[Congressional Record Volume 156, Number 36 (Friday, March 12, 2010)]
[House]
[Pages H1376-H1380]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                          LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM

  (Mr. CANTOR asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 
minute.)
  Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Maryland, 
the majority leader, for the purposes of announcing next week's 
schedule.
  Mr. HOYER. I thank my friend, the Republican whip, for yielding.
  Madam Speaker, on Monday the House will meet at 12:30 p.m. for 
morning-hour debate and at 2 p.m. for legislative business, with votes 
postponed until 6:30 p.m. On Tuesday the House will meet at 10:30 a.m. 
for morning-hour debate and 12 p.m. for legislative business. On 
Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10 a.m. for legislative 
business. On Friday, the House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative 
business.
  We will consider several bills under suspension of the rules, 
including a number of bills focused on improving government operations: 
the Plain Language Act, H.R. 946, by Representative Braley; H.R. 4720, 
Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act, by Representative 
Kirkpatrick of Arizona. A complete list of suspension bills will be 
announced by the close of business today, as is the custom.
  In addition, we will consider further action on H.R. 1586, the FAA 
Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. Further 
action on the jobs agenda is possible, and further action on health 
care legislation is also possible.

                              {time}  1130

  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  Madam Speaker, I think it has been well reported that the majority 
plans to try to use the reconciliation process to ram a health care 
bill through this House and the one across the Capitol, and we also 
know from the reports that it is imperative that this House and the 
House majority and members of the majority must first pass the Senate's 
health care bill before any other action on a reconciliation measure is 
taken. The gentleman has announced, Madam Speaker, that all this will 
take place next week.

[[Page H1377]]

  I wonder if the gentleman could give us a little bit more clarity as 
to the schedule and perhaps the need for Members to keep their 
schedules flexible through the weekend.
  Mr. HOYER. First, let me say that no matter how often the gentleman 
and his colleagues want to say so, that we are going to ``ram through'' 
something, no matter how many times the press and public may be misled 
by that assertion, we are not ramming through anything, I tell my 
friend.
  We are following the rules of the House and following the rules of 
the Senate that have been decades in existence, which, when they have 
been used, 72 percent of the time they have been used, 72 percent of 
the time they have been used, I tell my friend, your party used them. 
They are the rules, and we are going to follow the rules.
  Both bills that are pending before the Congress of the United States 
have been passed with a majority, and, in fact, the Senate bill was 
passed by a 60 percent majority, I tell my friend, not rammed through, 
after a full year of debate and discussion, scores of hearings, 
hundreds of witnesses, and thousands of hours of consideration.
  I tell my friend that you can say we are ramming something through as 
much as you want and it will not make it true, no matter how often it 
is said by your side of the aisle, who, in my opinion, wants simply to 
stop the legislation in its tracks.
  I tell my friend that we are going to be in the regular order, as we 
have been on these bills since they were introduced. We are going to be 
in the regular order in terms of considering the passage of bills that 
have received majorities in both Houses. As I say again, the Senate 
bill has received a 60 percent majority in its House.
  Now, the American public, frankly, I expect when we vote on bills, 
they expect things to pass by majority vote. They do here. They 
unfortunately don't in the other body. So you can have 59 percent, as 
we had in the House, to give children health care, and children don't 
get health care.
  So I say to my friend, as I said, the expectation is we will consider 
passing health care legislation this coming week. We think it is long 
overdue. We expect the Budget Committee to mark up a reconciliation 
bill, as the committee did when the Republicans were in charge on 16 
occasions out of the 22 that reconciliation has been used, 72 percent 
of the time, as I want to reiterate; because I, frankly, get a little 
impatient with this assertion that somehow a process that you utilized 
72 percent of the times it has been utilized, which means we used it 28 
percent, that somehow now when we are using it, it is somehow now not 
consistent with the rules. My friend knows it is consistent with the 
rules, and we are pursuing that process.
  The committee, I expect, will mark up on Monday. I expect thereafter 
the Rules Committee to meet, as is consistent with the rules, to 
prepare a reconciliation bill and to report it to this floor. I expect 
them to report a rule to consider that reconciliation bill, and I 
expect that reconciliation bill to be considered.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  Madam Speaker, all I asked was whether the Members should be prepared 
to be here over the weekend.
  Mr. HOYER. No, you said a number of things before that which I was 
responding to. But, yes, Members should prepare to be here next 
weekend.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  Madam Speaker, without having to delve back into the debate on what 
makes this health care bill different than the other times 
reconciliation was used, I think the American people are those that see 
the obvious.
  But I would ask the gentleman, since he says we will be employing 
regular order here in response to the President's request that there be 
an up-or-down vote in this House, could the gentleman give us some 
enlightenment as to the suggestion surrounding something called the 
``Slaughter solution'' and whether, in fact, Members can have an up-or-
down vote, clean up-or-down vote on this bill, or whether there will be 
some procedural maneuvering, self-executing rule deeming the Senate 
bill passed? If he could give us some indication of what we may be able 
to expect next week.
  Mr. HOYER. Of course, as the gentleman knows, the gentleman's party 
has used that process as well, as I am sure the gentleman knows. But, 
in any event, we will follow the rules. We will have a vote on the 
rule, consistent with the rules.
  I have not talked to the chairwoman of the Rules Committee at this 
point in time, so that I cannot give you a specific response and have 
not heard--this is the first I have heard something referred to in the 
terms you have just referred to it as. But we will provide for a rule 
for consideration of the Senate bill for reconciliation, and the 
process of doing so will be consistent with the rules.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  Madam Speaker, I would like to ask again, consistent with the 
President's request that there be an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill 
itself, can we expect an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill itself?
  Mr. HOYER. What the President was referring to, of course, in terms 
of an up-or-down vote, was a majority vote. One of the problems we have 
had in the Senate, as the gentleman knows and experienced as well when 
his party was in the majority, it is difficult to get an up-or-down 
vote when the majority of the Senate is for something. They have to get 
an extraordinary majority, some 60 votes, before they can bring a bill 
to the floor.

  That process, obviously, thwarts, does not facilitate, a vote by the 
majority. In fact, a minority in the Senate on a regular basis thwarts 
the will of the majority. That is what the President was referring to, 
that he wanted an up-or-down vote on that, and I expect we are going to 
get an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Why? Because in the Senate they 
have rules that we are going to follow, as you did in 16 out of the 22 
times, that allow for an up-or-down majority vote in the United States 
Senate.
  We have to have, as you know, a majority vote in the House, and we 
consistently do have measures that can fail or succeed, depending upon 
the will of the majority, as opposed to the thwarting by the minority.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  Madam Speaker, I know the gentleman would like to speak to the 
Senate. We are trying to focus on the House here and what the vote will 
look like. Since the gentleman has indicated that the President and he 
and all of America would like to see a vote up or down in this House as 
well, I would ask the gentleman whether we can expect an up-or-down 
vote on the health care bill itself or not.
  Mr. HOYER. I tell the gentleman that nothing will pass here without a 
majority vote.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  I take that to mean that there is a likelihood that we will not see 
an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill itself and that perhaps these 
reports of a concept called the Slaughter solution in which the 
majority will deem it passed, the Senate bill, in some type of 
procedural move, that maybe the public can expect that to happen. I 
know that the gentleman does not think that that represents the kind of 
vote that the American people expect, but I take that to mean that that 
certainly is a possibility.
  Madam Speaker, I would ask the gentleman whether he expects the House 
to have 72 hours to review whatever legislation comes to the floor next 
week.
  Mr. HOYER. I expect the House to have very significant time to 
consider the proposals that come out of the Budget Committee and/or the 
Rules Committee. And this bill, of course, either bill, the House bill 
or the Senate bill, as proposed, have been online for some 2\1/2\ 
months, otherwise known as about 75 days. So there has been ample time 
to review the bill, whether it is the Senate bill or the House bill. So 
my friend is, I am sure, well aware of what is in the Senate bill and 
what is in the House bill.
  In addition to that, the President put online his proposed 
compromises between the Senate and the House, which have been the 
subject of great discussion, including the bipartisan meeting that the 
gentleman and I attended at the White House, an extraordinary, 
historical meeting at which the President invited leaders from both 
parties and both Houses to come and discuss what he believed to be a 
historic opportunity to provide health care accessibility to all 
Americans.

[[Page H1378]]

  So I say to my friend that we will certainly give as much notice as 
possible, but I am not going to say that 72 hours is going to be the 
litmus test, per se, because that which we have voted on already in the 
House and the Senate have given Members months of notice and the 
American public months of notice on the substance of the propositions 
that are pending before us.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  Again, I am a little bit taken aback that now the 72-hour rule has 
been completely cast aside, since no one in this House has had an 
opportunity to see what is in the reconciliation bill, at least I speak 
for the Members on our side of the aisle that have not had an 
opportunity to see what is in the reconciliation bill, and I imagine 
would have some of the provisions that the President in his plan, not 
the legislation, put up online prior to the Blair House meeting.
  Again, it is rather disturbing, Madam Speaker, that the 72-hour rule 
has now been completely cast aside.
  Mr. HOYER. First of all, the 72-hour rule, I didn't say that we were 
casting aside any rule, nor did I say that we may not have more than 72 
hours' notice. You may well have more than 72 hours' notice. What I 
said to you was I am not going to commit myself and then have 70 hours 
as opposed to 72 hours and think that I have violated some 
representation that I made. We want to give as much notice as we 
possibly can.
  This has been a very difficult discussion, as you know, and as you 
well know, the Members on your side of the aisle in the other body have 
indicated they are going to do everything in their power to stop the 
passage of this legislation. So we need to get about this business and 
engage, if you will.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  I guess the gentleman may begin to understand why it is some on our 
side of the aisle, including yours truly, depict this as ramming the 
bill through. I mean, if we can't even get a commitment from the 
gentleman, as well as the Speaker had indicated prior, that we would 
have 72 hours to review any piece of legislation that comes to the 
floor, I think that that is consistent with the depiction that perhaps 
there is a ramming through going on.
  Mr. HOYER. The gentleman has had 72 days, I tell the gentleman, to 
review the bill that he refers to--72 days, not 72 hours--72 days in 
final form to review the bill.
  Now, you can keep saying this. You can keep telling the American 
public that somehow we are ramming something through. You have had, I 
tell the gentleman, and you know you have had, 72 days, at least, to 
review the bill as it stands today.
  Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I tell the gentleman again, we are 
expecting, as he said, to see a new bill, a reconciliation bill on the 
floor next week. That bill, no one on our side of the aisle has had an 
opportunity to see. Perhaps the Congressional Budget Office has had 72 
hours to see it, but we haven't. No one, I believe, has had 72 hours in 
this body to see the reconciliation bill. That is the bill that I am 
speaking to.

                              {time}  1145

  Mr. HOYER. Let me repeat the process that I'm sure the gentleman 
knows well. The Budget Committee will meet. They will report out the 
bills that are to be reconciled. The Rules Committee will then take 
them under consideration shortly thereafter and will present a 
reconciliation bill. We will all see it at that point in time. It will 
obviously do exactly what the instructions that we adopted in the 
budget a year ago instructed it to do, and that is to reconcile these 
bills.
  And it will have a fiscally positive effect, in my view. I haven't 
seen it yet finally, but my expectation is it will have a positive 
fiscal impact, and we will all see that. But it will be simply 
following the instructions that the Budget Committee in the budget 
passed. I don't think the gentleman voted for it; but, nevertheless, 
the majority of the House did vote for it.
  I know that the other body doesn't like majority will. Maybe that is 
not the case here. But I will tell the gentleman that, yes, he is going 
to see the reconciliation bill. And as I said, the reconciliation bill, 
which will be drafted by the Rules Committee after the Budget Committee 
reports to it, the process that you followed on a regular basis when 
you utilized reconciliation. We will hope to have as much notice of 
that particular piece of legislation as possible.
  But I tell my friend, again, when he refers to the health care bill, 
the Senate bill or the House bill, you have had months to review the 
substance of that bill. You don't like it. We understand it. You're 
going to oppose it. We understand that as well. But the fact of the 
matter is you cannot say that you have not had notice of each and every 
one of its provisions for over 2 months.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman, Madam Speaker.
  And, again, it seems as if we are not going to get an up-or-down vote 
on the Senate bill in the House, but we will be voting on a 
reconciliation measure. And the instructions that were included in the 
budget bill are not legislative text. That is my point, Madam Speaker.
  But since we are not going to, since we cannot be guaranteed a 72-
hour period for review, Madam Speaker, nor can the American people 
realize their right to know during the 72-hour period, I would ask the 
gentleman whether the reconciliation package will contain the House 
language referred to as the Stupak-Pitts language.
  I yield.
  Mr. HOYER. I don't have knowledge of that at this point in time; so I 
can't give my friend a definitive answer. But as my friend does know, 
that language, or any other alternative language, may not qualify for 
reconciliation.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  I would just like to, Madam Speaker, read a recently reported 
statement by the gentleman in which he said, it is clear that the 
matter of abortion cannot be dealt with per se in the reconciliation 
bill; so we are pretty much going to have to deal with it as is at this 
point in time.
  I ask the gentleman if that is a correct translation of his remarks 
today.
  I yield.
  Mr. HOYER. It wasn't a translation. It was an accurate reporting of 
what I said.
  Mr. CANTOR. So, Madam Speaker, I would take that to mean the Stupak-
Pitts language will not be in the reconciliation package.
  Mr. HOYER. As I said, we don't believe that any change in that 
language--because the gentleman is well aware reconciliation needs to 
deal with budgetary impact--we don't believe that can be dealt within 
reconciliation.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  I would say to the gentleman that I'm sure he has seen a letter that 
has been signed by 41 Senate Republicans in which they indicated they 
would oppose any effort to waive the so-called Byrd rule during the 
Senate's consideration of the reconciliation bill, which means to me, 
Madam Speaker, it is far from certain that the Senate will actually 
pass the bill when the House sends it to the Senate. And, in fact, I 
would just call that to the gentleman's attention that we stand ready 
to continue to work in another direction, but it seems to me very much 
in doubt with this bill.
  Mr. HOYER. Will my friend yield on that issue?
  Mr. CANTOR. I will yield.
  Mr. HOYER. That is an interesting letter. I'm glad you brought it up, 
because you brought it up in juxtaposition to the issue of the Stupak 
amendment. What the letter essentially said is, even if you send over 
the Stupak language and we agree with the Stupak language, we will not 
waive the Byrd rule.
  So even though they agree with the policy, they won't waive the Byrd 
rule. Why? They want to defeat the bill. We understand that. That is 
what that letter said. And I think Americans probably, if they knew 
enough about the process and could take the time to do what you and I 
do to follow this very closely, they know what is going on.
  And, very frankly, it is ironic that 41 Senators will say, 
notwithstanding the fact that they may agree with the proposition that 
we put in the bill and sent over to them, that they would not waive the 
rule to adopt the proposition with which they agree for procedural 
purposes of defeating the bill.
  Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman.
  I would indicate that in that letter there is no specific language 
that directly relates to an abortion provision or any other. And the 
gentleman I know agrees that this country has had

[[Page H1379]]

a longstanding tradition of denying government funding for abortion 
services. That is the very important issue behind the Stupak-Pitts 
language. In fact, 45 Senators voted in favor of that language, just as 
a majority of this House voted for that language. That is why it is so 
important, I think, that the Members, as well their constituents, 
understand that you will not be including the Stupak-Pitts language 
with the protection that will guarantee no government funding goes 
toward abortion services, which is why I bring the point up, Madam 
Speaker.
  Mr. HOYER. As the gentleman knows, the language in the Senate bill 
specifically provides for no government funding. I know there is a 
dispute because there is a contribution towards policies. But, as you 
know, the Senate drew language very carefully to ensure that no public 
funds were spent for or participated in purchasing insurance for 
abortion services.
  In fact, as the gentleman, I'm sure, well knows, the Senate language 
specifically provides that if those protections are going to be 
purchased, they must be purchased by separate payment with none, either 
subsidy dollars or government dollars, that they must be spent out of 
an individual's personal pocket.
  Mr. CANTOR. Madam Speaker, I say to the gentleman, if that is his 
interpretation and belief that this language in the Senate bill 
protects that longstanding tradition, that may be. However, the U.S. 
Catholic Bishops as well as Right to Life have strongly, strongly 
opposed the language in the Senate bill as not having the adequate 
safeguards to deny government funding of abortion services.
  I yield.
  Mr. HOYER. This is an extraordinarily difficult issue not only for 
the Congress but for Americans generally and for individuals. There is 
a dispute on this language, he is correct. As he knows, neither side 
likes the language in the Senate bill. One side, the pro-choice side if 
you will, for simplification, believes that the language goes beyond 
the Hyde language. The Catholic bishops believe it is short of the Hyde 
language. There is a difference of opinion on that. I think the 
gentleman understands that well. There are other groups which believe 
that, in fact, the language that is in the Senate bill does, in fact, 
as I have projected it does, preclude any public dollars from being 
spent, which is consistent with the Hyde language.

  I tell my friend that from our perspective on this side of the aisle, 
there is no intent nor objective of changing the Hyde language in any 
health care legislation that is adopted. The President has indicated 
that is his intent. That is our intent. And that is why we are 
proceeding in the manner we are.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman for his clarification of his 
intent. I would just say again the Catholic bishops, as well as the 
right-to-life organizations, stand very much in opposition to this 
language. I stand with them.
  I would say to the gentleman, Madam Speaker, that the Parliamentarian 
in the Senate has ruled that the Senate cannot take up the 
reconciliation package until the Senate-passed health care bill is 
signed into law. That is the bill, Madam Speaker, that contains 
provisions such as the Cornhusker kickback. And I would ask the 
gentleman if it is his position that that would be the case that this 
House must pass the Senate bill first, it must be signed into law 
before the Senate can even take up the reconciliation package.
  I yield.
  Mr. HOYER. I think the gentleman correctly states the Senate 
Parliamentarian's position, and therefore I think the gentleman is 
correct on that observation. I might say to him, while I do not know 
the entire thrust of the reconciliation bill, I can guarantee him this: 
The reconciliation bill will take out that Nebraska provision which 
offended him, offended me, and I think offended people across America, 
not because it advantaged Nebraska, but because it advantaged Nebraska 
unequally.
  I think the gentleman is going to be pleased that Nebraska will be 
treated like every other State; and, in fact, every other State will be 
advantaged to the same extent that the Senator wanted to make sure that 
Nebraska was advantaged. But the Nebraska provision to which the 
gentleman speaks, and which all of us have felt was inappropriate, will 
be changed.
  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
  In closing, Madam Speaker, I look forward to working with the 
gentleman in trying to refocus the issue of this House on getting 
Americans back to work. And the gentleman did indicate that there will 
be further action in what he is calling a ``jobs agenda.'' Certainly 
that didn't happen today, as we are here already having finished the 
legislative business of the day and only having considered a bill 
dealing with algae.
  I only mention this because 52 percent of Americans do think that 
jobs and the economy are the Nation's top issue; and, by contrast, only 
13 percent of Americans think that health care is our Nation's top 
priority. This was according to a CBS-New York Times poll.
  So I do thank the gentleman for his willingness, hopefully, to get 
back to the question of how we get America back to work.
  Mr. HOYER. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. CANTOR. I yield.
  Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  First of all, let me say to the gentleman from Virginia that Maryland 
and Virginia and a lot of other States think the bill we passed through 
this House on algae is critically important to the health of the 
Chesapeake Bay. I'm sure the gentleman shares that view with me, a 
critically important bill for the health of our bay and its estuaries. 
I happen to live on a river, the Patuxent River, and the gentleman's 
State feels the Chesapeake Bay is a major asset of his, as well and of 
his State. So I know that he is pleased that we passed that bill. It 
was an important bill.
  We are here trying to make sure that we have the time to get ready to 
pass a major historic piece of legislation that Teddy Roosevelt set us 
on the path to accomplish over a century ago so that we have 
accomplished, I think, a significant piece of legislation today.
  Let me say that in addition to that, we believe the jobs agenda is 
very important. We passed a bill through here last week. The Senate 
passed a bill over to us. We are in the process of considering those 
bills. And I want to say to the gentleman that I share his view, that 
we look forward to working together to try to get Americans back to 
work.
  I won't go through the litany of how we got here. The gentleman has 
heard it before. But I will tell the gentleman this part of it, that in 
4 months of the last administration, as he well knows, we lost over 
700,000 jobs per month. During the last 4 months here, we have lost 
27,000 jobs per month. That is a 95 percent reduction in the loss of 
jobs. Surely anybody who is fair-minded will say that is progress. It 
is not success. We need to create jobs. We have lost 8 million jobs 
over the last 2 years.
  People are hurting in America. Families are hurting in America. We 
need to get people back to work. We are going to keep continuing to 
make sure that when they can't find a job because they are not 
available that they don't go hungry, that they can support themselves 
and their families, not to the level that they would if they were 
working, but certainly support themselves in a way that we think is 
humanitarian. So those are included in those bills, as the gentleman 
knows.
  I will tell the gentleman that we feel keenly the pain of the 
American public confronting this historic great recession, the deepest 
recession that we have seen in 75 years. The gentleman knows that in 
the decade of the 1990s, we saw the best economy that you and I have 
seen in our lifetime, and I, of course, am very substantially older 
than you are. That is an admission against interest, but it 
nevertheless is true. So I will yield back to the gentleman saying we 
share your view. We want to continue to work on this jobs agenda.

                              {time}  1200

  Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman for his view of history. I also 
would like to say to the gentleman, Madam Speaker, I share his 
commitment to the preservation of the Chesapeake Bay. I do, however, 
think that the American people are most interested in seeing us get 
back to the business of focusing on the economy. That is why I

[[Page H1380]]

raised the issue of our being here today, not doing anything today to 
promote job creation.
  And as far as any quarrel we may have with history as to why we got 
or how we got to where we are today, I would just like to quote to the 
gentleman in closing Winston Churchill's speech to the House of Commons 
June 18, 1940. And he said, ``Of this I'm quite sure, that if we open a 
quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have 
lost the future.''
  And with that, Madam Speaker, I yield back.

                          ____________________