Timely Review of Infrastructure Act

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 9, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. OLSON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman--my ranking member, my inspiration, Chairman Greg Walden--for his kind words and the time to speak about H.R. 1426, the Timely Review of Infrastructure Act.

'Tis the season of giving. This bipartisan bill gives three gifts to America and to the world.

The first gift: We ensure that the American taxpayer gets the maximum value spent for the taxpayer dollars.

The second gift: This grows America's economy with high-paying, high- technology jobs.

And number three: This addresses climate change by encouraging energy transportation through the safest, cleanest medium possible, pipelines above ships, trains, and trucks.

H.R. 1426 is a commonsense bill. This is not new. It is modeled after Wall Street. When the market was booming in the 2000s, the private sector poached staff employees from the SEC. They threw dollar after dollar after dollar at these experts and got them to leave the public sector for the private sector. That meant that oversight was not the highest quality it had been before, and those reviews were longer and longer and longer.

The same thing is happening right now in the current explosion of American energy. The agency is called FERC, as Mr. Walden mentioned, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The private-sector big guys, the Big Oil guys, have told me point-blank that they poach on FERC to get the best employees they possibly can get. They wave money at them that FERC does not have to compete.

When the SEC had their problems in the 2000s, we allowed them to temporarily raise the Federal employment cap to keep these SEC experts on the job in the SEC.

H.R. 1426 does that same thing, a proven remedy for FERC: 1 year, higher salaries, and then a review.

Every Member in this House, Democrat or Republican, should vote for this bill because it is not just bipartisan. It is bipartisan on steroids.

The lead Democrat, my good friend, Mike Doyle, is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the NFL, that is Steelers country. I am from the suburbs of Houston. That was Houston Oilers country. Oilers fans have had a clash, a strong clash, with Steelers fans for over 40 years. And Pittsburgh fans have never apologized for a horrific, blown call that may have cost my Oilers a chance to go to their first Super Bowl. That still hurts today.

My point is, if Mike and I can put that difference aside and pass this bill, everyone in this entire body should come together and pass this bill. We all should vote for H.R. 1426.

I have to close by speaking about our leader, my idol, Greg Walden. Like me, Greg is retiring after this year. Like me, Greg is not dying. He is just retiring.

Let me give you a few examples of Greg's guidance of this committee when he was the chairman. He empowered every Member--Democrat, Republican, from any State--to have an amendment, to have their voices heard on the committee.

The best example is, I recall a bill that sunset, sunrise, sunset-- our bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. That markup went on for 27 hours because Greg Walden made sure every Member could have their amendment with a vote in that committee before it came to the House floor.

Let me give you another great example of Greg Walden building a team that always wins, that is always united. I am from Texas, a Republican. When I first got here, we had 25 Members. At most times, we were together, but sometimes we split. Greg Walden has led the entire Oregon delegation GOP the whole time I have been here, and they have never, ever, ever had one defection with Greg Walden's leadership.

I will close with another Houston Oilers' quote from a great coach, Bum Phillips.

If Bum came down from Heaven right now and was talking about Greg Walden's record and career here in the House throughout our history, he would say: Greg Walden may not be in a class by himself, but whatever class you are in, my friend, it doesn't take long to call the roll.