PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 3074, TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - November 14, 2007)
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Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, there are, I'm certain, very important programs that are funded by the legislation being brought forth today. And without any doubt, the Transportation and HUD appropriations bill is one of the most important appropriations bills that we face and we consider and we pass every year.
What is unfortunate is that it has been brought forth, it has been brought to this floor by the majority in a manner that is consistent with a pattern that is most unfortunate, objectionable.
As a matter of fact, that pattern, another aspect of that pattern is the subject of an editorial today by a newspaper that analyzes and informs on a daily basis with regard to this Congress. The newspaper is called Roll Call, and it has an editorial today about another aspect of the pattern that is most unfortunate and that we're seeing with the way in which this, albeit, very important piece of legislation is being brought forth today. Because it wasn't until, and we'll talk a little bit about the other aspect of the pattern that is the object of the Roll Call editorial in a minute. But with regard to this legislation, it was publicly available at 7 p.m., approximately, last night for the first time.
By the way, not in a very accessible way, in a format that's not very accessible: it was put online. There was no way to look at all of the legislation in that manner, in the format in which it was made available around 7 p.m. last night.
Now, Mr. Speaker, in the rules of the House, there is a requirement that before an appropriations bill is considered by this House, 3 days, 72 hours, must pass. That rule was waived by the majority in the Rules Committee last night.
Now, in addition to that rule, there is a custom and a custom that is repeatedly made reference to. As a matter of fact, it's not only custom, but in the promises made by the new majority in a document during the campaign the last election, the new majority in a document entitled ``A New Direction for America,'' they talked about that at the very least, if not 3 days for an appropriations bill to be able to be considered by the membership before it is brought forth that there should be at least 24 hours. I read from the document ``A New Direction for America": ``Members should have at least 24 hours to examine bill and conference reports texts prior to floor consideration.''
So not only do we not have the 3 days because that's waived by the rule, it's a rule but it was waived by the majority of the Rules Committee, which is what we saw last night, but, in addition, not even the 24 hours now for Members to be able to look at the legislation that is before them. Most unfortunate. It violates the promise of the majority in addition to what I would say is an elemental required fairness for this process to work.
Now, I talked about the pattern. It's not just the lack of 24-hour notice; it's a pattern. Let's look at Roll Call today. They talk about the fact that there have been multiple threats by the majority to restrict something that hasn't been restricted since 1822, and that is one of the few legislative means, procedural means by which the minority can seek to amend legislation, and it's called, Mr. Speaker, the motion to recommit. And that hasn't been restricted since 1822. The majority has repeatedly now during this year, the first year of this Congress, this year that is already coming to an end, it's talked about that it wants to restrict that right that the minority has, one of the few vehicles that the minority has had since 1822 to try to amend legislation.
Roll Call, a newspaper, Mr. Speaker, that covers what we do here, observes us very carefully, has an editorial in today's edition: ``Despite promises to manage the House on a more open basis than Republicans did during their 12-year rule,'' Roll Call says today in an editorial, ``Democrats have prohibited any floor amendments at more than double the rate of the previous Congress.''
And then Roll Call goes on to ask the Democrats not to do what they have threatened to do, and that is restrict the procedural vehicle that has been available and unrestricted since 1822, the motion to recommit. So note, Mr. Speaker, the pattern.
Now, I wish, I really wish, because of the importance of the programs funded by this legislation that we could discuss those programs. But when we are seeing this pattern of unfairness, of constant tightening, restricting the legislative process despite, and in contrast to, the promises made by the majority included in this ``A New Direction for America'' where they said, well, if we're not going to give 3 days, which is what the rules require, because sometimes we might have to waive that in the interest of time, then at least 24 hours. So, no, this legislation, the first time it was posted was 7 p.m. That's when it could be seen.
By the way, I am informed by people who are a lot more expert than I am at the format by which the legislation was posted at 7 p.m. that at 7 p.m. with that format, the details of the legislation could not be accessed. So really, Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about is a lot less than even that time if we wouldn't have come to the floor until 7 p.m., which is what the New Direction for America promised, the majority repeatedly promised, and which would have been elementally fair in addition to in compliance with the promise of the majority.
Mr. Speaker, at this time I would ask my friend, and he is my friend, Mr. Arcuri from New York, how many speakers he has wishing to speak.
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