They Keystone XL Pipeline

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 13, 2015
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Oil and Gas


Mr. WOODALL. I thank my friend from Georgia.

This is a country that is about individuals. It is about individual
leadership, and it is about individual opportunity. The story you tell
of Tim and the impact that he had on people's lives is going to be
known long, long after he has gone to be with our Lord.

I want to talk about opportunity at a much smaller level than what my
friend from Georgia was talking about, Mr. Speaker. I want to talk
about it in the context of the Keystone pipeline that we passed this

At the end of the day, America is about opportunity. And if
opportunity doesn't live here anymore, I am not sure what the point of
America is. If freedom doesn't live here anymore, I am not sure what
the point of America is. If families can't raise their children and
believe that their children, if they play by the rules, if they work
hard, can create a better life for themselves than their parents had,
if you don't believe that anymore, the promise that is the American
Dream is lost. And I think with one minor Federal regulation at a time,
followed by a couple of major Federal regulations, followed by more
minor regulations, we are eroding the ability of our young people to
succeed and for their families to succeed.

The Keystone pipeline we voted on this week, Mr. Speaker, it is about
employment opportunities. It is a job-creating program. We have dozens
upon dozens of pipelines across this country. Why in the world the
President has chosen the Keystone pipeline to use as a political
football is a mystery to me.

Building pipelines is honorable work. It is hard work. It is often
dangerous work. But it is important work that goes to the price of
energy in every single one of our homes back home.

Having passed it in the Senate, having passed it in the House, it now
goes to the President's desk. He could create jobs tomorrow.

It is about energy security, Mr. Speaker. It is energy from our
friends in Canada, one of our most loyal partners across the globe. We
need North American energy security. I don't want to rely on folks
across the oceans who oftentimes wish us harm. I want to use those
resources here.

Creating this partnership with Canada gives us that energy security.
It is enhanced safety, Mr. Speaker. You don't think about it. But if we
are not moving oil through a pipeline, we are moving it on trains, we
are moving it in trucks. Trains and trucks and their safety record, Mr.
Speaker, are much less reliable than pipelines, not just in terms of
spills but in terms of lives.

I heard the gentleman from North Dakota down here earlier this week,
Mr. Speaker. Of course those trucks and trains are moving through his
district. He said if we put in the pipeline instead of using those
trucks, lives would be saved. Traffic accidents would be avoided. Lives
would be saved, not just oil spills but real human consequences.

We talk about environmental protection, Mr. Speaker. This is going to
be the most advanced pipeline ever constructed in the United States of
America. Now that is just the environmental protection of the pipeline.

We go on to talk about, where would that oil be refined if we don't
do it here under U.S. safety and environmental standards? Well, the
answer is we are going to ship that overseas. It is going to get
shipped to China. It is going to get processed in a much less
environmentally friendly way. We have an opportunity to take that step.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we are talking about an exchange with our
friends in Canada. Can you imagine if we had a product we were trying
to get to market, and the only way to get it there or the simplest way
to get it there was to move it through Canada, and the Canadians said:
No, I don't care about your economy, America; I don't care about jobs
in America; I don't care about your resources; the answer is, no, we
won't partner with you.

If you read the comments coming out of the government in Canada, they
are just flabbergasted that all they are asking is for this minor
connection into the U.S. pipeline system, and the country they thought
was their great friend--America--has been so resistant. For 7 years, we
have been waiting on this solution, Mr. Speaker, and finally it has
passed in this Congress this week.

I want to talk about what is happening in this Congress because when
you slow down things like the pipeline, Mr. Speaker, you are slowing
down America. You are slowing down economic growth. You are slowing
down job creation.

I have here from Atlanta's own CNN a headline titled: ``Harry Reid:
Dems won't engage in `obstruction.' '' This is from November 12, 2014.

He is making the point as the former--at that time, he was the
majority leader in the Senate. He is now the former majority leader in
the Senate. He is making the point that America is not helped when the
Senate engages in obstructionism. He says this: ``I am ready to work
with'' Mitch McConnell--now the Senate majority leader--``in good faith
to make this institution function for the American people.'' In good
faith to make this institution function. He says: ``I saw firsthand how
a strategy of obstruction was debilitating to our system. I have no
desire to engage in that manner.''

I am grateful to Harry Reid for that wisdom. I think he is absolutely
right about that. There is a right way and a wrong way to run this
institution. He has observed the wrong way to do it. Unfortunately,
that was back in November.

Fast forward to this month, Mr. Speaker. Look at the headlines from
across the country. Washington Post: ``Senate Democrats should be
careful about their filibuster strategy.'' As you know, the filibuster
is the definition of obstruction. It is in full force in the Senate as
we sit here today.

February 4, from The Atlantic: ``The new Democratic
obstructionists.'' That is the headline of the article, Mr. Speaker. It
was just 3 months ago when Majority Leader Harry Reid said: This is not
the right path for America; this is bad for America. And he was right
when he said it. It has taken 3 months for him to change his mind and
go in the other direction.

Politico: ``Democrats learn to love the filibuster; party leaders
change tune now that they are in minority.'' Change tune now that they
are in the minority.

Mr. Speaker, America's needs are no less great today. Job creation is
no less important today. The American economy is no less fragile today.
But the Senate Democratic leaders have changed their tune.

Finally, back to CNN: ``Democrats block funding for DHS to protect
Obama immigration orders.'' What that means, Mr. Speaker, is they have
blocked debating the bill to fund DHS, that they are so intent on
protecting the President and what he alone has done from the White
House, they refuse to even allow the Senate to debate the merits of
those issues.

If this institution is not about debate, Mr. Speaker, I don't know
what it is about.

I begin with that to get us into the economy, Mr. Speaker. And I have
to tell you, I have the vice chairman of the House Budget Committee
down here today, the gentleman from Indiana, Todd Rokita.

The Budget Committee right now is involved in the gargantuan task of
trying to balance the Federal budget and present that budget to this
House before April. But their task is complicated, Mr. Speaker. You
can't see the chart that I have, but their task is complicated because
economic growth in America is slowing. The obstructionism in the Senate, the
obstructionism from the White House can't build simple things like the
Keystone pipeline.

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest public works projects
in the history of our Nation, the Hoover Dam? The Hoover Dam was built
in less time than it has taken the White House to consider the
application for this short pipeline connecting America and Canada. We
built the Hoover Dam more quickly than we can sign off on the paperwork
for a pipeline.

Let me show you what the impact of that is. Economic growth--in 2013,
Mr. Speaker, CBO projected that GDP would be growing about 3 percent a
year, 2.9 to be precise. By last year, in February, when they gave us
their projections, they lowered it to 2.5 percent. Today, January 2015,
they have lowered it to 2.3 percent.

Mr. Speaker, that is not just 2.9 to 2.3 percent. That is trillions
of dollars in economic activity. It looks small on this page, but it is
giant on the Federal budget, and it is even bigger when you talk about
the job creation that hasn't occurred. It is even bigger when you talk
about Americans who are trapped in part-time work. It is even bigger
when you talk about young people graduating from college who cannot
find a job. That is the impact of obstructionism. That is the impact of
inaction. That is the impact of having a former majority leader, now
minority leader, in the Senate who, as the newspaper headlines say, has
changed his tune.

I have heard folks say--I laugh, Mr. Speaker. It is not funny. It is
sad. But I have heard folks say, Well, what are you complaining about,
Rob? Deficits have come down by half in President Obama's
administration. They have come down by half.

Well, that is true. When I showed up here 4 years ago, Mr. Speaker,
deficits were at their single highest rate in the history of the
Nation. And by ``single highest rate,'' I mean they were four times
higher than they had ever before been. So they have dropped from being
four times higher than ever before down to just higher than ever
before. You can call that progress, but I don't.

I have it charted here as a percentage of the size of the economy,
Mr. Speaker. I go all the way back to 1965. We have had Republicans. We
have had Democrats. We have had Republicans in Congress, Democrats in
Congress; Republicans in the White House, Democrats in the White House.
This isn't about the parties. For Pete's sake, if we look here for the
only surpluses in our Nation's history, it comes at a time when we
had--much like we do today--Republicans here in this institution,
Republicans in the United States Senate, and Democrats leading from the
White House. It was a bipartisan way we created some economic growth.

But what I want you to see, Mr. Speaker, is that we come here into
the current administration, deficits dramatically higher than ever
before in American history, dramatically higher. Coming down to the
dotted line I have on the chart, Mr. Speaker, is the historical
average, from 1965 to 2014.

Now it is embarrassing for the both of us that we have to talk about
our Nation's finances by the historical deficit. Neither one of us came
here to be involved in deficit spending. We came here to stop borrowing
from our children and from our grandchildren, to start being
responsible by paying the bills today, to improve opportunity in the
future, not to diminish and borrow from opportunity in the future. But
that has been the historical average.

What you would see if you could see this chart, Mr. Speaker, is that
even as the White House is preaching the good news of declining
deficits, they have only declined from those record highs. They have
declined to a level where they are going to continue to rise again at
levels higher than the historical average.

The President just sent his budget--2 weeks ago now, Mr. Speaker, he
sent that budget. It arrived here on time for the first time in his
administration. I applaud him for that. But it never balances--never,
ever. Not this year, not next year, not 10 years from now, not 20 years
from now, not 100 years from now.

The idea of the United States of America and the budget that should
control it, from the President's point of view, is a budget that should
never, ever balance and, thus, a balance that should continue year
after year to borrow from the prosperity of future generations so that
we can spend it on ourselves. That is selfish in ways that I can't be a
part of.

What is the nature of the problem, Mr. Speaker? We are talking about
this in the Budget Committee right now. Total spending in this country
is about $3.5 trillion this year. The little part that Congress has
control over, it is the defense and the nondefense discretionary--this
little corner of the pie. We are able to control that.

In fact, Mr. Rokita, the vice chairman of the Budget Committee,
arrived here in 2010, as I did. Every single year since you have been
here, leading at the Budget Committee, I would say to the gentleman
from Indiana, we have reduced that discretionary spending every single
year. It hasn't been easy. It has been hard, deliberate, bipartisan
work. But you have done it because it was the right thing to do. $3.5
trillion is a lot of money. But the small part that you have had
control over, you have made a difference in. It is the rest of this pot
that continues to grow.

I yield to my friend from Indiana.


Mr. WOODALL. I thank the vice chairman of the Budget Committee.
Mr. Speaker, people think these things happen in a vacuum. They
don't. They happen because folks like Mr. Rokita take time away from
their family and away from their constituents back home sometimes to
work the long nights and the early mornings it takes to get a budget
like this done.

Just to give you an example, Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you have
ever thought about it--$3.5 trillion is the size of our annual
spending--annual spending. People often characterize--and I would tell
you mischaracterize--Republicans as folks who want to shut down
government. That is nonsense.

You heard the gentleman from Indiana's heart as he was up here
talking about his love for people, the needs that people have, and our
opportunity to aid people and their families as they struggle with some
of those challenges. We spend $3.5 trillion a year in that effort.

It is not that we don't want to spend the money. It is that we want
to spend it effectively, efficiently, and accountably. That is all
folks ask for back home. They don't say, Shut the government down. They
say, Spend my tax money effectively, efficiently, and accountably--$3.5
trillion, Mr. Speaker.

If any of the young people who are coming to Congress to watch what
goes on here on the floor of the House, Mr. Speaker, if any of those
young people were born the day that Jesus Christ was born and,
beginning on that day, they spent $1 million every day, $1 million
every day, 7 days a week, Mr. Speaker, from the day that Jesus Christ
was born until today, they would have to continue spending $1 million a
day, every day, 7 days a week, for another 732 years, to spend their
first trillion dollars.

As a Federal Government, we are spending $3.5 trillion every year,
and we borrowed from those same young people $18 trillion that they are
going to have to pay back one day. These numbers are mind-boggling, and
sometimes, I wonder if we as a Chamber, Mr. Speaker, are taking this
crisis as seriously as we must.

It is, at its core, a spending crisis. It is not a revenue crisis. It
is not that $3.5 trillion isn't enough to handle the needs of this
country; it is. This chart, Mr. Speaker, you can't see it, but it is a
historical chart of spending, which is in the red, and revenues, which
is in the green.

Now, when we have had this big economic downturn here, so many
families out of work, so many families in part-time work, and so many
young people who couldn't find jobs, revenues absolutely went down.

They went down because there were no jobs, and if folks don't have
jobs, they don't have incomes, and if they don't have incomes, they
can't pay taxes. We want people to go to work. You can't pay taxes if
you don't have a job.

Historically, Americans have been willing to pay about 18 percent of
GDP in tax revenue, so I draw that line on out for the foreseeable

The red line represents spending in this town, Mr. Speaker. The red
line represents if we did nothing, if we adjourned the Congress this
afternoon, we went down to Pennsylvania Avenue, we picked up the
President, and we all left Washington forever--I was wondering if there
was going to be a loud group of cheers and applause that broke out when
I said that, Mr. Speaker, I am not actually advocating for that--but if
that were to happen, the laws that are already on the books have made
promises to people that spend the money on this red line, going into
historical debt territory, the likes of which we have never seen, and
we cannot survive as a nation.

Spending is the problem. The red line is the problem. The green line
is what we take from American families in taxes. It has been constant
over time--not constant in actual dollars, but constant as a percent of
the economy. It is the red line that is growing ever faster.

Now, if you will permit me to scare you just a little bit further,
Mr. Speaker, let me talk about interest rates in this country--interest
rates in this country.

This chart right here, you can't see it, again, Mr. Speaker, but it
is charting the interest rates that America is paying on its debt. We
borrow in all sorts of different instruments from short-term, week-long
instruments, all the way up to 30-year instruments. I put on the 3-
month bills and our 10-year notes on this chart.

This chart covers most of my lifetime, Mr. Speaker. In fact, it goes
a little further than my lifetime. What you are going to see, Mr.
Speaker, going all the way back to 1965, it is charting the 3-month
bills and the 10-year notes.

This is where we are today. This is where we are today, and what you
see here, Mr. Speaker, is that we are at the lowest level of interest
in the history of our country. In the history of our country, we have
never paid less on Federal debt than we are paying today; yet we have
never had more of it.

What do you think is going to happen, Mr. Speaker, when these low
interest rates that we have today return to these historically high
levels? In fact, The Economist, as I pointed out here in blue, projects
that interest rates will return.

By return, I mean that our 10-year notes are going to more than
double, I mean the 3-month bills are going to more than sextuple. We
are talking about an interest rate explosion around the corner, Mr.
Speaker, that we are not going to be able to sustain.

Now, let me take you back to what we are spending here today. As we
sit here today, we are spending $229 billion in interest on our
national debt--$229 billion--while we are at the lowest interest rates
in American history.

Now, if the rates on those 10-year notes are going to double, if the
rates on those 3-month bills are going to sextuple, what do you think
229 billion changes into within the next 3 or 4 years, Mr. Speaker?

It doesn't change into 300 billion. It doesn't change into 400
billion. It goes northward to $500 billion in interest. In fact, as the
President lays out his budget, we are looking at almost $1 trillion a
year in interest payments within the next 10 years, in a single year,
at year 10.

One trillion dollars, Mr. Speaker--enough money to pay for all of our
national security, enough money to pay for all of the Medicaid program
and the Medicare program, enough money to pay for the entire Social
Security Program for a year, we are going to throw it away in interest
payments because we didn't have the discipline to control spending in
this bipartisan Congress that we have.

The lowest interest rates in American history, Mr. Speaker, every
economist projects a rise, doubling to sextupling in the next 10 years.

We are only borrowing money, Mr. Speaker, because we have lots of
spending going on. There are those who believe that the more we spend,
the better results we are going to get. I want to tell you that is

If this Chamber were full to capacity today, Mr. Speaker, and we
asked folks to have a show of hands of when was that great time in the
American economy they remember, when were the cares of whether or not
you could afford to pay your house note, whether you could afford to
pay your car note, whether you could afford to take care of your
children, when was the time that those cares were the least?

I daresay most of the hands would think back to the 1990s. Whoo, the
economy was on fire. You remember that. The stockmarket was on fire,
you had to hide under a rook to keep from finding a good job--again,
Republicans controlling this institution, Democrats in the White House.
We were working together to constrain spending to grow the economy.

This chart that I have here, Mr. Speaker, shows per capita spending.
It is not really meaningful to talk about spending in the abstract. It
all distills down to an individual man, an individual woman, an
individual family, what are we spending on individuals here in this

This is Federal outlays per individual. You will see a constant
increase going back to the Truman administration. This is World War II,
where we were really fighting for the future of not just the Republic, but of
the world, going through the Truman administration and the Eisenhower
administration. This is per capita spending. You see that it increases
as inflation does, as government does. It just naturally rises little
by little, year after year.

What you will see, Mr. Speaker, if you look here at the Clinton years
in blue, that in those years that Americans would look back on with
fondness and contentment, those years where the cares of the world
seemed just a little bit lighter on their shoulders, we weren't
spending more from Washington, D.C. It didn't require more spending
from Washington, D.C.

The stimulation of the economy is not dependent on spending from
Washington, D.C. In fact, arguably, it is the opposite. The more
Washington sucks out of America, the less that individual Americans
have to grow their families, grow their businesses, and expand their

It is meaningful to me, again, you think about the Reagan years, you
think about the first Bush years, and you think about the Clinton
years, the economy was on fire and spending from the Federal Government
held constant.

Fast forward to today, Mr. Speaker, you see spending begin to grow
out of control. It happened in the Bush years. Again, this is not a
partisan problem, this is an American problem.

Spending began to grow. We are fighting a war on terror. Folks are
beginning to worry about their families and worry about their jobs.
Spending today continuing on that rise--well, continuing until I
arrived here in 2010, until you arrived here in 2014, when the cavalry
arrived here to say, Wait a minute, I know the challenges are vast, but
we can't just push the can down the road; we can't pass our problems on
to the next generation; we have to confront those problems together.

That is what we have been doing in this budget.

Mr. Speaker, this chart shows if we do nothing, if we do nothing, if
we never make another promise--and the budget the President just sent
us is full of new promises to the tune of about $2 trillion over the
next 10 years--if we never make another promise, if all we do is keep
the promises we already made, if we never pass a new law or a new bill
to do something else, simply by the force of the laws already on the
books, debt grows to levels higher than we borrowed as a nation to
defeat the Nazis in World War II.

Think about that, Mr. Speaker. I was down in front of the White
House. I had some friends in town. I took them down to see the White
House. All Americans ought to make that journey. It is the center of
the executive branch here in Washington, D.C.

We walked over to the Old Executive Office Building because that is a
fabulous, fabulous building. On the front steps of the Old Executive
Office Building, they have two cannons from the Spanish-American War,
1898, and they have a little plaque there on the fence.

Of course, you can't get through the fence. In fact, they pushed you
back a little further now with the new Secret Service regulations, but
you can see the plaque hanging there on the fence. It says that we used
to have more than 20 of these historic cannons around town, dating back
to the Revolutionary War, but during World War II, we melted most of
them down to be a part of the war effort.

Think about that. In World War II, the situation was so dire, Mr.
Speaker, we were going around to our national monuments, we were going
around to our Nation's history, and we were finding anything made of
iron or steel, and we were melting it down. Because World War II wasn't
a fight; it was the fight for freedom on the planet.

And amidst that terror, ration stamps across the land, folks standing
in lines for food at the end of the Great Depression, amidst all of
that turmoil, all of that crisis, arguably the greatest crisis not just
this Nation has known but that the world has ever known, America
borrowed about 100 percent of the size of its economy. That is a heavy
load, but it was for an important cause.

As we sit here today, Mr. Speaker, we have borrowed about three-
quarters of that same load. And if we change no law and if we make no
new promises, we will borrow not one time, not two times, not three
times, but four times more than we borrowed to defeat the greatest evil
the world has ever known, just to keep the lights on in the United
States of America. That is dangerous and it is irresponsible.

Mr. Speaker, you can count on a budget coming to the floor of this
House. It is going to be here. I would guess it is going to be here on
the floor by the end of March, because certainly we will have it here
by April. It is going to be a budget that brings us back to balance,
and it is going to be a budget that makes the hard decisions that have
to be made.

No one is saying don't invest in America. What they are saying is
don't let growing interest payments on irresponsible borrowing push out
the room in the budget to invest in America. Do you know we are
investing less in America today, Mr. Speaker, than any other time in my
lifetime? We are investing less. Now, we are spending more, but we are
investing less because, as I showed you on that pie chart earlier, Mr.
Speaker, what we are spending on isn't investments in America. It is
income maintenance programs.

If we do nothing, revenues continue and debt grows out of control.
2046, Mr. Speaker, about the time you are entering your retirement,
dead at 250 percent of GDP.

Spending $3.5 trillion today--today--at the lowest rate of interest
the country has ever known, and today, in that most favorable of
environments, Mr. Speaker, we are almost spending more on interest than
we are on our Medicaid program, the health care program that covers
children and the poor across this land. We are spending more to pay our
creditors than we are to protect our children's health--and that is at
the lowest rates of interest the country has ever known.

It only grows, and that is if the only thing that changes are the
interest rates, Mr. Speaker. That is if we stop borrowing more money.
But the President projects to borrow half trillion after half trillion
after half trillion after half trillion. In fact, as I said, the budget
he presented never ever, ever comes to balance. It borrows year after
year after year after year, as far as the eye can see.

I don't argue that that is not the easier decision to make today, Mr.
Speaker. It is. Doing nothing is always easier than doing the heavy
lifting. Spending and borrowing more, always easier than tightening
your belt and making the tough calls. Sacrificing our children's future
so that we don't have to make those tough decisions today, that may be
the easy call, but it is immoral. It is immoral, Mr. Speaker.

We have been able to cut budgets, as the gentleman from Indiana said,
4 years in a row for the first time, for the first time in my lifetime.
We are moving the needle, but there is more to do. And it can't be done
alone. It can't be done with just Republicans, it can't be done with
just Democrats, and it can't be done with just the Congress. It
requires the House Republicans and Democrats, it requires the Senate
Republicans and Democrats, and it requires the President of the United
States to come together to make those decisions that matter.

Mr. Speaker, we will be talking a lot more about this in the coming
weeks. I want to make sure that every American has all the answers they
need about how we are trying to prioritize in this budget.

But I want to be clear: the days of kicking the can down the road
ended when Republicans took over this Chamber in 2011. The trust and
confidence that we have earned in a bipartisan way over the last 4
years, we are going to continue today, and Senate willing--going back
to the obstructionist provisions I noted at the very beginning of this
hour, Mr. Speaker--Senate willing, we will conference the first budget,
agree on the first budget, have the first American budget in my entire
tenure in Congress.

The House has always done its job. This year, we have an opportunity
to have the Congress do its job collectively, and I look forward to
that conclusion.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to you for being down here with
me this afternoon, and I yield back the balance of my time.