Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3534, Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2010; And Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5851, Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act of 2010

Floor Speech

Date: July 30, 2010
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman for yielding time to me, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Here we are, Mr. Speaker, today, a brand new day. It is the 35th time this Congress that I have handled a rule. Once again, it is another closed rule. In fact, as we aim for our 6-week recess, we recognize how important it is for Members of this body to go back home and to receive feedback about what a great job we are doing here in Congress, to have the American people be very supportive of increasing taxes and of more rules and regulations. Today, we are sticking it to the consumer again at the gas pump because we are going to take it out on energy companies. It is going to be a very interesting recess.

Mr. Speaker, as I talk about this being my 35th time during this session to handle a closed rule, in fact, the Democratic majority has not allowed one open rule, not for me and not for my colleagues. There has not been one open rule this entire Congress. Yet, this week, we are passing two appropriations bills, which, under normal rules and regulations, at least before the Democrats took over, would have been open to all Members to have come in and to have not only openly debated but to have shown up on the floor and to have offered their ideas about appropriations bills.

I just don't believe that closing down debate, limiting Members' abilities to come talk, having limited amendments, and really shutting out Republicans and Democrats--that is, unless you are in the leadership of the Democratic Party--is really the way that we should run this ship. Once again, during the break, I think the American people are going to have a chance to provide some feedback to Members. It is my hope that we will listen.

Today, we are discussing two bills that are reactions to the gulf oil spill crisis. While reforms are clearly needed to make the American offshore drilling safer and cleaner, today's legislation requires new blanket regulations without a good sense of, I think, what the problem was and what the facts say. The investigation of events should be completed so that Congress can act intelligently and correctly. The focus should be on permanently stopping the leak, on cleaning up the oil, on assisting gulf coast communities, on holding BP accountable, and on finding the cause of the disaster. We ought to wait until we get that.

What we are doing is trying to put through a bill here where we already assume that we understand what the problem is, and, of course, if you are in Washington, you understand these energy companies just need to be taxed more. We need to raise taxes on them to discourage the drilling in the gulf.

There was a comment made a few minutes ago that the Democrat majority wants to save jobs from going overseas. In fact, that is exactly what this will do. It will keep America continually reliant on energy from other nations around the globe, nations that not only do not like America but, perhaps, even worse than that, will use those resources that we give them against America. It is a bad deal. Anybody who listens to this debate can figure out in half a heartbeat that using American resources, keeping American jobs and more fully working with the industry instead of trying to punish the industry would be what any rational American would do.

Once again, we are not rational in this town. It is about punishing people. It's just like President Obama, who wants to pick a fight with everybody in town in order to go and ruin the free enterprise system. Well, that is what we are doing again today. We are on record. We are going to have the vote today. We are going to lose thousands of jobs.

Yesterday, the gentleman Mr. Scalise from Louisiana and the gentleman Mr. Cassidy from Louisiana came forward to the Rules Committee. They talked about this moratorium in the gulf and that, if it continues, thousands of jobs will be lost in their home State. Thousands of middle class Americans who need to have work, once again, will be in trouble.

The Obama moratorium on deepwater drilling has already cost tens of thousands of jobs. This bill will eliminate even more American energy jobs, making it harder and more expensive to produce both energy on- and offshore. Additionally, this legislation will only further enhance our economic troubles in the gulf region and throughout the Nation because it will create a diminished supply of energy which will be available at a higher cost, and the American consumers will be the people who will be paying for this--I'm sorry--the taxpayers, also, because they will be the people who will be unemployed.

Mr. Speaker, my good friends on that side of the aisle are using H.R. 3534 to exploit this oil spill tragedy as a political opportunity to rush to Washington and put energy items on their agenda.

The underlying bill imposes job-killing changes and higher taxes. This underlying bill imposes job-killing charges and higher taxes for both onshore natural gas and oil production and offshore. The bill creates over $30 billion in new mandatory spending, $30 billion in new mandatory spending for two new government bureaucracies that have absolutely nothing to do with the oil spill. It raises taxes over $22 billion in 10 years. This is a direct tax on natural gas and oil that will raise energy prices for American families, businesses, hurt domestic job creation, and increase our dependence on foreign oil. But don't worry, I'm sure we can blame George Bush for the passage of this bill and the outcome that will come from that.

Additionally, H.R. 3534 requires a Federal takeover of State authority to permit in State waters which reverses 60 years of precedence of law in this country. Why are we rewarding the mismanagement, corruption and oversight failures of the Federal Government and giving them expanded authority now? They were a joint partner down in the gulf, and they failed too. We should not empower them even more.

The bill includes unlimited spill liability for offshore operators, which could effectively eliminate all independent producers from offshore drilling if they cannot obtain insurance policies to cover their operations. However, this does not mean that drilling up and down our coasts will stop. Nope. Countries like China and Russia are in the process of negotiating with Cuba for access to these same oil fields right now, which means that others will come and reap the benefits, sell it to us at an exorbitant price, and we will be shipping American jobs overseas.

According to an independent study from IHS Global Insight: ``By 2020, an exclusion of the independents from the Gulf of Mexico would eliminate 300,000 jobs and result in a loss of $147 billion in Federal, State and local taxes from the gulf region over 10 years.''

The gulf region has suffered enough, Mr. Speaker. Our consumers and businesses need an adequate supply of natural gas and energy. What this Congress does is only going to diminish jobs, lower local revenue in areas, and cause our businesses to be noncompetitive because we will pay more for the energy to supply the needs to business.

Week after week, Mr. Speaker, I come down to this floor to debate the importance of economic growth and job opportunities, and my friends on the other side of the aisle continue this same agenda, the same agenda that does not work. And then they question, Why don't you Republicans--at least one of you--come vote for this? Well, the answer is, We're not going to vote for what's not going to work. And what does not work, Mr. Speaker, is the taxing, the borrowing, the spending policies that week after week after week diminish jobs and push our economy into further debt.

Unemployment is the highest it's been. More people are unemployed in this country than since the time of the Great Depression and for a longer period of time. That is not a record of success, Mr. Speaker. It's one that I would be embarrassed about. Americans want solutions. They want Congress to produce results, and this bill does not do that. It's my hope that when we go home for the August break once again that the American people say what's on their mind, and I think it's up to us, as Members of Congress, to listen.

Additionally, in the Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Cassidy from Louisiana offered an amendment that passed the committee without any objections for Congress to establish a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the oil spill, yet it has been stripped from the bill, and that amendment was not made in order last night in the Rules Committee. This Democrat majority continues to use their power to shut out bipartisan solutions to everyday issues that are here on the floor.

Under this rule, we're also providing consideration for H.R. 5749, the Offshore Whistleblower Protection Act. While providing whistleblower protections for offshore workers is essential to the safety of those workers and others, I remain concerned that H.R. 5749, which was just introduced on Monday evening of this week, should have gone through regular order review, allowing Members the appropriate time not only to read the bill--I'm sorry, did I say read the bill? Yes, Members need to be able to read the bill, understand the content, have some dialogue, and then it would allow them an opportunity to provide feedback. Of course, I know and you know, Mr. Speaker, that in the Rules Committee, anything that deals with common sense, bipartisanship, or that might be a position taken by some part of the free enterprise system is shut out of the Rules Committee week after week, day after day.

So with the current fiscal crisis our government faces and record unemployment, why do we have this bill on the floor today? To make unemployment even worse--in particular, in Louisiana and Mississippi--increase taxes, further implode the debt and the deficit. Mr. Speaker, it makes no sense why week after week this Democrat majority does that. We should be doing job-saving and job-creation bills, not job-killing bills. But once again, this is the agenda of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Speaker, the voices of the American public have been clear. Americans need this Congress to get it. We need pro-growth solutions that will encourage job creation and keep America competitive with the world. This legislation further diminishes private sector jobs while adding billions to our national debt.

So I don't know when my friends on the other side of the aisle are going to catch on; but it is my hope that at the August break, they will have an opportunity to hear from Americans who are unemployed, seeking an opportunity to find a job who look to this Congress to do something about the jobs.

Mr. Speaker, the question once again today, Where are the jobs? Where is the agenda on this floor that will be about saving jobs? And, Mr. Speaker, perhaps more pointedly, when will we quit killing jobs in this country with an agenda by the Democratic Party that the Democratic Members vote for that diminishes America's ability to compete?

Mr. Speaker, I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule.

I reserve the balance of my time.