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Investing in A New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act

Floor Speech

Date: June 30, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of time.

Mr. Speaker, so here we are. I am down on the floor with my good friend, Frank Pallone, who I am a fan of. And, actually, I am a fan of Jeff Carroll, which probably surprises a lot of people.

What we are doing here today, and they know it, just goes too far. Here we are, on a transportation and infrastructure bill, debating energy and telecommunications and healthcare issues.

The preeminent committee in Washington, D.C., is the Energy and Commerce Committee. I proudly served on it for 24 years. We take pride in that. But here, today, we have allowed leadership to take our jurisdiction and give it to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. There are a lot of Committee on Energy and Commerce chairmen and ranking members who are rolling over in their graves today, and I am particularly disappointed.

The original bill that came out of T&I, it is right here, $500 billion. This is the bill that came out of T&I. The bill that we are debating today, $1.5 trillion.

Where did the trillion come from? Well, it came from the Rules Committee, Mr. Speaker, which added bills from other jurisdictions that had no hearings, no markups, no process.

In fact, I see my good friend Mr. Doyle here, and I wrote down what he said: There ought to be a deliberative discussion on that provision.

I think it was on autonomous vehicles. Well, we didn't have a deliberative discussion because we allowed, for some reason, the powers that may be, and I think I can probably surmise, and I will get to that when I get close to the end of my 15 minutes. But, I am heartbroken.

Tim Scott was on the floor of the Senate last week, talking about how the process is broken in the Senate on criminal justice reform. He couldn't even get a debate on his bill. This is an example of a broken process.

As I leave my last year in Congress, I am saddened. I have loved it, 24 years, made great friends, did some good public policy. But, gang, something is wrong here when we don't even stand up for the jurisdiction of our own committee and allow our committees to work in a bipartisan manner to bring bills that are acceptable. It is sad.

Mr. Speaker, I have been joined by Bruce Westerman from Arkansas, who wants to talk a few minutes on some energy provisions that are in a T&I bill.

Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, may I ask how much time I have remaining?

So, CBO came out with a report on this bill. It will add to the deficit $450 billion. That is the CBO report just out today.

Now, we spent a lot of money this year. I guess I am really getting reflective because when I ran 20 years ago, I was railing against the national debt, which was at that time $4 trillion. That is why I ran. Four trillion dollars. Now it is, what, 26?

And most of us joined in a lot of that this Congress because of the pandemic, and I get it. But I believe that eventually someone has got to pay the piper. And who will that be? Well, it won't be me, I am going to retire, unless they go after my Social Security and my pension fund and my investments. But it is going to be our children and our grandchildren. So eventually we are going to have to get serious about this.

This bill out of the T&I Committee came out at $500 billion. Out of the Rules Committee on the floor it added $1 trillion. And, again, as we have discussed today, most of that additional trillion dollars hasn't been vetted by the committee, at least the Committee of Energy and Commerce, which is the predominant jurisdiction on this en bloc amendment. That is why I am here and have been asked to speak on this.

We have got a DOE program. We have got another DOE program. We have got FCC broadband. We have got another interconnectivity. We have another FCC program. We have got chemical safety stuff--which if you ever want to be an expert in an area, be an expert on chemical issues in this Congress, and you will be beating your head in. A clean energy sustainable accelerator; that sounds like a T&I provision. Grid security. FCC. EPA. Booster seat labeling. That was my original bill 20 years ago; child safety seats. NTSA. Vehicle bumpers and hoods. Consumer protection and safety. DOE. Voltage requirements. Energy. Safe Drinking Water Act, one of my favorites; we worked in a bipartisan manner. I know brownfields was mentioned; we worked in a bipartisan manner. Replace fossil fuel fire technology in a T&I bill. That is interesting. GAO report. Territories.

I can go on, but it is a tad frustrating when, again, you have a committee of jurisdiction that works well. We have credible hearings. We usually go through regular order. In fact, I remember my good friend, Chairman Pallone, berating us constantly about going through regular order. And regular order for us is: Have a hearing, mark it up in a subcommittee, take it to the full committee and then move it to the floor. TSCA worked that way. We worked together on that. Shoot, we don't even have a hearing on many of these bills, no less a subcommittee mark or a full committee mark. So why are we doing this?

It is a waste of time. It is a waste of effort. And it is politics at its worst. Because we are giving people the chance to say, I moved my bill through the floor of the House. I am saving the Nation and our problems. Aren't you proud of me, my voters and my constituents? Hogwash. Embarrassing. I am disappointed. I am frustrated.

We are in the minority. I get it. I can get beat down as good as anybody else, which I have been. But really, on bills like battery technology that we can move in a bipartisan manner and get to the floor, we have to shove it in a Transportation and Infrastructure bill? No, we don't. Even in virtual Congresses we could pass a battery technology improvement bill. I would grant it.

I think part of the reason why we are shoving all this in is because coronavirus and social distancing and getting together is going to make it difficult to move things to the floor. So this T&I bill is going to get off the floor, open up the kitchen sink, throw everything in it whether it is germane or not. That is what happened here. Don't be surprised.

And my colleagues who are complaining that it is not going to see the light of day, it is not. But I don't mind the debate. I just wish we would have it in the committee. I wish we would have it at a hearing. I wish we would have a subcommittee mark. I mean, we are in the minority, we are still going to get our heads beat in. But do we have to do it in this manner?

So, again, a T&I bill came out of their committee this size, $500 billion, came to the floor with another $1 trillion and 2,000 pages, mostly from jurisdictions that didn't have hearings, didn't have comments, just Members' wish lists that they knew they could attach. It is not going to go anywhere, so open it up. Everyone can claim victory that they have saved the Republic.

Well, they added $450 billion to the deficit on a meaningless bill that appeases the base, especially the far left environmental group that want a Green New Deal. The public has rejected the Green New Deal. And if they haven't, then let's have that debate on the floor and in the committee. Why do we do it here? It shouldn't be in a T&I bill. It should be in the Environment Subcommittee, my subcommittee--well, ranking member.

And I will end on this because my time is running out. I have been lectured many, many years in the committee about our jurisdiction and regular order. And here we are. I am disappointed, Mr. Speaker. We are better than this. The institution is worse because of what we are seeing today, and I think what is going to happen is we are going to continue to lose the power of the committees if we let the Speakers, whether it is a Republican or a Democrat, consolidate power. And our committees better start standing up for themselves if we want to see progress in the future, if we want to reclaim our roles as representatives.

We have become experts in these committees of jurisdiction. Twenty- four years, we better. If we are not experts, then what have we been doing for 24 years? We are about as smart as any public policy guy in telecommunications or in healthcare or in energy. So why is it in a transportation bill? Just because coronavirus, election year politics, Green New Deal.

And I would just warn my colleagues, I am going to go back and I am going to teach once I leave this Chamber, and I am going to use this as an example of a failed system that is not operating the way in which we have been able to do for many years.

It looks like the Speaker is about ready to gavel me down, so before he does that, I thank my colleagues for letting me preach.


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