tv U.S. House Meets for Legislative Business CSPAN September 27, 2017 7:00pm-8:08pm EDT
deteriorate further as time goes on. he went on to say, i am left with basically nothing. too trapped in a war to be at peace. too damaged to be at war. abandoned by those who would take the easy route and a liability to those who stick it out and thus deserve better. i bettere, not only am off dead, but the world is better without me in it. this is what brought me to my actual final mission. we lost sergeant somers that day. no one who returns home from serving our country should ever feel like he or she has nowhere to turn. and i am committed to working on both sides of the aisle to ensure that no veteran ever feels trapped like sergeant somers did and that all of our veterans have access to appropriate mental health care.
mr. speaker, i'd like to yield such time as she may consume to my colleague from florida, freshman representative and great addition to our congress, stephanie murphy. mr. murphy: thank you. mr. speaker, -- mrs. murphy: thank you. mr. speaker, september is suicide prevention month and i rise to bring awareness to the pressing issue of veteran suicide. when our service members go overseas, they bravely and selflessly risk their own lives for the greater good. but when they return home, our veterans face new adversities. many are confronted by intense emotional distress, including depression and posttraumatic stress. others struggle to readjust to civilian life or to reintegrate into their families and social networks. unfortunately too many veterans succumb to their mental anguish. america loses 20 veterans every day to suicide. it's time we step up and be there for them and provide them the support they deserve.
i encourage anyone who knows a veteran, a family member, a co-worker or a friend, to reach out. a simple gesture of kindness can make all the difference in the life of a veteran going through a difficult time. i'll do my part in congress, fighting for more and better resources to support our veterans. veterans fought for us, now it's time we fought for them. thank you and i yield back. ms. sinema: thank you, mr. speaker. sergeant somers' story is familiar to too many military families. sergeant somers' parents were devastated by the loss of their son. but they bravely shared sergeant somers' story and created a mission of their own. their mission is to ensure that sergeant somers' story brings to light america's deadliest war. the 20 veterans that we lose every day to suicide. howard and jean are working with congress and the v.a. to share their experience with the v.a.
health care system and to find ways to improve care for veterans and their families. we worked closely with howard and jean to develop the sergeant daniel somers classified veterans access to care act, and ensure that veterans with classified experiences can access appropriate v.a. mental health care services. after more than three years of work, i am proud to say that the sergeant daniel somers classified veterans access to care act is now law. but this is just one small step forward and our work with howard and jean doesn't stop here. we have so much work left to do. mr. speaker and members, i'd like to yield such time as he may consume to my good friend, the member of congress from georgia, david scott, who has served veterans bravely in congress and at home in his district for many years. thank you for being here, representative scott. mr. scott: thank you, ms. sinema. i really appreciate that very nice introduction.
ladies and gentlemen of the nation who are listening or watching us on c-span, i want to we have exactly, right now, 40,000, 40,000 ldiers, veterans who are ommitting suicide each year. this is a national crisis. but it's more than that. it's a national tragedy. but it's more than that. it is an american national shame.
these soldiers, they go where they are commanded to go. . ey go into a hail of bullets they go and they fight and they die. they leave an arm, they leave a leg, they leave so much of themselves on the battlefield. and so many leave their minds there because of the devastation . and when we bring them back home , the level of treatment that many of them are getting and a n not getting is, again, national tragedy and a national shame. and it is my hope that the plea
that america will hear this day, from these members of congress, i believen us to what is and should be the number one issue facing this nation. take care of our veterans. is day, 40,000 every year errible. now, myself, what am i doing? each year i put on a jobs fair. but i don't put on that jobs fair by myself. partnering with me is the v.a.
here we have in atlanta, georgia, at that convention and trade center a jobs fair every year with the v.a. 450 are averaging about jobs each year, but we don't stop there. we have a health fair. ecause it is the ptsd, posttraumatic stress syndrome, we're this a-enemy that not -- arch enemy that we're not examining. the reason for that is that here is a severe shortage of psychiatrists in the v.a.. there is a severe shortage of primary care physicians in the v.a. so right here in this
legislature, my good republican friend larry bucshon from indiana and i, and he's a doctor, he and i have worked, we've put together legislation two years ago, in 2015, for the special appropriations for veterans. that we would pay the tuition, pay the loan forgiveness for those physicians who are psychiatrists, who will go and work in the v.a. but we didn't sop it -- stop there. the income wing how levels are structured, pay scales are structured, according to where you live in the united states, and we have v.a. hospital, v.a. centers all over this country.
and the salary levels vary. so we made sure that an added to those would be graduating psychiatrists who will go and help our veterans and go help us fulfill this shortage, that we would make sure that their income -- that their incoming salary would be at least 2% higher than that average. my only heartbreak in all of this is that we were only able to get 12. and i can't tell you how much that broke my heart by this congress. but it's a start. this bill will be replenished. d if you in the public can help us, if we want to do
something right now about cutting down on the number of suicides that our veterans are having, help us to get more psychiatrists into the v.a. system. help us to renew -- help me and larry bucshon and many democrats and republicans who voted for the initial piece of legislation , help us get -- we only got 12 the first time. but we should get three, four, five -- 300, 400, 500. we should be willing to make that appropriation. again, we can talk, we can sympathize, we can do all of that. but we need to get better treatment, psychiatric treatment for our veterans. that will not happen, ladies and
gentlemen, if we don't get more psychiatrists into the v.a. system. so, give larry bucshon from indiana, my republican friend, a call. my office, give me a call. but better than that, call your congressman and say, let's get this bill expanded so we can get , congress trists will move if the american people say, move. now, finally, i must say this. here is no one that embodies he final words of jesus christ , those was crucified
final words that he spoke to hisdy signles -- his disciples, 24 hours before he was crucified. he said, love one another as i ave loved you. and there is no greater love than that one who would lay down his life for his friend. that, ladies and gentlemen, is our veterans. thank you, ms. sinema. ms. sinema: thank you, congressman scott, and thank you for being here and for your passion for veterans. mr. speaker, i'd like to introduce my co-chair for this evening's special order, congressman tim murphy of pennsylvania's been serving in congress since 2002. he's our only practicing psychologist serving in congress. and he's the co-chair of the
mental health caucus. in addition, congressman murphy is a commander in the navy reserve and provides services to veterans at the walter reed national military medical center, specializing by treating those individuals who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder. it's a privilege to serve with him in congress and work on this important issue. and i'd like to yield as much time as the gentleman may consume to talk about this important issue we've been working on together. thank you, congressman murphy. mr. murphy: thank you. i thank my friend from arizona. and for your dedication to helping veterans. but before i say that, mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that the proceedings during the former member's program be printed in the congressional record and that all members and former members who spoke during the proceedings have their privilege of revising and extending their remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you meerks. -- thank you, mr. speaker. it's often cited that 20 veterans a day take their own lives. it is important that we take a
deeper dive into why that is. because as a society we want to know. there will be upwards of 40,000-some suicides this year in our nation. even one is too many. and i know that organizations that deal with suicide prevention want to see that drop considerably. but there's some understanding that is important for us to know what can we do and what stands in the way? i do want to note that those who serve in the military, about 1% of the population. those who have served in world war ii and korea and vietnam are dying off fast from natural causes. but a great many of those veterans who do take an act of sued sigh are above age 50 -- an act of ewe side are above age -- suicide are above age 50 many have not served in combat -- 50. many have not served in combat. it's been interpreted that perhaps one of the reasons for that is they do not stay with their could he horts after
conscious -- cohorts after combat. they come back on weekends but don't have that same day to day support. we also know the military very much, so after vietnam, when you were done with your time whurks got your points, you were -- time, when you got your points, you were gone. you could be in the middle of battle and picked up by a helicopter and taken home with encrusted blood still on your uniform from your friends, but you were sent back to the states. no chance to recover, no chance to develop from that, no chance to even get a checkup from the neck up and that was not even done. from those who served, you went back to life. it is important to do more for people. and we do try and understand what is it are the characteristics among those who have taken their own lives that causes that to happen. it is worth noting, 70% of those
who have taken their own lives have not berne involved with the v.a. hospital system. it is extremely important to note. that could be a number of reasons. there are veterans who are not eligible. reservists and guards are not involved. they may not have been identified when they came out of the military that would make them eligible. and it's just not near their home. a study that was done with people at fort carson, colorado with 70 some folks that attempted suicide found that the number one reason they gave out of 3 possibilities is that they wanted to end emotional distress and wanted the pain to stop and ran out of ways to make it stop. i reflect on the life of my father, who is now gone for
other ropes, but one day when i was home from college, he himself was a world war ii veteran but i heard his soft voice calling from the bathroom and seen him with a lot of blood and he tried to kill himself. and luckily he did not. but we got him care. he wanted the pain to stop. don't think it was ptsd but other distress as he dealt with his alcoholism and the financial distress where we didn't have money. but it was enough to affect me lifetime in terms of trying to understand and dedicate my life in helping those in sikecoling call need. n my life i got my honorable
discharge and i loved my time working with service members who had traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. but here are a few things that i learned from them. one is, if you want care and mental health, you just can't get it. not only because there may not be a v.a. near you, but if there was, many persons who are dealing with anxiety don't want to leave the house. they don't want to go into a bus or traffic because that could bring back terrible memories and they need to get treatment, but the very problems they have prevent them from getting treatment. we have passed legislation here that will deals with choice to allow veterans to get that care closer to home, but can they get it? well tragically, not just sadly,
half the counties in america have no psychiatrists. they have no psychologists. they have no clinical social worker, no psychiatric nurse practitioner and no licensed drug counselor. in other words, it's not available. if you look at the substance abuse disorder and they are at higher risk for suicide. and we have a veteran who has substance abuse. but look at this group, for every 1,000 people with a substance abuse disorder, 900 do not seek treatment. 900. out of the 100 who do seek treatment, 37 have got nothing available to them. nd the 63 available have evidenced-based care.
when we talk to veterans and said i tried getting help and i couldn't get help, it was a problem ongoing and they wanted to end their emotional distress. a mother called me and said can you help me. he won't go to the v.a. i made a house call. the v.a. doesn't do that. but i made a house call, i'll say it was pretty clear, he had a lot of medication around his house. is apartment was unkepment and dozens of bottles of medication unopened. and the v.a. said, we'll increase your doseage or give you a different medication. but the system was not set up to say, how are you doing? what else can we do to care for you? and the system wasn't set up to
help him when he as no longer employed and isolated himself. when people are covering windows of their bedrooms so light doesn't get in. just shrinking the world and until they see no more reason to live. i remember going to the v.a. hospital and i said the marines are famous for not leaving anyone in the field. what do you do with their mental health problems. we just don't. i agonize over that as being a navy health care provider to know this doesn't sound like the marines. are we so constricted by rules that we can't reach out to them? but that is part of the problem that we need local access to care and care that reaches out
to veterans and say, if you want to get help, suck it up. some of them are not able to do that yet. i faced tougher battles, i don't want people to know that i'm weak and struggling. this is not a sign of failure. if you are in a battle and bullets are coming at you and incoming fire is coming at you, you have to acknowledge it is happening. and you get on the radio and call for help. and we have to make sure veterans understand, depression and anxiety. i have legislation to get more providers. we voted on some things in the bill to get more. but we need thousands of more providers, sigh kill terroristses, drug treatments counselors. and we have to do more of that.
but part of the problem is this, too. they oftentimes in the field have massive student loans and relative to other areas, they get paid so little and many choose not to go into mental health care. for those who are the most vulnerable, we make it the most difficult. who among those vrm training and understanding in military health care? understanding military medicine and life? i was commissioned eight years ago and i know when i went off to officer school, you have to learn a lot. i can polish my shoes better than anybody. it's understanding the words, the lifestyle what a person goes through. we can do much better. let's not hire people but professionals to recruit more,
pay for student loans and give them more regular orientation of what it is like to be a member of the military and let them observe boot camp. once, a soldier that i was treating, he had given up getting care for a while and he said the third time he had to explain to his therapist what an mrap was and a vehicle known in every branch in the military. if a person knows the basics you lose that sort of connection with the patient and they give up. the other issue here is that we need to be able to have a system that will monitors the medication closely. it is very common someone who is on medication, they are taking so many medications and take other medications to counter
effect and it was not uncommon for us at walter reed to have a patient on 10, 15 or more meds. and with medications comes with wathe gains and diabetes and stresses in the family. comes situations where they ares stranged from their spouse, episodes of anger. these aren't bad people. they see questions with regard to their employer and wonder about their future and sometimes they just give up. there is a book by an author and i hope, mr. speaker, if there are veterans listening tonight, they take this heed. did ars remind me that i
indeed survive my deepest wounds. that in itself is an accomplishment and bring to mind something else, too. they remind me that the damage that life has inflicted on me has in many places left me stronger and more resilient. what hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present. that is a message i want veterans to hear, that having moments of depression or anxiety or worry is as normal is as tired or hunger. when you get in a downward spiral, it gets worse. i don't want veterans to give up or vr emotional stress that this is the only way to end it. i understand the feeling. but i also know that as members of the community and members who are veterans, wrap our arms of
hope around those veterans to say there is help out there. and we, as congress members, have an obligation to make sure we are providing those services. it pains me that we come up with funding for all types of programs. but for this 1% who say i'm willing to take a bullet for you, i'm willing to die to defend my country, its constitution and its flag, we as congress ought to say we are going to help you get more services. also some advice to those veterans, it is extremely to ollow but physical fitness and all the pushups and pullups we did had a reason. when you stay physically fit, it improves your brain function.
you have to have an attitude that is focused on positive things. you can make it. part of that is a strong faith in god, a strong pleff in which gives you that attitude to say you can give it. navy seals saying eating an elephant is one bite at a time. and temper, pain is weakness leaving the body. courage is something that is built, focused. and not something that just comes. but you have attitude. another part is sleep. many studies, a doctor at the university of pittsburgh, perhaps sleep is a greater factor than anything else and a big part of it is just getting enough sleep. we deal with this in our hectic lifestyle and our constituents,
there are anchingseyits. it is essential. it is an important part. further training and whether it's in the workplace, we know it is essential. making sure one eats right. i don't want to make this sound small, but making sure one is eating a healthy diet to fight off suicide and making sure that people are paying attention tore relax and make sure they are dealing with these things. none of those things require health from a doctor. all of those things are essential to lealing and getting better. when you say i need a little help here and i need a quick response here, that's ok. i want veterans to know, not only is it ok, that's what we
are supposed to do. call in help. we don't need help. we need people who are saying, even though it may be tough to get help, there is help out there. people want to facilitate and help you to get better. i don't want anybody to feel this is the end. this is a temporary solution. i know people can and do get better. i have seen it time and time again. soldier or veteran who thought i have toll give up, they can turn that life around and become a contributor. . one can say, i'm under this giant bolder, i can't get better, the weight is too great, i am too weak, i cannot move on. there's no hope. or you can move on to another state and say, i'm going to be a survivor. the first part you say, i'm helpless because of what's
happening. and when you're a survivor you say, i'm going to move on despite what is happening. i will pray more. i will engage more. i will do more. but every day i'll wake up and commit more to get through that day, to do something that's important and meaningful. i don't need to set up a goal of 10 years from now. but let me get through the day and find some things i can do and focus. extremely important. but beyond that, beyond being a victim or a survivor is a third stage. and that's being a thriver. someone who says, i am going to make sense out what have i have done and it's going to make me a stronger person. what hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present. if i'm in a tough situation, if i'm in a situation where i look at it and i have despair and lack hope for my own future, and i turn towards someone, give me someone who has been there before. give me a veteran. give me a sold who are
understands boot camp and what it's like -- soldier who understands boot camp and what it's like at to lack sleep and be yelled at. give me someone who knows what it's like to be months without seeing your family. give me someone who says, i made it, so can you. i want veterans to have that sort of hope. we have our obligations, get more providers makers sure the v.a. is responsible. but since most people aren't near a v.a., we can do a lot to help them. i hope that this veteran suicide recognition month is something that sometime in the future we can put behind us and make a thing of the past. we can do that if veterans themselves make those decisions to get help. and if we as a congress make some decisions to get them that help. and society itself says, stop having pity on them. give them help. out of affection and love and respect. and by the way, that respect also includes a lot of people who play professional sports who have no idea what the like to have someone shoot at you and try to kill you.
stand up. have a backbone instead of a wishbone. a lot of veterans don't really want to hear the life is tough for you when you make more money in 15 minutes than they'll make in a lifetime. show some respect for those folks. and men, as we as a society recognize what they have given to the last fulmer -- full measure, we will be able to provide the kind of things they need and save some lives. too many times i've gone to ceremony, you fold a flag 13 times and hand it to a griever widow or widower, how much worse it is when they take their own life. because it signals among the family, there was nothing else you could do and all of us feel helpless when what happens. let's make sure we are not part of that problem -- when that happens. let's make sure we are not part of that problem. instead we are part of the solution to celebrate and help our veterans so these things don't continue to happen. i yield my time back to the gentlewoman from arizona. sinn sinn --
ms. sinema: thank you so much, congressman murphy. mr. speaker, i'd like to yield such time as he might desire to my colleague from new york, thomas suozzi, who serves in the armed services committee and has been a great addition to our caucus this year. thank you for joining us. soussous thank you. mr. speaker, i want -- mr. souzzi: thank you. mr. speaker, i want to start by thanking congresswoman sinema and congressman murphy, and all of our colleagues for trying to bring attention to this very important issue. i also want to thank secretary shulkin, who has announced his get to zero initiative, to try and address this problem of 20 veterans every day committing suicide in our country. just today, as in many days, i saw a veteran who had lost both of his legs. and it's common here in washington, d.c., but it's common throughout every city and every town, throughout our country, that we see more and more veterans that have injures, after 16 years -- injuries, after 16 years at war, there are more and more veterans in our country that have been disabled. with 20 veterans committing
suicide every day, we know however, that there are many injuries that we cannot see. injuries that veterans carry around by themselves at home, alone, in the dark of night, with nothing but their pain. as congressman murphy pointed out, 70% of the veterans of the 20 per day that commit suicide ofour nation, 20% -- 70%, 14 the 20 do not have access to veterans' benefits at the current time and do not utilize those services. in fact, in our nation today there 21 million veterans approximately, and of those 21 million veterans, only seven million have access to veterans' benefits. i've introduced a bipartisan bill, h.r. 2736, to suggest that what we need to do in our nation is provide mental health benefits to every single veteran
in our country. regardless of whether they were active duty, whether they were in the national guard, or in the reservists. whether they were honorably discharged or less than honorably discharged. it's estimated that since 2009 there have been 22,000 veterans with mental illnesses that have received other than honorable discharges. arguably most of those discharges were because of the same mental illness they now carry around with them today. think of a veteran who's in crisis, a veteran who is contemplating suicide. a veteran who, as congressman murphy described, is at the end of their rope and feels there's no help. and the only way to escape their pain is to commit suicide. think of that veteran who reaches out for help at the v.a. could you imagine going through the bureaucracy to figure out whether or not you were even eligible for services?
if you weren't currently enrolled. you're seeking help, you're in the middle of a crisis, and you've got to fill out a form. you've got to determine whether or not you meet the criteria. i am an attorney and a certified public accountant and a member of the united states congress. and i read the requirements and couldn't figure them out. we need to make it much easier for anyone who has ever worn a uniform in any capacity whatsoever, in battles that we've won, in battles that we lost, whether they were in combat or whether they worked on a truck, whether they were active duty, whether they were reserve, whether they were in the national guard. every veteran should have access to mental health services during a crisis. we have to make it much simpler. we heard a story tonight from congressman johnson who talked about a veteran who tried to get an appointment to get mental health services in the midst of a crisis and the time was put
off and put off and put off and he finally got to the appointment and the congressman was informed when he called the v.a. and said, oh, we have good news, their appointment's been scheduled, and the congressman advised the v.a. that the veteran had already committed suicide. so we've got a couple obligations, i believe. number one is for those veterans that are currently utilizing v.a. services. we have to, as has been suggested by some of my colleagues, make sure we have the resources in place so that those veterans receive the services that they need on a teamly basis, especially when they're in crisis, to make it as easy as possible for them to navigate the bureaucracy and get the help that need. -- that they need. additionally we need to make sure that those veterans who are t currently enrolled for veterans' services and veterans'
benefits are made eligible for mental health service, certainly in crisis conditions. so that when someone reaches out to them, they're embraced with the loving arms of their country . as manifest in the v.a.. and they are brought in and cared for and helped to navigate through that crisis in their life. and they'll be talk -- there will be talk about how much it's going to cost. there will be a challenge as to whether or not we can afford to take care of these men and women that have served our country and are now facing this rye sis in their life -- this crisis in their life. but i would guarantee you that any american in this country would say that we have to expend any cost for every veteran, because there's no higher obligation in this nation than taking care of the men and women who have worn our uniform. no greater obligation in this country, we can never forget the vet. i want to thank congresswoman
sinema for inviting me here tonight, to talk about my bipartisan bill, h.r. 2736, and for helping to bring attention to this very serious crisis in our country. i yield back. ms. sinema: thank you, mr. speaker. and thank you so much, congressman suozzi, for your commitment to taking care of veterans in our community. mr. speaker, i'd like to yield such time as she might consume to my colleague from california, congresswoman brownley. congresswoman brownley has served on the veterans' committee for five years now sant ranking member on health subcommittee for veterans and has been doing a yeoman's amount of work to make sure our veterans get the care need when they return home. congresswoman, thank you for joining us again. ms. brownley: thank you and i thank the gentlewoman from arizona for yielding and for organizing this special order hour and bringing attention to this very, very important topic. mr. speaker, we are here today both republicans and democrats
because addressing the epidemic of veteran suicide is the highest priority for members of both parties. congressman suozzi talked about the fact that dr. shulkin, the v.a. secretary, has made this his top clinical priority. and by shining a clear light on this topic, i hope we can finally reduce the stigma around mental health issues and be clear about the significant work that still needs to be done to address this devastating epidemic. we need to do more because 20 veterans commit suicide each day . veterans like sara leatherman and linda rainy and katie lynn sessna. as congressman murphy already pointed out, it's already
estimated that only six of those 20 veterans were receiving v.a. services. the v.a. provides some of the most comprehensive mental health care and resources in the nation. and we need to encourage more veterans to seek care that is available. and we must be ready for them. and so we do need more providers. and i support congressman murphy and congressman scott and others who are advocating for more providers within the v.a. but unfortunately, whether it's a lack of providers, long wait times, or not enough resources devoted to outreach, we face a serious issue with getting veterans set up with the care that they need. the v.a. took an important step forward earlier this year by expanding access to its mental health care for veterans with
other than honorable discharges. that is was the right thing to do and the right step. but much more must be done. one important component of reducing veteran suicide is to better understand which programs have been most successful. the clay hunt act and my bill, the female veteran suicide prevention act, required an independent analysis of the v.a.'s suicide prevention and mental health programs to find out what works. it is critical to break this data up based on gender. because tragically, recent v.a. data indicates that women veterans are 2 1/2 times more likely to take their own lives than civilian women. and actually that's a better statistic than last year, because last year it was six
times more than civilian women. but the reason why that has been reduced, tragically, is because the number of suicides amongst civilian women have increased. as the population of female veterans continues to grow, the v.a. needs to recognize their unique experiences and provide the quality health care that will address this suicide epidemic. it is clear that women on the battlefield experience the same kind of trauma that men experience on the battlefield. and that may be a very similar experience. but we know that women's experience in the military, serving our country, can be very, very different and we need to understand how best to treat both women and men. in closing, please let me remind
veterans and those who love them that the v.a. operates a confidentiality call line that's open 2 -- confidential call line that's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. please call. if veterans are listening tonight, please call and have the courage to -- if you need that support. and to make that call, make that call your first step, and any veteran and any family members can call. and then you press number 1. d send a text message at 838255. please, please, if you are in need, please reach out and make this call. please know that we are here for you. we are fighting for you. ive us a chance to help you.
i thank you, congresswoman sinema. and i yield back. ms. sinema: thank you congresswoman brownley and thank you for your dedication and taking care of veterans here. thank you to all of the colleagues from both parties who joined us this evening. our thoughts are with all of the families who lost loved ones to veterans. it does not end today or this month. we are committed to fight to ensure our vet raps know they have a place to turn. we can do more. we need a v.a. that provides help to veterans in need. a v.a. that puts veterans first and works with community providers to improve the quality and accessibility of care. we need a v.a. that is open and transparent to restore the trust ap transparency.
no one deserves our gratitude than those who put their lives on the line for our freedom and when the v.a. fails, our heroes suffer. we, we who enjoy freedom every day thanks to the sacrifice, must all step up to end the epidemic of veteran suicide. thank you, mr. speaker. i yield become. the speaker pro tempore: under the speaker's announced policy of january 3, 2017, the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. green, for 30 minutes. mr. green: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i rise tonight to make one point, that one point be hat a president need not
convicted of a criminal offense to be impeached. in fact, need not not be charged with a criminal offense, not be charged with a statutory offense or a codified offense to be impeached. but before i make this point, mr. speaker, i have to acknowledge that i'm always in awe of this well. and i don't take for granted this great opportunity to stand in the well of the congress of the united states of a.m. i believe that those of us who have been so blessed should acknowledge our blessing. this is a blessing. and mr. speaker, there are many people who don't have this opportunity, so i'm going to take one liberty before going into my message. i just want people to know what
i see as i stand here in the well of the congress of the united states of america. as i look forward, mr. speaker, i would have those who have not had the opportunity to stand here to know that there is above the doors at the second level, a depiction of moses, the law giver. i would have people know, mr. speaker, that behind me, of course, is the flag of the united states of america. and i would have persons know, mr. speaker, that we have these two podiums and that typically, democrats will occupy this side and republicans the other, we can go to either side. there is no requirement that i stand where i stand. i can stand at many places in this room. mr. speaker, i want people to know that this is a special place. and i'm honored to have the
opportunity to stand here tonight and to speak to the ssue of a president not having he necessity of committing a crime to be impeached. there is no requirement that a crime be committed. there is no requirement that a statutory offense be violated. let's take for a moment a look through the distance of time. let us go back to the constitutional conviction. and let us hear now the words of george mason. george mason reminded his should be that no one above justice. his words were, shall any man be above justice? these words were put before his colleagues because at the time
they were krt. what they could do to deal with the possibility of a runaway president. what could they do, what could they stop it and the methodology where a president could be extricated from his position? and they had good reason to give consideration. they had good reason, because the president was probably the most powerful person in the country. the president would be the most powerful person in the country. he was the commander in chief. he had the awesome pardon to power. so the question becomes, how do you remove a president from office? this is what they had to grapple with. and of course, they considered a judicial process. they considered persons who
might be a part of a jury. they considered these things. the federalist papers, if you would care to read, would give ou a rendition of what their thoughts were. i start with federal paper 65. and they concluded that the process should not be judicial. they concluded that ifal president is to be removed from office, it should be by persons who are in the political arena. they concluded that this should be something that would be, in fact, political, not judicial. they concluded that a president not commit a crime to be removed from office. i'm emphasizing this, my dear friends, because there is a lot of confusion about this question. and if you would care to read
something that could summarize what i'm summarizing, you might look at an article that was itten with a person by the to institute, jean healey, august 7, 2017, styled, "the overcriminalization of impeachment." please read it, if you want to read a good summary of what impeachment is all about. so they had to grapple with this question and they concluded it would be a political one, not a judicial question. and in so doing, in concluding that it would be a political one, they incorporated into the constitution, article 2, section 4, article 2, section 4 of the constitution, that addresses the question of impeachment.
and in so doing, at some point after the codification and ratification of the constitution, there was a person to be impeached. the first person was a federal judge. udge john pickering. he was not accused of committing a crime. there was not an allege that he committed a crime. judge pickering, if you read the articles of impeachment, you will find, he was convicted, generally speaking for having ose morals and imtemper at havoc. not a crime, but the questions did deal with morality. justice carries
with it morality. should any man and i would say today, any person, be above justice? shall any person be above justice? the framers of the constitution concluded that article 2, section 4, would address it and they themselves, a good many of them, were there are when the first person was impeached in 1804, judge john pickering. for those of you who are tpwhrevers in the original intent, the best way to frame the original intent is to look at what they had to do. what did madison do? madison, right there. madison, other framers who were actually there when article 4,
section 2 was put in place, they found that many judge pickering, who committed no crime or allege of a crime was committed should be impeached because of moral reasons and intemperature operate habit. mr. speaker, i mention these things because it is important for us to understand that we have made a mistake. we made a mistake in that we have outsourced -- this is from -- y by the way, jean heely we have outsourced the responsibility of investigating the investigation of the president to the executive branch itself. think foral moment. the justice department is an arm of the executive branch.
we, in congress, have outsourced the investigation to the executive branch by and through the justice department. . speaker, that can give the they must also look right. t could look to some like that outsourcing has created a circumstance by which the executives, the chief executive, the president, could influence the attorney general. that's the way it could look. but, mr. speaker, that's not what the intent is that we have in the constitution, article 2, section 4. that's not the intent. the intent was for the judiciary committee, the judiciary committee and the united states of the united states of america, that's where the power lies, because it is for impeachment
and outsourcing it to the executive branch so the executive branch, we give the appearance that impeachment requires the commission of the crime. they are looking for that. the justice department wants to know what crime was committed under what circumstances. and if the justice department does not find that a crime was committed there is no impeachable offense regardless of what a justice department concludes, regardless as to whether a good lawyer would bring charges by way of something where the justice department concludes that the congress of united states of america still has the power, the ower, the poetensy, if you will, to impeach, notwithstanding, any finding of
a justice department, notwithstanding any conclusion of the justice department, because it's not the responsibility to investigate and pass it on to the congress and with some recommendation. that's not their responsibility. that's the judiciary committee and the congress of the united states of america. but, mr. speaker, we have given this false impression that somehow there must have been an offense committed. mr. speaker, i assure, it is not the case and the evidence is there to read the article that i called to your attention, short read, or if you care to read the federalist papers, federalist 65 and read some of the conclusions that madison and others veer presented. this is something that is important to this country. so i'm standing here in the well of the house tonight to make the one point, a place that i'm in
great awe of, a place that i consider sacred and standing here in the well of the house tonight to make a point that the president need not commit a crime of statutory offense to be impeached. placehment belongs in one and one place only and that is where i stand right here now in the house of representatives. f the house of representatives upon upon articles of impeachment should vote to impeach, that means a president would be indicted. does not mean that the president, the 218 votes, assuming all persons in the house are present, it doesn't mean that the president is going to be removed from office. impeachment does not mean
removal from office. impeachment means that the president must face a trial in the senate presided over the supreme court justice. that's what it does. it moves it along. and there is no requirement that can sure anyone that you get the votes necessary to impeach to bring an impeachment before the house, a privileged resolution to impeach does not necessitate you're being able to prove before you present it that you are going to prevail with it. not the case. . if you can think of this in terms of the real world, this is real, i use that term loosely but in terms of world beyond these walls where a person may be indicted , in this country every day people are indicted
who are not convicted. impeachment is not tantamount to conviction. impeachment believes that there is reason now for the senate to take up this cause. and the senate, upon taking up the cause, can find the president not guilty or guilty. if the president is found guilty, the president is removed from office. there's no other punishment. the spth removed from office. and after the president is removed from office if the justice department or some other agency, some other arm of the government, concludes that the president has committed a criminal offense, then a president would be prosecuted. there is some debate among some constitutional scholars as to whether or not a president can be prosecuted while the president still holds office. i think most of them would agree that it would happen after the president leaves office. but that's a debate i don't care
to enter. my point is, the president would be removed from office. now that's important to consider because removal from office is not punishment. criminal acts have punishment. upon conviction. the president is not punished. the president is removed from office. that is not considered punishment. i thank the gentlelady very much. if you'll pardon me for just a moment, dear friend, i will take a sip. the president does not face punishment upon being convicted of impeachment. the president is removed from office. now that in and of itself is not something i believe we should take lightly. i think it's serious. but it does not have, it is not
tantamount to punishment. so for those of you who may just be joining us for this state thament i'm making tonight, i have taken this position tonight in the twhofle congress of the united states of america for one reason. to make the point that a president need not be charged with a criminal offense to face impeachment in the congress of the united states of america. the constitution doesn't require it. the framers did not make that an issue when they impeached the first person, judge pickering. and it is not an issue to the extent that most of the people who have been impeached have not been charged with a criminal offense. not. n-o-t, charged with a criminal
offense. i close with this. the framers, very much --ed -- concerned about a runaway president, runaway president, very much concerned about the awesome amount of power that they were according one person. the power to be commander of all of the armed forces. the power to send persons into battle. the power to send people, literally, in harm's way such that many might not return. with mere, impeach nearly with impunity. not with absolute impunity, but nearly with impunity. there are some circumstances wherein the president's impeachment can be challenge and the president might be impeached for -- excuse me, there are some opportunities for the president
with ide a person not impeachment but with exoneration for a crime and that president could be impeached for the way the exoneration took place depending on the relationship the person had with the president but the point is, impeachment is there because it's an awesome -- an awesome power we've given the president. because we've given the president this awesome power, it's important we have a check on the president that does not require the commission of a crime. mr. speaker, i thank you for the generosity of time. i thank the leadership and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. does the gentleman have a motion? mr. green: i do indeed. i now make a motion that this house adjourn. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on the motion to adjourn. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is adopted. accordingly ter
is a transportation reporter. passs the house working to this faa funding extension just a few days before the deadline? >> a couple of reasons. probably the biggest one is the long-term authorization bill authored by bill shuster, the chairman of the transportation infrastructure committee, included this provision. it is a long-standing goal of schuster's. would