Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1732, Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015; Providing for Consideration of Conference Report on S. Con. Res. 11, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, Fiscal Year 2016; and Providing for Consideration of H. J. Res. 43, Disapproval of District of Columbia Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014

Floor Speech

Date: April 30, 2015
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, this is House Resolution 231 down here today. I have got a copy right here. It has been so long since the Reading Clerk read this to us that folks may have forgotten. This represents a lot of what I would argue is best about this institution, and I want to take a little pride and tell folks about what the Rules Committee has been working on.

It makes in order H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015.

As you may know, Mr. Speaker, the EPA and others are hard at work, I would argue, at trying to exert brand-new jurisdiction over waters currently regulated by the State of Georgia. It is the largest power grab over water I have seen in my lifetime and, I would argue, in the history of the Republic. This bill aims to roll that back. Yet, as the committee reported it, there are always other folks who have ideas, so what the Rules Committee did is to make in order every single Democratic amendment that was offered to this resolution.

If we vote to support this rule today, we will consider this bill. The House will work its will, and it will work its will by considering every single Democratic alternative that was offered. I think that is an important step. It is going to make the legislation better when we move it to final passage, and I am glad this rule provides for that. I hope folks will support that underlying rule.

Passing this rule today will make in order S. Con. Res. 11, the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2016.

Mr. Speaker, I almost feel like I need to explain what a concurrent resolution on the budget is because, if you are like more than half the Members of this House, you have never seen one before. More than half the Members of this House have never served when the United States of America got together and passed a budget. It is outrageous, Mr. Speaker. That was yesterday that it was outrageous, and today is about the opportunity to do this.

The House worked its will on the budget. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, the Rules Committee made in order every single budget alternative that was offered, both Republican and Democrat. The House debated. The House worked its will. We passed a product. We worked that product out with the Senate. If we pass this rule today, Mr. Speaker, it will be in order to debate the first concurrent budget in my congressional tenure--these two terms--and the first balanced budget since 2001, but only if we make this rule in order.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, is H.J. Res. 43, disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council, that this rule will make in order.

Now, for folks who don't follow that, we don't see it that often. In fact, since Republicans first took over Congress for the first time in 40 years back in 1994, we have never seen one of these resolutions before. It is the first one, but it comes from the District of Columbia Home Rule Act. As you know, Mr. Speaker, the Constitution delegates to Congress all of the authority for governing the District of Columbia. It is article I, section 8. All of the authority for the governing of the District of Columbia lies in this body.

In 1974, we passed the D.C. Home Rule Act, which allowed for the coordinated governance of D.C., and it included this resolution of disapproval allowing Congress to come back and reject actions that the District of Columbia has taken. Again, folks will not have seen this unless you were in Congress in 1991 when Democrats were controlling the House and Democrats were controlling the Senate. Unless you were here then, you would not have seen one of these resolutions passed. It was last passed in 1991 with folks rejecting the deliberations of the D.C. Council.

This rule makes in order the consideration of that joint resolution again today. It is exactly what was contemplated when, for the very first time in the history of the United States of America, the Congress delegated some of the power of controlling the District of Columbia to the city itself. In the language that designated that authority to begin with, it provided for this resolution of disapproval. For the first time in almost 20 years, this House is considering one of those today.

That is what you get in this rule, Mr. Speaker. It provides for debate on all of the Democratic amendments offered; it provides for debate on those bills that are exactly as the D.C. Home Rule Act anticipated; and it provides for debate on the first conferenced budget that most Members in this House have ever seen. It is a shame this is the first time we have had an opportunity to do it, but, golly, is it exciting that we have an opportunity to do that together today.


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

Mr. Speaker, for folks who were just turning on the TVs back in their office, they may think we are in the middle of issue debate right now--not the case. We can get into issue debate as soon as we pass this rule to begin that debate.

What makes me so proud about the work that we do in the Rules Committee is that it makes in order the ability to have these kinds of in-depth discussions.

We can't have this kind of discussion right here--there are three topics in this bill--because these three topics in this bill will come later in the day, each being discussed individually.

I will go back to where I began, Mr. Speaker. We are exercising responsibilities of the Constitution under Article I, section 8, that require us to do oversight on the District of Columbia. Similarly, we are pushing back on executive overreach in H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act. That is that big Federal grab over all the water that our States are currently regulating. And finally, we will be bringing up that balanced budget, the first reconciled budget that most in this Chamber have ever seen.

This rule makes that debate possible. It will be a free and open debate on the budget, as we allowed every single budget to be debated earlier on this floor, it is going to be an open debate on H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, where the Rules Committee made in order every Democratic suggestion that was offered there, every amendment that came before the Rules Committee. And it will be an up-or-down vote after debate on H.J. Res. 43, the resolution of disapproval, as the very 1974 act that provided for self-governance of the District of Columbia anticipated.

If we pass this rule, Mr. Speaker, we can get into that substance, and I look forward to a robust debate on all three of those topics.


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

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I love about this institution is my colleagues come to the floor with different life experiences. They come with different opinions. They come with a different set of bosses. The 700,000 folks that I call my boss back home in Georgia, I am sure, have very different views than those who call themselves the boss of my friend from Massachusetts.

But I tell you, the three bills that this rule makes in order--not that this rule declares a foregone conclusion of passage. No. It just makes in order for debate on the floor of this House. These three bills are exactly the kind of thing that this House should be working on, and I am proud to bring it today.

Number one, Mr. Speaker, I don't serve on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That is where this resolution of disapproval has come from. I did last cycle. I don't this cycle. I have heard colleague after colleague come to the floor and defend the rights of not being fired because your sister or your daughter or your son or your brother used birth control.

Mr. Speaker, that is outrageous. I can't imagine that someone would be fired for what their sister or their brother does in terms of their reproductive health choices. I agree. I agree. And if there is an opportunity to work together to prevent that from happening--that is apparently happening en masse here in the District of Columbia--I want to be a part of it.

But the truth is, it is not happening en masse. In fact, it is not happening at all. It is not happening at all.

Mr. Speaker, I do not mind being lectured by my friends to get back to the business of the people. I do not mind. In fact, I am onboard with it every single day of the week. We can start earlier, and we can start later, and I will be here. But do not, Mr. Speaker, do not lecture me on getting about the business of the people and come down with story after story after story that is not what this legislation is about, that is not a problem, that is not something that any of us disagree on.

Mr. Speaker, we have some legitimate disagreements on this floor, and if we pass this rule, we will be able to get into the nitty-gritty of those disagreements.

But we do not disagree on the freedom of family members to make their own reproductive health choices without it impacting our own employment.

I will say to my friend sincerely: if we can find a case in the District of Columbia--I don't mean a case this year; I don't mean a case last year; I mean a case ever of that happening--seek me out as your partner, and I will help you. Because what folks seem to miss here in this conga line of frustration is that if we reject the D.C. Council's resolution, we return D.C. to the law of the land as it exists, when? Today. We don't take a single right away from anybody. We don't take a single freedom away from anybody. We are not interested in doing that whatsoever. What we are interested in doing is protecting religious freedom.

It turns out, if you live in Washington, D.C., Mr. Speaker, you might work for an institution that lobbies for life. You might work for an institution that focuses on faith. This is a town of ideas, Mr. Speaker.

In the rush to pass a piece of legislation--these are not my words. These are the words of Vincent Gray in his letter to the members of the council of the District of Columbia:

In the rush to push this bill through, the council did not take the time to protect this cathedral of freedom that we have here, did not take the time to make sure that that first and most important of our constitutional freedoms was protected.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Constitution is the Constitution. There is nothing that the District of Columbia can do to undermine the Constitution. But they can cause a lot of problems for folks along the way. This is a resolution of disapproval to prevent that from happening.

Mr. Speaker, the second bill that is here, H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, my friends suggest that we are talking about clean water in this country, that this is about Republicans undermining clean water.

I will say again, as I said about the resolution of disapproval: if we pass this bill, we will roll the regulatory environment of clean water so far back, it will be just like it is today. That is what we are going to do. I just want to be clear about those radical ideas that my friends on the left have suggested.

If we have the will in this body to pass this bill, we are going to roll regulations so far back, it will be exactly like it is as I am standing here today.

Mr. Speaker, what this bill is about is preventing the regulatory overreach going forward.

Guess what: I live in Gwinnett County, Georgia. I challenge you to have a water treatment plant that does a better job than we do. We have a water fountain right there where the sewage gets treated, Mr. Speaker. You can go ahead and press that water fountain and have yourself a drink. That is how clean it is. We put it back into the lake cleaner than we take it out of the lake.

I will not be lectured by my friends in an executive office downtown about how to clean water in the State of Georgia. I promise you, I care more about clean water in Georgia than anyone on Pennsylvania Avenue does. We are succeeding today.

If we have a problem with State regulation of clean water, come to me. I will be your partner. We will work on that together.

The problem is not that Georgia isn't doing a good job. The problem is, the Feds are planning to get in the way of Georgia doing a good job. This bill will stop it. If we pass this rule, we will be able to have that debate.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the bill that makes me the proudest is our concurrent budget resolution. My friends have lots to say about why it is this budget doesn't balance. Let's be clear: I believe that they are wrong.

But what is more important in this discussion, Mr. Speaker, is that my friends don't want the budget to balance. We had a free and open debate on this floor. We considered every budget that any Member of this Chamber wanted to offer, every single one.

An interesting thing happened, Mr. Speaker. Every Republican budget that was introduced balanced within 10 years and didn't raise taxes on hard-working Americans. Every single budget the Democrats introduced never balanced--not in 10 years, not in 20 years, not in 100 years--and every single one raised taxes on hard-working Americans by trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars in new taxes, and it still didn't reach balance.

My friends, I understand we have a fundamental disagreement about how this country ought to be run, and I am glad that we have that debate here in this Chamber. We are a deliberative body. I respect the opinions of my friends. I do believe there is a common ground that we can come to. But, Mr. Speaker, this is that common ground today.

For years, the budget wasn't even passed in the United States Senate, much less try to bring it together so that the House and the Senate are working off a single page of music.

For the first time since 1991, this Chamber has done its job in concert with the Senate. It is no small thing. Far from being something to be criticized, it is something to be celebrated.

I don't know where the votes are going to be, Mr. Speaker. Conferencing something with the Senate is hard. I promise you that my bosses back home in Georgia have a much more conservative view of the world than many of the folks do in the United States Senate. But guess what, I don't get everything I want every day. But what I get is an opportunity to come together to build that bridge of common ground and agreement.

That is the agreement we have before us today--not my ideas, not Democratic ideas, not Republican ideas, but collaborative House-Senate ideas--a budget for the Federal Government for the first time in 15 years.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues: Take a look at this rule. You will be proud. Take a look at the work of the hard-working people in the Rules Committee upstairs--nine Republicans, four Democrats getting together late in the evening, trying to make the rules work--you will be proud.

Every single Democratic amendment was made in order on the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act. The resolution of disapproval, brought exactly as the Home Rule Act intended: last used by Democrats to disapprove; today used by this Chamber.

And finally, that budget brought only after every single Member's ideas were debated, and the best rose to the top.

Mr. Speaker, I urge strong support from all of my colleagues for this fair and honest rule.