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July 30, 2012

House Legislative Program

   Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I yield to my friend, the majority leader, for the purpose of inquiring about the schedule for the coming week.
   Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman from Maryland, the Democratic whip, for yielding.
   Mr. Speaker, on Monday the House will meet in pro forma session, but no votes are expected. 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.
   Mr. Speaker, the House will consider a number of suspensions on Tuesday and Wednesday, a complete list of which will be announced by the close of business tomorrow.
   In addition, the House will consider two bills under a rule to stop the tax hikes and provide for comprehensive tax reform: H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act, sponsored by Chairman Dave Camp; and H.R. 6169, the Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act, sponsored by Chairman David Dreier. Together, these bills will ensure that no American faces a tax hike on January 1, while providing our small business men and women with the certainty to grow and create jobs.
   Finally, Mr. Speaker, the House may consider legislation related to programs and disaster assistance under the expiring farm bill legislation.
   I thank the gentleman.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that information.
   As the gentleman knows, he was unable to have the colloquy last week, and so Mr. Roskam and I talked about the schedule. Last week, the chief deputy majority whip mentioned that we would be voting on the tax bill, as you have done, and he also mentioned that we would be given the opportunity to offer a substitute amendment on the floor of our choosing.
   Is that still the plan of the majority so that we'll be able to offer that legislation? I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I didn't understand the gentleman's question, if he would please clarify.
   Mr. HOYER. My question is: Last week we had a colloquy, and Mr. Roskam indicated that we would be able to offer an amendment, not just an MTR--we discussed that--but an amendment to the bill. Now, we weren't precise whether it was in the form of a substitute or an amendment. But in either event, I'm asking, Mr. Majority Leader, whether that is still the case and whether or not such amendment will be obviously protected under the rule for such waivers as may be necessary for the piece of legislation that Mr. Roskam referred to?
   Mr. CANTOR. Again, without having been privy to the conversation between
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the gentleman from Illinois and my friend from Maryland, I can say that the minority will be afforded the opportunity to offer the President's tax plan--not just as a motion to recommit, but certainly as a stand-alone amendment, as well.
   Mr. HOYER. Let me be more precise, then, because I'm not sure whether or not the definition of the President's plan--in his weekly press conference just a few hours ago, or maybe just a few minutes ago, Mr. Boehner was asked if we would be allowed to vote on the Senate tax bill, to which he responded:
   If our Democrat colleagues want to offer the President's plan in the Senate, then we are more than happy to give them a vote.
   He said that just a few minutes ago.
   Our intention will probably be to offer the bill that has now passed the Senate, which will protect middle class taxpayers from any tax increase, as I think your party, Mr. Leader, and my party agree on.
   Mr. Speaker, I would hope that we would be able to offer that alternative on the floor with such protections as would be necessary consistent with what Speaker Boehner has said.
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I say to the gentleman, again, it is our intention to allow the minority to offer as a motion to recommit or as a stand-alone amendment the President's plan. Obviously, we'll have to see what is being offered, but that is the intention, consistent with the Speaker's remarks publicly today.
   Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I would hope that we would not parse words.
   Mr. Leader, we have had some discussions on this, and the majority party, when it was the minority party running for office, said that we're going to have open, full debate. Mr. Boehner has said in the Pledge to America that that's what you wanted to do. Now you keep parsing your words.
   I will tell you the President's plan. The President's plan currently is the bill that passed the Senate just a few hours ago, yesterday. That's the President's plan, I tell my friend. And if, in fact, Mr. Boehner's words are to be interpreted as something other than that, he says:
   If our Democratic colleagues want to offer the President's plan in the Senate--
   Now, obviously, we can't offer our plan in the Senate. We're House Members. So my presumption is, Mr. Leader, that that means, if we want to offer the Senate plan, which is now the President's plan, I tell my friend--
   --we're more than happy to give them a vote.
   I hope that is accurate. I hope that we can have a full and open debate on that issue. But I hope that the Republican side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker, does not choose the amendment that we are to offer. Let us choose it, I tell my friend. And I would hope that we could clarify that so that we would know, and the American people would know, that we have a plan now passed by the Senate, and we have a plan also that was defeated in the United States Senate.
   I don't know whether your side intends to offer exactly the plan that was defeated in the United States Senate, but it is a plan that the President of the United States, as the leader knows, has said he won't sign.
   So what I ask my friend, respectfully, so that we know what to prepare for and we know that it will be made in order, that consistent with what the clear meaning of this statement that Mr. Boehner made just a few hours ago is, that we would be given the opportunity to offer the Senate-passed plan and would have a vote on that plan either in the form of an amendment or a substitute?
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I will say back to the gentleman, we do expect, and our intention is, to allow your tax hike to be made in order. I don't understand, Mr. Speaker, how many more times I have to say that. The Speaker has always represented that we were going to work towards an open process.
   I would remind the gentleman that when his party was last in the majority and considered the extension of expiring rates in 2010 that his party made in order just one amendment to H.R. 4853, for their own Member, Mr. Levin, not for the Republicans, because we were not offered a single amendment.
   
[Time: 13:00]

   We weren't even offered a motion to recommit. In fact, the Pelosi-led Congress denied us a motion to recommit on 47 separate occasions.
   So I would say to the gentleman again, the Speaker has been consistent throughout. We intend to continue to strive towards an open process. We intend to offer you a motion to recommit, a stand-alone amendment, if you want to offer a tax hike twice. That is our intention, yes, Mr. Speaker.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman. And I will interpret that, Mr. Speaker, as indicating that if we choose to offer as an amendment the bill that passed the Senate--which ensures that there will be no tax increase on 98 percent of Americans--that we will be allowed to offer that bill and it will be protected under the rule, and such waivers as are necessary will be extended. That's how I interpret that. If I am wrong, perhaps the majority leader can correct me. But I don't want to parse words or lead to confusion.
   The gentleman knows what the Senate bill is. I know what the Senate bill is. And it is, at this point in time, our intention to offer that Senate bill as an amendment to the bill that's offered on this floor. So I would hope that our understanding is that, consistent again--and I want to say consistent with the Speaker's comments--that that will be allowed.
   I want to say to the gentleman as well, I think he is appropriate in referencing the past, and I'm pleased that he is not following such precedents.
   Mr. CANTOR. I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker. I'd say to the gentleman, thank you for that note.
   I know the gentleman is continuing to express his support for the President's plan. As the gentleman knows, our colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle in the Senate feel strongly, as we do over here in the House, that the President's tax plan, as was demonstrated recently by a nonpartisan study, will cost the economy over 700,000 jobs. It will reduce economic output. The gentleman knows our position on that. And we intend to, again, allow for that vote to occur and look forward to a robust debate that will ensue.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman. I think that clarifies it. He and I both look forward to that robust debate. We will clearly differ, Mr. Speaker, on the impact of that vote. But there will be no dispute that it will ensure that 98 percent of Americans, every working family--every working family, 100 percent--will not pay any additional taxes on the first $250,000 of their income, which we think gives confidence to people, gives confidence to the economy, and we think is an appropriate step to take. So I appreciate and look forward to that debate, which I think is an important one for the American people.
   I would also like to ask the gentleman, with respect to the farm bill, he mentions in his comments that there may be some vote on the farm bill. The Senate passed a bipartisan farm bill, as the gentleman knows. It saves very substantial monies, will contribute to a reduction of the deficit. Can the gentleman tell me whether or not the House-passed farm bill will be brought to the floor or whether some alternative will be brought to the floor?
   And I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I'd say to the gentleman that we're continuing to work with Chairman Lucas and our Members to determine the best way forward.
   I would say to the gentleman that the Senate bill he refers to does not have a majority of support in the House, and actually would ask the gentleman if he would respond to the question whether he supports the House farm bill.
   Mr. HOYER. I do not support the House farm bill,
   but as the gentleman knows, the ranking Democrat does support that farm bill. So as the gentleman likes to observe on many occasions, it does have bipartisan support.
   He asked for my personal opinion, Mr. Speaker, and I've given him my personal opinion. But that bill itself will save substantial dollars and bring down the deficit--not as much as the Senate bill, but it will have a positive effect on the deficit itself. In either event, however, we have some real distress in farm country, very substantial

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drought, in great need of making sure that there's some way to assist those farmers who, through no fault of their own, but through the fault or the result of weather conditions--lack of rain--are in distress. So we believe that something ought to be brought to the floor that will, A, not exacerbate the deficit, and, B, help the farmer.
   I yield to my friend if he has anything additional.
   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I'd say to the gentleman, I'm glad to hear that the gentleman would like to support an effort to address the need for drought assistance and perhaps other programs that have or will expire, and look forward to perhaps his support if that's where we end up next week, allowing for that vote to occur, along with his support.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman. Hopefully, we can agree on how to do that, again, without making the deficit worse and adding to that and hopefully helping farmers at the same time.
   Let me ask the gentleman, there are two very important bills that were passed, one in the Senate--again, with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, and here, with not an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote--in the Violence Against Women Act, a very, very important subject. There was a very significant 62-37 vote in the Senate. Excuse me, that's not the exact figure. That's on the postal bill, which I'll ask you about in a second. It was 68-31--even more bipartisan than the postal reform bill--back on April 26, some months ago, with 15 Senate Republicans joining in favor. I don't see that on the schedule. I don't know whether the gentleman believes there's a possibility that we'll be able to pass that before the election.
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I respond to the gentleman and say that, as he knows, the Senate bill is unconstitutional because it contains a revenue measure in it. So we are unable to get to conference with the Senate. I think that I, as well as the Speaker, have indicated that we support going to conference with the Senate. They need to produce a bill so that we can go to conference and effect a passage of that very important legislation to allow for relief monies to get to the victims that that bill and legislation is designed to protect.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman.
   Of course, the gentleman knows that that would be a very simple cure to simply drop the Senate bill, which has overwhelming bipartisan support, into an H.R. bill, a House bill, and that would cure that deficiency. I agree with the gentleman, I think that's well known. But that's a technical issue. If we have agreement in both the House and the Senate, put that in a House bill and pass it. So I think that we can act on it.
   I yield to my friend.
   Mr. CANTOR. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think the gentleman knows the Senate bill can't pass the House.
   We're trying to produce results for the people and particularly for the victims that need that assistance in that bill, and believe that this, our bill, the VAWA bill that passed the House, can pass the Senate. And again, I would say that the Senate bill is unconstitutional and it can't pass the House.
   So it seems to me that the best way forward is for the Senate to agree to the bill, which pretty much extends existing legislation, with some minor changes, so that the victims of abuse needing the assistance can actually receive that assistance.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for those comments, Mr. Speaker.
   Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman well knows, the House bill excluded a large number of people from protection, a large number of people who are the victims of domestic violence from protection, as contrasted with the Senate bill, which was designed to ensure protection of all people who were subject to domestic abuse and designed to encourage people to make complaints against those who abuse them without fear of adverse consequences to them so that we could get abusers dealt with in a proper way.
   

[Time: 13:10]

   And again, I would say to my friend, Mr. Speaker, that over two-thirds of the United States Senate, with an overwhelming number of Republicans as well voting for the Senate bill because they believed it was inclusive. And of course every woman Member of the Senate, Republican and Democrat, who probably have greater insight into domestic abuse than perhaps some of us males and male colleagues have.
   So I would hope that we could focus on trying to reach agreement which we did not have in the House, as the gentleman knows. We had not an overwhelming bipartisan support in this House at all on the bill that was passed. So I would hope that we could compromise, cure the technical difficulty that the bill, the Senate bill passes, because, the gentleman's right, it has a fee in there, it has to initiate in the House.
   But the gentleman also knows if that's included in the House bill, that that defect would be cured and we could pass it.
   I would yield to my friend if he wants to make any additional comment on that bill.
   Mr. CANTOR. I would respond to the gentleman by saying there are many women Members of our conference that are cosponsors of that bill, and I know of at least one, if not more, who've been subject to domestic abuse, and feel that our bill does provide the necessary protections for everyone who is subject to domestic abuse, and feel that the bill does address the concerns the gentleman raises.
   And in the business of trying to produce results rather than to dwell on where there are differences, if those individuals who sponsored the bill and who have, unfortunately, had experience in domestic abuse, as well as law enforcement, if that is the case, certainly, those individuals would know about it more than the gentleman or I. I think we ought to go about passing this bill and allow for the Senate to go ahead and do so, so the victims of domestic abuse can actually receive the protections and assistance they deserve.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for his comment.
   As I interpret that, Mr. Speaker, pass the House bill or no bill. Pass the House bill that had 23 Republicans voting against it. Pass the House bill, and reject a Senate bill that has 68 United States Senators, a large number.
   Mr. CANTOR. Will the gentleman yield?
   Mr. HOYER. Certainly.
   Mr. CANTOR. I said to the gentleman, we really do want to go to the conference with the Senate. Okay? And so it's not pass the Senate bill or no bill.
   We want to go to conference with the Senate, Mr. Speaker. I've said that. So I do take exception to the gentleman's remarks.
   Mr. HOYER. Let me then, reclaiming my time--I'm pleased to withdraw that assertion. But in the comments, I want to make it clear, Mr. Speaker, that I do not share the majority leader's opinion that the House bill covers all people. As a matter of fact, I think that's inaccurate and incorrect. We disagree on our facts there, our analysis of the bill.
   What we don't disagree on, however, because the facts are clear that we have a bill that overwhelmingly passed in the Senate. I'm fully prepared to work with a conference, as the majority leader is, and work with him in a conference to get a bill out of the conference.
   I'm hopeful, Mr. Leader, that in light of the fact that in this House the bill passed 222-205, with 23 Republicans voting ``no'' on the bill, that we not only have bipartisan opposition, but we have bipartisan support of the Senate bill.
   Let me go on to another bill that I think is very important because the postal department is facing real stress. It's somewhat ironic that we are, in a Congress that has too often lamented the fact that the Senate couldn't act on things, when they do act, and when they do act in a bipartisan fashion, it seems we can't act.
   The postal bill has now been passed by a vote of 62 votes in favor, another bipartisan vote of the postal bill, and I'm wondering whether or not the gentleman has any idea whether we might either go to conference or bring a bill out on the House floor that I know has been passed out of committee, so that this bill can get to conference in a timely fashion so that the Post Office, which is facing, obviously, default on some of its obligations, would be made whole.
   I yield to my friend.

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   Mr. CANTOR. I'd say to the gentleman, the Senate postal bill does not have majority support in the House, and we are continuing to work with Chairman Issa to ensure that there isn't an incident of default on the part of the Post Office. I think that the Postal Service has indicated that there is no risk of that in the short-term, and we're going to continue to address that to ensure that that does not happen; all the while, trying to address the overall issues, as the gentleman knows, that the Postal Service has in trying to get its fiscal house in order.
   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman.
   Lastly, on a note on which we have great agreement between the majority leader and I, which is not always the case, as people observe, I'm sure: Iran sanctions.
   Both the majority leader and I, Mr. Speaker, want to see that bill pass before the August break. And I would inquire of the majority leader his view of the status of that issue at this point in time.
   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I would tell the gentleman, I know that our staffs have been working very diligently on this trying to iron out the differences with the other body and am very hopeful that we can get this done prior to the August recess.
   Mr. HOYER. I look forward, Mr. Speaker, to working with the majority leader toward that end over the next 7, 8 days.
   I yield back the balance of my time. 

Source: LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM


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