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tv   Public Affairs  CSPAN  July 31, 2013 1:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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and if you are had a rationed, you'll be able to -- hss able t. that's what we are doing y. empo know their federal government will never ask the question no. in no way shape or form are these personal this affects when a member of our federal employment is doing their official duty and calling a private citizen. and of course the private citizen should have the right and the federal government -- this isn't a personal call, this isn't one in which you should expect to be able to sayatev yot private, these are public conversations, these are public investigations, and p should have a right to protect itself. i reserve the balance of my time. . the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from kale reserves, he gentleman from maryland is
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mr. cummings: at first, we did have certain exceptions for law enforcement consistent with these concerns. that's not in the bill. as fac today, july 31, 2013, we have a letter from the federal bureau of nvestigation that says, h.r. 2711, talking about the bill that's on the floor right now, 2711 creates a brot right to record conversations with federal employees. nd requires that notices ght t employees without any exceptions related to criminal investigations. this proposal risks undermg cri law enforcement and would result in the recordings law enforcement conversations that could jeopardize sensitived
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important counterterrorism investigations. at's from the federal bureau association. i want to yield two memb of the the grtatf lala gentleman is recognized for two mr. cl -- the speaker pro tempore: the minutes. er. clay: i rise today i and mie privacy rights of federal employees and would negatively impact law bill would assume th every federal employee consents toaving any conversation recoe ctingial pacity. the bill contains no exceptions for law enforcement il personne this bill oopposed by the national associatio assistant u.s. it aso letter, they
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said paag of this legislation as approved by the house and 24, dissee dedicated and brave public servants in thunfices anla work tirelessly to pursue justice on behalf. the national treasury employees union also wrote, in opposition they said, h.r. 2711r official interaction by any executive telephonen person, should be allowed recorded the other party, andcircumstances these executive br employees must notif the other party of their r be subject to
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lina action. areade in theor l enforcement o rushed through just to get it on the floor tim house leadership message endaagrrsibl legislating and shouldated. ge and mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman fma reserves. the gentleman from calniecogniz. tes to the gentleman from pennsylvania a longtime businessman and someone wh knows firsthandou abus mr.elly. thker o tempore: the gelen is recognized for two minutes. mr thank the chairman and mr. speaker. i rise in support of. 2711, i hear about protecting rig and how important it is
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government to do the things private your office and saying, i'm recording this, i have a lawyer we're going t out of bini said give me time a get my and tape what you're saying to me. is this a vernmeha r theo my goodness have we gotenin out intelligen re of arrogance unbe but you can't ca have a whois evyt you've done but god he y if y t to look into what i've done. if going t restore trust in this go, it's sides. this is notssue. thin ian
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to work for, nothing to ence nd in helping to form a governme tat we're siin here today and saying, it's not ok far priv citizen toor the governmentcan do just the it's really don't want to get legal has no right, we've watch it may be funny to, may be funny when you, i'do and gethe government. it is not just chilling, it is freezing. you have to sit pack and for. this private you say. stumble or e oking rkinfor rithghts t is a govern government. it's time to restore trust in this government and i thank you. the speaker pro tempore:he man from california reserves. the gema the gentleman
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iscogned.gs: yield five from any hoyer. g there's seven bills, time is short. just a fe down governmt act. we passed three out of the appropriat b'r supposed to u final passage, worst congresseeor in which the unrstanding, eman who spoke employees as they would have all quit. they would have allal h e said epit tha spit whothe gentleman read but
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these to sul? and some of them are ok, thcumsnces are in record, frankly if theyo hangjust don't. see the problem with you people, are you so busy working trying to make ends meet, you don't understand how government works. we can twist it, we can turn it, we can say anything we want, and what we can you is to believe it. you know what the american people are telling us? i don't believe you anymore. i don't trust you ymore. i don't understand why i can be held accountable for everything i do, but other folks that work for me can to what they want. anoy them. we'll push them off to another area. they won't lose a penny. and we'll bring them back in among some other title, another agentcy. i want to give those managers of
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those agencies the tools that they have requested of us in congress. give them the ability to hold people accountable. now, who am i talking about? i'm talking about the senior executives. i'm not talking about every gallon and guy who walks into an office every day that does great work for the american people. let's not get confused. please, don't spin it. my days of riding a merry-go-round are over. show should yours. we should fix this, but we have to put things in there that make it possible to hold people accountable. people that raised me, the people that i have worked for, the people that i have played under as coaches hold you accountable for everything you dofmentthrr repercussions for doing the wrong thing -- and there are repercussions for doing the wrong thing. you don't give them a pat on the back, go home for a while, don't worry about pay. the american taxpayers will pick that up. we'll keep you safe, we'll keep you covered, this is the creme
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de la cream, top of the bunch, this isn't all those people you see walking, they don't -- i don't want to get confused with the gentleman from maryland about sequestration, this is about what's fair for the nation. i'm sick and tired of having everybody say you don't understand. pour it in the blender, we'll pour it on and they'll drink it. no they won't. the american people are choking because we talk walshese which -- washingtonese which nobody understands. it's about accountability. i will tell you what, i would like to see accountability not just in the government employee accountability act but also in members of this great legislation, my goodness. if we don't understand what madison said, and we are truly not ruled by angels, we know that, we are obliged to put in elements that force us because we won't do the right thing on our own, force us to do the right thing for the american taxpayers and those men and women who get up every day, throw their feet out over the
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bed and go to work. you know why they do it? because they love their families, they love their country. and they know they have to do it. so, mr. chairman, thank you so much for allowing this piece of legislation to come forward. i can't tell you how proud i am to be a member of this body. we may disagree on some things, but people tell me, the problem is you don't understand. i said no, no, the problem is i do understand. just don't agree. i understand it so well that if we don't right these wrongs this great, great country will never be what it was supposed to be. for us to sit here as a body and allow it to happen, say you know what, two tough a vote. man, some people are not going to like me for this. i may not get elected the next time. i just say, you know what, get a stomach, get a stronger back, and to what's right for america. this is about what's right for the true americans that keep
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this great organization. so having said that, mr. chairman, i thank you so much for allowing me to give a speech. please, if angels were to govern men neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. isn't it amazing that over 225 years ago the same thing rings true today. if it were really angels running the organization, we wouldn't have these conversations and we would go ahead every day and say all right. we are not. we are ruled by men. men make mistakes. men need to be held accountable when they make a mistake. and i want to make sure that each of us, whatever party you represent, is able to go to your home district and say i did what was right for you today. i did what was right for you, your children, grandchildren. i did what was right for america. with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from -- mr. cummings: mr. chairman, before yielding to mr. lynch, i want to say one thing.
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i listened to the gentleman and i have the utmost respect for him. but i remind him that this is american jurisprudence. that has had the concept of innocent until proven guilty for as long as he just talked about. mr. kelly: would the gentleman yield? mr. cummings: i listened he very carefully, you had an outstanding speech. i want to make sure we are clear on something. e senior executives, right now, suspected of criminal activity may already be removed or replaced for an indefinite suspension without pay. need to focus on improving agency implementation. talking about the neely case, rather than passing legislation that would deprive employees of their due process rights. might want it keep in mind there is a little thing called the constitution of the united states of america that every two
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years we come and we swear we are going to uphold. part of that constitution is about due process. and that's what we are trying to adhere to here. and i think we have to be very careful when we start looking at individual cases. we are making legislation for federal employees throughout this country, and so i just want to be -- want -- provide some caution. right now i want to yield to the distinguished gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized. mr. lynch: i thank the gentleman for yielding. it is -- first of all i want to say i have the utmost respect and affection for the gentleman from pennsylvania. he and i are friends. but i must say that he's wrong on this case. it's ironic that you choose james madison as the one person that you rely upon in your
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argument because it was james madison that actually drafted the due process clause. he was the one that took the recommendations from the delegates from new york and actually drafted the text. he made his own amendments to the due process clause that we today rely upon to protect our constitutional rights. let me also talk about the senior executive service in our federal government. those are the employees that rise to the top. they do after years of serving, in many cases because of their expertise and their -- in protecting our veterans at the v.a. hospitalses, but the senior executive service is an experienced core of dedicated federal employees who provide institutional stability and continuity across administrations and they serve as a vital link between political appointees, frontline managers, and the federal work force. we don't want each administration coming in and saying for no reason, well, i'm a republican.
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i'm going to fire all the executives in the senior executive service. we don't want a democrat coming in and saying ok, i'm going to fire all these republicans who are in senior positions. so one of the protections we provide is due process of law. and despite the important role that senior executive service employees pay in the federal government, this bill, this bill that's on the floor today, would deprive these employees of the basic due process rights available to them upped existing law. the legislation would give agency heads the broad discretion to just fire people. fire senior executives that are suspected of misconduct, and employees would bear the burden of proving their reinstatement. this is called ready, fire, aim. it would allow firing employees for basically any reason, any reason that in the discretion of the senior management is
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required. and it presumes, as the gentleman from maryland and i congratulate him on his advocacy here, it presumes guilt before we get all the facts. and that is completely inconsistent with the principles of our constitution. i am deeply concerned that this legislation may cause irreparable damage if an individual is wrongly accused and is forced to seek reinstatement. the person may eventually be vindicated, but the damage to the individuals' reputation, their financial stability, and their career may be beyond repair. moreover, there are effective tools already existing to hold senior executives accountable for performance and conduct issues. these disciplinary procedures provide very simply 30 days' notice. you have to have notice why you're fired, in writing. that's not a lot to ask. 30 days' notice of why you are
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being fired. this is what you are eliminating from the law. it gives that person 30 days to scramble to get a representative to put a case together to say, no, these aren't the facts. it allows them if they are able to get an attorney or representative, which includes the right to that written decision and the right to adeal to the merit systems protection board. those are the basic due process rights that james madison has supported. you're right. james madison is still here today. he's on this side. he's on the side of due process. he doesn't want a kangaroo court. he wanted protections for constitutional rights. and he was -- he thought it was so important he incorporated those in the text of the constitution. during committee consideration of h.r. 2579, i offered an amendment to apply these existing due process protections to the expedited removal provisions in the bill.
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my amendment was rejected. for these reasons, and i say again i have great respect for the gentleman from pennsylvania, i urge my colleagues to vote against this measure in support of due process, in support of the principles that james madison advocated, and also i want to say the previous bill that the gentleman talked about earlier that we voted on, 410 votes, that had the ready, aim, then fire provision. it gave the due process -- the bill that we supported in the previous session, it wasn't exactly the same as the gentleman acknowledged. it had due process rights. it allowed employees to have 30 days to have a written decision to know what the charges were against him and to respond. so this is a very, very different bill than passed the house overwhelmingly in the previous session. this bill does not allow the
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employee the 30 days' notice of what they did wrong. it does not allow them to defend themselves against the charges. it does not allow them to have a representative. it does not allow them the ability to protect their reputation in real time. this bill fires them first and then asks questions later. for those reasons it should be rejected. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: i yield as much time as the gentleman from pennsylvania may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. kelly: i thank the gentleman, mr. speaker. my colleague on the other side, i do have great respect for the gentlemen. do have a question about respect for members of congress. the question is how much respect do we have for american taxpayers. we talk about the collegial atmosphere that has to exist. you know, if you don't talk
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nicely to each other it could cause a problem, and i understand that, but we know each other. i shared some very emotional moments with mr. cummings when he lost his nephew. i understand that. mr. lynch and i know each other. listen, it's not about the spin . nobody is losing their due process under this. you know that. you know that. not yet. not yet. not yet. again, refer back to page 8, lines 15 through 17. an employee against whom an action was taken under this section is entitled to appeal to the merits systems protection board under section 7701 of this title. mr. lynch: if the gentleman will yield? mr. kelly: no. we shouldn't be having a conversation that, again, divides the nation and it divides people because we constantly want to make sure that everybody understands that one party is for one type of
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philosophy, the other party is not. you know, they don't want to take care of everybody. i'm talking about the american taxpayer mere. i'm talking -- taxpayer here. mr. lynch: if the gentleman will yield? mr. kelly: please, mr. lynch, it's my time. mr. cummings and i sat and listened to the people from the g.s.a. and we asked them why are they placed on leave with pay when obviously there is an investigation going on, you knew about it, the i.g. came to you and told you about it. n spite of that, you still bonused this gentleman. they gave him extra money for doing what he was being investigated for. why did you do that? they said, because we don't have the tools to do anything about it. we don't have the mechanisms to do that. why is it that we have to constantly widen the gap between what's right for america and what's just flat right?
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of course, i want to protect those in the federal government. i will guarantee you, if this is going to pass today, i guarantee you won't see a mass exodus that works for the federal government, oh, my gosh, i got to get my resume together. i got to get out of here. they're not leaving. why are they not leaving? because they're good job. we are talking about the senior executives. we are not talking about every gal and guy. we are not talking about the people in uniform who protect us. we're talking about the senior executives, those whom we've given the most responsibility and authority. we're talking about giving them a tool to hold those who work under them responsible. they don't have it now. i don't want to walk away or turn my back on people who work every day for this government. these are darn good jobs. please tell me, if it's such a terrible place to work in -- mr. lynch: if the gentleman will yield? mr. kelly: why won't the people
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apply for work? we've been yielding far too long. it doesn't make sense to me. i'll be glad to you when i'm done here. i got to tell you, why do we constantly put this spin on this divide? if i were a manager and i were put in charge and given the responsibility to do things but then said, look, you have the responsibility, you better perform to the right level here but by the way when you have people who are not acting appropriately, you don't have any tool to change that. you don't have any way to reprimand them. you don't have a way to call them forward. it just doesn't make sense. i tell you who it doesn't make sense to. it doesn't make sense to those i described before. i have people in pennsylvania working two jobs. this is dad and mom working the job. why? because they have this tremendous ability to self-rely
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and they know they have children they have to take care of. they want to feed them, educate them. they want them to be part of the system that has made sense to so many people for so long. why do people come here? they come in inner tubes to get here. they don't get here because they don't like this. they get here because they love the opportunity. all i want to do is give the managers of these agencies the same tools, the same tools that everybody else has. this is not about trying to make an employee look bad. this is about holding an employee accountable. when was it we got to the opportunity where accountability is a political agenda? really? really? and we're going to take any time we can get to try to make the other party look bad, because i've watched here for 2 1/2 years. it's not just to win the vote but you got to make the other side look really, really bad. it's not we agree on this and move to something else.
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no, the point is this is how horrible these people are. they don't care about you, they don't care about your kids and grandkids. they really want to hurt you. now we share too much time together. i don't sit in any committee with anybody, whether from our party or from your party that says i came here to destroy america. they don't say that. they don't say i came here to divide america. they don't say that. they say i came here because i thought i had a calling and i want to make a difference. this bill is so simple. it's so much common sense. really? this is a problem, to hold people accountable for the job they're not doing right? we didn't strip them to due process. they still have rights to everything. it's for the senior sdemrecktiffs. it's the top. that's all it's about. mr. chairman, i'm going to yield back to you. i tell you, this is so common
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sense. it's what we do in the private sector every day. i don't want it to become a political battle over something that makes sense to the american people. i thank you and i yield back. mr. meadows: mr. speaker, i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina reserves. mr. cummings: mr. chairman, i yield three minutes -- first of all, how much time do we have, mr. chairman? the speaker pro tempore: you have eight minutes. members are reminded by the chair to address their remarks to the chair. mr. cummings: i yield three minutes to the lady from the district of columbia. the speaker pro tempore: the entlelady is recognized. ms. norton: i thank the gentleman from maryland for yielding. you know, it has been sad to have to sit here for so long people talk about due process by the gentleman from pennsylvania. was before -- before the loss of jobs, not
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after. or else it means nothing. today, of course, i rise in strong opposition to h.r. 2579 that would eliminate due process protections for senior executive service members by allowing agency heads, political appointees for the first time since the passage of the great civil service reforms in the early part of the 20th century to fire employees without giving them advanced notice or an opportunity to address allegations against them before they were dismissed. this bill in particular gives real credence to those who see the series of bills on the floor today as an attack on federal employees. .r. 2579 would reverse the long-settled principle of innocent until proven guilty, guilty until proven
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innocence. employees could be immediately fired by the appointed agency head. they could get their job back only by accepting the burden of proof to prove their innocence. it's not enough that employees would be notified of the reasons for their removal and would have 30 days to respond. they're gone. still fired immediately. no due process rights. like those currently in place. at least 30 days' notice, representation by an attorney or written decision, a right to appeal to the merit systems protection board. , the sence of due process standards that the political appointee must use for the decision to fire is nothing short of breathtaking. under this the agency head, one
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person, one political appointee determines whether the employee knowingly acted in a manner -- get this -- endangers the interest of the agency mission. what could be broader than that? anything. anything. you could be fired for anything under that standard. one person decides whether the employee's removal is, quote, necessary in the interest of the united states. wow. let's rein that in somewhat. one person decides that other procedures prescribed in all the provisions -- this is no lawyer. this is no judge. but other procedures just can't be invoked and are not good enough. there you have it. judge and jury, exactly what the civil service system was developed to avoid, exactly what the constitution says we must avoid. if you believe in the constitution, it is important not to demagogue but rather to explain to the public why every
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state, local and federal government puts employees -- mr. cummings: i yield the gentlelady two more minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. ms. norton: i thank the gentleman for yielding. why is it that every unit of government puts employees they want to fire, they know they want to fire them, on administrative leave without pay while due process proceeds even, even when the person is accused of serious offenses? because the employer, my friends, is the government. that's the difference. the employee has certain due process rights that that employee would not have if the employer were a private business. gentlemen.ics 101, justice powell writing in arnet
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vs. kennedy about the due process rights of employees says that due process is, quote, confered not by legislative grace but by constitutional guarantee. this bill comes from a republican house that requires that members states the constitutional basis for every bill introduced in this house. this bill expresses the republican frustration that lois lerner of the i.r.s. was placed on administrative leave with pay. sorry, folks. you're not allowed to support the constitution only when you like the results. let's defeat this prove your innocence departure from the constitution of the united states, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: mr. speaker, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time. the gentleman from maryland.
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mr. cummings: mr. speaker, i just want to say, first of all, i want to associate myself with the words of the gentlelady from the north carolina -- from the district of columbia. i think she said it quite well. mr. speaker, we must be about the business of guarding this thing we call the constitution. we are here only for a moment, only for a moment. and in that moment we have already been given a document by which we should govern ourselves by. it has been interpreted by courts over and over again, and one of the things that's stood the test of time is due process . that very due process i said many times has allowed me to be a member of this congress of the united states.
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and so many others that would never have had an opportunity. so matter when we are here, no matter what time we are here for we must guard it. mr. lynch was very clear when he talked about how we are in the situation where we're depriving -- we fire somebody first and suddenly we say, ok, we're going to give them some due process. going back to ms. norton, due process becomes before the firing. that's the way it's supposed to be. and we all care about every employee. we care about how every american is treated. and that's what this argument is all about, fairness, and with that i'll reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. . mr. meadows: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland.
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mr. cummings: how much time do we have, mr. speaker? the speaker pro tempore: two minutes. mr. cummings: i yield to the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch, a minute and 15 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. lynch: i thank the gentleman. i appreciate his advocacy. i do want to point out some inconsistencies in the argument by my friend from pennsylvania. in the case of mr. nealy and in the case of lois lerner, under existing law, all that was required before they fired either of those individuals is to give them 30 days' notice. 30 days' written notice of the charges against them, give them the 30 days to put together a defense, or to offer their version of the facts, that's all that was required. and then we could have fired them. or put them on administrative leave without pay. that was in the discretion of g.s.a. so when g.s.a. tells mr. kelly they can't do anything, there's
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plenty they could do. they could have taken both those employees, put them on administrative leave without pay, talk about protecting the taxpayer, i'm for that, they had the power to do that in these cases. they could have taken both those employees under current law with due process in place, put them both on administrative leave without pay, and we could have protected the taxpayer. that was a discretion on the part of the administration and the folks that made the decision in that place. it was not the fault of the law. but interestingly enough it also protected us to have the second version of the facts put forward to bring more light -- mr. cummings: i'm going to allow mr. lynch to close in the 45 seconds we have left. mr. lynch: thank you. ink about this, that due
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process right would allow an employee, who might be the fall guy, it might be a person that they are trying to fire to shut them up, it gives them an opportunity to come before the public and say, while they are still in their job, to say, no. that's not the way it went down. it gives that individual employee -- it might be to the benefit of the republican. it might be to the benefit of the democrat. whatever position you have, whoever that individual might be, but it brings truth, it brings facts, and it brings the ability of that individual employee to protect themselves. that's what we are asking for here. that 30 days' opportunity. and it can be without pay. we can protect the taxpayer and still give due process rights to our employees. this bill should be opposed for all those reasons. i thank the gentleman from maryland, mr. cummings, for yielding. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: i thank you, mr.
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speaker. facts are a stubborn thing. what we are hearing today are a number of assertions that truly are not the facts. let me read from the bill, because the opposing arguments would be that we can fire for any particular reason, but that's not what the bill says. the bill says we may remove an employee for serious neglect of duty, misappropriation of funds, which i might add was the case in point with where we were just talking about, or malfeasance. and the head of the agency has to know it was knowingly done. tool in s just another the toolbox. it doesn't do away with due process. it doesn't do away with a number of the facts that we already have today, but it adds another tool. what it really does is allow our managers to manage. what a novel concept. we are going to actually allow
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and trust federal employees to manage the people under them. we have been in hearing after hearing that says, why didn't you do something about it? why did you not address this? and they said, well, our hands are tied. we didn't have the tools to do it. this bill, as mr. kelly has so eloquently put it, gives them the tools to do exactly that. it doesn't do away with due process. we have accepted amendments, three different amendments, that protkt the rights of employees. they are embeded in this bill. et we still find that my colleagues he' opposites want to say they are not in support of this. i just find it just afalling that we can continue to allow employees to stay on the taxpayers' dollars when we know that there has been malfeasance, misappropriation of funds and the neglect of duty.
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with that i encourage all my colleagues to support this particular piece of legislation. i yield the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields the balance of his time of the the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 2579, as amended. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of those voting having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended -- mr. cummings: the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman ask for the yeas and nays? mr. cummings: yes. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. all those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this otion will be postponed.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from north carolina rise? mr. meadows: mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 1541, as amended. the eaker pro tempore: clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 1541, a bill to establish limitations during any sequestration period on the total amount and awards or other discretionary monetary payments which may be paid to any federal employee. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows, and the gentleman from maryland, mr. cummings, will each control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from north carolina. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. meadows: thank you. i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks qush - the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. meadows: and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. meadows: thank you, mr.
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speaker. my bill, h.r. 1541, brings common sense to the policies governing federal employee bonuses while still providing agency flexibility to recognize outstanding performance. in fiscal year 2011, 75% of senior compkive service employees throughout the federal government received bonuses at an average of nearly $11,000 per person. the government's decision to furlough hundreds of regular often blue collar federal workers while senior employees cash in is unacceptable. americans are rapidly losing trust in government as the list of abuses by federal agencies grows. but bureaucrats continue collecting large bonuses at the expense of hardworking taxpayers. the i.r.s. is a prime example. between the years of 2006 to 2012, i.r.s. director of exempt organizations, lois lerner, was paid a combined total of
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$110,035 in bonuses. the senior i.r.s. official best known for his starring role as mr. spock in star trek parody at the i.r.s. conference received some $149,506 in bonuses between 2007 and 2012. the federal aviation authority is another example. it threatened 90-minute delays for airline passengers in the weeks leading up to sequestration. however the f.a.a. handed out more than $12 million in bonuses during fiscal year 2012 despite knowing that sequestration was likely to occur. these bonuses exemplify washington spending problem. a national debt of $17 trillion and an unemployment at 7.5% should not add up to millions of dollars in bonus payouts. following the president's decision to impose a two-year
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of 2010, at the end the administration issued a memo limiting the amount available pay bonuses for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. this past february the administration issued a memo limiting bonuses to those legally required, and in june the administration spunted rank awards for senior leaders. this bill -- suspended rank awards for senior leaders. this bill limits the amount of bonuses to federal workers in periods of sequestration. it is time for the government to stop furloughing workers who depend on paychecks from week to week while awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses to senior employees. i urge all members to support the common sense in compensation act. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time. the gentleman from maryland is recognized. mr. cummings: thank you very
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much, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i am very disappointed -- i yield myself such time as i may consume. mr. speaker, i'm very disappointed that the republican leadership is wasting the few days we have remaining before the august recess with political message bills like this one instead of dealing with the major challenges the american people want us to address. e american people care about jobs. let me say that again. the american people care mr. jobs -- care about jobs. the democrats introduced a make it in america agenda that would create good-paying jobs by rebuilding america's infrastructure, investing in innovation and education, and reducing the deficit through a balanced approach. but the republican leadership apparently has chosen a no jobs agenda. it has been seven months since the start of this congress and we have not passed a single jobs bill on the floor of this house. instead, the republican sequestration plan is expected
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to cost up to 1. million american jobs through next year. the american -- 1.6 million american jobs through next year. the american people want us to pass a budget for our country. more than four months ago, both the senate and house, passed their respective budgets but the house republicans have now refused to appoint conferees to complete negotiations. for years republicans complained about not having a budget. yet now they are actively blocking it by refusing to negotiate with the senate. rather than dealing with these critical issues, we are being asked to vote on h.r. 1541. which is one of many bills that are part of a relentless campaign to demonize federal employees. h.r. 1541 would impose arbitrary, across-the-board cap
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of 5% of basic pay on the amount of bonuses that federal workers can receive and limit the number of senior executives who may receive performance awards to 33% of those eligible in each agency. these employees carry out critical missions and serve and protect the american people. among these awards are presidential rank awards for senior executives. who save the federal government more than $95 million last year. quality step increases for our highest federal employee performance. awards to law enforcement officers for foreign language capabilities. and recruitment retention and relocation incentives to fill critical gaps in such fields as nursing, information technology, and cybersecurity. i'm very concerned about the federal government's recruitment and retention efforts.
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if congress eliminates agency discretion to provide awards to our best performers. an analysis of the, quote, best places to work in the federal government, the partnership for public service and deloit pound -- deloitte found that only four in 10 federal workers believe they'll be rewarded or promoted for doing a good job. this is the definition of counterproductive. i don't understand how republicans can call for pay performance and then eliminate theyery performance awards said they supported. last congress our committee chairman, representative issa, and committee member, dennis ross, sent a letter to the government accountability office proposing that we replace the federal government's general schedule system with a, quote, merit based market sensitive system that recognizes and rewards individual employee
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performance, end of quote. how can we take such proposals seriously if we are being asked at the same time to slash the very awards that are supposed to incentivize performance? of course we cannot. for these reasons i urge my colleagues to join me in opposing h.r. 2579. and i ask unanimous consent for congressman lynch to manage the remainder of our time. with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. cummings: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time. without objection, the gentleman from massachusetts will control the remaining time. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield three minutes to my distinguished colleague from the state of michigan, mr. ben at this voleo -- ben at this voleo. mr. ben at this voleo: i thank
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the gentleman from north carolina for yielding. mr. speaker, common sense is something often discussed here, but it is rarely put into practice. it's time for that to change. that's why we need the common sense in compensation act. while they play political games of sequestration by forcing hardworking americans to take a furlough, they continue to hand out bonus checks to highly paid bureaucrats. between 2008 and 2011 the federal government spent $340 million, that's $340 million on cash bonuses for senior executives, senior employees. some those bureaucrats used their time to hurt the average american through the tax code. the american people are not getting what they paid for from many of these federal
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regulators and senior staff. the common sense in compensation act brings much-needed reform to the bonus system for federal employees. under this legislation, employee discretionary bonuses are limited to no more than 5% of the their base salary while the sequester -- sequestration is in effect. additionally, it limits the total amount of senior executive service performance awards to 33% of all employees in a given agency. both of these changes prevents the most wealthy in the federal system from becoming richer while those actually engaging and serving the general public are getting laid off. opponents of the bill may claim that limiting federal government employee bonuses may be an unsound business move. here's what i think. it is an unsound business move
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being $17 trillion in debt and shackling our grandchildren with a nation worse off than how we received it from our parents. when a business is struggling, they don't pass out bonuses. they cut waste. it's time to rein in spending and this practice of executive -- excuse me -- excessive bonuses must stop while we are all trying to tighten our belts. if we truly want to rein in our spending, we want to fix not just the amount of time we choose to spend -- excuse me -- the amount of money we choose to spend but how effectively we spend it as well. making sure that those who provide the actual services to the public aren't being furloughed at the expense of luxurious bonuses for upper management is a good way to start. i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back his time. the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized. mr. lynch: i thank the
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gentleman. mr. chairman, i just yield myself such time as i may consume. the use of incentive awards such as performance-based bonuses helps agencies recruit, develop and retain employees who have the knowledge, skill and ability to help agencies accomplish their critical missions. such incentives also allow agencies to compete with the private sector for talent. right now we have incredible doctors at the v.a. hospitals all across america, incredible rses also and therapists and staff at our v.a. hospitals that i'm sure -- at least in my district -- they could walk out that door and earn sometimes twice or three times as much at a private hospital than they do at the v.a. and the incentive programs we have in place allow us to rebalance a little bit of what they might be compensated but
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for the fact they are committed to caring for our veterans. it's a similar situation with the s.e.c. obviously many of our securities analysts that we use at the s.e.c. could go to wall street tomorrow and earn multms of what their -- multiples of what their salaries are and have great success and incredible rewards financially. but they work at the south carolina because they are -- work at the s.e.c. because they're committed to working for the taxpayer and work on behalf of their country. we have similar examples of banking superadvisors at the fds that have such -- at the fdic that have such knowledge and such capability they could go out tomorrow for one of these big banks, citibank or bank of america and go to work tomorrow at multiples of their salary. we have derivatives analysts at
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the cftc who do great work on our behalf, i'm sure, because that's such a hot area of employment and with their expertise and resumes could demand tremendous resources. as well we have scientists at n.i.h. and lawyers over at the department of justice that we're lucky to have working on behalf of the government because we're trying to keep up with the changes in industry and these areas of commerce that require excellent talent. for example, a 2010 and corps -- a 2010 that the rand study found recruitment and retention in the armed forces, without the increase in bonus, army enlistments would be 20% lower between 2004 and 2008 when the war in iraq was at its peak. further, the study found that
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nuses were generally a cost-effective measure. despite the importance of performance awards, this bill, h.r. 1541, as amended, would prohibit federal workers from receiving discretionary bonuses that exceed 5% of their base pay between sequestration. this is at a time -- this bill couldn't happen at a worse time. this would undermine the federal government's ability to recruit and retain its most talented employees in the midst of a three-year federal pay freeze, and ongoing furloughs. right now we have over 700,000 federal employees at d.o.d. that have taken 11-day furloughs. i sat with a group of firefighters on an air force base that are concerned about the safety protocalls at that base because of the number of employees affected by the furloughs. we have 90,000 employees in other agencies that are taking between two and five-day
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furloughs and those furloughs are going to continue. h.r. 1541 would undermine the federal government's ability to recruit and retain our most talented employees in the midst of all these cutbacks. this bill would simply continue to demoralize the federal work force. flexibility, ency the legislation would also impede managers in their efforts to keep employees committed and motivated to excel and to provide superior service. it is understandable that these employees do accept less pay because they do work for the government. in many of these industries that i mentioned. further, these awards are exactly the type of individual merit-based performance measure tools that committee chairmen have embraced in the past. during committee consideration, i offered an amendment that would have the cap on awards, but the majority modified by my amendment so the caps would still apply to future agreements. i believe that determining by law our statute the terms of future bargaining agreements
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with the recognized representatives of those employees improperly interferes with the labor contract negotiations. this legislation would restrict agency flexibility at a time when it is critically needed to make sure they retain the best and the brightest. for these reasons i ask my h.r. 1541, o oppose and i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield to the gentleman from tennessee three minutes, to my distinguished colleague from tennessee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from tennessee is recognized for three minutes. mr. duncan: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in strong support of h.r. 1541, the common sense in compensation act. i thank the gentleman from north carolina for yielding me this time, and i also want to commend him for coming up with this very sensible, reasonable,
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moderate response in legislation to a problem that's been growing bigger and bigger with each passing year. as one previous speaker, the gentleman from michigan, mentioned in one recent three-year period, there were over $340 million worth of federal bonuses given out that i didn't know about that figure, but i've seen some other figures which relate to this legislation that i'd like to mention at this time. a couple of years ago the commerce department's bureau of economic analysis completed a study showing that the average federal employee received a lary and benefits totaling $119,982 while the average private sector employee made a alary and benefits of $59,909. in other words, the federal salaries and benefits were approximately twice or double what people in the private sector were receiving.
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the washington examiner newspaper in a lead editorial after that report came out described these federal salaries as, quote, scandalously higher than private salaries and added, quote, with the federal deficit and national debt heading into the stratosphere, taxpayers can no longer support such lucrative government compensation. and certainly it's already been mentioned that our national debt is approximately $17 trillion, a figure that almost no human being can really comprehend. at the height of the recession, there was a front-page story in "usa today" which said, quote, federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time in pay and timing during a recession that's cost 7.3 million in the private sector, end quote. and the article in "usa today" said the pay of highest federal employees are doing best of all. i read a report a few months
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ago that said of the six -- six of the 10 wealthiest counties in this country were all suburban counties to washington, d.c. in addition to much higher federal salaries and benefits, federal employees have the best pension plans in this country. while fewer than 20% of employees in the private sector even have any employer-provided pension plan, other than social security. these very high pensions were started many years ago when federal salaries often were lower than in the private sector, but that is certainly not the case today when federal salaries are averaging about twice what the average salary is in the private sector. also, federal employees are allowed to retire at younger ages. almost everyone, mr. speaker, i realize feels underpaid. when you hear about these
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obscene ridiculous salaries of c.e.o.'s and athletes and movie stars, federal employees need to realize you're talking about .1% of the people there. compared to about 96% or 97% of the private people, federal employees are glad to have their jobs and are very well paid. federal -- tennessee valley authority gave out many bonuses in the hundreds of thousands of dollar range that this situation will spiral completely out of control because big government can justify or -- mr. meadows: i yield one more minute. mr. duncan: thank you. i really don't need that much time. but i will simply say this is a good bill, this is good legislation to limit these bonuses to about 5% of these very high salaries. and i hope all of my colleagues 1541, the t h.r. common sense in compensation act. i yield back the balance of my
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time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized. mr. lynch: thank you. could i ask, mr. speaker, how much time do we have left on our side? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has 10 minutes. mr. lynch: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. lynch: i want to address a couple issues that the gentleman raised. i have respect for the previous speaker as well. oftentimes these studies that you look at the average employee in the federal government versus the average employee in the private sector, in recent decades the federal government has privatized a lot of our common labor rather than employing them directly. and we have become a much more specialized and much more professionalized work force. between the doctors who we hire, the nurses that we hire at the v.a., the scientists that we have at the national institutes of health and the e.p.a., lawyers we have at the
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department of justice, financial analysts that we have at the cftc and fdic as well as the other banking industries, the s.e.c., those are more professionalized employees. so naturally if you look at a retail clerk, compare their lary to a scientist, there will be a drastic disparity. between what an attorney is making or a financial analyst is making versus a secretary in the private sector, so that's a very crude way of comparison. one way of comparison is required in the federal pay comparblet act. that's a -- comparibility act. that's a statute we passed in congress. we compare the federal doctors versus private doctors. federal scientists versus private sector scientists.
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finance analysts at the s.e.c. versus those at goldman sachs so we compare job to job, and at the end of that analysis, the studies showed that federal employees are making 26% less, 26% less than their comparable job in the private sector. just a point i wanted to raise, and i continue to reserve. hank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. we speak of these in abstract ways but bonuses have gotten awithout of hand. as we -- when we start to give out bonus as ways to bypass the payment structure we have established for federal employees, that's not what it was intended to do the ranking member earlier mentioned a
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survey which was the federal employee viewpoint survey. he mentioned in there he used that data as evidence of really about performance pay. but i'd like to quote from that same study that same survey a recent survey found that only 22% of federal employees believe that performance and pay are linked. and i would like to point out that this bill certainly would cover that. we are not saying do away with all bonuses, quite the contrary, we believe that people need to be incentivized. we believe in merit pay. we believe in bonuses for those that work. i can say this, when you start paying out bonuses to 75% of all senior executive employees, the people back home don't understand. maybe the people in massachusetts understand, but i can tell you the people in north carolina don't understand. we've got some 7,000 senior
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executive service employees that make an average of $168,500 every year. so when you go back home and say, they're making $168,000 a year and on top of that, we're going to pay them a $30,000 people don't understand, whether they work for the federal government or whether they are in the private sector, they don't understand. i've got single moms, mr. speaker, that said you know what, i'd be glad to go to work just for the bonus pay you're paying some of those federal workers. so we go on a lot and we start talking about it but you know, it's interesting because many times my colleagues on the opposite side of the aisle want to go ahead and talk about what is fair. this is not fair, mr. speaker. when we start to look at that,
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the rich indeed are getting richer at the expense of the hardworking american taxpayers and that is not what we should be doing. i also want to go on a little bit further because when we start to look at these bonuses, it is the federal employees in my district that have a problem with it as well. twoif of them, paula and martha, i won't give their last names but paula and martha, i said, king to them, they we are sacrificing under this pay freeze. we're having to give up. why in the world are you awarding such bonuses to these people when we're having to suffer? i know the gentleman from massachusetts has a real heart for federal employees. as do i. i look here and there are a number of people that i would call my friends. there are a number of people watching this, perhaps, even on tv right now, that are federal employees that i enjoy being
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with. this is not about them. this is about being fair. what it is is when we start to pick the winners and losers with bonuses and bypass the payment structure that we have, it's not right, mr. speaker. we have to adjust that. i would be glad to work in a bipartisan way. if we're having a hard time retaining scientists and doctors, i'll be glad to work in a bipartisan way with my friend opposite here to come up with a structure that works on pay and merit pay to that and address it but why do we allow the bonuses we have today to bypass the fundamental reason we have it set up and with that, i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time the entleman from massachusetts. mr. lynch: i appreciate the gentleman's comments. talking about what's fair and what's not fair, i think the federal employees have taken on the -- taken it on the chin
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recently. they're in year three of their pay freeze. a lot of them say that's not fair because as costs keep going up, their pay has been frozen for the past three years. and now on top of the third year pay freeze, they're being asked, at least 700,000 employees in the department of defense, including civilian employees we rely on for a lot of key services, are being asked to take 11 days on furlough without pay, about 100,000 other federal employees are being asked to take between two and five days right now. at's the first year of sequestration, i think we cut $37 billion, this year we'll cut $52 billion. ext year is $of billion. this is just -- it's $of billion. -- it's $60 billion. i do want to repind the
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gentleman that the bonuses and this awards limited by bill are based on performance the quality step increases are given to rank and file employees who achieve superior performance. the presidential rank awards are given to those who achieve extraordinary results or were able to sustain superior accomplishments. recruitment bonus, they can be the can -- they can't be paid to employees who work for the federal government but someone who has done a very good job in running a sector, hospital, might come onto the federal payroll to do that and we might have to recognize that person's prior service. abindividual's performance rating is based on how well they met or exceeded expectations. in addition, i know that my friends across the aisle are eager to cap federal employee and senior executives pay but they're completely silent on capping federal contractor pay.
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under current law, federal contractor executives can be reimbursed by the federal government for salaries up to $950,000. federal contractors. this is the private side. these are not the folks that are being capped. these are not employed. -- employees. these are private contractors. $950,000 for 2013. not a word. not a word in print or speech to cap those individuals. contracting employees at the department of defense, coast dward, and nasa can have their salaries reimbursed up to $950,000 as well in this current year. the maximum salary far senior executive in the federal government is $179,700. $179,700. for example, the federal -- the v.a. administration head, the hospital director at one of my ospitals, he makes $179,700.
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while the average salary in my district for a hospital director in the private sector is $00,000. that's for the private -- is $800,000. that's for the private hospitals in my area. earns about rector a sixth of that. they are blown away by the salaries paid as i mentioned. $950,000 in 2013 for federal contract executives who are not federal employees but are on the federal payroll. about which this bill says zero. completely silent. zip. ok, i yield -- actually, i reserve.
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the speaker pro tempore: the reserves his time the gentleman from north carolina. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i would like to address a few of the comments that the gentleman opposite made when he said not a word has been mentioned about bonuses for contractors, i would remind the gentleman that in the ndaa, we addressed this very subject, so that was addressed, which i'm sure the gentleman was here for that particular vote, as we've looked at this, we have addressed that particular thing and so, i'll yield in just a moment. i'll yield in just a moment. so i want to go ahead and talk about a couple of other things, though. we talk about this pay freeze and how, you know, we're asking so many people to suffer. i'm not talking about the normal pay that we would give employees. 'm talking about the obsessive bonuses that have failed to be an incentive anymore.
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when you give a bonus to 75% of the employees, it ceases to be an incentive. in fact, quite the opposite. all you have to do is make sure you're not in the bottom 1/4 tile. it says, all i have to do is perform better than only a few people to get my bonus so if i'm just better than the worst 25%, i get a bonus. that's not an incentive. that's why we're looking at 33%. it rewards those people who rise to the top, the cream of the crop, an we need to do that. mention, we're talking about pay freezes, where is the pay freeze not a pay freeze, knowledge washington, d.c., mr. speaker. 99.4% of federal employees got an increase in salary during this pay freeze. that's the only ones we denied were 6 out of every 1,000 employees. so the gentleman opposite making comments that they've
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sacrificed, indeed they have but it's not as if they have not gotten pay increases. what do i tell my constituents back home who are dealing with double digit unemployment? they would love just to have a job. they would -- many of them would take a job at 10% to 15% to 20%less than what they were making if they could just go to work, yet here we are talking about people who continue to get raises as if they are suffering. we've got to make sure we are clear on the subject and we need to make sure that we're fair. i coach coming back to the word fair. because when we are not fair with the government responsibility that we have, the american people lose trust in their government. it is time that we hold it accountable, give tools to those managers that reward good behavior and good performance, but yet not continue to dole it out at the expense of every american taxpayer. with that, i reserve.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized. mr. lynch: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time the gentleman from north carolina. mr.ed me toes: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina continues to reserve. mr. lynch p.c. one final point before -- mr. lynch: one final point before i yield. the gentleman is correct, we did address contractor caps in -- on pay in the ndaa but we apped it at $950,000 a year. that's a far cry from anything that any federal employee is earning here. as i mentioned before, the head our v.a. hospital makes $179,700. that's the max. meanwhile, private contractors working for the federal government are making $950,000 this year in 2013 with the ndaa
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caps in place. i'm just saying, what's good for the goose is good for the grander. there's an opportunity in this ll to cap these salaries and we have not done that. with that, i yield back. -- i yield back the balance of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: i thank the gentleman for his candor and his passion with which he rises and debates. i do want to point out that what we're talking about here are apples and oranges. when you start to look at contractors and the benefits of those contracts, those are issues that we must address and i'm willing to work with him on a bipartisan basis, but let's not take our eye off the ball. why would we allow sara hall ingram who is going to put in and be administering over the affordable care act a bonus of
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$35,000? why would we award a bonus of almost $31,000 to a gentleman that played mr. spock? it's indefensible to me. i can't imagine why my colleague opposite would want to defend that and why he wouldn't want to have tools to let managers manage the process. i'm going to close with this point. daniel pink writes in a book called drive, and really it's about motivational theory, it's about the fact that bonuses, bonus impact is minimal. i think we see that even here. cause the surprising truth about what motivates us, it says, and i quote, the carrot and the stick approach to motivating employees through bonuses and benefits is statistically ineffective. what they would rather have is a mastery of their position, they would rather have autonomy, they would rather have a sense of purpose that
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the job that they're doing is very meaningful. so in essence what it says is that if we get rid they have bureaucracy -- rid of the bureaucracy, our federal employees will be more motivated to do a good job thing they're fulfilling a purpose, yet we continue to throw bonuses at them again and again mr. speaker. i have a hard time going back home, as a number of my colleagues would go back home, defending these excessive bonuses. with that, i urge all of the folks here, all of my colleagues, to join with me in supporting this critical bill the commonsense and compensation -- common sense in compensation act, as amended. with that, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 1541 as amended? those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative,
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the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. the gentleman asks for the yeas and nays. without objection, the title is amended. the yeas and nays are requested. all those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this otion will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from north carolina seek recognition? mr. meadows: mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 1660, as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 1660 a bill to require the establishment of federal customer service standards and to improve the service provided by federal gencies.
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the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows, and the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch, will each control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from north carolina. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. meadows: i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. americans depend on federal agencies for certain vital services. failure by federal agencies' employees to process in a timely manner requests for help or information can result in frustration and financial hardships. poor customer service should not be tolerated at the i.r.s. any more than it is at the private sector companies that must continually earn the right to serve its clients. h.r. 1660 helps ensure our
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government is more responsive to the public by establishing customer service standards and performance standards and performance expectations for each agency. it will enable citizens to provide direct feedback concerning specific agency employees, including at the i.r.s., and have that feedback considered in employee evaluations that impact awarding bonuses. h.r. 1660 puts taxpayers first by holding federal workers accountable for their interactions with the public. i reserve the balance of my time, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized. mr. lynch: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. speaker, i rise in support of h.r. 1660, the government customer service improvement act. i thank representative cuellar, my friend from texas, for his leadership and his persistence in advocating for this bill. the federal government provides services that significantly impact the american people. there are many dedicated federal employees who perform
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their jobs with professionalism and distinction. but there are areas in need of improvement. for instance, the department of veterans affairs takes an average of 243 days to process a disability claim and that is unacceptable. this legislation would require the office of management and budget to establish governmentwide standards for customer service delivery, including target response times for phone calls, emails, letters, benefits processing and payments. i thank the chairman of the full committee for working with me during the committee's consideration of this bill. the bill we are considering today includes a pilot project to evaluate customer feedback systems. this was a compromise that will provide a more limited application than requiring every agency to institute their own individual feedback system. i hope the chairman will continue to work with us and all members on both sides in moving this bill as we go through this legislative process. it's important that we ensure that the bill can achieve its intended purposes without negatively impacting the
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ability of federal employees to do their jobs. h.r. 1660 is a good government bille. at this point i'd like to yield for whatever time he may consume to the gentleman from texas, mr. cuellar, who's the principal sponsor of this bill. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. cuellar: thank you, mr. speaker. i also want to thank the gentleman from massachusetts for his time, the gentleman from north carolina, also, and i certainly want to thank chairman isnd ranking member cum the staff, both the democratic and republican staff, for helping pass this bill and got it out of the oversight and government reform committee and all the work and the compromises we worked out to make sure we got a bipartisan bill. the primary goal of the federal government is to serve taxpayers, and currently u.s. law does not require federal agency customer service standards, which is long overdue. every day taxpayers interact with the federal government on a regular basis, whether it's
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through the passport services to travel, student loans through the direct loan program to pay for higher education, health insurance through -- under medicare to get benefits or social security for retirement planning, all those services are vital to operate good government. especially in times when americans are relying more on these type of services. too often we hear veterans are waiting months to get critical medical services or federal employees experience long waits for their retirement benefits. these are just two examples, but millions of americans rely on federal agencies for vital services, which is why we must usher a new chapter to accelerate response time and overall performance for a better customer experience. with only 1/3 of americans holding a favorable opinion of the federal government, according to a 2012 report from the pew research center, this is a necessity that we must
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change. the bill is simple and necessary. first of all, h.r. 1660 improves customer service standards across the board. it does this by requiring the office of management and budget, the o.m.b., to develop performance standards to determine whether federal agencies are providing high-quality customer service and improving service delivery to agency customers. second, it raises the bar for enhancing quality and access for customer service. this is accomplished by requiring agencies to collect information from their customers regarding the quality of service and ensuring that there is customer feedback which will be used to develop these standards. this bill also requires the development of a customer service feedback system, the results which must be included in annual performance reports. just like the private sector strives to provide excellent customer service in business, the federal government should
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also embed better service to bring efficiency. h.r. 1660 has no costs. passed l also has -- we this last session, and now we're hoping with enough time we pass this, get it over to the senate so we can get it passed. this effort to examine agency customer service is also bicameral. senator warner and senator johnson dropped a companion bipartisan bill as well. h.r. 1660 to operate a better federal government to provide the taxpayers find a better quality service which they deserve. i thank you for the time and i encourage my colleagues to support it and pass this bill and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank the gentleman from texas for his foresight in bringing forth this bill and certainly appreciate the fact
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that we need to be providing better customer service to those that call in and talk to employees on a regular basis. and so i commend the gentleman from texas for that. and with that i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. lynch: at this point i have no further speakers. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. we have had some vigorous debate. really what this is about is really about the american people back home. it's about doing the responsible thing for them to see that government actually works and that we are willing to stand up with the people back home to do what is best and right and return government back to we, the people. it has been great to hear some of the arguments from my colleagues opposite. i thank the gentleman from
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massachusetts, the passion of which he's argued these points and look forward to working with him in a bipartisan way on some of these issues that he's highlighted. i urge all the members to join me in support of this bill, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 1660, as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.
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the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition -- illinois seek recognition? mr. roskam: mr. speaker, i ask that the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 2769 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of
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the bill. the clerk: h.r. 2769, a bill to impose a moratorium on conferences held by the nternal revenue service. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from illinois, mr. roskam, and the gentleman from michigan, mr. levin, will each control 20 minutes. mr. roskam: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on the subject of the bill under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. roskam: mr. speaker, i yield such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. roskam: mr. speaker, h.r. 2769 offers the house an opportunity to go back to our constituents who are asking this question when we're out and about at home -- what in the world is the house of representatives doing about the i.r.s. scandals? of there's a series scandals that we heard about, heard testimony from on the ways and means committee which the ranking member and i serve and also the government
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oversight committee and my suspicion maybe some other committees of the house, but when our constituents say what in the world are you doing, this bill that we're discussing is part of that remedy. so here is one of the things that we've come to learn, mr. speaker. we've come to learn that the inspector general, the treasury inspector general for tax administration did an audit, and in the course of the audit discovered that there were funds that were being misused in the context of conferences. some of them were conferences that, you know, looked at even in the most favorable light, even if you were looking at it in the most favorable light from an i.r.s. point of view were clearly gratuitous and an abuse of overspending. some of it had to do with videos. videos of parodies of the television show "star trek." and actually i think a bunch of nonsense. some of it had to do with the
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purchasing of tinkettes. some of it had to do with overspending. so the inspector general very clearly said, look, there has to be a remedy here, and so what is the house is proposing in consideration of this bill is that all of these i.r.s. conferences have to stop. hit the pause button on all of them until the recommendations of the inspector general are met. and when the inspector general hen reports to congress that those recommendations that would stop the nonsense have been fulfilled and under a new set of criteria then the i.r.s. says that they've met these, the inspector general certifies it, then the conferences can go on. i think it's thoughtful. i think it's approached in a bipartisan basis. i think i've been very encouraged with the spirit with which democrats and republicans on the ways and means committee have worked together to investigate and inquire of the
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i.r.s., but not just looking through the rear-view mirror. looking through the rear-view mirror, yes, but also saying, what have we learned, how do we make sure that these things don't happen again, and with that i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from illinois reserves the balance of his ime. the gentleman from smch ecognized. >> the bills today and the bill on friday are more about politics than policy. mr. levin: politics at any cost by the republican majority. they want to change the subject from their inability to legislate and the refusal to go to conference on a budget so that we could implement long-term deficit reduction and not threaten our economy with default again this fall. and their abysmal failure to act on jobs legislation, all of
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these months there has been no ale effort to join hands on their part on jobs, the number one concern of the american people. so they hope to launch their so-called republican playbook for august where they have told their members to go home and echo the same message and reaffirm their theme, fighting washington for you. hey have failed miserably to fight in washington for you, the american people. there was terrible mismanagement at the i.r.s. in the exempt division. i was among the first to call or the acting commissioner and lowest earner to be removed of their duties but instead of problems at the
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i.r.s. for political purposes, we should be fixing these problems and restoring the trust of the american people in that entity, the entity to which they voluntarily pay taxes. and the republicans have desperately sought to try to tie their anti-government message to the president. let's review the republican approach, some of it. chairman issa said, and i quote, this was the targeting of the president's political enemies effectively and lies about it during the election year so that it wasn't discovered until after -- afterwards, end of quote. chairman hal rogers said, and i quote, of course the enemies list out of the white house that i.r.s. was engaged in shutting down or trying to shut down the conservative political viewpoint across the country and en-- an enemies list that
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rivals those of another president some time ago, totally, totally false. and the facts were clear that both conservative and liberal groups were in the groups set aside by the i.r.s. for further scrutiny. when that became clear, the republicans shifted to the notion that the conservative groups received more scrutiny. when all evidence to date has indicated that there was no political motivation involved and no one outside of the i.r.s. was involved, the majority republicans here shifted to the notion that they don't have all the documents. but the political motivation has been that of the republicans. i want to also at this time express our deep disappointment with the work of the i.g. and the audit he did on the tax exemption division.
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both led to disclose that conservative and liberal groups were set aside for further development he failed to disclose that he asked in his -- he asked his investigative arm to review $5,500 emails and they found no evidence of political motivation this flawed report set the stage for the republicans' manipulation of the facts and now we are going to spend months cleaning up that work. as to the bills before us today, these three bills, we agree that the i.r.s. should stop unnecessary conferences, that the employees should not do their work with any political motivation, and taxpayer rights should be codified into law. this bill would impose a moratorium on conferences held by the i.r.s. until the inspector general has submitted
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a report to congress that certifies that all recommendations from the t.i. -- from the tigta audit of the i.r.s. conference in anaheim have been implemented. this audit report included nine recommendations, as the majority has now said, for the i.r.s. to improve oversight of conferences. just want the facts to be put on the table here as to what's happened by the leadership now of i.r.s. hree of the nine recommendations have been fully implemented. and it is anticipated that the remaining six recommendations will be put in place shortly, likely within three months. we all agree with the recommendations, the i.r.s. has already agreed to those recommendations, and importantly, it must be acknowledged is in the process of implementing all nine of these recommendations over the
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next few months. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from illinois is ecognized. mr.s are cam: i suppose that's an endorsement of the bill. the gentleman took us on a journey and i appreciate the journey but i think what he said is he supports h. reform 2769 and i appreciate that one of the things that may have been per swace i have to the ranking member, which was persuasive to me, was part of the report, the summary from the inspector general, where the inspector general said procedures at the time of the conference didn't require i.r.s. management to track and record actual conference costs. so in other words, the i.r.s. wasn't holding to a standard it hold you to, mr. speaker, and your constituents, or the ranking member's constituents, or my constituents, because when my constituents go to the i.r.s. and they say, well, i
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don't have my receipts or i don't have this or i don't have that, they get a cold, glassy eyed stare from the internal revenue service and no mercy from the internal revenue service. so i'm delated and encouraged and i appreciate the ranking member's pointing out the progress the i.r.s. has made and the other areas where the inch r.s. needs to go. let me briefly draw the body's attention to what these nine actual recommendations are. after all, this is not climbing mount everest but it is solid commonsense recommendations. number one it requires the i.r.s. chief financial officer to verify that appropriate information is being tracked to ensure actual costs of the conferences can be established an audited. that's what i referenced a minute ago. it implements a policy to determine whether training sessions held at the conference qualify for continuing professional education credits for c.p.a. mes.
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for c.p.a. -- employees. it also sets standards so spending will not be seen as unnecessary by the public. t sets standards for how event directors are used and how much they're paid. it outlines the necessity for produced videos at conferences, and response to claims that the i.r.s. spent over $50,000 on video skits. it sets standards on whether hotel room upgrades should be allowed, requires the submission of w-2 tax forments for local employees who are reimbursed for staying at conferences. it recommends that the c.f.o. establish procedures to determine the necessity of an exhibitor's hall, promotional items and other significant
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costs. . common sense, thoughtful, it's meant to restore the public's confidence in the internal rev mue service and it's my hope that it is widely supported on both sides of the aisle today and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. levin: are you ready to close? mr. roskam: i am. mr. levin: thank you, i'll do that. i yield myself the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. levin: i think all the recommendations make sense. we democrats throughout our caucus, the president, all of us, joined in making clear what we thought of mismanagement within the i.r.s. and what we thought about the abuse of conferences. as i said before, with this leadership of i.r.s. appointed by the president, all of these recommendations either have
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been implemented or are in the process of being implemented. so before the end of the year, i think well before it, this one problem, there are others, will be resolved. i support this bill, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. roskam: i urge an aye vote on h.r. 2769. the speaker pro tempore: the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass h. reform 2769 as amended -- and pass h.r. 2769 as amended? those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. 2/3 being in the affirmative, the bill is pass and the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. for what purpose does the gentleman from illinois rise? mr. roskam: i move to suspend the rules and pass h.r. 2768 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of
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the bill. the clerk: h.r. 2768, a bill to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to clarify that a duty of the commissioner of internal revenue is to ensure that internal revenue service employees are familiar with and act in accord with certain taxpayer rights. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from illinois, mr. roskam, and the gentleman from michigan, mr. levin, will each control 20 minutes. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. roskam: i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the bill under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. the gentleman is recognized. mr. roskam: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. roskam: mr. speaker, h.r. 2768 is entitled the taxpayer bill of rights act of 2013. what it does is, it addresses this fundamental question, and it was -- there is an
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ambiguity, apparently, mr. speaker, in testimony that you heard in the ways and means committee, the ranking member heard in the ways and means committee, some other testimony that we've heard from the other body, and that is this -- who is responsible for having an understanding of what's going on at the internal revenue service? who is responsible for the missteps and mishaps and so forth? and there was a theme that we heard from a couple of folks that you would have thought would say that the responsibility was theirs, but they weren't really willing to take the responsibility. here's what i mean by that. there currently exists 10 enumerated rights in the statute. let me quickly run through these. it's important that we look at this as a foundation upon which we have an expectation that the internal revenue service is ormenting. taxpayers have the right to be informed. the right to be assisted. the right to be heard.
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the right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax. the right of appeal. the right of certainty. the right of privacy. the right of confidentiality. the right to representation. and the right to fair and just tax system. that's current law. here's where part of things get lost in the shuffle. apparently, the commissioner of the internal revenue service doesn't view that as that person's responsibility to make sure, a, that the commissioner knows it, and b, that other employees know it. so what we're doing today, what we're proposing to the house today is, let's put this in a place in the statute that unambiguously says this is the responsibility of the commissioner. so i alluded to a couple of quotes before. i want to walk through them with you, just briefly, and i want to put it in this context. what we're talking, mr. speaker, are, these are fundamental rights that are
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foundational and that the congress has put into the internal revenue code to make sure the taxpayers are protected. this is settled ground. this is common knowledge. this is a general understanding. there's no new ground. nobody is hunting out ahead of the pack here. this is a very solid doctrine. these 10 enumerated rights. the former director of the -- the former commissioner of the internal revenue service, douglas shulman, said this -- this was before the finance committee in the other body, on may 21. he said this. i certainly am not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it. what i know, with the full facts that are out is from the inspector general's report which doesn't say i'm responsible for that with that said, this happened on my watch and i very much regret it happened on my watch. he also said this. i had a partial set of facts
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and i knew that the inspector general was going to be looking into it and i knew it was going to be stopped. sitting there, then, and sitting here today, i think i made the right decision. which is what the inspect -- which is let the inspector general get to the bottom of it, chase down all the facts, and then make his findings public. we heard in the ways and means committee, mr. speaker, from the former acting commissioner, steven smiller -- miller. he said this, i think that what happened here is foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their work load selection. the listing described in the report while intolerable was a mistake, and not an act of partisanship. can you imagine how we would all be feeling if somebody came and there was an officer of the law who said, well you know, i know i'm supposed to read miranda rights, i know that's what the law says, i know it's settleding to be tin --
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doctrine, that's what a defendant expects but i was busy, i had a heavy lork lode so i chose not to mirandaize the defendant, iing few youred i didn't have enough time. there's so many things going on in the i.r.s. story so many components and elements of it, many of this, much of this, is actually things that we have yet to learn, i think we're marveling every day at new facts that are coming out and i think the house has been very disciplined, frankly, in letting the facts speak for themselves, but there is a fact, and here it is, that there is ambiguity about who is in charge at the i.r.s., there is ambiguity about who is responsible at the i.r.s., and when the i.r.s. commissioners, both of these recent appointees, not the current one, but both recent appointees, have this sense of, well, the responsibility belongs here and the responsibility belongs there, i think it is incumbent on the
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house to say, no, the responsibility for this lies with the commissioner of the internal revenue service and that's what the plain language of this bill does. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. levin: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. levin: i support this bill, . d i think everybody will i think we all agree that i.r.s. employees indeed should perform their duties in accordance with the taxpayers rights -- taxpayers' rights outlined in this time. this has been part of the annual report to congress. in fact, democrats in the past ve introduced legislation to
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codify these rights, and the national taxpayers' advocates for codifying these rights dates back to 2007. and so i urge support of this bill. are you ready to close? i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. roskam: thank you, mr. speaker. i urge an aye vote on h.r. 2768. the speaker pro tempore: the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 2768, as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.
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for what purpose does the entleman from ohio rise? >> mr. speaker, i move to suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 2765. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 2565, a bill to provide for the termination of employment of employees of the internal revenue service who take certain official actions or political purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman, mr. renacci, and the gentleman, mr. levin, will each control 20 minutes. mr. renacci: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and tend their remarks and add extraneous material on this bill. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. renacci: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. renacci: mr. speaker, i
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rise today to urge approval of h.r. 2565, a stop targeting our politics i.r.s. act. despite being introduced only one month ago, this bipartisan legislation already has over 75 co-sponsors but also overwhelming support from the american people. this support shows that the vast majority of members and americans, regardless of their party affiliation, believe the i.r.s. should be above politics. this is not a partisan issue. it is absolutely unacceptable for government officials to consider the political leanings of any taxpayer when conducting official business. if it is determined that a federal employee did in fact engage in targeting, they should be relieved of their duties. it is that simple. in fact, this is so common sense, in 1998 congress enacted the i.r.s. restructuring and reform act by a vote of 402-8. that legislation sought to
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bring accountability to the i.r.s. by allowing for immediate termination of i.r.s. employees who engaged in the so-called 10 deadly since against taxpayers. a large percentage of the members here in this chamber today supported those reforms back then. unfortunately, while the legislation covers many yoifs, it did not include -- offenses, it did not include political targets. i have no doubt this was a simple oversight. i cannot imagine any member would support a process for removing an employee for bad behavior but somehow not consider political targeting to be bad enough. this is exactly what my legislation would do. it would specifically spell out that any i.r.s. employee, regardless of political affiliation, who targeted a taxpayer for political purposes could be immediately relieved of their duties. this legislation does not change any of the procedures for removing an i.r.s. employee. it simply adds political targeting to the list of 10
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deadly since already in existence. any statements to the contrary are simply not true. someone said this bill is not needed because the current investigation is still going on. this legislation does not in any way impact the current investigation. it simply, regardless of current situation, if you work for the i.r.s. you cannot target taxpayers for political purposes. there should be no controversy in that. there is currently a process to place to remove bad actors. there's currently a list of offenses that would subject an employee to that process. all i want to do is add politically -- political rgeting to the list of firable offenses. regardless of the outcome of this current investigation, the reputation and credibility of the i.r.s. has been badly damaged. the i.r.s. needs this legislation. the entire federal government needs this legislation, and most importantly, the american people need this legislation.
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they need to know that they will not be targeted by their government for political purposes. they need to know that those who are entrusted with the vast power of this federal government are going to be acting in a responsible and professional manner or be held accountable if they do not. i urge all members to support this legislation. thank you, mr. speaker. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. levin: thank you very much. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. levin: let me spend a few minutes, if i might, discussing the context of this legislation and a bit of what's in it. the 1998 act, as mentioned here, enacted a list of 10, quote, acts or omissions, end of quote, for which i.r.s. employees face mandatory
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firing. this bill would amend the 10th act or omission to expand existing grounds for termination to include political motivation. we all agree that i.r.s. employees should not act with a political purpose. we all passionately believe that. but i wanted to be clear because of the environment in which this bill is being considered. there is absolutely no evidence that any i.r.s. employees acted with political motivation in the matter under investigation. the inspector general reviewed and concluded, and i quote, that there is no indication that pulling these selected applications was politically motivated, end of quotes. the inspector general has come
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before congress repeatedly and testified numerous times that he has found no evidence of political motivation. at the very first hearing on this matter that was held in mid may, the inspector general was asked if he found any evidence of political motivation in the selection of the tax exemption applications. he answered, and i quote, we did not, sir, end of quotes. when questioned by my colleague on the ways and means committee, mr. mcdermott, whether he stands behind the assertion, quote, no one acted out of malice or motivation, the inspector general answered, and i quote, we have no evidence at this time to contradict that assertion, sir, end of quotes. when my colleague on the ways and means committee, mr. becerra, asked him if it is correct he did not find any
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evidence of political motivation here, the inspector general replied, and i quote, that is correct, sir, end of quotes. in addition -- and i want to emphasize this -- staff from the ways and means committee and the government oversight committee of this house have interviewed 17 i.r.s. employees directly involved in this matter under oath, and none of these employees have suggested that the i.r.s. actions were either politically motivated or the result of influence by any individual or organization outside of the i.r.s. finally, as i mentioned asked his e i.t. investigative arm to review 5,500 emails. the head of investigation concluded this, and i quote,
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the emails indicated the organizations needed to be pulled because the i.r.s. employees were not sure how to process them. not because they wanted to stall or hinder the application. there is no indication that pulling these applications was politically motivated. the email traffic indicated there were unclear processing directions and the group wanted to make sure they had guidance in processing the applications so they pulled them. that's end of quotes. so it's clear that there is no evidence of political tivation by the i.r.s. under investigation now. indeed, there has been too much political motivation in this ntire effort by republicans. i want to say just a few words
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about what's in the bill and the gentleman from ohio and i have discussed this. the majority did not follow regular order. this bill did not come before the ways and means committee. be id not essentially considered either at the subcommittee level, i believe, or the full committee level. so the republican majority, in my judgment, did not carefully draft their bill to ensure that it was consistent with the current statute. if it had done so, there might have been improvements to this legislation and added the language, willful failure, as it appears under four of the other acts and omissions. i hope -- i think this bill will go to the senate, as it
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should. i hope if they consider it will take up this issue of whether or not there should be a willful requirement in terms of misconduct because we're talking about the ability administratively to discharge an employee. and i think if there's political motivation on their part, action should be taken. i think it's also important that we understand that there had to be some willfulness in that action. i now reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. renacci: thank you, mr. speaker. well, i would like to start by saying this bill has nothing to do about the current investigation. this is about restoring public confidence back when it comes to the i.r.s. i would also like to say this bill makes no changes to the current process or procedures for removing an i.r.s. employee.
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it would add politically targeting to the list of offenses listed in current law, and i already said in 1998 this legislation was approved 402-8. as far as not having a hearing, is that technically the reason people will vote against this? and for the record, this bill was widely circulated, and i was more than willing to change this legislation. i drafted this to remain as close to existing law as possible. my addition is listed to the current offense list of number 10, targeting the taxpayer for political game. number 10 does not use the term willful. therefore, i did not add willful. however, targeting a taxpayer for personal game or for political purposes could only be done in an intentional manner. and let's not forget the commissioner of the i.r.s. always has the ability to not remove somebody.
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i reserve the plans of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan. mr. levin:: it's my pleasure to -- mr. levin: it's my pleasure to yield to mr. crowley of the great state of new york. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. crowley: i thank my friend and colleague and ranking memberen on the ways and means committee for yielding me this time. i do appreciate, and i don't want to call into question the motivation of how this bill came to the floor, but i find it hard to believe that we're here on this particular issue dealing with individuals who work at the i.r.s. and what would be deemed as a fireable offense and somehow not be related to the ongoing investigation into the i.r.s. and the political motivations behind, not the gentleman, but my republican colleagues as a whole, in bringing this bill to
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the floor without a hearing before the committee. it just happened to fall onto the floor this often and has no tangential connection to what's happening. it's just, i find it a little difficult to believe. i rise in opposition to this bill because it's not an attempt at better governance, but rather it is a solution in search of a problem. in the months of investigations into the i.r.s. targeting of nonprofits, here is what we found without a doubt. progressive groups were targeted alongside tea party affiliations. there was no interference or coordination in the targeting scandal by anyone at the white house or at the department of the treasury. no i.r.s. agents have ever been cited or even been accused of forcing their own personal political ideology onto the process of granting nonprofit status.
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in fact, the person who was in charge of the i.r.s. nonprofit office in cincinnati self-identifies as a conservative republican. those are all facts. so this bill is a solution in search of a problem. but still, mr. speaker, i recognize the sensitive powers at the fingertips of i.r.s. employees and i would be open to looking into whether we should add something like this as a fireable offense. but the committee on ways and means, as i said before, held no hearings on this bill. we've had many hearings of testimony on the issue of the i.r.s., but not on this specific bill. it was never considered in committee, it was drafted at the last minute to fulfill, in my opinion, the republican party desire to say how awful government is. what better way to do it than
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to use the inch r.s. when you govern like that, these are the kinds of bills we get on the floor. but worse, i believe this is a ploy being used to cover up the facts surrounding this i.r.s. problem. and i believe it actually harms our ability to drink address the real management issues at the i.r.s. that were the -- to address the real management issues at the i.r.s. that were the basis of the problem to begin with. once again, mr. speaker, bills don't just fall out of the sky and land on the floor of the house without a hearing in committee -- can i have an additional 15 seconds in mr. levin: i yield the -- yield the gentleman an additional minute. mr. crowley: bills don't just fall out of the sky. they are here to meet a purpose. the purpose was to evade committee process and regular order and bring this bill here before we break for the summer recess, the last week in congress before the summer
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recess, for a political purpose. i stated it, it's not worth restating again, but i do suggest that the notion or idea that this bill is on the floor has nothing to do with on ongoing investigation in my opinion, very hard to believe. with that, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from ohio. mr. renacci: the american people are the ones who have the right, they have the right to know they're not going to be targeted, whether they're conservative, liberal, whatever organization they are, and that's what this bill is about. it's about the american people. in regards to bringing up in a hearing, it's interesting, because i think my colleagues were at the hearing where i asked the commissioner what he thought about political targeting being added and he indicated he wasn't sure if it was in there but thought it was a good idea. even the acting commissioner made that comment, that this was an issue that should be considered. this is about the american
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people. this is about restoring confidence, not only to the american people but in the i.r.s. as an employer for over 28 years, i wanted to make sure all of my employees felt the integrity and when there was a concern, we had issues with fixing that problem, this is about fixing a problem for the american people. i hope the american people continue to listen to this debate because this is one i know the american people is behind and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from michigan mr. levin: is the gentleman from ohio ready to close? mr. renacci: i am. mr. levin: i yield myself the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. levin: there's no question there should be no political motivation system of far there's been no evidence there was any. this bill is being brought up a context, it's outlined in the republican playbook.
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and that is, go home and essentially go after the government. i think we should make sure in washington that we act so the government acts on our behalf. so everybody can reach their own judgment, i've told the gentleman from ohio that the way you drafted it, i'll just read this present language says, threatening to audit a taxpayer for the purpose of extracting personal gain or benefit. that's the present language. threatening is willful by definition. you can't threaten someone unwillfully. instead we have new language and i want to pick up the point of mr. crowley in terms of regular procedure, i mentioned it before. it's important that we physical low regular order in this
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institution and if this bill the bills were not brought before committee, we had no chance to act on this, i would have suggested that the word will ifful -- willful be placed before it. however, everyone will vote as they wish on this, i think it will pass, it will go over to the senate, and i will suggest if this passes -- if this prgresses and the senate decides to act, that they take a clear look at whether there needs to be a requirement of an intentional misdeed as defined here because what we're talking about is the discharge of an employee and whether it's i.r.s. or some other government employee, whether in a local unit or any unit, it seems to
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me, or in the military, for example, i think we want to have some consideration of due process for them. so that's the basis for the discussion here. this bill, i think, talks about political motivation and i just want to add, as i end, the thought expressed before, there's been no evidence of political motivation by an i.r.s. employee. d the effort to try to tie what happened there to the executive was an example of ure political motivation and terribly misguided and i think harmful kind of connection when it did not exist. we should not do that in this country. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker: the gentleman
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yields back. the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. renacci: i yield myself such time as i may consume. i want to thank my colleague for saying that political targeting should not occur in any way, shape, or form. i would agree with him. what this does is ensures no political targeting going forward which is important. we agree that political targeting shouldn't occur this ensures political targeting doesn't happen going forward. the other issue, when we talk about the change in language, the current language says threatening to audit a taxpayer for the purpose of personal gain. we talk about the same thing by saying performing, delaying, failing to perform, or threatening to perform or fail to perform any action including an audit with respect to a taxpayer for the purpose of extracting personal gain or benefit or for a political purpose. so we are actually protecting the integrity of the i.l.s. -- i.r.s. going forward. this is a simple piece of legislation that implements the
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will of the american people. it shows we won't allow our constituents to be targeted based on political beliefs. this is the only bipartisan measure we'll consider on this topic today. it simply improves an existing process that was approved be overwhelming bipartisan support. as i said earlier, the i.r.s. needs this, the hardworking employees of the i.r.s. need this who--- who have been tainted by scandal. but this has nothing to do with the scandal. let's begin the long process of restoring faith in our government, let's come together, put politics aside and show the american people that the i.r.s. is above politics. i urge all members to support this legislation. thank you, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 2565? those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended this bill is passed and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from minnesota seek recognition? mr. kline: i move to suspend the rules and concur in the senate amendment to h.r. 1911. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will reminority title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 1911, an act to
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amend a higher education act of 1965 to establish interest rates for new loans made on or after july 1, 2013, to address the secretary -- to direct the secretary of education to advise on improving post-secondary education data to conduct a study on improvements to post-secondary transparency at the federal level and for other purposes. senate amendment. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from minnesota, mr. kline, and the gentleman from california, mr. miller, will each control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from minnesota. mr. kline: thank you, mr. speaker. i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on h.r. 1911. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. kline: mr. speaker, i rise today in strong support of the bipartisan student loan certainty act, also known as the smarter solutions for students act, and yield myself such time as i may consume.
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after many weeks of delay, i am pleased we finally have a bipartisan agreement to address the student loan interest rate problem. my colleagues and i have been fighting for month farce long-term, market-based solution that will serve students and taxpayers and the legislation before us today will do just that. as you can see in this chart, much like the smarter solutions for students act approved back in may, the bipartisan student loan certainty act will tie student loan interest rates to the market, taking away the uncertainty that comes with allowing congress to arbitraryly set rates. similarly both bills have a fix to the interest rate problem granting students the certainty they need to make smart, fiscally responsible investments in their education. most importantly this legislation, like its predecessor, doesn't unfairly penalize taxpayers. unlike some half-baked proposals that would put taxpayers on the hook for
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millions of dollars to support unnaturally low interest rates. this will produce a small amount of savings over 10 years. msnbc has said the house bill is, quote, very similar to the senate proposal. the minneapolis star tribune recently noted the senate compromise, quote, closely esembles, close quote, the house-passed smarter solutions for students act. and the associated press called the differences between the two proposals relatively small. i'm disappointed it took us so long to get to this point. students and their families got roped into an all too tumultuous debate and were forced to deal with the fallout when congress was unable to reach an agreement to provide subsidized staffered loan interest rates from doubling on july 1. by getting politicians out of the business of setting student loan interest rates, the measure we consider today will protect
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students from future uncertainty. i applaud my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for finally recognizing this long-term market-based proposal for what it is, a win for students and taxpayers. mr. speaker, i strongly urge my colleagues to join me in supporting h.r. 1911 and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. >> i yield myself four minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for fewer minutes. -- for four minutes. mr. miller: mr. speaker, i rise in support of the bipartisan student loan certainty act. it has been nearly a month since interest rates on student loans were allowed to double on millions of our neediest students. but thanks to the bipartisan negotiations in the senate, we now have a solution that provides real relief. and i want to thank senator durbin, senator harkin, senator manchin and senator king for all of their work on this effort. thanks to this legislation, over the next five years borrowers
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across the country will save $25 billion in interest payments. in my home state of california, this bill will cut the cost of college by more than $-- for more than 550,000 students this coming academic year. it was worth the wait. when we started work on this issue, i said that any long-term solution to student loan interest rates must not harm the students or their families, must not make college more expensive and it must protect students from the future -- in the future from spiking interest rates. i believe this bipartisan bill accomplishes that goal. it locks in interest rates for borrowers when they sign onto their loans. it provides a reasonable cap to protect students from rising interest rates and it rolls back the doubling of interest rates, saving students and families real money right now. today the bipartisan student loan deal stands in stark contrast to the partisan bill passed by the house majority in may. the bill would have made college more expensive by nearly $4 billion to students and their
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families. it would have subjected students to a bait and switch scheme, it offered students teaser rates that balloon annually, leaving students with deeper debt and guessing what they will owe. if you look at this chart, you ill see that under the bipartisan agreement we're voting on today, students -- it will cost students about $11,363. the current law raises the cost o $14,,000 and the bill that passed the house under the republican -- $14,000 and the bill that passed the house under the republican bill was $16,400. so it's been well worth students to have this disagreement, to have this wait, so that we could save this kind of money to students and families. next year's freshmen who borrow a maximum amount of stafford loans over five years would have paid $5,000 more in interest rates under the house republican plan. that under today's bipartisan compromise, nearly 2,000 -- more
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than if we did nothing. the house's majority solution wasn't a solution at all. their approach was best summed up by the chair of the higher education subcommittee who recently said, it's not the role of congress to make college affordable or accessible. i couldn't disagree more. that statement explains why their bill piled debt on the backs of students rather than trying to line the the load. the senate bill before us today takes the opposite approach. -- lighten the load. the senate bill before us today takes the opposite approach. while this provides real relief for the next few years, it does not solve the long-term student debt crisis. we have much more work to do to address the under -- address the underlying cost of colonel and we must remain on guard against any unacceptable rises on interest rates. in the meantime we now have a bill that will make a positive difference to families struggling to pay for college. today i ask the republican majority to drop their support for the original house bill that was so devastating to students and families and instead support
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this bipartisan bill that delivers real interest rate relief for millions of americans and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from minnesota. mr. kline: thank you, mr. speaker. i would like now to yield four minutes to the chair of the higher education subcommittee, the gentlelady from north carolina, ms. foxx. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. mr. kline: four minutes. the speaker pro tempore: four minutes, excuse me. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the chairman for yielding time. i rise in support of the smarter solutions for students act, renamed as the bipartisan student loan certainty act by the senate. it's about time that bipartisanship on this issue won the day in washington. earlier this year, my colleagues and i warmly welcomed the president's ideas to settle how student loan interest rates are calculated. referencing his plan and its premise that student loan
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interest rates should be permanently free of politics and set using market interest rates, we introduced in a bipartisan house majority -- and the bipartisan house majority passed the smarter solutions for students act in may. well before rates were scheduled to double on july 1. our friends in the senate were on a much different schedule. rather than immediately building on the striking similarities between president obama's initial proposal and the house republican solution, senate democrats chose infighting over completing this important work. july 1 came and went without any agreement from the senate. rates doubled. but advocates of common sense and bipartisanship made a better case. last week senate democrats finally chose to support a permanent market-based solution much like what the president had originally request canned and practically identical to our smarter solutions for students act. campaign promises and political posturing should not play a role in the calculation of student loan interest rates.
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as we've seen, washington's involvement in the rate-setting equation is a recipe for uncertainty and confusion. borrows areowers deserve better -- borrowers deserve better. this act will apply a predictable market-based interest rate to all federal stafford and plus loans, ensuring that student and parent borrowers will be able to capitalize with certainty on low rates while being shielded from high rates by specified caps. from personal experience, i know that paying for college is hard work. it's getting harder as tuition and fees increase and the vast majority of american households are feeling that pressure. the need for solutions to help ease the challenge of college affordability is especially acute in today's jobless economy. many recent graduates took out loans with the expectation that they would be able to find a job can to pay off their debt. now many find themselves among the 53% of their peers truggling with un or underemployment.
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we want every student to have the necessary honest information they need to make an informed decision about the financial obligations they voluntarily assume. and we want taxpayer subsidies for higher education to be well spent, not wasted. now with interest rates settled perm net -- permanently for students and taxpayers, the higher education subcommittee i chair will continue to look for and promote solutions to help bring clarity to college costs for all students and families considering the investment. students, families and taxpayers deserve can long-term student loan solutions, not more can-kicking from washington. this act, like the house-passed smarter solutions for students act, puts an end to temp rare fixesance campaign -- temporary fixes and campaign promises that have failed to fix our student loan system. this offers students simplicity and predictabilitied a they prepare to pay for college -- predictability as they prepare to pay for college. they deserve the protection
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guaranteed by this legislation. i urge a yes vote and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from california. mr. miller: i yield myself 30 seconds. i would just say, i would not want the members of this house to believe that somehow this bill that we're going to vote on in a few minutes is the same as the republican bill. this bill saves $25 billion for those students over the next five years. the republican bill that was voted on in this house cost those students $1 billion. so there's a big difference. as i say, it was well worth the wait. so, let's understand very clearly. the members of this house are getting a better deal with this legislation. they vote yes on this bill, on both sides of the aisle, and yield three minutes to the gentleman from connecticut. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from connecticut is recognized for three minutes. mr. courtney: thank you, mr. speaker. i too rise in support of the
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student loan certainty act and again want to emphasize the fact that compared to the product that came out of this chamber on may 23, that the majority passed on a partisan party-line vote, which the white house issued a veto threat, the final bill that's before us here today is a far superior piece of legislation that protects students. again, as mr. miller said, the numbers don't lie. the bill that the republicans 4.3% on may 23 had a interest rate which was a teaser rate. the rate today is $3.6% and that nets about $5,000 of additional can savings for students. that's real money and that certainly is something that's worth the wait. but what i want to point south is there's actually in my opinion a more fundamental difference which is so critical for borrowers which is that this piece of legislation will fix the rate at time of origination. in other words, when students take on these 10-year notes, which is what stafford student loans are, the rate is fixed at the time the note is written.
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the bill that came out on may 23 was a floating variable rate product. which would not be supt set until the time that -- which would not be set until the time the students commence payments. some students take a stafford loan out over a period of five and six years. the rates that they were touting back on may 23 were an illusion. they were not what the rate was that the student student actually was going to be paying. again, for this country which went through the trauma of the subprime mortgage variable rate fiasco, this is a critical difference which provides greater protection for the borrower. if you go online today, a 30-year mortgage for a house is about 4%. for an auto loan it's about 3.8%. they are fixed loans, if you took those loans out today. and that's exactly what this compromise creates. is that there will be real borrower certainty and protection, unlike the bill that wrecklessly and on a partisan, party-line basis flew out of this chamber on may 23. this is a better deal for
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america's students, it's why, again, the process that we went through was worth it. and again it's certainly worth people's support. at the end of the day, though, let's remember, students are still paying into the deficit of this country. congressional budget office has told us over 10 years, $184 billion of revenue is going to be generated through this program towards the deficit. we need to change that. that's not the purpose of the stafford student loan program. when senator stafford from vermont passed it many years ago. it was about providing an affordable system of access for higher education, not a cash windfall for the coughers of the government. and that's why we have more work to do, that's way we need to pass a higher education authorization act which again balances these priorities in the right direction for students, not for government coughers and again this legislation gives us the time to address that issue and come out with a even a better program -- even a better program for students which is good for them and good for our
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country, to make sure we have a work force which is ready for the challenges of the future and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from minnesota. mr. kline: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes now to a member of the committee, the gentleman from nevada, dr. heck. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from nevada is recognized for two minutes. mr. heck: mr. speaker, i rise in strong support of the bipartisan student loan certainty act of 2013. as the first in my family to go to college, and as a parent, i fully understand the value of a high-quality education and the opportunity it provides. i also know that accessing higher education is not cheap. just started paying back the student loans of my daughter and i'm still paying back my student loans for medical school. throughout nevada many new high school graduates are preparing to head to college this fall. without this bipartisan compromise, originally proposed by the house committee on education and the work force and based largely on the president's own proposal, students face significant uncertainty over their student loans. this legislation provides a permanent market-based solution that gives students and
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taxpayers the certainty they need and deserve. additionally, by ensuring the interest rates are set by the market rather than legislators, this bill rightfully takes politics out of the student loan discussion. while we must continue our work to address the skyrocketing costs of higher education, because the much greater issue is the total indebtedness upon graduation, this bill is an important step in addressing the near-term needs of students. i strongly support h.r. 1911 and urge the passage of this important bill to help not only nevada's students but students throughout our nation and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. mr. miller: i yield three minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. bishop. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for two minutes? three minutes. the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. bishop: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise today in support of the underlying legislation. although this compromise is far from perfect, it is a step that must be taken in order to provide financial relief to american students and their
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families. this legislation will bring undergraduate interest rates back under 4% for the upcoming academic year, a far more sustainable and appropriate level than the current 6.8% rate. graduate students and parents will also benefit from lowered interest rates within this bill. importantly and in contrast to the bill that previously passed the house, the legislation also locks in those interest rates for the lifetime of each annually dispersed loan, providing student borrowers with critical consumer protections and a measure of predictability. finally, this compromise provides interest rate caps for all student loans, offering an essential safety net to protect students and their families from the whims of market-based rates. while this isn't a bill that i would have written, we must all recognize the urgency of our current situation and pass it today. classes are starting at many institutions within just a few weeks. students around the country are signing their master notes even as we speak. committing themselves to years of debt and loan repayments in
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order to make an investment in their future. at the very least, congress has the responsibility to momentarily end the political gridlock that paralyzes our nation and inform these students what their interest rates will be. let's not think our work on college access and affordability is now complete. with the congressional budget office projects interest rates of 10-year treasury note the baseline that protects student interest rates, prompted to rise over the next five year we must work proactively and cooperatively to ensure competitive rates not only for today's students but future students as well. america's student loan debt stands at $1.1 trillion and continues to rise. the federal government is set to make more money than ever on tudent loan repayment.
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aking money on the back of students is not right. when they have to repay loans they'll have less to spend on major purchases like homes or vehicles, they are less likely to start a business, less likely to invest in retirement accounts or the stock market, all negative indicators that will affect our prosperity now and into the future. college prosperity represented a path to the middle class for millions of american families, taking direction action to bring down the cost of a college degree by lowering student loan interest rates is a step in the right direction. i urge my colleagues to support is bill and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york yields back. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. kline: i want to yield two minutes to another member of the committee, the gentleman from pennsylvania. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. thompson: as an original
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co-sponsor of h. reform 1911, the bipartisan student loan certainty act, i rise in support of the senate amendment to h. reform 1911. president obama, as part of his budget request proposal, returning student loan rates to a market based variable tied to the 10-year treasury note. i can attest to the committee staff and members who worked in good faith to meet the president's request, developing a bill that could pass the hoss and promote certainty for student borrowers. the house moved to pass a bill many may -- in may, saying that access to education should not be subject to annual political battles. the nat delayed passage of the legislation until last yeek. the positive is it's a complete departure from what had been a debate in congress on how to set the rates this modify house interest rates on most federal student loans are set. returning to a system in which they're tied to market rates
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but with rates fixed for the period of the loan. it would apply retroactively to any loans taken out since july 1 when the interest rate rose to 6.8% on stafford loans. this will transition the student loan system to one more predictable and affordable. we have a responsibility to america's youth. we have a responsibility to students such as those seeking opportunity at penn state, pitt, edinborough, dubois business college in south hills and we have to put forward a long-term plan for college affordability. this bill was a good first step and will offer a good rate for students while ensuring the solvency of the loan programs. i urge my colleagues to support this commonsense, bipartisan legislation. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back, the gentleman from minnesota reserves, the gentleman from california. mr. miller: i queeled three minutes to the gentleman from colorado, mr. polis.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. polis: i am pleased that we are taking action on a pressing issue of college affordability for constituents of mine across colorado and americans across our country. abseptember congressional action, the current law today has effectively doubled the interest rate that our neediest families pay to be able to borrow money to afford college to 6.8%. i believe that the previous bill that passed the house was better than the doubling to 6.%, it would save families money at least in the short and medium term while congress works through a final solution. i'm proud to say here today that this bill is far better. i encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill. which has several features that are strong improvements over the original house-passed version, including a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan so hour students are not beholden to the fluctuations of the market when they can least afford it after they graduate.
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this bill would keep interest rates low for our neediest students and families and provide certainty and surety. this bill, the typical undergraduate student borrower this year will save $1,500 over the life of a loan a graduate student will save over $3,000. this bill is a step toward making sure that our student loan system is not subject to the whims of washington every week with arbitrary expirations and control over the interest rate. we have to make sure that our students are able to plan their futures. now this step is -- this bill is but the first step in the reforms we need as we re-authorize the higher education act. i i encourage all my colleagues to support this bill to keep college affordable now and i hope my colleagues will be able to consider representative petri's and my h.r. 1716 bill as we look forward long-term solutions. the excel act, h.r. 1716 will replace this complicated array of loans, subsidies,
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deferments, fore bearance with a single loan paid back through income-based repayment. one of our goals is to help our neediest americans. income based repayment is one way to do this state of the unions are protected when they need it if they go through tough tirmse are in a service-related protection. our neediest students will be paying effectively a zero% rate for the balance of their loan. we need to pass this now and send toyota president obama to revent our students paying 6.%. we need to address other acts that address keeping college affordable for american families. i am grateful that democrats and republicans have come together to hopefully pass a bill today that will be brought
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to president obama for his signature to provide some commonsense and predictability by lowering the student interest rates from 6 ppt% and putting us on a path toward fiscal sustainability. i urge my colleagues to support this bill and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. kline: can i inquire as to how much time is eremaining on each side. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota has 10 1/2 minutes, the gentleman from california has seven minutes. mr. kline: i yield three minutes to another member of the committee, the gentleman from indiana, mr. messer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. messer: i rise today in support of the smarter solutions for students act, also known as the bipartisan student loan certainty act. i commend chairman kline, the higher education subcommittee chairwoman foxx, ranking member miller and others for their hard work and diligence
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throughout this process of getting this bill where it is today. i am pleased that cooler heads have prevailed and senate democrats finally have agreed to the commonsense solutions proposed months ago by house republicans and the president in his budget to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling. this is a good deal for 11 million students. the rates are better in this agreement. and students will save an estimated $1,500 in interest college ife of their loans as a result. those beneficiaries include more than 200,000 students in indiana alone who will be taking out their student loans this year. young people like john houston of ball state university -- a ball state university student and intern in my office this summer who will be taking out student loans as he heads back to school this fall. getting congress out of the
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business of randomly setting interest rates is a good deal, beth for students like john and taxpayers. the bill will allow students to benefit from lower interest rates and prevent taxpayers from being forced to subsidize orby trare rates set by politicians. rather ical reasons than policy purposes. maybe most importantly, mr. speaker, this legislation shows that even in a challenging, partisan environment, congress can come together and work on behalf of the american people to make their lives a little easier. i hope this agreement builds momentum for reaching bipartisan solutions to other problems that our nation faces. i urge my colleagues to support this measure and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from indiana yields back. the gentleman from minnesota reserves. the gentleman is recognized.
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mr. miller: i yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from texas, ms. jackson lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is recognized. ms. jackson lee: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i am just delighted to be able to say that the leadership of the senate realized that the republican bill would have overwhelmed our young people. i was just talking to someone just a few minutes ago and they were saying, we need to have a commitment that every person that graduates from college has a job. we should also have a commitment that every young person that wants to go to school and get a higher education should not be burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and for over two years, over two years, our good friend mr. courtney from connecticut has been begging and the democrats have been begging and the education committee has been begging, mr. miller has been begging, we have been begging on behalf of the american children to not cause them to pay this enormous amount but to hold the interest rates for
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middle class families and working families, 3.4%, and we struggled and there were many discussions in the united states senate and the reason why they continued to struggle is because they wanted to make sure that the victory came out for those young people of working parents and middle class paraphernalias. that's why we're here today. they weren't held out, we hold out -- held out, now we're glad to be in a bipartisan mode but it's important to note that this was a strug. now if we pass this bill and get it on the president's desk, the 3.6% or so will be held and as we go forward over the years, we'll have a measured increase, not a high increase to market rates or rates higher than that, but a measured increase, 3% or 4% or 6% then some five years out, when it reaches about 7%, we'll have the ability as a congress to come back and look because we should not burden our students to the point where they cannot
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get an education. we all are created equal. maybe session not written in the constitution but certainly the opportunity for the pursuit of happiness and therefore the opportunity for education must be protected. his is a crucial difference. bipartisan senate bill 11,000, current law 14,000 and with the house republican bill passed was some $16,000, almost $17,000. mr. speaker, this is a relief, this is to be applauded. i am delight wed finally have come to our senses. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expire. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. kline: i reserve. we have no further speakers. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california. mr. miller: i thank the chair of the committee for bringing this bill to the floor as soon as it was possible to do so, certainly before we break for august. this legislation, as i said earlier is a vast improvement
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over what we voted on behalf and what was parened to this house and i think it's -- that the families across the country with students heading off to college or returning to college this fall will be happy to know that as they take out -- if they take out a student lovene this year, they will save other the next five years some $25 billion because those loans that they take out will have that interest rate guaranteed at that rate today and for the life of that loan. big distinction between this bill and the bill that was presented for the house to vote on, which many of us rejected, but the republicans supported and was passed to the senate. over the next 10 years, it provides about $4 billion in additional relief. what's important to know is that this will deal with making college more affordable but clearly what is on the agenda of the education and work force committee is making sure that
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we're dealing with the cost of college. so that when we can reduce the student debt in this country, reduce the affordability of college in this country. and we expect that as we struggle to try to figure out how to provide this loan money on behalf of the taxpayers to these students who are the future of our economy, the future of our society, that the institutions will struggle with seeing what they can do to low they are cost of these colleges. this is an exciting time in post-secondary education because we have opportunities now with technologies and the ability to present classes in new formats and new forums for students much differently than in the past and we've got to make sure we're providing that quality education but perhaps in a way that's more cost efficient and efficiency isn't the enemy of intellectual
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curiosity or intellectual achievement or scholastic achievement but it may be helpful to those families who are struggling with the debt to provide one, two, or three children a college education or for those students that graduated who are struggling with that debt as they enter the job market so we really want to say that we've den the best we can under these circumstances with this legislation but we expect the institutions of higher education across this country to re-examine how they're doing their business and what they can do to make college -- to reduce the cost of college and we'll continue to do our part trying to make it more affordable for the american families but in the past we've seen where we put money in at the top and the states took the money out the bottom, we're not going to play that game anymore, we can't play that game anymore, and that's ended up with a lot of increased debt on the parts of students, certainly with respect to the public institution, estates have to step up and share, share the responsibility for their public institutions, we
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cannot have this situation where they continue to decline their support and foster that off on parents and student and the parents an students need help from the federal government. i think today this is a big and important step in terms of the affordability of college for students and all of the indicators are that that college degree is well worth it over the lifetime of work of students, over the types of jobs that they will get, the types of wages that they will receive. it's still a huge benefit. there's been a lot of discussion over the last few months that maybe college isn't worth it anymore. it is. t we have to do it right and young people have to be able to obtain that college education and they have to do it with the least amount of debt possible and with that i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. kline: thank you, mr. speaker. yield myself the balance of
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our time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. kline: it's always interesting to listen to the debate here on the floor. no matter how hard we try to use the word bipartisan, we get in these partisan squabbles. the republican bill was bad and this bill is good and that bill is -- look. we needed to change the status to and that's always hard do. we had some pretty simple goals here that we were trying to reach. we wanted to get out of the partisan, political squabble that was occurring in this city every year. we tried to figure out what the student loan interest rate ought to be. the answer has been in front of us for a long time. the market is the best determiner of that. so we wanted to put together legislation that would get us out of this political squabble, let the market do this in a way that was fair to students and fair to taxpayers. let the market do it based on the 10-year treasury which is the best indicator of what it
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costs the federal government to borrow money. do it so that it was as close to budget-neutral as we could get it. the president of the united did had a proposal that those things. the end of 10 years, i think the president's budget saved the taxpayer about $3 billion. the house bill that we've been discussing saved the taxpayers about $3.5 billion. nd this bipartisan senate bill just under $1 billion saved. that's budget-neutral in this city, in the 10-year window, congressional budget office. we tried to get that. it was a bizarre circumstance, mr. speaker, that i and house republicans were working with the white house and the department of education, trying to convince our senate colleagues, senate democrat leadership that the answer was there in front of them, all they
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had to do was pick it up and pass it. we can get it done in this house. we can answer the questions of parents and students and put some certainty in this and i am very, very pleased that the senate was able to put together that bipartisan -- happy to yield. mr. miller: i just wanted to ask you for 30 seconds. mr. kline: happy to yield. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. miller: i thank the gentleman for yielding. we have these differences at the member level and the institutional level. i forgot before i sat down to thank the staffs of both sides of our committee for their professional work, because whatever's going on on the surface here, surface warfare, we know that underneath the staff is going to try to make it work out, whatever direction we decide to move in. i want to thank so much the staff of both the majority and minority side for their help. mr. kline: reclaiming my time. i will pick up on that note. because we could not have done this without the hard work of some really instrumental people. certainly i'd like to take a
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moment to recognize and thank the committee staff, as my colleague has done, for their hard work on this important issue. both sides of the aisle. first i'd like to thank the majority staff director, julian sullivan, and our education policy director, james bergeron, and professional staff member brian milmick and of course amy jones sitting mention to me here today who started working to solve this problem more than a year ago. and that's the frustrating thing here, mr. speaker. this problem didn't arise in april or may. we've known for more than a year with certainty that we had to address this issue. so i thank amy for her passion in all higher education work and i know she's just resting up so we can start into the re-authorization of the higher education act as we go forward. and certainly i'd like to thank virginia foxx, charitywoman of the subcommittee on higher education and work force training, who helped craft the smarter solutions for students act. this was, and again i would remind my colleagues, this was a
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bipartisan bill, came out of the committee, bipartisan, came off the floor with a bipartisan vote. and ms. foxx deserves a lot of redit for her hard work. in closing, i remind my colleagues, the legislation before us today is a victory for students, families, taxpayers. it deserves our robust support. i urge my colleagues to vote yes on the bipartisan student loan certainty act and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota yields back the balance of his time. the question is will the house suspend the rules and concur in the senate amendment to h.r. 1911. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of those voting having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended -- the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. miller: on that i ask for a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman ask for the yeas and nays? mr. miller: yeas and nays, excuse me. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. all those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are
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ordered. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this otion will be postponed. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move to suspend the rules and pass h.r. 850 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 850, a bill to impose additional human rights and economic financial sanctions with respect to iran and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman
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from minnesota seek recognition? mr. ellison: in opposition. the speaker pro tempore: is the gentleman from new york opposed to the motion? pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from california, mr. royce, and the gentleman from minnesota, mr. ellison, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. mr. royce: mr. speaker, could i ask then for unanimous consent? because i'd like to yield the gentleman from new york, mr. engel, one-half of my time and if we could have unanimous consent that he be allowed to control that time. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman from new york will control 10 minutes. the gentleman from california is recognized for 10 minutes. mr. royce: mr. speaker, i ask also unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and i ask consent to enter into the record my cordence with the chairmen of the other committees on this bill. and i'll yield myself such time
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as i might consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. royce: mr. speaker, there is no higher national security priority than preventing a nuclear-armed iran. foreign affairs ranking member engel and i have worked closely in a bipartisan way to bring this legislation to the floor and we do it with unanimous support of the members of the foreign affairs committee, all democrats and all republicans on that committee. and deed 375 members of the house -- and indeed 375 members of the house are co-sponsors of this legislation. and that's the broad recognition that exists right now that more needs to be done to stop iran's nuclear program, which is a danger not only to us in the united states, but certainly to the region and to the world. today we act with that sense of urgency. urgency because iran's march to nuclear weapons continues and in
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less than two years the international atomic energy agency has told us that they have doubled in iran, doubled the installed centrifuges at the facilities there. they've doubled those from 8,500 to more than 15,700 centrifuges and these new centrifuges, many of them are five times more powerful. they spin much faster than those earlier models. a key facility is buried deep below a mountain and iran continues to stonewall the iaea on its development of nuclear explosive devices. so iran's intent to develop this weapons capability is very evident. new president in iran or not, i'm con vinced that iran -- i'm convinced that iran's supreme leader intends to continue on this path because that is what he says he intends to do.
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and that is unless sanctions bite to the point where the regime has to make a choice between compromise on this nuclear weapons program or the consequences of the sanctions on the regime. and that is why this legislation dramatically steps up the pressure on the regime in iran. it targets the energy sector by compelling countries that are currently purchasing oil from iran to reduce their collective barrels per million day within a year. it targets additional sectors of iran's economy. it further denies the regime access to foreign currency reserves. it effectively targets iran's efforts to circumvent international sanctions against the shipping sector in the country. and equally important, this legislation increases sanctions zpwens -- against iranian human rights abusers, making clear that it's the iranian people
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that we are siding with. only when the iranian leadership truly feels a choice between maintaining power and obtaining the bomb does our diplomacy have a chance to succeed. and we know the iran regime's view of the world. we know it only too well because its support of keeping the rutal assad regime in power is self-evident. it is -- it has resupplied -- it has resupplied hezbollah with
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that is the course we are on unless you dramatically step up the pressure so let's pass this bill and i reserve the balance of my time, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized for 20 minutes. mr. ellison: mr. speaker, my colleagues happened to me yesterday proposing this new intensified legislation on the basis that they would like to stop iran from having a nuclear weapon. so do we. everything that my colleague, mr. royce, detailed a moment ago is something that we're oncerned about but we have a circumstance that this legislation does not acknowledge and that is that the iranian people had a choice between candidates and they selected the candidate who decided to reject extremism and actually campaigned on the basis of moderation.
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why not at least -- at least , il mr. rahani has a chance engage in diplomacy to reach the goals that mr. royce has dentified. he promised to prosue a, quote, policy reconciliation and peace. ell, obviously we don't have blasts. we don't but why don't we wait and see?
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