Providing for Consideration of H.R. Sec Disclosure Effectiveness Testing Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. Outsourcing Accountability Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: Oct. 16, 2019
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. DeSaulnier), my friend, for yielding me the time today.

Ordinarily, Mr. Speaker, what folks decide they are going to highlight on the House floor are all of our disagreements. In fact, the 1 minutes today highlighted that.

My friend from California and I were talking before debate began--and I certainly include you in this partnership, Mr. Speaker. You lock a couple of us in the room together, we can solve about 90 percent of what ails this country. But the media wins--often distracts--from what is going on, and that is my frustration today, Mr. Speaker.

I don't really have any objection with the rule as it sits before us. We heard testimony last night from the ranking member of the Committee on Financial Services.

To paraphrase his words, he said these bills were so flawed that he didn't even offer any amendments in committee to try to make them better because there was no hope for these bills, no hope in two senses, Mr. Speaker: no hope for these bills in that they were so poorly drafted and poorly directed that they would not benefit the American people in the ways that they were intended; and no hope for these bills in that the Senate will never take them up and the President will never put his signature on them because they are so flawed.

I can't take responsibility for what the Committee on Financial Services did, Mr. Speaker, because I don't sit on that committee. I can take responsibility for what the Rules Committee did last night, Mr. Speaker.

I will tell you that it is the first time I have had the privilege of coming to the House floor and speaking on a rule where Republicans got as many amendments as Democrats did. It is a big day. I feel a partnership breaking out. I say to the gentleman from California (Mr. DeSaulnier), if we can keep this going, we might really be able to make a difference.

It has been a frustration of ours, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, that, when you are in a majority-driven institution like this one, being in the majority has privileges; and a privilege is that you get to draft the legislation and then you get to draft the rule to bring the legislation to the floor, and you can jam anything through this institution if you want to.

Generally, our best work isn't the work we jam through the institution. Generally, our best work is the work that we spend, not hours, not days, but weeks and months crafting together in partnership. Most of that work doesn't happen here on the House floor. That work happens in committees. It actually happens, oftentimes, behind closed doors, where earnest members can talk about what their constituents need.

We can pass this rule this afternoon, and I will offer, later on, an amendment, if we defeat the previous question. I think it will make the rule better.

But I do believe we have a missed opportunity, Mr. Speaker. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.

I have one of my bosses in town today, Mr. Speaker. Colonel Dennis Brown is a county commissioner in Forsyth County.

I was telling him the story that one of my former bosses said: If you ever wanted a real job, he was going to run for county commissioner, because when you are county commissioner, everything you do impacts somebody's life. And nobody shows up at the county commission and says, ``I have a problem, and if you are a Republican, I would like for you to fix it, but if you are a Democrat, it doesn't matter to me,'' or vice versa. Folks show up and say, ``I have a problem. I need you all to work together to fix it.''

We have real problems here, Mr. Speaker. We all know, as we heard during the 1-minute time this morning, that drug pricing is a challenge in this country, and there are lot of different solutions. There are some more liberal solutions; there are some more conservative solutions; and there are some middle-of-the-road solutions that bring people together. I wish we had those on the floor this week.

We all know that we have immigration challenges in this country.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that about 27 percent of my bosses are first-generation Americans back home, folks who so believed in America that they traded away their entire family's life back in their home country to come and try to make a new life here in America. I love that we have those stories to tell.

But we all know the immigration system is broken. Men and women who are trying desperately to get here the right way can't; men and women who are coming here the wrong way can. We all know that there are opportunities to do better there. We should have those provisions on the floor.

We all know that Social Security is underfunded, and in just a few short years men and women who are dependent on that program are going to run into that shortfall.

We can't do those hard things in unified government, Mr. Speaker. When Republicans win back the House next year and win the Presidency back and continue control of the Senate, that is going to be the wrong time to do fundamental reforms to Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid. It is going to be the wrong time to do the big things that need to be done to get our fiscal house in order.

The right time is in divided government, where we have an opportunity to put everybody's fingerprints on a solution, not that yanks the pendulum left or right, but that moves the country deliberately in a direction that we can all agree on.

But, sadly, that is not why we are here today, Mr. Speaker.

I listened to the Reading Clerk read the bill, as is always done, read the rule, and I think back to some of those days where the Reading Clerk is reading the appropriations bills or actually going through meaningful legislation line by line, opening it up so that every Member, no matter whom he or she represents, has an opportunity to come and offer amendments and make the bill better.

The ranking member's testimony is the bills are so flawed, the committee didn't even bother considering amendments to make them better. I am pleased that the Rules Committee is going to offer an opportunity to make them a little bit better with the amendments that are made in order today, Mr. Speaker.

But it is my great hope that we will be able to move past these messaging bills. Consumer protection isn't just a political message. Consumer protection is a shared goal, from the coast of California to the coast of Georgia. It is something that unites us in this institution, not divides us.

I regret that the apparent legislative agenda for the week is going to be to consider bills that get approved or defeated on straight party-line votes. We can do better.

In this current political environment, the American people may not expect better, but I know that my bosses do, and I will continue to press for that.

If the gentleman from California is going to start quoting Lincoln, I am going to have to bring out some Franklin.

I remember in the summer of 1787, as folks were taking a break, it had been hard and they were worried they weren't going to be able to reach a conclusion on language for our Constitution, Franklin admonished the members there: Don't go home and find folks who agree with you, who are going to tell you how right you are; go and find folks who disagree with you and listen closely to what it is they are saying and what their concerns are that we may come back together and bridge a divide.

Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the previous question today, I am going to offer an amendment to the rule, and that amendment is going to try to do exactly what I believe Members in this institution want, and that is to get back to some of the real problem-solving that goes on.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, the amendment is going to prioritize the work that we all know America wants us to do. I went through some of those items earlier: work for the chronically ill, for our seniors; folks struggling with prescription medications; folks who were concerned about congestion; folks--go right on down the list of all the priorities that we all hear from our constituents on a regular basis.

If we defeat the previous question, it will amend the rule to allow an opportunity to move forward on these priority issues. I don't mean priority from a Republican perspective; I don't mean priority from a Democrat perspective. I mean priority from an American perspective.

I serve on the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress here, Mr. Speaker. In fact, we just had a hearing upstairs in the Rules Committee, and it is a different dynamic.

Mr. DeSaulnier and I serve on a committee of 13 people. There are no time limits on discussion in our committee. That committee has a majoritarian tilt--nine members in the majority, four in the minority-- so you know where the vote is going to go. But because it is a small committee, because it allows for open debate, it creates a relationship among the members that isn't possible, say, for the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on which I sit, that has more than 70 members on it.

I have a chance to listen every day to the opinions and the concerns of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, as well as on my side of the aisle.

What we concluded, as we were working on scheduling issues in the Modernization Committee--because we have so many young families here, folks who are trying to balance their obligations as a mother or a father with their obligations as a Member of Congress, and we all know how taxing that can be.

And one of our witnesses, who has vast experience trying to work on House schedules, cautioned us against believing that you could wave a scheduling wand and suddenly create a more productive institution, that productivity comes from those relationships, productivity comes from that sincere effort to do better.

We are here on financial services today. I cannot tell you that, in my time on Capitol Hill, the Committee on Financial Services is the committee I would pick out as the single most collegial committee on Capitol Hill.

I think back to some of the discussions that have happened over the years there. It is a committee that takes on difficult issues and often divides along partisan lines.

We have two Members from Georgia on the Financial Services Committee, Mr. Speaker: a gentleman from the metro Atlanta area (Mr. Scott) and a gentleman from farther west in Georgia (Mr. Loudermilk). One is a Republican. One is a Democrat.

And, odds are, when we get into the real issues that are really going to make a difference for families across the district, they vote the same way.

Whenever I go and try to get into the meat of a financial services issue, I can go to what my friends, Mr. Scott and Mr. Loudermilk, are saying. Again, opposite sides of the political spectrum, but a shared goal of trying to serve the men and women of Georgia as best they can.

I confess, I don't have high hopes we are going to defeat the previous question and amend the rule and get back to focusing on what I would think are those common goals that we share. But I have been surprised before. And I have been surprised in ways that disappoint me, and I have been surprised in ways that make me proud.

I will just say to my colleagues: If you are thinking about busting out of the box a little bit, if you are thinking about should we do things the same way we have always done them or should we try something new, if you are thinking about it is working great the way it has been going or thinking maybe we can improve on it a little bit, just consider the Woodall amendment to the rule today.

Let's defeat the previous question; let's amend the rule; and then let's see if, perhaps, we can break out a new day of productivity, not based on Republicans and Democrats, but based on Americans who are facing real problems back home and the real solutions that we are very honored to be able to work to provide.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I say to my friend from California, I don't have any speakers here. I want to encourage my friends to defeat that previous question. In the absence of defeating the previous question, Mr. Speaker, I would ask folks to defeat the rule, give us a chance to go back up to the Rules Committee room with these 13 members and try to craft something even better than what we have here today.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.