Providing for Consideration of H.R. 359, Eliminating Taxpayer Financing of Presidential Elections

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 26, 2011
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Elections

Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I could not get over here to the floor fast enough when I saw this rule come up for debate, and I rise in strong support of this rule today and in strong support of the underlying legislation.

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I am pleased to be joined on this day after the State of the Union not just by my colleagues but with so many young people in the gallery today, because that is exactly what this debate is about.

We've heard much talk on the floor of this House over the past week about the upcoming CBO baseline report. Well, if it arrived in your email boxes this morning like it did mine, you saw that CBO's most recent score predicts a $6.9 trillion, 10-year operating deficit. That's not the $14 trillion in debt that these young people are going to have to pay back, it's the actual operating deficit, the additional debt that we're going to add over the next 10 years. This proposal today is one small step towards attacking that operating deficit.

Now we're talking about big numbers here today. Somewhere between $500 million and $600 million will be saved with the elimination of this proposal. But folks, $6.9 trillion is where we have to go over the next 10 years. So if you think that this underlying proposal, the public financing proposal, has some merit, I look forward to debating that when the time comes, when we get our operating deficit under control. But we don't just need to pass this provision today; we need to pass this provision and 10,000 more just like it to get to a balanced budget.

Now, I want you to think about that. All of the discussion, all of the gnashing of teeth, the handwringing about eliminating this provision today, folks, this is just the beginning. This proposal and 10,000 more just like it are what we need to pass in this House. The question isn't why are we bringing up this proposal today; the question is why don't we have three or four or five more just like it.

I look forward to joining with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to talk about those provisions, talk about those spending items in our budget that we can get rid of. But folks, I am absolutely certain, as the YouCut site pointed out when America voted, that public financing is one of the top 10,000 things that we can get rid of. We don't have to decide today whether this is number one of the 10,000 most wasteful programs in government or number 10,000 of the 10,000 most wasteful programs in government; we only have to decide if it's somewhere on that spectrum. I tell you that it is, and I rise in strong support of this rule.

The second reason I had to rush over here to the floor is I'm brand new. I've been in this House less than 1 month, and I'm down here speaking on a rule that offers an open amendment process.

Now, if anybody has been watching the House floor, as I have, over the past 2 years, you might wonder what an open amendment process is, and you would be right to wonder because you've never seen one. I may be a freshman in this body, but folks who came 2 years before me, the sophomores in this body, they don't have any more experience in this process than I do, because this is the first open amendment process that we've seen on the floor of the House. Why are we seeing it? Because it's the right thing to do for the institution.

Speaker Boehner has made a point of saying the House is going to work its will. I come from a very conservative district in the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta. And I tell you, when the House works its will, we're not always going to get what we want in the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta, because the House sits kind of here in the middle, and I'm a little further over here on the right-hand side of the spectrum. But in order for this Congress to work, in order for this House to work, in order to restore the dignity of this House, we have to allow the House to work its will.

I am just so pleased, in my very first month in Congress, that we not only have seen very narrowly focused pieces of legislation come to the floor, but we're seeing them come to the floor under an open amendment process.

And let me just say one thing about that open amendment process, particularly for folks, again, who haven't seen one before, folks who are in the gallery or watching on TV who have not seen an open amendment process before. Just because it's open doesn't mean you can do whatever you want to do on the House floor. We're talking about the public financing of elections today. So if you have an amendment that's going to change the way we finance education, that amendment is not going to be germane. If you have an amendment about what you want to do with the health care system, that amendment is not going to be germane.

When you bring narrowly crafted pieces of legislation to the floor, the amendments that are germane are narrowly crafted amendments. And folks, I love that. For too long we have had 2,000-page bills, 1,000-page bills that folks can't read and can't understand and that can't be amended. And I am so pleased today to be standing here in strong support of my colleague from North Carolina's resolution. I will be voting in favor of the rule, and I will be voting in favor of the underlying legislation.

I thank the gentlelady for the time.