Providing for Consideration of H. Con. Res. 112, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to my colleague from New York (Ms. Slaughter), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.

Mr. Speaker, it's budget day. It's budget day, and we get to begin that in the Rules Committee.

Now, I have the great pleasure in this body, as a freshman, of serving on both the Rules Committee and the Budget Committee, so you can imagine the sincerity with which I bring my enthusiasm to the floor today.

Coming here as a freshman who believes in an open process, who believes that we ought to have the opportunity to bring all ideas before the American people and let the 435 Members of the people's House express their opinion, I'm proud to tell you that the rule that is before us today allows for not one budget to be debated, not two budgets to be debated, not three, not four, not five, and not six, Mr. Speaker; but the rule that we bring today allows for seven different visions of the United States budget to be brought before this institution and debated. That is every single budget that was introduced, offered yesterday, Mr. Speaker, in front of the Rules Committee.

Candidly, had more Members submitted budgets, had we had 11, had we had 12, we would have made those in order, too, because this debate that we will have over these next 2 days, Mr. Speaker, is a debate about the vision that we have in this body for this country. I am so proud of the vision that was voted, reported out of the Budget Committee, and that will be made in order by this rule.

The options we'll have before us, Mr. Speaker, as made in order by this rule, include the President's budget. You may remember last year, Mr. Speaker, the President submitted his budget to Congress and not a single Member of the House offered that budget on the floor. It was offered in the Senate. It didn't get any votes. It was defeated 97 0, but it was offered there. This year, we're going to be able to look at the President's budget and debate that here on the floor of the House for the first time in my term.

We're going to have a budget offered by the Congressional Black Caucus today that lays out a vision for America, that talks about taxation, that talks about revenues and spending and where we should prioritize. We have a bipartisan budget that's been introduced, Mr. Speaker, that will come before the floor of this House, again, to be debated in its entirety. We have the Progressive Caucus budget that's coming. We have the Republican Study Committee budget that is coming. And, Mr. Speaker, we have the Democratic Caucus substitute that is coming, all to compete with, in this grand arena of ideas, the budget that we reported out of the Budget Committee.

I see my colleague from Wisconsin, with whom I have the great pleasure of serving on the Budget Committee. We went through amendment after amendment after amendment--some 30 amendments offered and considered, debated, some with bipartisan support, some with bipartisan opposition--to create this one budget that will be the foundation for the budget debate, Mr. Speaker, if this rule is enacted.

I don't know how we could have done it any better in the Rules Committee. I hope that's what we'll hear from my friend from New York.

Again, every single budget that was offered--and that was the invitation put out by the Speaker, just to be clear. The openness and the invitation was, Mr. Speaker: Come one, come all. If you have a competing vision, send it to the Rules Committee. We'll make it in order on the floor so that we can have the kind of open debate that's going to make America proud.

This is the beginning of that, right here, Mr. Speaker, right now.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to say that I think the gentlelady from New York is right on target. I mean, these budgets are moral documents. They talk about our priorities as a people.

I tell folks back home, Mr. Speaker, and we don't have any young people on the floor with us today, but for all those young folks who are entrepreneurs, Mr. Speaker, who want to go out, and they don't want to work for the Man, they want to go out and hang out their own shingle, run their own business; you know, if they lost, at their small business, beginning on the day Jesus Christ was born, $1 million a day, and they lost $1 million a day at that small business every single day from the day Jesus was born, 7 days a week, through today, Mr. Speaker, they would have to continue to lose $1 million a day every day, 7 days a week for another 700 years to lose their first trillion dollars. Their first trillion.

And the budgets that have been passed by this House and by the United States Senate and signed by Presidents of both parties have saddled our young people today in America with more than $15 trillion--not $1 trillion, Mr. Speaker--$15 trillion and climbing, soon to be 16.

So when we talk about the morality of our budgets, we've got to talk about the morality of continuing to run budgets that are unbalanced. We've got to talk about the morality of continuing to pay for our priorities today with IOUs from our children in the future. We've got to talk about the prosperity that we experience today that we're trading away the prosperity of the future to have.

Health care, Mr. Speaker. It's going on right across the street. The longest line in Washington, D.C., today is right out there at the Supreme Court, folks who want to get in and find out what's going to happen.

Well, the budget that makes up the foundation of this debate that we'll have assumes the President's health care bill is going to go away. It assumes the Supreme Court Justices will accurately conclude that this mandate is unconstitutional, that the whole house of cards unfolds beyond that, and we'll start again.

And you know what's interesting?

Again, I'm so proud to be a member of this Budget Committee that I do think is doing it better than we have done it in the past under both parties. You know, had the President's health care bill come to the floor of this House five pages at the time, 10 pages at the time, 20 pages at the time, I would wager that this House would have passed the majority of it. In fact, I would wager that the American people would have approved and been enthusiastic about the majority of it.

But what has happened in this House too often, Mr. Speaker, is that we take those policies that we can all agree on, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, we decide that it would be bad if we all agreed on good policy, and so we begin to stuff things in there that we know are going to create controversy.

We just manufacture an argument that we don't have to have, and that's what happened to the President's health care bill. There was this nugget of the individual mandate, that theft of freedom, a new definition about what it means to be an American. We knew that the body wouldn't support that so we began to add on sweetener after sweetener after sweetener. We could have just voted on those sweeteners.

This rule doesn't put up with that, Mr. Speaker. This rule says we're not going to try to buy anybody's vote on the floor, we're not going to try to hide the ball in these budgets. Every single Member of Congress who has a vision of America, who has a vision of the morality that my colleague from New York discussed, who has a vision of what we could be as a people if only we had the political will to implement it right here. Each and every Member of Congress was invited to put that vision forward.

There are at least two visions that we'll have today, Mr. Speaker, and tomorrow that I plan to support, visions that I think outline that correct vision of how we can retain America's economic prosperity, how we can continue to be a leader in the free world.

But I support bringing to the floor those budgets that I do not believe in because just because those folks in north metro Atlanta, Mr. Speaker, just because those folks in the Seventh District of Georgia that I represent don't approve of every budget doesn't mean that those budgets don't deserve a vote, and that is a fundamental difference between the leadership that this Speaker has brought to this Institution and the leadership that we have had from both parties in years past.

What we've said is every single idea is worthy of consideration--win or lose. Win or lose, bring those ideas to the floor for debate, and let's see where the votes fall.

Mr. Speaker, again, as a member of both the Budget Committee and the Rules Committee, I am strongly supportive of the underlying budget bill but particularly proud of this rule that makes every other budget option in order as well.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I appreciate the comments of my colleague from California, and I know her concern for America's seniors is heartfelt, and it's one that I share as well; and I hope that she will support this rule that allows for a series of votes on many different Medicare solutions. Some solutions are better than others; but even if she opposes the underlying budget, I do hope we'll have her support on the rule, because we do lay out the opportunity for folks to choose among seven different visions for solving the Medicare challenge.

I don't have the charts with me down here on the floor. I know my colleagues on the Budget Committee will bring them during the main debate; but I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, and I can picture the charts in my mind, if you charted Medicare spending going out from 2020 to 2050, that two-generation horizon heading out there, and you charted the President's commitment to spend dollars on Medicare, and you charted the Budget Committee's commitment to spend dollars on Medicare, you'd find that the dollar value commitment is about dollar-for-dollar going out over that 30-year window.

So the question then, Mr. Speaker, is not about how

much money is this Congress committing, the question is to what priorities is this Congress committing that money.

Now, the President's budget, which we'll have an opportunity to debate and vote here on the floor of the House, turns those Medicare financing decisions, those decisions about how to save money in the system, over to what we've all come to know as IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, to make recommendations and suggestions about how to clamp down on costs.

Now, generally, that means clamping down on reimbursements to doctors.

What the Budget Committee budget does, Mr. Speaker, is give those dollars to individuals so the individuals can enter the marketplace--not a free-for-all marketplace--but a regulated and guaranteed marketplace where policies are guaranteed to these seniors so that individuals can then control those dollars and make their own choices about health care decisions.

So just to be clear, we're not arguing about dollars and cents in Medicare. The President's vision and the Budget Committee's vision is virtually identical.

What we are talking about, though, is who controls those dollars. Are they controlled by a one-size-fits-all 1965 Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, soon to be revised by the IPAB board, or are they controlled by my mother and my father and your mother and your father and our neighbors, our aunts and uncles, individuals, Americans who will make those health care decisions for themselves.

Again, for me that choice is clear. Individual freedom will always be my choice over government control.

But getting back to the actual rule, Mr. Speaker, that's what's so wonderful about the way this Rules Committee has operated and this resolution that we have before us today. You're not restricted to just voting on my vision of solutions for this country. We're offering six other visions as well. In fact, we're offering every single vision that has come out of this U.S. House of Representatives so that we can have a free, open, and honest debate and let the American people know what their true choices for freedom are.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would like to say to my friend from Connecticut, because I can see her passion--again, I know it comes from the heart--your mother will be in no way affected by the budget that we're voting on today, and I would like to make that clear if anybody else is concerned about their mothers. For folks who are aged 55 or older, there is not one word in the Republican budget plan that changes the commitment that we've made to folks over the past three or four decades. That commitment since 1965 remains as solid today and tomorrow under the Budget Committee budget as it has ever been.

The alternative, Mr. Speaker, is to take our 98-year-old mothers and turn them over to IPAB. Now, again, there are choices here. The Republican budget, which has become the House Budget Committee budget, allows everyone in the current Medicare system and those 55 years of age or older to experience no changes whatsoever to that program guaranteed from 1965. Because the dollars still have to be regulated and because we still have to protect this program from bankruptcy, which is a program important to so many of us, the alternative is to turn it over to this government board and to let them cut costs where they can.

Let me tell you a story, Mr. Speaker, if I can just take a moment of personal privilege.

I was talking with a physician from back home in Gwinnett County, my hometown. He is a neurologist, Mr. Speaker. He has been practicing neurology for 17 years, and he is the youngest neurologist in the county. This is one of the largest counties in the State of Georgia, which is one of the largest States in the Nation, and we haven't had one new neurologist coming into our area in 17 years. This doc says he's thinking about getting out. He has got an uncle who is a primary care physician in south Georgia, a primary care physician who is the only one to accept Medicaid, Mr. Speaker, in a five-county radius.

Folks say that there is this guarantee of health care. Let me tell you, if you can't find a doctor who will take you, your insurance card isn't worth much.

What we have to do, Mr. Speaker, is to restore the promise of America's health care system. What is it about the American health care system that's driving our doctors into retirement? Is it that we're not clamping down enough and that if only we had the IPAB board clamp down even more that it's going to increase access to care? I tell you that it's not, Mr. Speaker.

There are lots of different ways to prepare budgets, and I didn't know what to expect when I got on the Budget Committee, Mr. Speaker. I'll be honest. It could easily degenerate into a political exercise. I've seen it happen. It could become all about the right talking points and about all the right focus group conversations and have nothing to do with how we should actually lead this country forward--but not so on the Chairman Paul Ryan Budget Committee. In meeting after meeting, in conversation after conversation, in argument after argument, this Budget Committee chairman said there is one way to do a budget, and that is to do a budget with honest numbers and honest priorities that lay out in plain vision, for all to see, our vision of America's future--and he did it. He did it. He did it with the help of a very competent Budget Committee.

Again, as I look to my friend from Wisconsin with whom I share the bottom dais there on the Budget Committee, he did it with lots of input and lots of conversation; but he did it in a way so that no one would say they're just gaming the numbers, so that no one would say this is all about politics, and so that everyone who

comes to the floor of this House can vote for this House Budget Committee reported budget with the pride of knowing it was put together with integrity about a vision for a better future. Again, we are going to have six other competing visions, Mr. Speaker. I can only hope that those numbers, those charts, those graphs were put together with the same care and integrity that Chairman Ryan used in the Budget Committee.

For folks who are trying to make up their minds about where they're going to cast their votes today, again I urge the strong support of this open rule that allows for the complete debate over all of these alternatives; but I also encourage my colleagues to give a look at that work product that we created on the House Budget Committee, a work product that I believe, Mr. Speaker, is crafted in a way that can make every Member of this body proud.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. I yield myself such time as I may consume to say to my colleague from Wisconsin that her words are always among some of the most powerful that we have on the Budget Committee, and I don't believe I've ever heard her speak from a place that was not of conviction. I want to say I appreciate those words, and you have my support on the Rules Committee. If we can get that bill reported out of Judiciary, I would love to see that in the Rules Committee and would love to see us report that to the House floor for that same kind of free and open debate that we are having today on the Budget Committee, and I appreciate the words that you shared.

I must say, though, Mr. Speaker, I have a tough time connecting the Violence Against Women Act with these budgets. I will disagree with my colleague from Wisconsin and will encourage folks to support the previous question so that we can have this budget debate. Should we have the debate that my colleague is discussing? I believe we absolutely should. Again, I know the committees of jurisdiction are working on that, and my hope is that they will report that and send that to the Rules Committee.

But today, Mr. Speaker, we have an opportunity. It's not an unprecedented opportunity, but it's one of the rarest of opportunities that we have here in the House, which is to have a debate on the floor that includes every single idea that any of our 435 Members have offered as a vision of how to govern this land, of how to set our fiscal priorities, of this morality that is deciding how to spend taxpayer dollars. We must seize that opportunity today. It's one that comes but once a year, Mr. Speaker; an opportunity but once a year to set these priorities. And again, the Rules Committee has provided time not just today but tomorrow as well to make sure we can thoroughly flesh out each and every one of these ideas and make sure that no one's voice on the floor of this House is silenced.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I appreciate the comments of my friend from New York. We serve together on the Rules Committee, Mr. Speaker, and we grapple with tough issues on the Rules Committee every single time we meet. There's no easy day on the Rules Committee. Every bill is a challenge because of the different ideas that folks have to make it better. But what I've learned in that time, Mr. Speaker, is that I'm not the smartest guy in the room, I'm not the smartest guy in this Congress, and I'm not the smartest guy in my district.

There's a reason we have regular order here in the U.S. House of Representatives, so that even a good idea we can make better.

I have some folks come to me in my district and they say, Rob, why is it that you put that hospital funding that we need in the transportation bill? Those things don't have anything to do with one another. Why do you combine those two things? If it's a good idea to pass the transportation bill, let's pass the transportation bill; and if it's a good idea to pass the hospital bill, let's pass the hospital bill. But why do you put these disconnected things together? Why do you try to fund a new military procurement program in the environmental and National Park funding? Why do you stick those things together, Rob? They don't have anything to do with one another.

I actually campaigned on that issue, Mr. Speaker, because I think they're right. I think that the American people deserve an up-or-down vote on one issue at a time. I think my colleague from New York, my colleague from Connecticut, my colleague from the District of Columbia, and my colleague from Wisconsin make extremely compelling cases for why we should see the Violence Against Women Act come through regular order.

But my understanding is--and I would be happy to be corrected if I'm mistaken--my understanding is the bill was just introduced yesterday, that it hasn't had an opportunity to go through those committees where folks know so much more about these issues than we do in the Rules Committee or in the Budget Committee; that it has not had an opportunity to be amended and improved, to have the opportunity for those Members for whom this is a heartfelt and compelling issue to put in their two cents to make it even better.

I think it should have that opportunity, Mr. Speaker. I encourage folks to vote ``yes'' on the previous

question so that we can move forward to debate these budgets today, and then I urge my colleagues--let me say it, Mr. Speaker, because I know folks are watching this on the screens back in their rooms--the bill number of the Violence Against Women Act is H.R. 4271, Mr. Speaker. There's no question--because this is a House where folks believe in regular order--that the more cosponsors a bill accumulates and the faster it accumulates them, the more likely it is to end up on this floor in haste, rapidly, immediately in order to have a hearing.

I would encourage my colleagues to go and look at that bill again just dropped yesterday, but certainly something that I know this House and the Judiciary Committee and others are going to want to consider.

The opportunity we have today, though, Mr. Speaker, with this rule, is to define our national vision. I don't mean our vision for just the Nation, our land, Mr. Speaker. I mean a vision for us as a people. Who are we as a people, Mr. Speaker?

I heard one of the Presidential candidates speak the other day and he said, This year we don't need politicians that we can believe in; we need politicians who believe in us.

I thought that was pretty profound. I don't need somebody I can believe in. I need somebody who believes in me. That's true, Mr. Speaker.

We lay out all of these different competing budget visions here, the summaries of which I hold in my hand. My question to my colleagues is: Which of these visions do you believe believes in you? Which of these visions lays out that future of America that is best for you and your family, that is best for your constituents and their families, that is best for your State, that is best for our Nation?

The visions are starkly different, Mr. Speaker. Again, the base bill is the bill that we reported out of the Budget Committee. That is the base text. These are substitutes for that.

For example, we have a bipartisan substitute--Republican and Democratic Members of the House--that raises taxes by $2 trillion more. To be perfectly accurate, it's $1.8 trillion more than the Republican budget that the committee passed. It spends $3.1 trillion more. It focuses on different priorities. The debt increases by about $1.4 trillion. That's the cost of those priorities. Again, some priorities may be worth that cost. We'll have that debate on the floor.

The ranking member on the Budget Committee, Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Maryland, his budget substitute also raises taxes by $1.8 trillion over the next 10 years more than the House Budget Committee budget does and spends $4.7 trillion more than the House Budget Committee budget does and thus adds $2.9 trillion more to the backs of our children.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, about $15.5 trillion today, soon to be $16 trillion, that we've borrowed and spent, that we've impoverished our children with so that we can live today at the standard of living that we have, Mr. Speaker. The gentleman from Maryland's substitute increases that by $3 trillion more than does the House Budget Committee report.

Do the priorities that he spends on merit that kind of increase? Do the priorities that he focuses on merit that kind of debt increase? Perhaps they do. We're going to have that debate on the floor of the House, Mr. Speaker.

The Congressional Black Caucus substitute raises taxes by $6 trillion over 10 years, more than the House budget bill does, and it spends $5.3 trillion more, which means the Congressional Black Caucus substitute actually reduces the national debt more than the House Budget Committee does. Now, it does so by raising taxes $6 trillion, and it only reduces the debt by under $1 trillion, but that's one of those priorities that folks have had the courage to lay out here on the floor of the House that we're going to make in order.

My colleague from New York, the chairman from California, this Budget Committee of men and women, Mr. Speaker, has made every single option available.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, Mr. Speaker, their proposal is to raise taxes by $6.8 trillion more than the Republican Budget Committee budget, the budget that was passed out of the entire Budget Committee. It increases spending by about $6.6 trillion, one of the highest spending of the bunch, again, focusing on priorities that all 435 Members of this House deserve an opportunity to hear and an opportunity to consider.

We have an opportunity in this House, Mr. Speaker, to do great things. We have an opportunity in this House to stand up for the priorities that are the priorities of our constituents back home. And we don't have to vote on 100 different ideas in one bill, Mr. Speaker. In the 15 months I've been here, Mr. Speaker, all but about five of the bills have been short enough for me to read; I don't have to staff it out, and I don't have to have a team of speed readers out there working through it. All but about five have been short enough for me to read.

That's a source of great pride for me on the Rules Committee, because I've told folks back home and folks believe it back home that we ought to have time to carefully deliberate each and every thing. Folks are tired of 1,500-page bills. Folks are tired of 2,500-page bills. Folks are tired of the defense bill being merged with the transportation bill which is merged with the health care bill which is merged with the national parks bill which also funds the White House. That's crazy, and it doesn't have to be that way. There's not one rule of this House that requires that nonsense to go on. In fact, the opposite is true. The rules of the House were actually created to prevent that from going on, and we have to work really hard to pervert the process in a way that makes that possible.

This Speaker has made an effort unlike any I've ever seen to try to have one idea at a time down here on the floor of the House, one idea at a time so that the American people's voice can be heard. If we bring a bill to the floor, Mr. Speaker, that supports dogcatchers on the one hand and hospital funding on the other and somebody votes ``no,'' what are they voting ``no'' on? Are they voting ``no'' on the dogcatchers or are they voting ``no'' on the hospital? You can't tell. And that's what happens. Have you seen that?

Have you ever wondered why it is, Mr. Speaker, that in our appropriations process the food stamp language and the agricultural subsidy language is in the same appropriations bill? I always wondered. I started thinking about it as I watched the votes going on the board, and what I figured out is that we don't have enough farmers in this country for everybody to vote to increase farm spending, and we don't have enough folks with high food stamp populations in their district to support having high food stamp spending, but when you combine those two groups together, guess what? You get 51 percent of this House and you can make things happen.

Well, I guess I support the ingenuity of folks who find ways to cobble a multitude of ideas together and find 51 percent, but I ask my colleagues, is that really what our constituents sent us here to do? Is cobbling together multiple ideas and just trying to game the system enough to find your 51 percent, Mr. Speaker, is that really what our Framers intended? Or, alternatively, should we commit ourselves to not just having an open process, Mr. Speaker, but an open process on a single idea?

Do you know what I found on the Rules Committee? And it was a surprise to me--and if you haven't had a chance to serve on the Rules Committee, it might not be intuitive to you--but when you bring a small bill to the Rules Committee, when you focus on one single idea, when you find one priority that you want to make the law of the land and you send that to the Rules Committee, Mr. Speaker, then the amendment process is only open to amendments that are germane to that underlying idea. If you bring a bill about hospital funding to the Rules Committee, well, then, the only germane amendments that will be considered are amendments that have to do with hospital funding.

So the shorter we make these bills and the more single-minded we make these bills, the more open we can have the process here on the House floor. Mr. Speaker, this freshman class is full of a bunch of CEOs from the private sector, folks who ran for Congress because they're worried about the direction of this country, and they said, Dadgumit, I've got to step up; I've got to run, and I've got to be a part of the solution. And they get here thinking that they were going to be able to do it all overnight. It turns out there are 435 of us, and we all have the same voting card. It's harder. Nobody is king of the world in here. It's one man, one woman, one vote, and there are 435 of us. You've got to find that agreement.

Well, it turns out there really is a lot of agreement, not just agreement on the Republican side of the aisle, not just agreement on the Democratic side of the aisle, but agreement across this whole House when we open up the process and allow the House to work its will.

Mr. Speaker, that is what we have here today. We have a rule that opens up the process, that flings open the doors of democracy and lets every single idea be considered.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage an affirmative vote on the rule.