tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 25, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
congress to enable criminal gangs to more easily make money off stolen phones? instead of simply solving the main issue of consumers to be able to unlock their own phones? some would like this legislation to go even further, however, i hope all can agree this is a good start and a solid piece of legislation that empower consumer choice. i urge my colleagues to support this important pro-consumer legislation, and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from colorado. mr. polis: thank youing mr. speaker. i rise in opposition to the unlocking consumer choice and wireless competition act. i support the sentiment behind this bill, i support the version that was reported out of the judiciary committee. however, unfortunately, an important change that i will discuss to the detriment of this bill was added last week,
just prior to the bill being brought to the floor. the gentleman from virginia, mr. good lat, gave some background with regard to why a bill is necessary, ever since the library of congress ruled last year that unlocking your cell phone violates copyright law. there's been a number of us on both sides of the aisle who have worked to ensure that consumers have the right to unlock their wireless devices and use their property as they see fit. i'm proud to be a co-sponsor of congressman geoff green's bill, the unlocking technology act of 2013 bill, which gives consumers the right to unlock their devices on a permanent basis. before i came to congress, i was an entrepreneur and started a number of businesses, and i understand firsthand the importance of allowing a free market to thrive and create a positive environment for business and consumers alike. allowing consumers to unlock their cell phones, which are their own personal property, can spur competition, allowing new startup carriers to succeed, lower prices and
improve service options for all cell phone users. to be clear, this is a separate issue from the being contractually bound to use a certain provider for a certain period of time. many americans choose to enter into a long-term contract in exchange for discounts or free cell phones. that is not the issue being discussed today. and i don't think there's a problem from either side of the aisle about those consentule contracts. -- consensual contracts. rather we're talking about cell phones, unlocking cell phones that are not contractually bound to a certain service provider. this has been an issue in our trade agreements. i worked in a bipartisan letter with representative mas see, xpressing -- massey, about concerns that the trade reement could make unlocking
cell phones illegal. this is not a permanent fix. this would make clear the intent of congress about this. however the last-minute change made in this bill, different from the bill passed out of the committee, puts a real poison pill in this bill for consumer advocates such as myself. it adds language that nothing in the subsection shall be construed to permit the unlocking of wireless hand sets or other wireless devices for bulk resale or authorize circumstance um vention for sump purpose or any other provision of law. while this gives, again, at least a patina of deniability that the bill is making a statement one way or the other, the statement certainly implies that congress believes that bulk unlocking is illegal. why is bulk unlocking important? when it comes to the technical skills necessary, many consumers are not going to be unlocking their phones themselves. there needs to be a market in
unlocked phones, that consumers have the full ability and are empowered to choose the provider of their choice. the bill does weigh in congressional intent against the creation of a dynamic marketplace that increases consumer choice and options. i think without this clause, this was a bill that made it clear that we can't use the digital millenial copyright act to interfere with an issue not related to copyright but with this clause, it suggests that perhaps the dmca's clauses can be used for noncopyright issues if perhaps somebody doesn't like the motive behind the unlocker. so vulls of -- as a result of this change, a number of organizations have withdrawn their support. ifix it, electronic found igs, generation opportunity and freedomworks. i hope to continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve this bill but with the current language, i do not believe at this point that this bill is a step forward for consumers. i reserve the balance of my time.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from virginia. >> it's my -- mr. goodlatte: it's my pleasure to yield to the gentleman from california, mr. issa for three minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. issa: when i was alerted as to this change, like mr. polis, i asked, what would be the impact? at first glance i was concerned it could be a poison pill, it could limit the ability, for example, for somebody to take trade-ins of thousands of phones and unlock them. but i found no such case because they're buying from an individual, at that moment, they choose to unlock it as part of the arrangement, and you now have an unlocked phone. there's no prohibition on buying 500 unlocked phones and sell 50g0 unlocked phones. as a matter of fact, when i went through the language of bulk sale, i could find essentially no possible business plan that would
require the unlocking of bulk phones except as to buying from a wholesaler who did not intend them to be unlocked, intended them to be sold individually, unlocking them, and then selling them off to another party. any transaction in which the product gets to an individual or in which unlocking occurs at the time of the individual is fully covered by this bill. so although i share, and did share, the concern with mr. polis that there was a scenario in which somebody would not be table unlock a phone, i discovered that there was nothing that the consumer would be affected by that could possibly affect this. for example, let me say that hypothetically i'm that individual that company, and mr. polis and i have something in common, we both built and ran companies. if i'm an individual and want to buy 1,000 locked phones, there's going to be an easy
unlock capability, third parties are going to provide the unlock capability. i can buy 1,000 locked phones or 100,000 locked phones. i can sell them to somebody else who sells them to somebody else. at the point, any time that that individual company or individual is down to the end user who wants to unlock a phone, that capability is there. so if mr. polis is one of the most -- so -- mr. polis is one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable people in this area of anybody in congress, but if we go through the work arounds we in business would do, i can find no scenario whatsoever in which this would stop the consumer from receiving an unlocked phone if they chose to even if during the -- in the interim basis there were many transactions of 10 or 00,000 phones of bulk sales. it does not prevent the sale of unlocked bulk phones being sold and resold.
it does not prevent the bulk sale of locked phones. so you only have to ensure, as i understand the law and i've checked it gevpbs the language, that the unlock occurs in support of the consumer. so though i share the opposition's concern, i believe i've looked through, vetted it, and like mr. polis, as a businessman, i found that it stops no business plan and hurts no consumer. i thank the chairman for bringing this legislation. i urge its support and yield ack. mr. goodlatte: i yield an additional minute to the gentleman. mr. goodlatte: on the point that you just raised, i ask unanimous consent that a letter from the small business and entrepreneurship council, representing many small businesses and entrepreneurs around america and endorsing this legislation be made a part of the record and i'd also like
to note that the consumer's union of america and the competitive carriers association, the small telecommunications companies that have to compete with the big behemoths and would be concerned about their ability to cop pete in this very area, they both support this legislation as well. representing consumers and small businesses and the s.b.e. representing small businesses and entrepreneurs. mr. issa: i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman from virginia has been reserved and so the chair now recognizes the gentleman from colorado. mr. polis: i'd like to yield three minutes to the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. scott: thank you. i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. speaker, the inability to unlock cell phones means that the original wire lescarier has an unfair and unnecessary competitive advantage. in many instances, the sole purpose of locking a cell phone
is to keep consumers bound to their existing networks. consumers often buy new cell phones as part of their initial purchase of service from a carrier's wireless network. because the phone is locked into that carrier's network, at the end of the first term of service, the consumer is forced to stay with that provider, sometimes at a higher rate, or being stuck with a useless, locked phone. allowing a phone to be unlocked will allow a consumer to keep his phone and switch carriers to a more appropriate, affordable, or suitable plan and have that opportunity without having to purchase a new phone. so i support h.r. 1123 as amended as it will restore consumers' ability to unlock cell phones. obviously, allowing millions of consumers who wish to unlock their cell phones and switch to another provider, obviously that has widespread support. the white house and the federal
communications commission and others that the commirm of the committee has mentioned have both urged congress to allow cell phone unlocking. now the bill as amended makes improvements in the bill as reported by the judiciary committee. the new language in the bill makes it clear that the sole purpose of the bill is to allow unlocking in order to switch carriers. this bipartisan legislation enhances consumer choice and cell phone market and accordingly, i urge my colleagues to support the legislation and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia yields back his time. the gentleman from virginia. mr. goodlatte: at this time it's my pleasure to yield two minutes to the gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz a member of the judiciary committee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. chaffetz: thank you and i thank chairman goodlatte for his leadership on this issue. we woke up one day, mr. speaker and the library of congress -- the library of congress -- decided that if you unlock your
cell phone, that that would be a felony. a felony. you go you buy a mobile phone, it's your phone, you own it. the current law on the books today if you go to unlock that phone, you have committed a felony in the united states of america. you've got to be kidding me. it's a felony to unlock your cell phone? this bill today is short, sweet, and simple. it is not a big broad review of the dmca, it is not looking at -- we're just trying to do something simple. we have an opportunity to make sure that that good person at home who wants to unlock their phone doesn't commit a felony. it's that short, it's that sweet, it's that simple. i stand with representative lofgren and peliss and others who wan to look at bigger, brder reform but for today, can we please just make sure it's not a felony to unlock your own phone? my goodness. we can do that. we can do that. i urge a yes vote on this bill, i appreciate the chairman's leadership, let's get this
done. vote yes. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from colorado. mr. polis: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. polis: in listening to mr. issa, there's a discussion of, to what degree does this language interview with potential and existing business models. there are many work arounds. i think the danger here is invoking the language of copyright in an unrelated area. to quote from public knowledge this new language even if congress believes bulk unlocking is a problem, it's clear it's not a copyright problem. just as individual unlocking is not a copyright problem, a bill designed to scale back copyright lays should not endorse an overreach of copry right laws. itch a -- i have a full statement from public knowledge to submit to the record, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. po pee poe liss: and from
frontier foundation, this sends two dangerous signals, one that congress is ok with using copyright to inhibit certain business models even if it isn't actually infringing copyright and two, the congress doesn't understand the collateral damage section 1202 is causing. bulk unlocking is not only good for consumers, it's good for the environment, it allows reuse of cell phones, reducing waste. i'd like to submit that for the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. polis: the committee didn't weigh in on bulk unlocking and was sfare to consumer advocacy groups including those who have come out in opposition to the underlying bills. the argument mrs. goodlatte made about potential use of phones for criminal purposes may be valid arguments and may in fact deserve policy respond sponses but not within the rem of copyright law. they deserve appropriate attention within the rem of criminal law, and perhaps i
prevail upon the expertise of both of my colleagues from virginia who know far more about these matters from i, but if there need to be harsher penalties or more enforcement within criminal law with regard to the illegals you of cell phones whether locked or unlocked or ill list transactions that would be an appropriate venue. but invoking copyright law is a dangerous precedent for an unrelated area. we did reach a bipartisan consensus on this bill in july but at the last minute, after the bill was marked up and reported out this new language was added to the bill that would have negative effects on consumers' ability to unlock their phones. the new language states it does not apply to bulk unlocking that signals that congress believes it's illegal for companies, include manage small businesses and startups to unlock cell phones in bulk. again as mr. issa pointed out, not binding language, not something to immediately use to prosecute a small business but it would create greater uncertainty, notless
uncertainty, around unlocking cell phones in bulk which could make it more difficult for consumers to buy an already unlocked used cell phone. again, mr. consumers lacking the technical expertise themselves to unlock cell phones, we want to ensure they have availability to purchase unlocked cell phones and use them with the carrier of their choice. large business fathers unlocking devices when it has nothing to do with making illegal copies of protected works, again, copyright law. if there is a criminal problem, we should address that within the realm of criminal law and enforcement, not within the realm of copyright. my colleague, congresswoman lofgren, had compromised legislation but reports this language was rejected because it was provided too late in the process. again, i wish that congresswoman lofgren and others were brought in earlier in the process. i think there was the general assumption among the advocates on my side of the bill that the
bill, as reported from kerks would be the bill that was considered on the floor. as is traditionally done. unfortunately, we are not voting on that bill that had that bipartisan consensus in committee. the bill has changed, and the bill now can be perceived as picking sides with regard to congressional intent of application of copyright law for bulk unlocking, something that many of us see as a negative precedent with regard to consumer choice and overreach of using copyright law to protect incumbent advantages. mr. speaker, it's never too late to reach a compromise. there's no rush to bring this bill to the floor today. there is a temporary agreement in face which offers consumers the same protections that are considered upped this bill, and i hope that the chair and ranking member consider working to improve this bill so it can pass this body unanimously. it doesn't need to be a controversial bill, but i fear that the bill currently before us, while again it enshrines
some of the current protections that protect consumers that mr. chaffetz talked so passionately about, unfortunately weighs in applying copyright law in an unrelated area that could restrict consumer choice. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from virginia. mr. goodlatte: mr. speaker, i yield myself one minute to say to the gentleman from colorado, i understand that you'd like to see copyright law changed, but the fact of the matter is, this is copyright law. and so the fact of the matter is, right now consumers cannot legally unlock their phones. and we need to fix that problem. we've been working to do it. i've worked very closely with the ranking member of the full committee, the ranking member of the subcommittee on the judiciary committee so that this change that was made is bipartisan. and it should come as a surprise to no one because we in fact discussed this during the markup of the bill in the
committee. and when we did discuss that we said we'd continue to work with members moving forward and we came up with language that is bipartisan. it's also supported by the way by senator leahy and senator grassley in the united states senate. this is a bipartisan, bicameral compromise to move this legislation forward to address the concerns of organizations like the american consumers union supporting this legislation, the small business and entrepreneurship council, the competitive carriers association, the ctia, and also importantly -- i yield myself an additional 30 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. goodlatte: to ask unanimous consent that a letter from the national fraternal order of police be made a part of the record. and i'll read very briefly from it. it says, as congress contemplates legislation to facilitate lawful unlocking by individuals, either for themselves or for devices on a family plan, we urge you to
retain the prohibition on bulk unlocking, consistent with both the 2010 and 2012 decision from the copyright office. we believe that maintaining this prohibition will reduce smartphone thefts because the criminal sale of these devices will no longer be as profitable. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. without objection, the gentleman's request is granted. the gentleman from colorado. mr. polis: thank you, mr. speaker. i'd like to yield two minutes to the gentleman from virginia for purposes of a colloquy. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized. mr. scott: thank you, mr. speaker. i'd like to engage the chairman in a colloquy. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for the colloquy. mr. scott: thank you. mr. chairman, am i correct that this legislation is meant to preserve the region store of copyright's findings on bulk resale of new phones in both the 2010 and 2012 rule makings and is not intended to apply to use phones? pohl tole that is correct. this legislation is not
intended to impair unlocking to family plans, consisting of a small number of handsets or used phones by legitimate recyclers or sellers. the savings clause is to make sure the legislation does not cover those engaged in subsidy ash trodge or in attempting to use the unlocking process to further traffic stolen devices. mr. scott: reclaiming my time. thank you, mr. chairman. i think you ordered that the fraternal order of police is supportive of this provision as well? mr. goodlatte: that's correct. mr. scott: i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia. mr. goodlatte: mr. speaker, at this time it's my pleasure to yield two minutes to the gentleman from georgia, mr. collins, a member of the committee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. collins: again, as we come here to talk about this, i join and associate myself with the gentleman from utah and also the other comments that have been made here. we're looking to protect consumers. i enjoy the opportunity to look
at an issue in which we're support of consumer choice. as a member of the judiciary committee's i.p. subcommittee, i believe that if a consumer has met their contractual obligations with the service provider then they should unlock and use the device with the other carrier. it should prioritize three things. innovation, creation and competition. frankly, holding consumers hostage to their carrier fails to pass the smell test in this category. we live in an age where consumers want choice, access and freedom. lthough carriers have to evolve and address the challenges, i'm confident any changes made will only better serve the consumer and promote competition. it is with that in mind that i understand the gentleman from colorado, and i understand the thought because i actually had passed and do support the larger measure that came out of the judiciary committee. but also in taking into contract, there is a process here in which i believe that immediate help to consumers is the bigger issue, and we will
be willing and work for the larger measures that have been talked about here before. however, to hold this bill as it is and say this is not something to move forward on, i can't accept and would urge all members to accept this bill to the process moving forward. i do not believe they are picking sides here. in fact, what i believe is happening here, we're protecting consumers and moving the discussion down the line. that's what we're sent here to do and that's a good balance between the two. i respect the gentleman from colorado, mr. speaker, and believe we can work further on this but this is a bill that needs to be passed today so we can move on and protect our consumers. mr. chairman, i thank you for your support in the committee. this is a matter of consumers and this is a matter of choice. we need to stand for that and with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from colorado. mr. polis: i'd like to inquire how much time remains on both sides? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado has 7 1/2 minutes remaining. the gentleman from virginia has eight minutes remaining.
mr. polis: thank you, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. polis: again, there seems to be some strong bipartisan consensus here there remains more work to be done, as representative chaffetz said, we do need a long-term solution. we need to ensure that any solution we enter is not compromised by our nation's ensure reements, to that consumers are proeffected -- protected in control of their own devices and choose the plan that they desire. the language in question that was added after the bipartisan consensus was reached in committee is not operative language. it's not language that criminalizes something that wasn't criminal before or proactively bans the bulk sale of phones. what it does explicitly do is establish some degree of congressional intent. perhaps this colloquy between the two gentlemen from virginia helped roll back a part of what could be read into the
congressional intent of this language, and i'm appreciative of that effort. however, congressional intent could nevertheless be construed that there is an imprint -- there is a congressional desire to use a more restrictive view of copyright one in which copyright laws can be used to ban business practices that have nothing to do with making illicit copies of protected works. copyright's a very important part of law. it is meant to protect the creator of a work from having their work ripped off and sold and others profit at their expense. however, it's difficult to see -- and this is why so many of us are critical by the librarian of congress' initial decision -- it's very difficult to see what the nexus is between unlocking cell phones and copyright. and by adding this language in it adds some degree of
congressional perception that copyright law can be what many of us feel to be abused in this manner that reduces consumer choice and does not protect any legit mate creator of work. to the extent there are concerns from police and law enforcement officials with regard to how unlocked or locked cell phones are being used for transactions that are otherwise illegal, that is a question of criminal law and enforcement and something i would hope to be certainly supportive of efforts within judiciary or homeland security or other committees to ensure we reduce crime across all of those. but let's not give the court's ruling on these actions a reason to think that perhaps congress condones them. again, having my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the record talking about how this bill is simply a first step and how we need to go further and of course not backing away from the initial committee markup of
the bill is certainly also helpful in establishing congressional intent, and that really is what we're talking about here. we're not talking about binding language where before this bill passes somebody doesn't go to jail. after this bill passes they do. we're talking about potential use and precedent going forward with regard to how copyright law can, from my perception, be misapplied to reduce consumer choice in areas that are unrelated to the purpose of copyright protection. that's why i continue to stand in opposition to this bill. certainly appreciating the step forward of enshrining in law, potentially, that it is no criminal penalty for an individual unlocking their own cell phone. but, again, we want to make sure it doesn't happen if he expense of moving the en-- happen at the expense of moving the entire discussion in the wrong direction. in an opinion of yesterday's "l.a. times," the house's cell phone and locking bill, quote,
thanks but no, thanks. i'd like to submit the "l.a. times's" op-ed to the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. polis: i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia. mr. goodlatte: we are the last speaker remaining on our side and i have the right to close. mr. polis: i'm prepared to close and i yield myself the balance of the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. polis: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm enheartened by the discussion on both sides of the aisle regard to the path forward. i wish we could be at a better place today. i believe we had a bill that was reported out of committee that would not have engendered, i don't believe, any degree of controversy here on the floor of the house. we've now moved to a place where the bill does invoke some degree of appropriate controversy and some degree of appropriate opposition. i would advance that it's never too late to reach a compromise, either before this bill is voted upon. perhaps my colleague, mr.
goodlatte, would be willing to consider ms. lofgren's language change or after this bill passes. i think we would all agree this issue is not one in any way, shape or form that's being put to bed here today. i hope as a guiding principle that members on both sides of the aisle look to consumer choice and the power of markets to achieve the best outcome and ensure that incumbents don't seem to co-op copyright law to the detriment of our economy and to the detriment of consumer choice. and, again, this bill has language that can be construed as applying copyright law in another area and having the congressional blessing to do so which is why i encourage my colleagues to join electronic frontier foundation, public knowledge, freedom works, i fix it, some of those very organizations that were in the forefront of proposing that we
pass a bill that allows unlocking, that have sense withdrawn their support from this bill because of the last-minute changes, which i saw for the first time yesterday, and that i wish this house had a bigger opportunity to vet, perhaps bringing this bill under a rule. if the suspension motion fails, if a third of the house oppose, we would have opportunity to remedy this bill under a rule that was hopefully structured to allow for compromise language that would then allow the bill to proceed with near unanimity. and i hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle see that as an opportunity, certainly not as a rebuke to the chair and ranking members on the committee. we appreciate the direction and the intent behind this bill, their desire to make sure that americans know they are not under duress of a criminal threat if they're unlocking their own cell phone. that's a sentiment that the chair and ranking member have echoed passionately.
but i think we can we can show that this is not a ecedent for overreaching copyright law. i urge my colleagues to vote no on this suspension bill, to consider working with both sides to get to yes, and to move in a direction that we look at as a goiding principle, ensuring that consumers and the marketplace are allowed to fully operate without the co-option to have copyright law to protect encouple bents. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from virginia. mr. good lat: i yield myself the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. goodlatte: i would say to the gentleman from colorado, i understand his larger aspirations with regard to changes in copyright law, the
committee recognizes that our copyright laws have not been amended in 40 years and that we are conducting a comprehensive review, we have held many hearings on copyright issues already, we have many more planned and we're going to continue that work. but this small bill to protect the rights of consumers on cell phone unlocking does not meet his aspirations to try to use as a vehicle for greater things being done here because it's intended to be a narrow fix to a problem that was created when the library -- when the register of copyrights did not take the necessary steps to allow the continued unlocking of cell phones. so it's taken a great deal of bipartisan work on the part of the ranking member and myself, the ranking member of the subcommittee, who had objections to the bill, as reported out of the committee, who has since left the congress, the new ranking
member has signed off on the change made here to bring organizations like the fraternal order of police into acceptance of this and we still have the support of important consumer organizations like consumers union as well as the cell phone industry organizations and as a result this legislation needs to move forward as is today. the savings clause that the gentleman objects to is meant to make it clear that this is focused on consumers and not on the larger issues. if in acting in one area as we are, in this very narrow, targeted bill, we send a signal in another area and a signal is what the gentleman identifies, we would never enact anything. it's important to address what is in this bill, the language
worked out in the committee that was discussed in the committee, that was worked out further as the bill was reported to the floor and pass this legislation today and we can work on these broader issues in the future but in the meantime, we need to protect the rights of our consumers to unlock the phones that they own when they purchase a used cell phone. -- i'd be happy to yield briefly to the gentlewoman. inaudible]
mr. goodlatte: reclaiming my time, what the gentlewoman says is true, that there is a private agreement but that private agreement cannot and does not mitigate the fact that the act of unlocking a cell phone carries with it a felony penalty under the law. and that is absolutely ridiculous. and so this legislation needs to be passed and we can then move on to have the larger debate about the importance of cell phone unlocking, or rather, section 1201 of the dmca and other issues, as we move forward on various copyright issues in the committee. but now is not the place, now is not the time to have that debate. this simple, bipartisan legislation should be passed by the house and i urge my colleagues to support the legislation and yield back the balance of my time.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has yielded back. all time having expired -- the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 1123 as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. mr. polis: mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. polis: on that i request a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having risen, the yeas and nays are ordered. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this uestion will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from virginia seek recognition?
>> i move -- mr. goodlatte: i move that the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 1944, the private property rights protection act of 2014. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the byle clyde: h.r. 1944, a bill to protect private property rights. the speaker pro tempore: purr -- the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from virginia, mr. god lat and the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott, each will control 20 minutes. the claire recognizes the gentleman from virginia. mr. goodlatte: i ask that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. goodlatte: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. r. goodlatte: in 1997, suzette
kelo was trying to rebuild her life when he purchased a house in new london, connecticut. it was her dream to own a home that looked out over the water. the little pink house she purchased was in need of repair but with lots of hard work she was able to restore it and start a new life for herself on the banks of the tems river. she was finally living her dream. tragically, the city of new london turned that dream into a nightmare. in 199 , pharmaceutical giant pfizer announced its intent to build a plant in fort trumble and the city of new london began planning a mass i redevelopment of the area surrounding the plant. the city handed its power of eminent domain to a private corporation to take the entire neighborhood for economic development purposes. suzette and several of her neighbors, some of whose families had lived in their homes for generations, challenged the city's use of
eminent domain all the way to the u.s. supreme court in a desperate attempt to save their homes and their mostly blue collar neighborhood. however, the supreme court in one of the most controversial rulings in its history, held that private economic development constitutes a public use under the fifth amendment to the united states constitution. under the court's reasoning, the government can now use the eminent domain power to take the property of any individual for nearly any reason. as the dissenting justices observed, by defining public use so expansively, the result of the decision is, quote, effectively to delete the words for public use from the takings clause of the fifth amendment. the specter of condemnation hangs over all property. nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any motel 6 with a ritz carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory.
the government now has license to transfer property from those with few resources to those with more. the founders cannot have intended this perverse result. the court's 5-4 decision against suzette and her neighbors sparked a nationwide backlash against eminent domain abuse. suzette's fight help red mind americans that private ownership of property is vital to our freedom and prosperity and is one of the most fundamental principles embedded in the constitution. poll after poll that came out in the wake of the court's ruling consistently showed that americans from across every demographic cross section overwhelmingly opposed the decision and supported efforts to strengthen property rights protection. although sue seth's story is probably the most infamous case of eminent domain abuse, it is by no means an isolated case. every day across this country, americans are forced to sit back and watch powerlessly as
their homes, small businesses, family farms, an churches are bulldozed to make way for high-end condos, shopping malls, and other upscale developments. oftentimes, after americans go through the trauma of losing their private property to eminent domain abuse, the planned private economic development doesn't even occur. in new london, for instance, the fort trumble redevelopment project never got off the ground. after spending close to $80 million in tax payer money, there has been no new construction and the neighborhood where sue seth kelo's little pink house was -- ted is now a baron field barren field overrun by weeds. it is time for congress to step in and rein in eminent domain abuse by passing the private property rights protection act. i want to thank mr.
sensenbrenner for reintroducing this legislation. he and i worked together on this issue for many years and i am pleased that this legislation incorporates many provisions from legislation i helped introduce in the 109th congress, the stop act. specifically, the private property right pross text act prohibits state and local governments that receive federal economic development funds from using economic development as a justification for taking property from one person and giving it to another private entity. any state or local government that violates this prohibition will be ineligible to receive federal economic development funds for a period of two years. moreover, this legislation grants adversely affected land owners the right to use appropriate legal remedies to enforce the provisions of the bill. in addition, it allows state and local governments to cure violations by giving the property become to the original owner. no one should have to live in fear of the government snatching up their home, farm,
church, or small business. as the institute for justice has observed, using eminent domain so that another, richer, better-connected person may live or work on the land you used to own, tells americans that their hopes, dreams, and hard work do not matter as much as money and political influence. the use of eminent domain for private development has no place in a country built on traditions of independence, hard work, and protection of property rights. this bill creates incentives for state and local governments to help ensure that eminent domain abuse does not occur in the future. i urge my colleagues to support this legislation and i reserve to the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott is recognized. mr. scott: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in opposition to h.r. 1944 and yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized.
mr. scott: in the wake of the supreme court's decision in kelo vs. new london, i'm been concerned that states -- states and municipalities could use the ruling to expand their power of eminent domain to the detriment of the least powerful in the community. i believe the power of eminent domain has been abused particularly against those lacking economic or political power. in the nine years since the kelo division decision, states have properly addressed the issue on their own and reshed respect their judgment rather than impose this walkard -- awkward, one-size-fits-all legislative response. i reached this conclusion for several reasons. first, it is porn to note that the supreme court act knowledged that state courts may interpret their own eminent domain powers in a manner that is actually more protective of property rights. and therefore enen-- i'm therefore encouraged that no
fewer than 43 state sls taken steps to restrict their powers of eminent domain to guard against abuse. given the fact that our system of federalism appears to be working and states have enacted legal protections that are needed to prevent abus of eminent domain power -- abuse of emdement domain power, i -- eminent domain power, i do not believe this is necessary at this time. the jurisdiction found in violation of this legislation would be stripped of all, quote, federal economic development funds, unquote, for two years. which could have a devastating impact on its financial health. the supreme court has long held that when congress attaches conditions to a state's acceptance of federal funds, the conditions must be set out unambiguously. but the term "federal economic development funds" is in fact ambiguous. and could conceivably include transportation, housing, and all kinds of significant federal funding.
those who could bear the heaviest burden of cuts to programs like the community development block grants could be precisely the same communities that have suffered the most under the abus of eminent domain power in the past, that is, the powerless in our communities. . furthermore, it could be severe even if a state does exercise a power of eminent domain. that's because no lender could ignore the risk of a future administration violating this administration by using eminent domain for prohibited purpose and consequently facing the devastating penalties during the life of the bond. thereby affecting the city's ability to make the payment on the bond. this bill gives no discretion and no flexibility with respect to the penalty. it fails to take into account the severity or magnitude of the violations, so even a small violation would have to result in a complete loss of all economic development funds for
two years. no matter how clean a city's record may be, the danger that some future violation would have such a devastating effect could negatively impact its bond rating. and finally, against this backdrop, we need to remember the eminent domain has a long and shameful history and disproportionately impacting foreign minority communities, inner city neighborhoods that lack institutional and political power were often designated as blighted areas slated for redevelopment through urban renewal programs. properties were condemned, land was turned over to privateth developers. that abuse was not confined to eminent domain for economic development purposes. many of those abuses would still be allowed under this bill. you can trace the course of any major highway in america to see where poor and minority communities were located. you can map political power, where it is and where it isn't.
like the keystone pipeline today. this bill does nothing to protect property owners, like the witness who testified before the house judiciary committee, about how her property was taken to develop the farm corporation developing that pipeline. the bill does not even give property owners the right to sue to stop an illegal taking in the first place. suits can only be brought after the property is taken after its too late. and despite the draconian penalties in the bill, the actual property owner would get nothing. this underscores why it is important that we continue to monitor the facts on the ground to determine whether federal action is warranted and if so what effective action should be taken. if the states fail to protect our citizens, congress should remain ready, willing and able to do so. however, as the states have already acted to curb abuse, we in congress should allow them the authority to act. even if you believe the bill achieves the correct balance between state authority and
federal intervention and prohibits the inappropriate use of eminent domain, the irrational penalties it imposes and the fact that individual property owners are not even protected still require the bill be defeated. i urge my colleagues to oppose the legislation and reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from virginia, mr. goodlatte. mr. goodlatte: mr. speaker, at this time it's my pleasure to yield to the gentleman from wisconsin, the chairman of the crime, terrorism, homeland security, investigation subcommittee and the chief sponsor of this legislation, mr. sensenbrenner, such time as he may consume. mr. sensenbrenner: thank you, mr. chairman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. sensenbrenner: mr. speaker, i'm pleased that the house of representatives today is considering h.r. 1944, the private property rights protection act, as part of stop government abuse week. my bill aims to restore the property rights of all americans the supreme court took away nine years ago. the founders of our country
recognized the importance of an individual's right to personal property when they drafted the constitution. the fifth amendment states, quote, nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation, unquote. in key low vs. the city of new london, in a 5-4 decision, they said that economic development can be a public use under the fifth amendment's taking clause. the court held that the government could take private property from an owner to help a corporation or private developer. the now infamous kilo decision was met with swift opposition. as justice o'connor stated, quote, the government has the right to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. the founders could not have intended this perverse result. in the nearly nine years since kilo, polls show that americans
overwhelmingly depose property being taken and transferred to another private owner even if it is for a public economic good. oups, including the aarp and naacp oppose kilo noting the takings from the court's decision will disproportionately affect and harm the economically disadvantaged. and in particular, racial and ethnic minorities and the elderly, unquote. representatives of religious organizations have stated that, quote, houses of worship and other religious institutions are by their very nature nonprofit and almost universally tax-exempt. these fundamental characteristics of religious institutions render their property's singularly vulnerable to being taken under the rationale approved by the supreme court, unquote. should the government be able to close churches if it prefers malls? the private property rights protection act is needed to restore all americans the
property right the supreme court took away. although several states have independently passed legislation to limit their power of eminent domain, the supreme courts of illinois, michigan and ohio have barred the practice under state constitutions. these laws exist under -- on varying degree. h.r. 1944 would prohibit state and local governments that receive federal economic development funds from using economic development as a justification for taking property from one person and giving it to another private entity. many state or local government that violates this will be ineligible to receive federal economic development funds for two years. the protection of property rights is one of the most important tenants of our government. i am mindful of the long history of eminent domain abuses, particularly in w-income and often
predominantly minority neighborhoods and the need to stop it. i am also mindful of the reasons we should allow the government to take land when the way in which the land is being used constitutes an immediate threat to public health and safety. i believe this bill accomplishes both goals. i urge my colleagues to join me in protecting property rights for all americans, eliminating the dangerous effects of the kilo decision on the most vulnerable society. i yield back the balance of my time to the gentleman from virginia. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia, mr. goodlatte, reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott, is recognized. mr. scott: mr. speaker, i have no further requests for time. in that case, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott, yields back. the gentleman from virginia, mr. goodlatte, is recognized. mr. goodlatte: mr. speaker, i have in my hand bits of the few remaining bricks from the foundation of sue zet kilo's home in new london, connecticut.
they were picked up at the site just over a year ago. they once supported the lovingly arranged sanctuary of a woman who raised five sons and put herself through nursing school by working as an emergency medical technician. they gave her a place to rest after a long day's work, surrounded by the things that meant the most to her. they were the foundations of her castle until the government's bulldozers arrived. mr. speaker, her home, known as the little pink house, was reduced to rubble, this rubble by the government's abuse of eminent domain, and it has remained just that, rubble. these bits of bricks serve as a stark reminder of the government's inability to plan people's lives better than they can plan them themselves. they are the dramatic result of a type of government abuse that should never be rewarded with federal taxpayer dollars. the homes that hardworking americans have earned should be protected from government abuse
and we here in the people's house have a duty to do just that. i've had the opportunity to meet sue zet. to me she's a genuine american hero fighting all the way to the united states supreme court to protect her little pink house and to protect all of our fifth amendment's right under the constitution. to me the failure of the court to correctly rule on that eminent domain case cries out for the congress to correctly rule on this abuse. by passing mr. sensenbrenner's bill, by passing the property rights protection act. as has been noted, 43 states have acted to protect eminent domain rights. isn't it time for the united states congress to do the same? i urge my colleagues to support the private property rights protection act and yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia, mr. goodlatte, yields back. all time having expired, the
question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 1944. those in favor will 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. mr. sensenbrenner: mr. speaker, on that i ask for the yeas and nays. 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 question will be postponed.
h.r. 2530, as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 2530, a bill to improve transparency and efficiency with respect to audits and communications between taxpayers and the internal revenue service. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from illinois, mr. roskam, and the gentleman from illinois, mr. davis, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois, mr. roskam. mr. roskam: thank you, 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. mr. roskam: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. mr. speaker, h.r. 2530, the taxpayer transparency and efficient audit act, is a direct response to testimony and inquiries and news reports that the ways and means
committee and other interested members of congress have heard about as it relates to the i.r.s. scandal. part of the difficulty that american taxpayers have, mr. speaker, is that they feel they're basically on their heels. that the internal revenue service has all the power and has all the inertia and has all the momentum and if you're a taxpayer and the i.r.s. is after you, you feel like it's a one-way street and have all this momentum and have us on our heels. so this is an effort to correct this problem, and every time the i.r.s. shares a taxpayer's information, the i.r.s., under this bill, must send a disclosure letter to the taxpayer within 30 days of the disclosure, except in cases where it would be detrimental to an ongoing criminal investigation or to national security. whenever the i.r.s. receives correspondence from a taxpayer,
the i.r.s. must substantively respond within 30 days, and the response, mr. speaker, can't simply be a pat on the head and an acknowledgment letter, but it's got to be a substantive reply. finally, the legislation is that an audit must be complete within one year and if not the i.r.s. should send an explanation to the taxpayer of why it took so long. so in a nutshell, mr. speaker, what we're trying to do is put the i.r.s. on notice, that they have an obligation to operate within certain time frames. that is 30-day response, a substantive response, finish an audit within a year and if you can't finish it within a year have a good speculation as to why, and then also to make sure that if information is being disclosed to someone else -- and, again, outside the context of a criminal investigation or a national security incident -- but if it's being disclosed outside the i.r.s., then the i.r.s. has to disclose that to
the taxpayer. now, you might be thinking, wow, what in the world. that's against the law already, that this information shouldn't be being shared outside the internal revenue service. . you'd be right in thinking that. the problem is, we heard testimony, and it was very compelling testimony, mr. speaker, from a witness down in texas who described this experience. her name was catherine and she was the founder of an organization called true the vote. now, this is somebody who decided to participate in public life, decided to get organized and have a group. and lo and behold, over a period of time, once she decided that she was going to petition the federal government for a status for her group, true the vote, be involved in election issues and ballot integrity issues, all of a sudden she finds herself the subject of a great deal of interest from other elements of the federal government that have nothing to do with the tax
inquiry. so, she is visited, according to my information, she has 15 different visits from four different federal agencies. now, we may never get to the bottom of where it came from, where the leak took place, what was the theory behind it and how all that came to pass. but, mr. speaker, we know this. we know that we can do something about it. we know that we can put limitations on the internal revenue service that creates a duty and an obligation and a legal sanction around which the i.r.s. has to operate that says, you cannot disclose this information and if this information is disclosed you have a duty to let the taxpayer know. so clearly what we're trying to do with this legislation is to limit the internal revenue service, not from collecting taxes, not from enforcing the law, not from doing the things that they are tasked and
created by this body to do. but instead to do it in a limited fashion. to be wise. not to be abusive. not to be lording power over taxpayers. because, mr. speaker when it all comes down to it, let's not -- mr. speaker, when it all comes down to it, let's not forget this. we have a system of taxation that is based on what? it's based on voluntary compliance. we don't have the ability, the federal government does not have the ability to go about and do all this enforcement. so a voluntary tax compliance system is presumed. and what does that mean? that means that the taxpayer has to have confidence that the taxpaying institution itself has integrity. and as we know, that integrity s seriously in question. so, i urge the favorable
consideration of h.r. 2530 and i retain the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. daflse. mr. davis: thank you, mr. speaker. and i'm -- mr. davis. mr. davis: thank you, mr. speaker, and i'm pleased to join my colleague from illinois in discussion and debate of h.r. 2530, the taxpayer transparency and efficient audit act. and i yield myself as much time as i may consume. mr. speaker, since 2010, the internal revenue service's total budget has declined by 8%. this may not sound like much, except that the number of individual tax returns has gone up by 11%. and the number of business tax returns has gone up by 23%. what happens when you combine a larger work load with fewer employees? you get more unanswered mail, more unreturned phone calls,
and the closing of taxpayer assistance centers around the country. i recently had the pleasure of welcoming the new internal revenue service commissioner to the ways and means committee. he painted a very bleak picture of the challenges the agency's facing. over the same four-year periods that the internal revenue service's budget has been slashed, the number of phone calls the agency received has gone up by 40%. over 100 million calls were placed by taxpayers to the internal revenue service last year. and nearly 20 million of those calls went unanswered. because the i.r.s. does not have enough employees to answer them. the internal revenue service's ability to process taxpayer
correspondence has take an similar hit. the i.r.s. tries to respond -- taken a similar hit. the i.r.s. tries to respond to taxpayer correspondence within 45 days. during the final week of fiscal year 2013, the i.r.s. was unable to process 53% of its letters within the 45-daytime frame. and the open inventory of unanswered letters stood at 1.1 million. mr. speaker, the bill before us requires the internal revenue service to provide written responses to taxpayers within 30 days. that is simply an impossibility given the current funding levels. the republicans can't have it both ways. you can't both complain about the i.r.s. not answering its mail within 30 days and then demand that its budget be cut
at the same time. of course the internal revenue service would have more resources to spend on taxpayers if they were not wasting time and money responding to the republicans' infinite document request. according to the latest letter from the internal revenue service dated february 7, 2014, have 0 i.r.s. personnel worked on a total of more than 79,000 hours to respond to ongoing congressional investigations. they have produced more than half a million pages of ocuments, had more than 60 transcribed interviews taken of i.r.s. employees, and answered questions at 14 congressional hearings. enough is enough.
it's time for the internal revenue service to get back to its primary mission of administering taxpayer services. mr. speaker, i'm also concerned about the provision in the bill that called for audits to be completed within one year. this will create an incentive for criminals to try and delay any audit or investigation by the internal revenue service, to try and run out the clock. so that they can avoid their taxes. we would not say that if you can avoid a criminal investigation for one year that your crime will be forgiven. so why would we say that for cheating on your taxes? our constituents expect us to provide a level playing field when it comes to the tax code. and the republicans should not tilt that playing field towards
tax cheats, in the pursuit of their november re-election strategy. finally, mr. speaker, i am concerned that all of this legislation is designed to hurt the internal revenue service, it places the burden most directly on the elderly, the poor and the disabled. they are the ones who are most likely to need the services from the internal revenue service, that they can no longer find. this is not just a problem for he internal revenue service. but also for this congress. when our constituents cannot get the help they need and deserve from a federal agency, they turn to us. it's not just the commissioner who has called for more resources, but also the i.r.s. oversight board, the taxpayer advocate, and the treasury
inspector general. so i am hopeful that this congress will listen. these are our constituents who need us. i thank you, mr. speaker, and reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. mr. roskam from illinois is recognized. mr. roskam: thank you, mr. speaker. you know, we're accused now of wanting to have it both ways and i suppose we're guilty as charged. we have an expectation that the internal revenue service is going to work well with the resources that they've been appropriated, and be able to be responsive to inquiries, but it's an important distinction, mr. speaker, because we're saying that the i.r.s. has to respond in the same level that they demand responses from the taxpayer. so when you get a letter at home from the internal revenue service, there's nobody that's cask leer about that -- cavalier about that. what happens?
you look at, that my constituents look at that, the business owners in my district, the small businesses in my district, they look at something from the internal revenue service and they say, stop the presses, wow, we've got to stop everything, the i.r.s. is coming in and week of got to deal with this, get on top -- and we've www.to deal with this, get on -- and we've got to deal with it -- this, get on top of it. what the i.r.s. demands of the american citizens, demands with the ability to take your property away through the force of leans, that that internal revenue service cannot be held to that same standard? i think the i.r.s. can handle it. i think the i.r.s. is now recognizing, hey, there's something that's going on and the american public is recognizing that what's actually happened is that they've delegated a great deal of authority to the internal
revenue service and how the way our founders created the system, mr. speaker, now the citizens are saying, we want to reclaim the authority. why? because the authority has been abused. and you're going to be limited, internal revenue service, based on this legislation and other legislation because you abused this. this is not the -- this is not about the poor. this is not about the elderly. this is not about the disabled. those arguments are very not persuasive. this is about the limitation of the long arm of the federal government being able to hold you to account and my constituents to account, to a standard that they are unwilling to live with themselves. that's just wrong. so do we want it both ways? yes, we do. we want the internal revenue service to be wise with the money that's been allocated to them. and we want them to be forthcoming and helpful when it comes to responding in the same way to which they've been responded. now, my distinguished colleague
from illinois has mentioned the consternation and hand wringing that has come upon the internal revenue service. and here's a fairly simple remedy, mr. speaker. the internal revenue service can be forthcoming. they can can say, here's the information, to the chairman of the ways and means committee, that you have requested. the chairman of the ways and means committee has requested documentation, particularly the lois lerner who is at heart of this investigation. this have they become forthcoming -- have they become forth coming? no. difficult. one execution after another. we're looking, we're searching. all these sorts of dog-ate-my-homework kind of responses. if it's taken too much time, mr. speaker, if it's that big of a problem, if it's taking all of this energy that was once devoted to helping taxpayers and instead defending themselves in an investigation, here's the remedy, save a lot of time, print out the emails and send it to chairman dave
camp. that's how they can save time, that's how they can save money, and, by goddy, we've got to get a point -- golly, we've got to get a point where this agency is under control and doing the right thing, doing the right thing by those who have entrusted them with a great deal of authority. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. mr. davis from illinois is recognized. mr. davis: thank you very much, mr. chairman. i certainly appreciate the instructions as well as the passion of my colleague from illinois. and i want every agency of our government to be as efficient as it possibly can. and should be. but i'm prepared to close, and don't have any other requests for time, but i will end with just two things. one of the things that we have learned is that you can't get blood out of a turnip. you can squeeze it, you can
tease it, you can do everything to it that you want to. but it will still end up being blood. the other thing that i will end with, we celebrate this month, african-american history month, and i'm reminded of something that frederick douglass said. and that is that in this world we may not get everything that we pay for, but we most certainly must pay for everything that we.net. and -- that we get. and i maintain that we must have the adequate resources that are needed for employees to do their jobs. to do them in a timely and efficient manner, and so i appreciate the comments of my colleague.
this and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois, mr. roskam. mr. roskam: thank you, mr. speaker. to close, and i want to thank my colleague from illinois, mr. davis, to come and to debate this issue. i appreciate his admonition about frederick douglass and that whole notion that we need to pay for what we get, and i think that's a good word in which to end. in other words, the american public is -- has an expectation that they are going to get something and they're paying for it. they're paying for it in taxes that in some cases are confiscatory. very, very high tax burden. and they are voluntarily complying with the tax code. and toward that end they have an expectation that they are going to be treated courteously, that they are going to be treated with respect and they are not going to be subsequently targeted by some other federal agency
completely unrelated to their inquiry. so i urge the passage of h.r. 2530, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 2530 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. for what purpose does the gentleman from illinois seek recognition? mr. roskam: mr. speaker, i move to suspend the rules and pass h.r. 2531. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 2531, a bill to prohibit the internal revenue service from asking taxpayers questions regarding religious, political or social beliefs. the speaker pro tempore:
pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from illinois, mr. roskam, and the gentleman from illinois, mr. davis, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois, mr. roskam. 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. mr. roskam: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume, and i draw your attention to h.r. 2531, the protecting taxpayers from intrusive i.r.s. requests act. let me give you a quick summary, mr. speaker, what the bill does. let me give you an example that we heard in the ways and means committee about -- that prompted this, and i look forward to hearing from my colleague, mr. davis. the legislation establishes a new procedure for the i.r.s. to follow when asking questions
regarding three areas -- religious, political and social beliefs. the following is the new procedure, that the i.r.s. can't ask those questions. they can't ask about religious, political or social beliefs, and there's pro exceptions. exceptions. if the i.r.s. commissioner deems a question to be important to aid in tax administration and smits to -- submits to congress that report which must include the following and be approved by a joint resolution of congress. state the specific questions that were authorized, describe the class of taxpayers who will be asked the questions and describe the circumstances surrounding the taxpayers being asked those questions. all right. so where is this coming from? what's this all about? we heard testimony from six witnesses, mr. speaker, who came before the ways and means committee as the i.r.s. scandal was breaking.
and these six witnesses in particular i found to be compelling, and i found them to be compelling for two reasons. number one, they didn't give up on their country. when they were being targeted by the federal government, these witnesses kept faith and kept hope with the america that they knew existed and they were not willing to feel overwhelmed even though the events were actually fairly overwhelming, to be targeted by your federal government, to say you can and cannot participate in the public square. that's one reason why i admired them. the second reason is this, mr. speaker. they came to washington to do something about it. they engaged congress. they engaged the full committee. they gave compelling testimony. the testimony moved us. it moved me to introduce this bill. now, here was the single, just without question, the most compelling witness who spoke that day, in my view. she represented a right-to-life
group in iowa, and she told the story of being asked by the internal revenue service in written interrogatories. in other words, pieces of paper, written down questions. comes in internal revenue service to their little group, and the inquiry was -- tell us about your prayers. tell us about your prayer meetings, what goes on at those. now, mr. speaker, you know as well as i do that our freedom to worship, that's our first freedom. and our freedom to worship is central to who we are, and the long arm, the powerful arm of the federal government, coming in and grabbing a little right-to-life group by the neck and shaking them around saying, write down what happens in your prayer meetings and write it down and sign your name under
penalties of perjury, that's exactly what those questions did. i was sobered by that. that was a chastening testimony to hear that this agency, this agency of delegated authority from the people's house has now used that, and i would argue misused that, why in the world does the internal revenue service need to know about the prayer meetings of a pro-life group in iowa? that is a shameful abuse and a shameful scandal that they even asked those questions. but what does it tell you? it tells you there was a way of thinking, a culture, i would argue, at the internal revenue service that said we are empowered to do these things. well, if that's what they think, let's correct that, shall we, mr. speaker? let's say they can't asked those questions. the questions about religion, questions about what's your political beliefs, questions about what are your social
beliefs, that has nothing to do with what the internal revenue service should be doing as it relates to tax administration. so these are very clear limitations. these a couple of exceptions. but it's meant clearly to put the i.r.s. back where they belong, on the tax administration side and not saying who gets to participate in the public square of debate and who doesn't. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. mr. davis from illinois is recognized. mr. davis: thank you very much, mr. speaker, and i yield myself such time as i may consume. you know, coming from the same state and neighboring communities, my colleague and i agree on many things, and we all agree that the internal revenue service should not ask about your religious, political or social beliefs in determining your taxpayer
status. that is different, however, from asking you about your political activities, which was at the root of the internal revenue service's mismanagement -4 applications. the i.r.s. did the right thing in trying to group applications by activity, but they were wrong in using party names and labels from both democrats and republicans in their organizational process. the division that was the subject of the may, 2013, report was grossly mismanaged in that it allowed these applications to be selected by name and then allow them to sit for an inordinant length of time. swift corrective action was
taken to remove the ineffective management and the subsequent i.r.s. leadership has put the agency on the right path to restoring the public trust. there has never been any evidence of political tivation or influence from anyone either inside or outside the i.r.s. treasury's inspector general repeatedly testified that he found no evidence of political motivation in the selection of processing of tax exemption applications that were the subject of this report. deed, an extensive review of 5,500 employee emails by the office of investigations concluded there was no political motivation in trying
to group these applications. at the end of the day, mr. speaker, what we saw was a small division of a very large agency that struggled to determine how to handle tax-exempt applications from politically motivated groups. consequently, they allowed those applications to sit for an inordinant amount of time while it tried to determine what criteria to use to judge ho determines tax-exempt status. we also had a flawed report that deliberately removed any reference to progressive and democratic groups from the criteria the i.r.s. actually used to group applications together, and consequently presented a one-sided and
partisan conclusion about this issue to congress. what we do not have is any evidence of political motivation in the processing of tax exemption applications or any evidence of outside influence in the selection of processing of tax exemption applications. well, mr. speaker, i think that enough is enough. it's time for us to move on to processing issues like extending long-term unemployment insurance benefits , raising the minimum wage and fixing our immigration laws. let us give the american people some confidence that their congress can debate and pass lls on these important issues. yes, there was activity that
took place which is unacceptable. the individuals have been removed from those positions. let us take the internal revenue service and move it on to higher heights. given the american people that each and every citizen is treated fairly, with respect and with the dignity that all of us deserve as citizens of this great nation. and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. mr. roskam from illinois is recognized. mr. roskam: thank you, mr. speaker. you know, my colleague said enough is enough, and i guess enough is enough if you're one of the ones that wasn't impacted. but if you were impacted by the i.r.s. targeting, it had a jarring affect on you, and if
we're going to move forward, if we're going to have the internal revenue service have the respect that we need it to have, which it doesn't have right now. there's overwhelming level of consternation of how the i.r.s. handled these things in the past and how they conducted themselves and the fact that the internal revenue service has not been forthcoming, pursuant to chairman camp's request for information, that's not a dispute. there's nobody here that's really arguing over the i.r.s. has just been completely forthcoming giving the chairman all the information that he needs or that he's requested. no. they haven't been forthcoming, and that continues to be a real problem. you know, i think it's important for us to recognize that the report was an audit. it was not an investigation. an investigation is ongoing, so this notion that there's no knowledge or there's no indication of any sort of political influence, i think
there's a great deal of knowledge of political influence that was peddled and used here. i think the facts bear it out. the scope of the audit that the gentleman was referring to was to focus on conservative targeting. the i.g. struck within the parameters of the audit far more conservative groups faced i.r.s. scrutiny. they faced more questions than were approved at a lower rate than progressive groups were. numbers are very straightforward. 104 conservative groups experience an average of 15 additional questions. only 46% of conservative applicants were approved and 56% of groups are either waiting for a determination or have withdrawn in frustration. now, that is messed up. . you're juft feeling overwhelmed, -- you're just feeling overwhelmed, who wins then? the internal revenue service wins and the taxpayer that wants to participate in the public debate loses.
compare that to seven progressive groups that were asked an average of just five additional questions. you know what, mr. speaker? every one of those progressive groups was approved. 100% of them. were approved. we know now that the i.r.s. targeted not only right-loop -- right-leaning applicants but also right-leaning groups that are already operating as 501-c-4's. at washington, d.c.'s direction, not cincinnati's initiative, at washington, d.c.'s, direction, dozens of groups were flagged for i.r.s. surveillance, monitoring of the groups' activities, websites and any other publicly available information. of these groups, 83% were right-leaning and of the groups that the i.r.s. selected for audit, 100% of those were conservative-leaning. so this idea that this was, well, everybody is treating the same way -- treated the same way, the facts don't bear that out, mr. speaker. i want to draw attention to one
particular group, a constituency that i represent. the west suburban patriots of due page county. they submitted their application for 05 -- 501-c-4 status in hay of 2011. they received a -- may of 2011. he had received a letter from the i.r.s. nearly five months letter they were told their application was, quote, in the pile. over a year later, june of 2012, the west suburban patriots received a letter indicating that they had to answer a series of questions in an incredibly short time frame. the questions were political and demonstrated that the i.r.s. had scoured their website by demanding information that would be on their members-only web page. isn't that interesting? in july of 2012, they received a letter granting their 501-c-4 status. now, the west suburban patriot's name and tax i.d. number were found on a list of, quote, political advocacy cases that the exempt organizations office in d.c. made to track
tea party cases. and the "u.s.a. today" received a confidential political advocacy group and made it public. here's the point. this is not what the internal revenue service should be doing. the internal revenue service should be making proper inquiries, not asking about prayer meetings. not being passive aggressive, choosing winners and losers in the public square. this is an important piece of legislation, it reclaims authority that was once delegated and has been abused and now needs to be reclaimed. and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. mr. davis from illinois is recognized. mr. davis: thank you very much, mr. speaker. you know, i think with the i.r.s., we're like approaching a fork in the middle of the road. and we have choices that we can make. we now have new leadership.
the agency has been sanitized. the individuals with culpability are no longer there. they no longer play any leadership roles at all. the new commissioner has given us every assurance. and he comes to the i.r.s. with an impeccable record from both public and private activity. and has given every assurance that can be given. that he's going to take that road that leads to the highest we can integrity, that bank on the internal revenue as fair eing as fair can be.
and i like to believe that he means what he says, that he says what he means. i'm confident that we have a ew i.r.s. and we will see it function with the new light, the new spirit and the new direction. and so i thank my colleague. i have no further requests for time. and i would yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. roskam from illinois is recognized. mr. roskam: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank mr. davis for engaging in this debate and this discussion and i think he's right. we are at a fork in the road. i would describe the fork in the road as a responsibility that we have in the house. mr. speaker, i would urge us to take this challenge and that is to do everything that we can in
light of this information that has come to our attention to make sure that the internal revenue service is being limited, is not allowed to ask questions regarding religion or social questions or political questions, and that we can enjoy a day in the future when they enjoy our respect. with that i urge passage of the 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 the bill, h.r. 2531. 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 bill is passed and, without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. pursuant to clause 12-a of rule 1, the chair declares the recess
his goal of reducing the income tax for individuals to about 25%. we're hearing lots of discussion about a big tax on big financial institutions and banks that could raise about $50 billion. we're also hearing -- right now it's a rumor mill up here, k-street is exploding with different rumors. but beyond the big tax and rates you're hearing capital
gains taxs are being -- about 40% of those are going to be xempted, lowering rates there. there's going to be a surtax on the nation's wealthiest earners to raise revenues. a lot of different proposals coming out of ways and means and k-street, from those who have seen analysises from the joint committee on taxation or seen a draft from dave camp. >> what are you hearing from rank and file members, both democrats and republicans in terms of this being an election year? how are they greeting the news of a potential tax reform package? >> my colleague jake sherman and i reported this morning and last night, republicans are actually really fretting this discussion draft coming up. because of the election. they're spove of general and theory of tax reform, it's a republican ideal. but when it comes to just being a few months out from the midterm election, they're not necessarily pleased they're going to be asked to take a stance on a bill that potentially has a lot of democratic ideals in it, or even if it does bring those
individuals and corporate rates down low enough, 25%, it might take a whack at mortgage interest reduction or other reductions, things that are popular with taxpayers and bipartisanly popular. that's not helping dave camp in this situation. that he has rank and file republicans fretting it. eric cantor and john boehner, the leaders of the house republican caucus, told him last december to put the brakes on it, when there wasn't democratic support. that has been lifted a little bit, allowing him to move forward with the draft. but they're still not whipping support from what we understand. and democrats are gleeful. this is going to give them an amazing opportunity, they think at least is an amazing opportunity, to really wham republicans ahead of the midterm elections for being antimiddle class, for being in the pocket of big business. of course it's going to be harder to make the argument when there is that big levy on banks as well as the subtext --
surtax on the wealthy because those are democratic ideals but they're going to be given the opportunity in the future negotiations over the budget, over fiscal cliff, to point to any one of the inclusions in dave camp's proposal and say, hey, you know what, we can raise money by taxing big financial institutions because that's a bipartisan proposal. it was in dave camp's plan. so democrats by and large are pretty gleeful this is happening. >> the process starts with ways and means on the house side, but already we're hearing senator mitch mcconnell, the republican leader, saying that this sort of package has no chance in the senate. what are you hearing? >> that is exactly what mitch mcconnell and other senators are saying. the path to the senate has always been much more rocky. former senate financial chairman max bachus, he was david camp's partner in this. they want to get don white in on ford but in the senate
there's much more disagreement over how much revenue should be raised. you have senators like patty murray and harry reid who are saying $1 trillion should be raised whereas that's d.o.a. among republicans. so there really is no path forward for tax reform in either the house or senate because it would hit an immediate road block when it got to the upper chamber. >> is there hope of a floor vote? >> no. like i said, they did tell him to put the brakes on it last december. they seem to alleviate that hard line a little bit, to allow him to put out a draft. but this is a draft. this is not a chairman's mark. this is not even a real bill it. might be written in legislative language but they would have to introduce it as legislation to get it to go forward for a markup or even a vote on the house floor. and what we're hearing from both conservatives and moderates is that it's probably not going to go anywhere past
the debate in this discussion. he might be able to have hearings on it but a markup is unlikely and if it does happen, it mostly likelyly will not, at least until the midterm elections, get to the house floor. >> i.r.s. bills on the house floor this week. you tweeted about some of in this morning on your twitter handle. saying, also in the morning text, the american future fund slams the i.r.s. treasury for overstepping a nonprofit rules. lastly here, what are these bills in the house that the house is considering trying to do in terms of i.r.s. regulations? >> today's camp is going to have much more success with this bill. more than likely going to pass with a sweeping republican majority. it's his bill to halt the i.r.s. regulations. i.r.s. and treasury regulations, that would change [inaudible] also, you know, really play into elections a lot. how much politics they can engage in and keep their tax exemption. he says that those regulations
should be allowed to go forward until congress completes its four different probes into the .r.s. targeting controversy. that's going to come to a vote this week. tonight the house is expected to vote on two taxpayer bill of rights-style votes or style legislation. one would say that it would ban outright the i.r.s. from asking about religious, political or social beliefs. and the other would ensure that if the i.r.s. shared your tax payers information with another government enltity they would have to tell you in writing about it. >> lauren french is a tax rainstormer for "politico" and you can follow her reporting on twitter. thanks for the update. >> thanks for having me. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> the house coming back at 6:30. several votes, including bills dealing with the i.r.s. the bill on tax exempt status rules for can the i.r.s., that
bill expected out later this week. also the administration late this afternoon issuing a statement of administration policy against that bill. votes coming up at 6:30, live here on c-span. yesterday defense secretary chuck hagel announced proposed cuts in the u.s. military force and the pentagon. we talked about it on this morning's "washington journal." walk us o through the announcement from the defense department, a defense reporter from "the wall street journal." your story has this headline, the defense to department targets new threats. what are the new threats and what does it mean for the changes in store for the defense department? >> is the end of an arrow for the u.s. military. the war in afghanistan is coming to an end. ground forces are coming home. we will have no more than a few thousand troops in afghanistan. the military has to pay her back
because of budget spending. now we are looking at emerging threats in asia. people are looking at china, threats on the open seas, threats in cyberspace. this is where we have been turning our focus. we have been talking about a pivot in asia. at turning looking our focus towards china, which means a new focus on cyber threats. to create more cyber warriors. they are also talking about placing more emphasis on special forces, the navy seals, the people who have rescued aid workers in smalley a. they want to boost the special forces, -- somalia. they want to boost the special forces. what that means is that the big military is going to come down is pre-world war
rome in two levels. our real shift for the pentagon. >> talk to us about numbers. >> at its peak the army was at 570,000 in the post-9/11 era. right now it is at about 520,000. we are talking about going as 420,000 under this plan, taking us back to pre-world war roman to levels. >> for those --host: for those in the military who look at troop levels, how have they weighed in? guest: general o tierra know, the head of the army, says he thinks about -- general odie ,rnaud, the head of the army says this is necessary to carry out a war. obviously many people think about needing more than that.
people want to fight wars on two fronts. as of yesterday, secretary hagel said that we are not going to be preparing for major ground wars anymore. that time is over. one of the things that people say these circumstances is that we are always fighting and preparing for the last war. september 10, 2001, none of us knew what was coming up for the next 13 years. right now we are saying -- look, we are not going to fight ground wars or major operations around the world. who knows what could happen to change that calculus. right now the obama administration and secretary hagel say that we have to focus on what we think is down the road, focus on the things that we think are coming down the road, basically focusing on the emerging threats from asia and potentially other issues being raised, like in africa, al qaeda
threats from south africa, east africa, mali, places where they want to go in and conduct limited operations. there is a kind of emerging effort in africa to build up operations there. those are the areas where you are seeing a little bit more focus from the military. about there talking right now strategy, but i am sure that critics would bring up the what if strategy. partguest: this will be a of the debate. there will be a lot of criticism and a question about the right strategy. congress has to weigh in on this. veterans are going to weigh in on this. secretary hagel says that this is a strategy that allows us to adapt,le, allows us to threats that come down the road. this is going to be the debate for the next coming years. , joiningn nissenbaum
us for our first hour. if you want to asking questions, here are the numbers again -- -- if you want to ask him questions, here are the numbers again -- are a member of the military and want to give your thoughts on these announcements from yesterday, social media channels are open to you as well. let's take our first call from bob, pennsylvania. democrats line. good morning. have a question. remember haiti? when they were delivering supplies? guys, 60 guys passing boxes from one to another. in you imagine if you had supermarkets with two truckloads of guys unloading trucks? putting that food into the market?
how much more would it cost, you know, to feed the people in the united states if we had to do that? they use roller bars to emerald unload trucks. why doesn't the military use that instead of using 50 or 60 people? pretty simple. it might cut down on the cost of what it costs for rescuing. are a lot of questions about efficiencies and the pentagon. somen certainly generate savings. there are a lot of ways to save money and they are trying to do that, but when you are looking at the bigger picture, the tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars in savings are going to come in other ways. major weapons programs. there has been a program to change pay compensation benefits . there are a lot of questions how to reduce
that. if efficiency is one of those things -- efficiency is one of those things that people think you can make savings without a lot of pain, which can get you so far. the questions are -- if troops are not actively fighting wars, then what are they doing? guest: there is training. one of the things that secretary hagel is pointing out is that you cannot just cut people who are prepared to fight. at the end of the fight you need to be able to train, have the right equipment. the head of the joint chiefs of staff says that we do not want any of our guys going into this not in a fair fight. we want all of these guys and women to be able to go in and crush their opponents. that takes training. that takes equipment. of course, when they are not
fighting wars, there are rescue operations, patrols. there are a lot of things the military does before -- aside from fighting on the frontlines. hear from we now retired military. maine, good morning. caller: i have worked for a power and light company since my military service. all i did was run around shutting down factories. some of them have been in the united states for 150 years and one is in vietnam now. we have no industrial structure to support the military context -- complex. pat buchanan and vladimir putin both told us we are committing suicide. obviously a lot of concern about the manufacturing base. we do have significant defense contractors, lockheed martin, boeing, our top defense contractors do a lot of work here. we have various companies from
outside who do provide us with military hardware and technology. we do have significant military bases. that is one of the questions going forward, as we start the drawdown. what impact is this going to have on companies that do business? the top contractor is lockheed martin. wonheir budget they sort of and lost. the most expensive program in pentagon history is the effort-35, the new fighter jet -- f 35, the new fighter jet. -- that is one of the most expensive programs to maintain. and callers may call in wonder why we don't cut back rather than cutting benefits, but the pentagon is locked in, so lockheed martin wins on that. at the same time, the navy will have to cut its plans to build a
new combat ship. they wanted to build 52, 55, and secretary hagel said that they are only building 32. they lost on that. where are those jobs going to go? it is a trade-off. there are a lot of questions about the impact that this will in the united states. secretarys hear from of defense, chuck hagel, speaking yesterday. [video clip] increase theust pace and scale of its postwar drawdown. today there are around five hundred 20 thousand active-duty soldiers, which the army had planned to reduce the 490,000. however the strategic choices in management review and cutie are bear theave brought to light of no longer sustaining
organizational strategies. given the reduced budgets, this is larger than we can afford to modernize and keep ready. we have decided to actively reduce active army strength to 400 sorties soldiers -- 440,000 soldiers. , how do wenissenbaum get to that number? guest: you will see troops leaving over the next five years. people retiring, being pushed out of the army. you are going to have bases that are going to lose brigades. a five year strategy. it will obviously not happen overnight. so, this is through attrition more than anything else? guest: it is not clear, but for sure. host: what is the timeframe that we will see these happen? guest: this is a five-year plan.
we are talking about a gradual drawdown over five years. is andrew. andrew is from minerva, ohio, independent line. yes, sir, iller: have a question for you. does our u.s. military, is it the only thing backing our dollar? the military protecting foreign trade? if it is, what kind of affect will it have on our dollar if we shrink protection for foreign trade? guest: interesting question. i am not sure exactly what he is getting at, but obviously the military is there to protect our interests around the world. we have other ways of doing that, politically, diplomatically, things like that . i am not sure what he is trying to get at, but the military is only one component, not the only component, of how we protect forces abroad. host: what about the argument
that 400,000 troops cannot really protect an attack on u.s. soil? guest: what is inadequate size force? a healthyill have military. we will still have a large number of troops. our is going to be for generals and politicians to decide. guest: if should --host: if we are changing the strategy, does that mean we are changing how they are trained to fight wars? guest: most likely. right now we are seeing a shift from ground forces to a more heavy emphasis on maritime and naval operations. we are trying to use special operations a lot more to use conducted, targeted operations. i think that ideally the military would like to use those tines of operations as much as possible. you also see an increased use
of drones, you these controversial targeting strikes around the world. drones, these controversial targeting strikes around the world. -- drones, these controversial targeting strikes around the world. headlinelective of the that talks about the story in "usa today," "technology trumps troop levels and the budget." guest: we would love to be able to use technology on every front . the f 35 is a very advanced jet. it lets you look all around, 360 degrees. these vehicles, these allow us to stay off the battlefield and target people without putting people in harms way. obviously a lot of debate about the strategy here around civilian casualties and what that does diplomatically,
that certainly technology going forward will be an important part. host: california, retired military, henry, independent line. caller: you could reduce the military by one half of its strength and they would still be too much. i witnessedthat trillions of dollars of the military waste in extending their budget. their allocations, fiscally i am talking about submarines coming in and dumping .heir allocations the u.s. army does the same thing. if they do not expend what they have been allocated, they have to dump it in order to qualify for the next allocation or it will be reduced. generals iranked have witnessed, personally, the