Saturday, April 13, 2013

House Legislative Program


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   Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I yield to my friend from Virginia, the majority leader, for the purpose of inquiring about the schedule for the week to come.

   Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman from Maryland, the Democratic whip, for yielding.
   On Monday, the House will meet at noon for morning hour and 2 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
   On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House will meet at 10 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business.
   On Thursday, the House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes for the week are expected no later than 3 p.m.
   On Friday, no votes are expected.

   Mr. Speaker, the House will consider a few suspensions next week, a complete list of which will be announced by close of business today.
   In addition, we expect a robust debate next week on the importance of our Nation's cybersecurity. The House will consider a number of bipartisan bills to reduce the obstacles to voluntary information-sharing between the private sector and government, secure our Nation's infrastructure, better protect government systems, and combat foreign threats.
   A number of committees will bring bills to the floor next week, Mr. Speaker, including the Intelligence, Oversight and Government Reform, and Science Committees. In the coming months, I expect to continue to address cybersecurity legislation from additional committees, including Homeland Security and Judiciary.
   Of the bills coming to the floor, we will consider H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, under a rule. This important legislation is authored by Chairman Mike Rogers and cosponsored by Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger.

   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that information. I want to share his view that the cybersecurity legislation is critically important legislation. I know that there are still continuing differences with reference to the protection of individual citizens' privacy on this legislation, but I also know, as the gentleman has indicated, the critical nature of providing access and exchange of information so that we can protect Americans, protect our country, and protect our intellectual property and commercial property. So I would hope and expect that we would be working together in a bipartisan way to make sure that we can reach consensus so that we can see a bill signed.
   I want to say that I know that both you and I are pleased that Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger have been working so closely together in a bipartisan fashion to accomplish this objective.

   Mr. Leader, I hope you've noticed that earlier this week I gave a speech with reference to Make It In America. In that speech, I want you to know, if you missed it, I mentioned the jobs bill. I made a little fun of the jobs bill, as you recall, when you put it on the floor, but we all voted for it because it was a good bill. We put together five or six bills that had bipartisan support as they passed the House and Senate.
   
[Time: 12:30]
   We put them together, the President signed that bill, they were a step forward, they were part of our Make It In America agenda on our side and your jobs expansion, growth expansion on your side.
   What I said in my speech on Make it in America, which refers to manufacturing in America, growing things in America, selling them here and around the world, and doing what Americans are hopeful that we are focused on, and that is creating jobs, in that speech, Mr. Leader, I said that we needed to focus on four particular priorities.
   Number one, adopting and pursuing a national manufacturing strategy. As I'm sure you know, Mr. Leader, last Congress we passed the Lipinski bill, which came out of committee in a bipartisan fashion and passed this House in a bipartisan fashion. Unfortunately, it did not pass the Senate.
   You and I both know that if you're going to win, if you're going to succeed, you're going to have to have a plan to do so. This speaks to the coming together of business, labor, entrepreneurs, investors, as well as government, in terms of the partnership that we can play in ensuring that we are making things in America and that goods around the world have on them ``Made in America.''
   Secondly, we want to promote U.S. exports. You and I, Mr. Leader, have worked on that. We worked on that in a bipartisan fashion. This was another part of what we call Make It In America, the Export-Import Act. Your staff and my staff worked very diligently together to get that done, and we passed it in a bipartisan fashion.
   The third part of the Make It In America agenda focus would be encouraging manufacturers to bring jobs home. I think we have, Mr. Leader, an excellent opportunity, given the context of where we find ourselves, where salaries are going up overseas, where it is more expensive now to ship goods back to the United States because of transportation costs, the largest market in the world.
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   And, fourthly, as the gentleman knows, while there have been some differences, the President has expressed, you've expressed, I've expressed, our need to expand our energy supply, and particularly as we see the natural gas technology advancing, that the United States of America is going to be one of the least expensive energy venues in the world and have one of the best supplies in the world, which perhaps no one would have predicted 20 years ago but is a fact, all of which ought to go to helping us reinvigorate, expand manufacturing, and create middle class jobs, paying good wages and providing good benefits.
   Lastly, we want to ensure that we invest. And I notice the gentleman sent out a memo to your Members. I don't think we purloined a copy, but we did get a copy. You talked about investing and making sure that the quality of life and jobs were available for working Americans. We need to make sure that we invest, as you pointed out, as we believe strongly, in education and infrastructure and innovation, to make sure that we have the training necessary for people to be able to perform the jobs that are going to be required in the growing economy and the global marketplace.
   I say all that, Mr. Leader, to suggest that I would like to sit down with you so that we can talk together about how we mutually can move forward on what, as I say, we call a Make It In America agenda, but a jobs agenda, a growing the American economy agenda. I know you've been focused on that, we're focused on that. I'm hopeful we can do that, I think it will be positive for our country, and I think Americans will feel good about it.
   I yield to my friend.

   Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman, and
   really appreciate his remarks and willingness to sit down and see where we can find areas of agreement. Because as the gentleman and I have both expressed on this floor on many occasions, there is plenty of disagreement and no shortage of supply in this town of that.
   On the bigger issues of the fiscal situation of the country, we still struggle, Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman knows, on trying to come together. But I listened to the gentleman, and I know he's very committed, and has been to his agenda, Make It In America. As the gentleman knows, I gave a talk earlier this year at the American Enterprise Institute, which I spoke of an agenda of trying to make life work for more working people in this country.
   There is a lot in common that we have in these two programs, if you will. Because we talk about the kinds of things that will help working families, that will help working people get a job again. The gentleman's intention in a national manufacturing strategy, I'm sure, is to increase job availability; make sure that we have more American jobs.
   We also have a skills problem. We passed the SKILLS Act on the floor a couple of weeks ago. My hope is we can increase bipartisan support for things like that, because it was simply an attempt to respond to a GAO recommendation where there are 50 different job-training programs at the Federal level. Certainly we can do better than that. Certainly we can streamline and still protect the kinds of individuals that the statute asks us to, or requires protection of--the veterans, the folks who are on limited income that we can help put in place for employment. Because, after all, all of us believe that we are a society built on hard work, built on playing by the rules and getting ahead. So, I welcome the gentleman's commitment to those type of things.
   He mentions the need for us to invest and to look to the future. In fact, I have not only a budget and a spending plan of the future, but a real mentality on this floor of how we can work together for all Americans. I have talked a lot about this in this making life work for people and for families. Really, the priority that we place in this country on medical research, on research and development, because it is the seed corn of the future.
   While we are constrained by the current fiscal situation, it does bring to life setting priorities. We're not going to be able to fund everything, but certainly we can agree on trying to find medical cures, trying to understand how we can better discover therapies, treatments, so people can live longer and have a better quality of life. These are the kinds of things I look forward to working on with the gentleman as well, and I accept his invitation and look forward to being able to sit down.

   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that.
   Following on his observation, clearly what he says is we need to focus on priorities. I think he's absolutely right on that. I think one of the sad things is we have passed a fiscal posture in this country presently that does not focus on priorities, unfortunately, and that's called sequester, which, in effect, looks across the board at cutting both the highest priorities and the lowest priorities in similar ways.
   I would hope that we could obviate the sequester. I think it's bad for the country, I think it's bad for our future, I think it's bad for the growth in our economy. I would hope that we could also work on that.
   And towards that end I would say, Mr. Leader, you have talked about, and, in fact, we passed legislation that was designed to encourage and to require the passage of a budget by the Senate. The Senate has now passed a budget, we have passed a budget, the President has now presented a budget, so that we have three alternatives on the table now.
   I would hope that as soon as the Senate passes its bill to us, which I expect to be shortly, that we would go to conference in pursuance of an agreement which will give us a fiscally sustainable path for this country, give us confidence in this country that Congress can work, that the Nation's board of directors can work, in coming to a balanced compromise with respect to how we move forward with the finances of America. Now that we have, as I say, a Senate-passed budget, a House-passed budget, a budget presented by the President of the United States, obviously, there are things that each person in the country can disagree with and agree with presumably on each one of those budgets.
   
[Time: 12:40]
   I would hope that we would be going to conference as soon as possible so that we could address this critically important objective.
   I ask the gentleman if he has any information with respect to the intention to go to conference as soon as we receive the Senate bill, which, as I say, I think will be shortly.
   I yield to my friend.

   Mr. CANTOR. I would say to the gentlemen, Mr. Speaker, I, too, am glad that we have finally seen the Senate act and pass a budget. That is an accomplishment in and of itself. And the President also has finally proposed his budget. So the gentleman is right that we've got some things on the table that maybe we can start to discuss.
   I know that Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray are already in discussions about a path forward, and I look forward to the results of those discussions. And in concert with the gentleman's point earlier about setting priorities, it just seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the best way forward is to find areas where we agree and let's go make some progress on those things. Again, this town is full of division and disagreement, but there are things we have in common, in agreement in these three documents that I believe we can work on together.

   Mr. HOYER. I would simply observe--and he knows this as well as I do--that there will be an agreement on things that he perhaps does not agree with and there will be things in the agreement that perhaps I will not agree with. The secret, in my view, of getting agreement is going to be to have a comprehensive agreement that accomplishes the objective of bringing our finances to a fiscally sustainable path that's credible and believed by not only the economy, by investors, by the American people, but also by the international community.
   We've talked a lot about confidence, as I've indicated, in the past. You've talked a lot about confidence in the past. I think we all agree that our economy needs confidence to grow as robustly as we want it to create the kinds of jobs we want.
   Toward that end, can the gentleman tell me what plans we have at this point in time for the debt limit extension? I know there's some discussion of bringing a bill to the floor which will deal with that issue. Can the gentleman perhaps elaborate on what the
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plans are with respect to the debt limit that confronts us that will hit sometime around May 19?
   And I yield to my friend.

   Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.
   Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman has indicated, Mr. Speaker, the majority has committed itself to a budget that balances in 10 years. It is our desire that we can come to some agreement on how to do that. This is where the difficulty, again, comes in, where the President's proposal and budget raises a lot of new revenues. Some estimates have indicated it will create a trillion dollars in new taxes and won't ever balance.
   So we've certainly got a gulf between us, but it is our intention to work together to avoid the situation of default; and we are and do intend to consider a bill that will ensure we meet our legal obligations and do not default on our debt, which I'm sure the gentleman agrees with me, Mr. Speaker, is the responsible thing to do.

   Mr. HOYER. I certainly agree that defaulting on the debt is an extraordinarily irresponsible thing to do, and, in fact, we shouldn't do it. In fact, we shouldn't use it as a leverage point, in my view, to pretend that somehow going over the debt limit without extension is an acceptable political leverage point for either side.
   Both sides have sort of blamed the other for the deficits as we've confronted these debt limits. We've
   never come close, except in August of 2011, to defaulting, which was the first time, as the gentleman knows, when we were downgraded by 1 point by S&P. That's an irresponsible policy. I agree with the gentleman.
   Let me say that the advantage of a conference on this issue will be that transparently the American public will see the debate. The gentleman indicates a 10-year objective of balancing the budget without revenues. I personally believe that's impossible.
   I've said on this floor that if there were no Democrats in the Congress of the United States, either in the Senate or the House, that, frankly, your side of the aisle could not pass either the appropriation bills or the revenue bills or tax cuts that are suggested in Mr. Ryan's budget, which would accomplish your objective. I think we'll never know that, which is, I think, a happy circumstance on your side that that will never be put to the test.
   Having said that, I would hope that we could get to a place where we say the debt limit is not going to be subject to political maneuvering.
   Furthermore, let me say that the bill that we've been hearing about--in The Wall Street Journal there was an article that appeared just yesterday, I think:
   Fitch Ratings, a credit-rating firm, said Tuesday it wasn't clear whether the Treasury legally could prioritize bond payments over other government obligations.
   And it went on to say:
   If it did so, Fitch added, it was very likely the firm would downgrade its AAA rating of the U.S. debt.
   In other words, even if we say we're going to pay the debts or, as some people have said, even if we say we're going to pay the Chinese first and not invest in those things such as basic biomedical research--to which the gentleman referred, and I share his view of that being a priority of our country--and cut those as we pay the Chinese or other creditor nations back for what we borrowed, that would not be in the best interest of the United States.
   I would say that in both instances, either pretending that we're going to go over the debt limit and avoid it by simply paying the debt first and then cutting other things in some sort of order, neither of those policies is consistent, I think, with our responsibilities as Members of Congress.
   I will tell you that we will do it on a bipartisan basis, Mr. Leader. I use a very simple example for my constituents. You go to Macy's. You take out your Macy's credit card and you buy $200 worth of goods. You go home. Next week, you and your wife are sitting around the table or you and your husband are sitting around the table, and you say, You know, we're really in debt too much. We're going to limit it to $100. So Macy's sends you the bill for 200 bucks. You send them back a check for $100 and say, Sorry, we have a debt limit of $100. Macy's writes you back and says, We're sorry, too. We're not going to give you any additional credit and we're going to sue you. That's our debt limit.
   The debt limit, you and I both know, is not realistic. It's much more a political and demagoguing way of dealing with one another and dealing with the finances of this country.
   I would hope that you and the Speaker--both of whom I know have said not extending the debt limit is not a viable or a responsible option. I would hope that we could make that clear, that we're not going to do that and, in a bipartisan way, extend it, and perhaps extend it early enough so that it doesn't become even an item of consideration by any of the rating agencies or the international community.
   I yield to my friend.

   Mr. CANTOR. I would just respond to the gentlemen by saying this in terms of the family he talked about going to Macy's and making the charge of $200. I think most families would also think it's prudent to figure out how they're going to pay that bill before they go about incurring it, and that is the spirit in which I think the majority approaches the debt ceiling to say, How are we going to tell the people that we're going to pay off the debt that we've now gone ahead and incurred?
   I think a little bit of forethought here, planning into the future how we are going to pay the bills, is the emphasis. I've always agreed, as the gentleman said, the debt ceiling is something that is necessary for the operations of government. We'll bring a bill forward that will ensure that we don't go into default. But I do think that we should be mindful of how we're going to tell the public we're going to go into the future and pay off these debts. Because, as the gentleman, who has many children and grandchildren, he doesn't want his kids, nor do I want mine, to be shouldering the debts and paying our bills.
   
[Time: 12:50]
   We should be really committing ourselves not to just borrowing more, not to just taking more from taxpayer dollars, because we've done a lot of that this year already. When the gentleman talks about the need to proceed with revenues, we already have close to $650 billion of additional static revenues--taxes that are accounted for because of the fiscal cliff deal. So it's not that there are no revenues in the mix here.
   Again, I look forward to working with the gentleman. I appreciate his commitment to longevity in this country, to sustaining economic growth or to at least restarting it again so we can sustain it, and look forward to joining him in that effort.

   Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman.
   The way to do that plan of how to amortize our debt and invest in the priorities of this country--education, innovation, infrastructure, other basic biomedical research to which the gentleman referred--is to have a budget. That's the plan that the gentleman refers to. The way to get to a budget is to go to conference and come to an agreement.
   However, I will tell my friend what the problem we've had is: reaching compromise, and it's going to be necessary to compromise. As the gentleman observed and as I know, we have very substantial differences, but if the differences continue to create gridlock and no action, those children of which you spoke and I speak are going to suffer, so I would hope that we could move forward.
   The President's budget, I will tell the gentleman and as he probably knows, has about an almost 3-1 ratio between cuts and additional revenues, which is essentially, approximately, what most on the bipartisan commission--some have been 2-1, some 2.5-1--have recommended. I know the gentleman disagrees with that ratio, but it is certainly the President's view, which I share, that he has made a very positive proposal whether you agree with it or not, and a number of your Members have observed that it's a useful document.
   Given that context, hopefully, we can go to conference. Hopefully, we can come to agreement. Hopefully, we can see compromise reached, and hopefully put our country on the fiscally sustainable path that it needs to be.
   I yield back the balance of my time. 

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