the floor, and that's what I asked.
   Now, let me ask you the other question, which was the second part of it. Is there going to be a markup of the bill which you're going to bring to the floor in terms of taxes? To clarify, so that Members on both sides of the aisle will have an opportunity to offer amendments in committee, make observations in committee as to the ramifications of that action, and that Members will have an opportunity to reflect on that bill.
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I would say to the gentleman, this is a very simple and clear choice here. Given this economy, if one wants to raise taxes on all Americans, you vote against the bill. If you want to go and help folks through a more simple Tax Code, and you want to look towards tax reform, you vote for the next bill. Straight up or down.
   There has been enough discussion, enough hearings, in the Ways and Means Committee, as well as the Budget Committee. These issues were central to our budgets. Your Members on the Budget Committee, as well as ours, I had a full open hearing on that budget document and a markup.
   We believe now's not the time to raise taxes on working people, small businesses and large. The economy is anemic. We don't have enough job growth. Why do we want to take more of people's hard-earned money? That's why we're bringing this bill forward.
   This bill is straight up or down. Stop the tax hike or not.
   Mr. HOYER. I take it the answer is no, there will not be a markup on a bill that will have extraordinary consequences to all Americans, and possibly extraordinary consequences to the deficit and debt and to our economy. Am I correct in interpreting your answer as no, there will not be a markup of this very important bill? You will bring it straight to the floor without committee consideration? Is that an accurate interpretation of what you said?
   I yield to the gentleman.
   Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I think the gentleman has heard my response.
   Mr. HOYER. Well, I did hear the response, and apparently I accurately characterized it. I think that's a shame, Mr. Majority Leader.
   Mr. Boehner said that we were going to be an open House, that we were going to consider matters, and that everybody would have their opportunity to have their input.
   Usually, tax bills are brought to the floor, not subject to amendment. You have just said, as I understand what you said, this bill, our way or the highway. If you don't like the bill the way we brought it to the floor, you're out of luck. You don't have an option. You can't put any of your ideas into this bill.
   If that's the way you intend to consider this bill, Mr. Leader, I think that's unfortunate.
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, the gentleman knows that his side of the aisle will have an opportunity to posit their position on taxes through the regular process of a motion to recommit. And as I had said publicly yesterday, when asked, are the Democrats in the House going to be able to offer the President's tax proposal, I said, absolutely they will.
   So we'll see. We'll see, Madam Speaker, if the gentleman decides to put forward the President's tax proposal calling for a tax hike on American small businesses. We'll see if that happens, Madam Speaker. But we will see, and that will be the week it will happen.
   You're either for stopping tax hikes or you're not.
   Mr. HOYER. My way or the highway. That's what you just said, Mr. Leader. I understand that concept.
   Very frankly, in my view, we have agreement. We have agreement on something that you won't bring to the floor, and it is that all middle class, working Americans will not get a tax hike, all of them. And everybody, up to $250,000 of income, will have no tax increase.
   But we have a big deficit and a big debt, and we need to pay our bills. We have a debt limit vote coming up at the

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end of this year. Very frankly, we took the country to the brink of default and very adversely affected our economy by undermining confidence.
   You talked a lot about confidence in the last campaign, Mr. Leader. I agreed with you. I think we need to instill confidence, not undermine confidence.
   But I will tell my friend that if you wanted to work together, as you've said on a number of occasions now, as for instance we did with the Export/Import bank, the bills that you sent over there, we didn't work together on. They were passed on a partisan vote, for the most part. Not all of them. And some votes were overwhelmingly bipartisan. And guess what happened? They became law. The President signed them. Export/Import bank, the jobs bill that you promoted and which I voted for.
   You said you want to work together. Now, it's interesting when you say ``work together,'' because what you say you're going to give us is a motion to recommit. And what you will instruct, and what your whip will instruct, is for all of your Members, vote ``no,'' and your side will inaccurately say it is a purely procedural vote. And as you have for the last 18 months, your Members will vote ``no'' on motions to recommit, notwithstanding the fact that they may agree with the substance.
   And the fact of the matter is, Mr. Leader, we can have a vote that ought to pass with 435 votes, 435 votes. Everybody in this Congress says that we ought to not have a tax increase on working Americans, on working Americans making less than $250,000 in taxable income. As you know, that's more income.

[Time: 13:20]

   But we won't get that vote except on an MTR, on which you have instructed your Members to vote ``no,'' incorrectly arguing that it's a procedural vote only and not a substantive vote. I would say to my friend, not only will you not allow us an amendment on the floor, it appears, but you won't allow an amendment to be offered in committee so that we can vote on that.
   Yes, we have disagreement; but you're prepared to hold hostage working Americans by saying, if the richest people in America might have a little bit of a tax increase, then everybody else is going to get a tax increase. You said it a different way, I understand; but the reality and the ramifications of the actions that you are proposing to follow will mean that we will not get a vote, which I think there is overwhelming support of, in making sure that working Americans and, yes, 97 percent of small businesses don't get any tax increase at all. We have agreement on that, Mr. Leader.
   Why don't we bring that to the floor and show the American public that, yes, we can come together, as you have suggested; that yes, we can agree; and that yes, we can make sure that they don't get a tax increase? Then, yes, we can have a debate on the balance. You will take one position, and I may take another position, and the American public will see that, and then they can make a judgment as to with whom they agree.
   Now, my view is an overwhelming majority of the public will agree with me, and you will think the overwhelming majority of the American public will agree with you. That's what democracy is about. Let us have this debate. Let us have this vote. Let us make sure that working Americans aren't held hostage to the wealthiest in our country.
   Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, what I would say to the gentleman is holding hostage working families is denying them a job. It's about jobs. The gentleman can play with the statistics all he wants and claim that 97 percent of the small businesses will get a tax break this way and that let's leave the other for later; but the significant fact is, it's with the others where the significant job growth can be.
   Why would we want to go and tax job creators? We know that 50 percent of the people who will get a tax hike under the President's proposal get at least a quarter of their incomes from small business, and the more their incomes the more the percentage. That means the jobs
   So why would we want to stop job creators from hiring people? Because Washington takes more of their money. Why would we want tax rates to go up on anybody in this anemic economy? And why would we want to go and raise taxes when we haven't put an end to the out-of-control spending in Washington? Because what you're doing is digging the hole deeper.
   That's our position, Madam Speaker.
   So I would ask the gentleman straight up: Is the gentleman going to bring to the floor a motion to recommit for his proposal, the President's proposal? Is that going to be the motion to recommit? Will the gentleman actually put his words to work and have that be their motion to recommit?
   Mr. HOYER. If the gentleman is asking me am I for the President's proposal, the answer is absolutely yes. I don't want the gentleman confused in any way. If the motion to recommit is the only option we have available, we are certainly going to discuss that option, but we're not going to pretend, either to ourselves or to the American people, that your side will treat it as a real vote.
   Do you want to put it on the floor as an amendment? Do you want to have a real debate on it, not 5 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other side, which the motion to recommit is limited to?
   You're shutting us down--you're gagging us--and, yes, you're putting middle class taxpayers at risk because you know, I know, and the American people know the President of the United States has said he would veto your bill. He has said he will sign a bill that together we could pass making sure that 98 percent of Americans do not get a tax increase. What you are proposing to do, Mr. Leader, is to bring to the floor a bill which simply protects the 2 percent, that says that the 2 percent should not pay more. The gentleman says, oh, they're great job creators. I understand what the gentleman is saying.
   By the way, the program you're going to offer, it was in place. It was in place from 2001, 2003 to 2009. You and I both know what happened, not solely because it was in place, of course--let us stipulate to that. The fact is we had the deepest recession in your lifetime and my lifetime and the lifetimes of anybody who is younger than 90 years of age under the program that you're proposing we continue with. I will tell you, Mr. Leader, I don't think that's a great way to proceed. At least we ought to have the opportunity to debate it. At least we ought to have more than 5 minutes on our side to tell the American people where we're coming from. At least we ought to have a vote where you don't instruct your Members it's a procedural vote and don't vote for it.
   I will tell the gentleman with all clarity that the consequences of your act--and you do it knowledgeably--will be that middle class taxpayers will be put at risk. Why? Whether you agree with it or not, the President will veto it. The Senate, I don't think will pass it. The fact of the matter is we can do for 98 percent of Americans that which we agree on. You don't want them to have a tax increase. I don't want them to have a tax increase. We agree on that. Americans can not understand, when we agree on that, why we can't at least pass something on which we agree which will help 98 percent of Americans in this struggling economy, which is as you clearly point out.
   Now, you point out--you didn't use the term--that we only added 80,000 jobs last month. I was disappointed by that; that was unfortunate. But in the last month of the previous administration, we lost 818,000 jobs in 1 month with your program in place. That's an 890,000, almost 900,000, turnaround. From 818,000 minus to 80,000 plus, we created 4.4 million jobs in the last 28 months. Not enough. Not enough by far.
   I want to work with the gentleman to create many more--work with him on jobs legislation, economic growth legislation, Make It in America legislation. If we could get some of that legislation to the floor, we think it would be helpful.
   So I say to my friend that I feel very strongly, as you can tell, that if we are going to have this vote, which is an extraordinarily consequential vote, at least we ought to have a substitute--at least--not just an MTR, which your side incorrectly argues is just a procedural vote, not just a 5-minute debate on our side and a 5-minute debate on

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your side. Don't you think Americans expect more of us in terms of a very substantive debate on the floor of this House, not in a political forum but in a legislative policy forum? I would urge the gentleman to consider that objective.
   If the gentleman has nothing further, I yield back the balance of my time.


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