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Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Madam Speaker, I would like to kick off our first Wednesday Special Order Hour of the year by extending my congratulations and warm wishes to all of our colleagues, all the new Members, all the Members who are returning here. We have very, very important work to do in the 118th Congress.
I want to thank our House Democrat counterparts, as well, for working with us to ensure a smooth transition from the minority to the majority. It is an important part of our institution, and we are grateful for how this has gone so far.
We should all be rooting for the success of this Congress, obviously, because when Congress succeeds, everyone in our country benefits; and so we have an important responsibility before us.
We are under no illusion that the governing in such a closely divided body over these divided times is going to be any easy task. We know that. We know what the challenges are.
But we are also under no illusion that Congress has been operating as it should be. We think this can be done better, and our endeavor here is to show everyone how.
This problem that we faced here has been around for a long time. Look at just what happened in the last Congress. We had trillions upon trillions of dollars in government spending, which sent inflation soaring.
We had votes on immensely consequential, complex, 1,000-plus page bills sent to us just hours before we were called to vote upon them.
We had Congress steadily outsourcing its authority over to unelected bureaucrats in the executive agencies.
We had Members dial into congressional hearing, literally, from their bedrooms and their basements. We had Members voting by proxy while they were on vacation abroad.
With the 118th Congress, we are here to declare that those days are over. The House is getting back to work. We are ending remote voting and remote committee work in the House. That is going to restore greater transparency and accountability in the legislative process.
I actually believe that when we restore in-person work, as this was designed to be done, as the Founders intended, as they drew it up, it is going to have an added benefit because I believe it will help us rebuild comity and foster more civility in the House.
I am not going to belabor this point, but I would just say, at the end of last year, Congress passed a 4,155-page bill. We spent $1.7 trillion on that omni; and I think it was one of the worst government funding bills in the history of Congress.
Instead of individual bills to fund each Federal agency one by one, with a roll call vote and amendments and deliberation process, we didn't have any of that. We had all the agencies lumped together right before the end-of-the-year deadline with dozens of unrelated policies attached to it. I mean, everything from electoral college changes to retirement changes, cosmetics regulation, healthcare policies, salmon fishing, and horse racing regulations, all crammed in there together, under the guise of a government funding bill.
The process for passing this bill was almost as ugly as the substance. It was written behind closed doors, I mean, literally, behind closed doors by a handful of people. It was brought to the House for a vote before anybody could possibly read it, much less debate or amend it.
Is there a single Member, is there a single Member of this body who thinks that is the way we should conduct the people's business? I don't think so.
So this should go without saying, but if we are going to fund each government agency and make changes to those unregulated policies, we should do it in regular order. We should do it in the regular process.
It should require a full, open debate in committee and on the floor, with the opportunity to make amendments. Republicans are committed to do this. We are back in charge, and that status quo that we have had here, where there is no transparency, no accountability, outright disregard for regular order, those days are over.
Campaign season is over. The House has elected our Speaker, and now it is time to get to work.
Madam Speaker, tonight, with the remaining time that we have in our hour, we reserved the time because we want to introduce the American people to some of the bright, new Republican Members that have joined the body here. They are going to discuss some of the problems that are currently facing our country.
They bring a fresh, new perspective to this, and their voices are very, very important. And we are also going to talk a little bit about the Republican vision for how we are going to address all of these crises.
We are in charge. We are here ready to work, and I am delighted to introduce a few of these key Members.
I would start first, Madam Speaker, by yielding to the gentleman from east Texas, Congressman Nathaniel Moran. I will say just a moment before I yield him the time, that we are neighboring districts. I represent Northwest Louisiana, and then right over the Texas border is my friend there. He is replacing the great Louie Gohmert who has finally retired from Congress.
I will tell you just a quick bit about Nathaniel. He is formerly a West Point student, a graduate of Texas Tech University. He has a B.A. in Russian language and area studies, an MBA, and a law degree. He had a civil practice in the east Texas area, focused primarily on business and commercial litigation and transaction work.
He served on the City Council in the city of Tyler, Texas. He was mayor pro tem and, ultimately, he was appointed the Smith County judge, and he served in that capacity from 2016 until he was elected to Congress in 2022.
The thing about a county judge in Texas is they are, effectively, the boss in that area. They hold all the power. They do all kinds of stuff. They are not just a judge in a court; they are like an administrator over the whole area; and he did it so well.
What I love about him most is he is a family man who is dedicated to his faith, and he is a patriot. They have four children, just like we do. He represents a great area, and we are delighted to have him.
Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Moran).
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Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas. Texas is well represented, and the First District certainly is.
Madam Speaker, I am delighted to introduce next for his first Special Order hour speech one of the bright lights in the new incoming class in the 118th Congress, Representative Mike Lawler from New York. He represents the 17th Congressional District there, which includes Rockland County, Putnam County, and portions of Westchester and Dutchess Counties.
Before serving in the U.S. House, he represented New York's 97th District in the State Assembly and served on really important committees there--banks, education, housing. He has a broad range of experience.
In the New York State Assembly--this is a neat statistic--he passed more bills than any other member of his conference. It really is a testament to his ability to work in a bipartisan, pragmatic fashion to approach the problems that we face. That is a skill that is going to come in handy here.
He previously served as a deputy town supervisor and as a senior adviser to a county executive. He was also the executive director of the State Republican Party in New York--that is no small task--and did a great job there.
He graduated from Manhattan College with degrees in accounting and finance. He was the valedictorian there, I would note, but his greatest accomplishment, of course, is his wife and daughter. They live in Pearl River.
We are delighted to have Congressman Mike Lawler here. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Lawler).
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Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from New York.
School choice is such an important issue. I love what he said: Education is the civil rights issue of our time. So well said.
Madam Speaker, there is a theme here tonight. We brought in incoming Members of the freshman class of the 118th Congress from the largest States, I think. It is not just a coincidence that we chose them for that duty tonight. We have had Texas and New York, and we will go to Florida next.
I am delighted to introduce a new Member from there, Representative Cory Mills. I will tell you just a little bit about him.
He is a decorated U.S. Army combat veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star. He left his home State of Florida to serve his country in uniform and then served further our U.S. State Department and other government agencies in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
In fact, he served with the 82nd Airborne Division and was a member of the Joint Special Operations Command, Combined Joint Task Force 20 in Iraq. He spent significant time there, 7 years of service in Iraq and approximately 2 years in Afghanistan. He served in the Kosovo campaign in 2000. He has traveled to the front lines of Ukraine during the Russian invasion to provide information for USAID and Department of State officials.
He is a busy guy. President Trump appointed him to the Pentagon as a Department of Defense adviser and foreign policy expert.
With his wife, I love that he, in the private sector, cofounded PACEM Solutions International LLC and PACEM Defense LLC.
We love that he is here with us because he is a husband and a father, a patriot and a combat veteran, an entrepreneur, a foreign policy expert, and a true American conservative. We are going to have a lot of work for him to do.
Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mills).
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Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Madam Speaker, I thank my friend and I thank him for his service to our country. We are glad he is here.
Madam Speaker, we have many bright lights from Florida. Another one that I would like to introduce next is Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna, who is here to serve her first term. She represents Florida's 13th Congressional District.
She is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and the Second Amendment Caucus, and is already very busy here on the grounds.
She is the first Mexican-American woman elected to the United States Congress to represent the big State of Florida. She was raised by a single mother in one of southern California's low-income neighborhoods. She tells the story often that she experienced firsthand the devastating consequences of radical, Big Government policies in cities like the one she grew up in. It was a tough childhood.
She joined the military at a young age and she went on to graduate from the University of West Florida with a bachelor's degree in biology. She served in the U.S. Air Force, and that is where she met her husband Andy, who is a Bronze Star recipient who earned a Purple Heart when enemy combatants shot at him in Afghanistan.
She brings an extraordinary work ethic and an inspiring life story and her fresh perspective to our Republican Conference. We are so happy to have her join our group here and our conservative cause.
Madam Speaker, I am delighted to yield to the gentlewoman from Florida (Mrs. Luna).
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Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Madam Speaker, I thank my friend. That is such an important issue and we can't talk about it enough. Thank you for drawing the Nation's attention to it tonight.
Madam Speaker, our final new Member that we wanted to introduce tonight comes from another big State, and that is California.
I want to tell you a little bit about Representative Kevin Kiley. He serves the people of California's Third District in the House. He is from that district. He was born there. He attended the local public high school there. His mom was a special education teacher. I guess that inspired him because he began his career as a 10th grade English teacher at Manual Arts High School in inner city LA.
He chaired the English Department there. He led his students to significant academic gains and he founded an award-winning speech and debate team.
After graduating law school, he helped prosecute the civil case against China's Huawei Technologies for intellectual property theft. He defended the Constitution in California courts--we have that in common. We did a lot of that work in the courts before we came to Congress. He became a prosecutor and he represented the people of the State of California against violent felons as a deputy attorney general.
He was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2016, and he did some significant work there in his tenure. He introduced significant school choice legislation. He authored ground-breaking new laws and protections for sexual assault victims, and privacy and criminal justice reform, and freedom of speech. In fact, in 2020, he was named the National Legislator of the Year for that work for advancing economic freedom.
I could go on about his bio, but I do want to mention this one little minor note. He has a bachelor's degree from Harvard, a law degree from Yale, and a master's in secondary education from Loyola Marymount. Clearly, he is overqualified to serve in the U.S. Congress, but we are glad he is here. I think he brings a lot to this body and will be an extraordinary Member.
Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. Kiley).
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Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Madam Speaker, I thank my friend. California's Third District is well-represented as everyone can see.
Madam Speaker, as is also obvious by the sample of new Members that we presented here tonight from New York, Florida, California, and Texas, this is an extraordinary class of Republican Members who have joined our conference here in the Congress. We look forward to serving with them. These will be fateful days for our country, and there is much hard work ahead in the 118th Congress.
Madam Speaker, with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
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