Skip to main content

tv   U.S. House of Representatives Legislative Business  CSPAN  April 14, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm EDT

6:00 pm
arbitration clauses written into their contracts. these arbitration agreements can be forced on vulnerable parties who have little knowledge about what they're signing or what it means to sign away those rights and frankly most consumers have little or no choice in the matter because the contracts are take it or leave it. . why does this hit so close to home? my father has alzheimer's. at a certain point he could not care for himself anymore. so we had to invest -- investigate nursing homes that could provide the kind of round the clock care that was required for him that my brothers and sisters and i simply could not. but sadly, in the nursing home arena, this is where oftentimes mandatory forced arbitration clauses are buried in these contracts for admission of your loved one. one who cannot care
6:01 pm
for somebody who is physically ill or frail has no real choice in the matter. they need to find a facility to care for their loved one because they cannot simply do it on their own. that's why in congress' past, i've introduced the fairness and nursing home arbitration act -- in nursing home arbitration act. that legislation would make a predispute mandatory arbitration clauses and long-term care contracts unenforceable. and it would restore residents and their families to fair full legal rights. what this legislation would do is say, you cannot force arbitration onto a family who, in an emotional time, and in a medical crisis, is looking for care for their loved ones. you cannot force them to sign something that they don't agree with or even understand. my bill would have allowed families and residents to maintain their peace of mind as they look for the best long-term care facility for
6:02 pm
their loved one. for desperate families who are unable to provide the adequate care at home, the need for an immediate placement for their loved one makes these contracts basically take it or leave it. which gives them no choice at all in the matter. families who are in the midst of these painful decisions to place a parent or loved one in a nursing home rarely have the time or wherewithal to fully and thoughtfully consider what it is they are signing when they sign a contract that contains a mandatory arbitration clause. they're not in a position to adequately determine what agreing to such a clause will mean for their loved one -- agreeing to such a clause will mean for their loved one should something happen. the c.m.s. is slowly working to include some of my bill's provisions through the regulatory process, but much work still remains in this area. in september of last year democrats sent a letter to c.m.s. calling for a final rule
6:03 pm
that will ensure that nursing home residents will only enter into arbitration agreements on a voluntary and enforced basis after a dispute arises. not before. we need commonsense solutions to force arbitration agreements that would protect the average consumer who is unfamiliar with the concept of arbitration and is not trained in the law. many people may not even be aware of the rights they are signing away at a time when they are least prepared to make important decisions. as members of congress were called on to serve our constituents and protect them from flagrant violations of their rights, and we should be doing more to protect vulnerable families from these forced arbitration policies. i thank my colleague, mr. johnson, for being such a strong voice on this issue. and i thank him for the time and i yield back. mr. johnson: i thank the
6:04 pm
gentlelady from california and next i would like to yield five minutes to the gentlelady from texas, my good friend, sheila jackson lee, senior member of the judiciary committee where she's the ranking member on the crime subcommittee and also she's a member of the homeland security committee. she's a lawyer and a former judge. five minutes to the gentlelady rom texas. ms. jackson lee: i thank the gentleman from georgia and i thank him for his leadership along with mr. conyers for the introduction of a very important initiative, h.r. 4899. many would think, particularly as we have watched the mediation and arbitration process grow, as a newly
6:05 pm
developed practice amongst lawyers and one that businesses and others have seen -- seemed to adopt, that that was in fact helping consumers by allowing the concept of arbitration to be able to be utilized, thereby allegedly lowering the cost of litigation. in a 2010 survey, 27% of employers covering over 36 million employees or 1/3 of the nonunion work force reported they required forced arbitration of employment disputes. the practice of forced arbitration is widespread and damaging. for example, the ability to obtain key evidence necessary to prove one's case is often restricted or eliminated in arbitration proceedings. and it can be nearly impossible to appeal adverse decisions by ash traitors -- arbitrators. we know that in the bill of rights and the constitution there is a right to a trial by
6:06 pm
jury. a jury of one's peers. and therefore it is a sacred right. but this new practice has been projected as helping the victim . oh, it will be a low-cost procedure, you'll get an immediate decision, you won't have the stress of litigation, you might not even have to hire a lawyer. but, as indicated, the ability to obtain key evidence necessary to prove one's case is often restricted, as i indicated, or eliminated in arbitration proceedings. and it can be nearly impossible to appeal adverse decisions by arbitrators. i was one of the first members to bring attention to this issue when i prevailed upon chairman hyde, the late chairman hyde, to authorize a judiciary subcommittee on administrative and commercial law when i was a ranking member, to hold a hearing on hat matter involving the nfl players association. then the executive director, you may recall the lavar
6:07 pm
arrington case as a former washington red skin football player was forced into arbitration in order to resolve a contract dispute. it's also harmful to women workers. in 2015 nearly 64,000 discrimination claims were filed with the equal employment opportunity commission under title 7 and more than 41% of those charges were for sex-based discrimination. sex-based discrimination, including sexual harassment, remains a persistent problem for women in the workplace. nearly 83% of sexual harassment charges filed with the e.o.c. are filed by women. just imagine the mandatory arbitration of claims under state or federal family and medical leave laws could have a disproportion at impact on women as well -- disproportionate impact on women as well. i am pleased this legislation was introduced but it is a legislative initiative to restore rights. let me use an example. and the bill is rightly named the restoration of statutory
6:08 pm
rights act. it is also, i believe, the restoration of constitutional rights. let me quickly tell you the case of stephanie southerland. that illustrates the difficulties of this forced arbitration. stephanie was hired by a company to work as a staff assistant. her work involved relatively routine, low-level clerical work, for which she was paid a fixed salary, $55,000. she routinely worked 45 to 50 hours per week, but because she was classified by her employer as exempt from overtime -- overtime, she did not receive any additional compensation. by the time she was terminated in 2009, she had worked 151 hours of overtime. for which she should have been paid $1,867 at the fair labor standards act and new york state labor laws been observed. she filed a class action lawsuit seeking to recover overtime for work in excess of 40 hours a week. and for other current and former nonlicensed staff, one in two staff employees of the firm, who -- firm, who worked
6:09 pm
overtime. she was given an offer let that are also provided if an employment-related dispute arises between you and the firm, it will be subject to mandatory mediation. and so, that was what the company attempted to do. enforce mandatory mediation. in her lawsuit, she attempted to enforce her rights because of the federal fair labor standards act has a provision to expressly permit lawsuit for minimum wage. to thenled, the lower court was sympathetic to ms. southerland's arguments. however the united states court of appeals reversed, relying on the 2013 supreme court case. therefore we do have a conflict in the issue of dealing with arbitration that is forced. this is the core of why this legislation is so very important. i believe that if parties agree to engage in mediation and arbitration, mr. speaker, so be it. but i believe as well that if you choose to use the court system that is designed by the
6:10 pm
constitution as one of the three branches of government, that all americans should have access to, i'll make the argument that you should not be forced into arbitration and mediation. so i believe, mr. johnson, of which i look forward to joining him on his legislation, and mr. conyers, is really lifting up the constitution, to ensure that every citizen has access to the courts of this land, to help decide their issue of conflict and to choose the form in which they desire to use. i thank the gentleman for yielding to me and i look forward to working with you on this very crucial constitutional issue. i yield back. mr. johnson: thank you. i thank the gentlelady from exas for her tremendous, informative presentation. and -- which is all based constitutionally, as the great lawyer that she is. next, mr. speaker, i would like to yield five minutes to my
6:11 pm
friend, the gentleman from massachusetts, joe kennedy, who is an esteemed member of the international and -- energy and commerce committee. mr. kennedy: thank you very much, congressman johnson. i'm honored to be here with you and i thank you for your leadership on this important issue. and of course ranking member conyers. who has for so long been a guiding light on our party on issues of justice. but congressman, you and mr. conyers together have been this chamber's champions on civil rights and equality in our justice system. once again you're leading fight as we call for reforms to an unjust and unequal arbitration system. i am grateful and thank you for your leadership. mr. speaker, at the foundation of our democracy is one simple promise. that no matter who you are or where you come from, what you've done, you'll be seen as equal before the law.
6:12 pm
thomas jefferson himself wrote centuries ago, quote, the most sacred duties of government is to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens. forced arbitration, mr. speaker, is an affront to that duty. and a manipulation of the justice system that tips our scales in direction of influence, money and power. it removes the slightest veneer of fair treatment in cases ranging from sexual harassment and discrimination to loss of how it'sing and shelter to neglect and abuse -- and housing and shelter to neglect and abuse inside treatment centers and retirement homes. when a plaintiff sits at an arbitration table across from a powerful corporation to challenge a fraudulent charge or question their practices, the protections that we have spent centuries instilling in our justice system get washed away. there is no judge, no jury, no avenue for appeal.
6:13 pm
there is no justice at that table. at the very moment you need to access our courtrooms most, you find yourself locked out. diverted to a room outside the scope of our judicial system and beyond the bounds of our laws. without your choice or sometimes even knowledge, forced arbitration transforms a level playing field into an uphill climb. at that point most americans turn around. but for the few who muster the will or the resources to continue their case, there's no guarantee to counsel, forcing you to face off against some of the most experienced legal minds in our country completely on your own. the arbitration fairness act would help remedy this profound short coming in our justice system -- shortcoming in our justice system and ensure that equal access to equal protection doesn't come alopping with a price tag -- along with a price tag. mr. speaker, that is one of the most fundamental promises we make in our country.
6:14 pm
i'm grateful to mr. johnson for his leadership on the issue. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. johnson: i thank the gentleman from massachusetts, r his wise words and i would this time like to ongratulate the writers of the "new york times" expose, it's a three-part series on forced arbitration. the second part of the series examined the secretive nature of forced arbitration and the hird section or the third part of that series talked about the forced arbitration in the context of binding persons to h trait secular claims -- to
6:15 pm
arbitrate secular claims applying to religious law. i would strongly encourage those who are interested in this subject to look to "the new york times" article because it gives you a good understanding of where we are as far as forced around -- forced arbitration is concerned and i'd applaud the reporters for their groundbreaking work in writing that series and producing it. corkory and michael gaboloff and exposed a threat to the justice system that shakes core and to its deserve the highest recommendation that i can give
6:16 pm
them and that is the will of the house. i understand that the pulitzer prizes for journalism will be announced this coming monday and if i could nominate this series, i would certainly do so and i support their nomination for that award. next, mr. speaker, i would like to yield five minutes of time to my good friend, the former mayor of providence, rhode island, a lawyer in his own right, a member of the judiciary committee upon which i also serve and a member of the foreign affairs committee, david cicilline from the great state of rhode island. mr. cicilline: i thank the gentleman for yielding and i thank the gentleman for his leadership on this very important issue on forced
6:17 pm
arbitration which is dennying many americans to have their grievances heard. and i thank the gentleman and mr. conyers as many of my colleagues have said, forced arbitration denies individuals the most basic right to have their grievances heard. no court, no lawyer, no judicial proceedings, all the things that we have over many centuries that we have recognized to be essential. but there is an area that i want to speak about tonight where forced arbitration i think is particularly damaging and particularly unfair. in the coming weeks, i will introduce legislation that will protect the rights of our troops to pursue justice in our courts.
6:18 pm
my legislation will clarify the original intent of the uniform services employment services rights act and allow veterans and service members to have their claims heard in court. this legislation was intended to protect the men and women from losing their jobs as a result of their service to our country. and prohibits and guarantees benefits and re-employment rights who leave to serve. these rights have rapidly eroded in recent years. employers are requiring their employees to sign agreements. my colleagues have discussed this evening, these agreements are tilted towards the parties who insist upon them. the employers can select the
6:19 pm
arbitrator and the location of the forum and the avenues for appeal are closed off. these clauses are imposed by employers without the knowledge or consent of their employees. prohibits agreements, some have and as a result, many of the 1. million brave men and women who serve in our military may return to civilian life without their jobs and without the ability to assert their rights in the courts. this includes service members like sergeant river yeah. only to learn that his job had been filled in his absence. his former employer claimed he could not find a single open position for him. he should have been provided
6:20 pm
me relief and have the opportunity to be heard. forced oshtration clause in his contract, he had though access to the courts at all. denying our veterans this right directly conflicts with the intent. by eliminating their access, it represents a direct afront to all who serve in our military. our troops face threats. the last thing they should be concerned about is whether they are able to keep their job. a nation that asks young men and women to defend their lives should protect their livelihoods. i urge my colleagues to help preserve access and this is just one powerful example of the gross unfairness of forced
6:21 pm
arbitration clauses do to millions of americans. and i thank you for your fight to ensure that all americans have access to the courts and with that, i yield back. mr. johnson: i thank the gentleman. mr. speaker, as this special order has powerfully documented, forced arbitration isn't open and isn't just and it isn't fair. simply put, they have become a mechanism to rig the justice system. arbitrateors don't have to be lawyers. their decisions are practically irreversible and no record of the proceeding and there isn't a requirement that witness testimony be given under oath. as the new york city times illustrated, arbitration can
6:22 pm
even take place in the offes of the party representing the defendant. there is also overwhelming evidence that it creates a system of winners and losers through what is called a repeat player advantage process that favors corporations over one-time participants such as individual workers and consumers. an analysis of arbitrations found that workers' odds of winning were significantly diminished. in 2012, the center for responsible lending reported that companies with more cases before arbitrateors get better results from these same arbitrateors? why. the arbitrateors want to eat and they noticed they ruled against whoever is referring the cases
6:23 pm
to them and cut short their ability to feed themselves. so they rule in favor. that is they are not required to be lawyers and they have a perverse insent tive to favor the repeat business over the consumer or the worker that they will never see again. i'm alarmed by the growing number of companies that hired forced arbitration clauses outside of the four corners of the document. for example, general mills included a forced arbitration clause in its privacy policy that bound any consumer who downloaded the company's coupeons or participated in website. consumers always waived the
6:24 pm
right to a trial simply by liking the company's page on facebook or mentioning the company on twitter. can you imagine giving up your jury trial right on facebook. it has become an increasingly common practice to use gotcha tactics to did he seve employees by using notice of binding arbitration in brochures, email and memoranda, job application forms, fines outside of restaurants and consume behind binding you to forced arbitration, in-star application kiosks, employee training programs and games associated with company promotions, the people have to watch out.
6:25 pm
and even on the side of a cereal box you can waive your right. just imagine a children finding glass in their cereal and the ompany prohibited class action lawsuits, the children will not go to a court but go to an arbitrator but to have their claim adjudicated. that fored arbitration clause would prevent litigation to ensure that our children's food is safe to eat. these are actual cases where someone potentially lost their right to hold a company for unlawful conduct and in all of these cases, we aren't talking about an agreement with a dotted line. i'm reminded of justice's
6:26 pm
kagan's dissent where she observed that the federal arbitration act was never meant to be a mechanism easily made to block the vindication of meritorious claims and insulate wrongdoers. but the tides are turning. americans are fighting their right to a jury trial. policy makers are using every tool so corporations can no longer escape public accountability. i thank my colleagues for their participation in this special order and before i close, i want to thank the congressional progressive caucus to advance a agenda for equality for all. i will clause with this
6:27 pm
observation. the american people would fight back if someone came into their home and said, we are going to take away your second amendment right to bear firearms. they would fight. but when corporations take away their seventh amendment right to a jury trial, they remain mum, but not for much longer. people are standarding up. people are tired. they are desiring ar change -- they're angry and realize they have been takeen advantage of and want to level the playing field and that is exactly what the legislation we have introduced in this congress will accomplish. and with that, mr. speaker, i will yield back its remainder of time. the speaker pro tempore: the
6:28 pm
gentleman from georgia yields back. under the speaker's announced the of january 6, 2015, chair recognizes the gentleman from florida. r. desaulnier; tax day is -- mr. desantis: you think you can destroy them? could you wire the i.r.s. if somehow you want to make provided false information to the i.r.s. could you decline to correct the record once you found out that once you teeled them is not true. f you had at duty, could you take efforts not to comply? every taxpayer in america knows that they would never be able to get away with the conduct that i
6:29 pm
just outlined. so i think the question that we here in this body have to answer should the i.r.s. get away with conduct that a taxpayer would never get away with. does the i.r.s. get away with the lower standard of conduct that the agency wields so much power. they target americans based on their first amendment beliefs. they got caught redhanded. the department of justice was investigating but that was from the beginning and not interested in this case and didn't pursue prosecutions. lerner didn't pursue. so congress is taking action like cutting funding for the i.r.s.
6:30 pm
all they did was stop answering the phone calls. they harmed the taxpayers. so we are trying to get to the truths. we subpoenaed documents and we bring in the commissioner in to testify and we are trying to get the truth on behalf of the american people. . and yet what has happened? they've destroyed backup tapes that were under two congressional subpoenas. commissioner came to the congress and made multiple statements that are false. he breached his duty to correct the record once it was clear that some of his statements were false. such as the fact that he said, we will produce every one of her emails. he even claimed that the i.r.s. went to, quote, great lengths to ensure that congress was given all documents, yet the i.r.s. failed to conduct even basic investigations, such that
6:31 pm
the inspector general found 1,000 emails that were in the i.r.s.'s possession all along. it took them two weeks to find it. the airs didn't look at lerner's blackberry, they didn't look in other areas which were obvious that you would want to look at. great lengths? give me a break. as judge david noted today in the d.c. circuit, it's hard to find the i.r.s. to be an agency that we can trust. so i think the question is, what is the remedy for them frustrating the american people's inquiry into their targeting of americans? i have argued, along with my colleagues here, that the appropriate remedy is found in the constitution. which provides for impeachment of civil officers, you have an i.r.s. commissioner who breached multiple duties that he owed to the public, and he violated the public trust. which is what alexander hamilton said was kind of the touch stone for what an itch people -- an impeachment should
6:32 pm
be. impeachment is not a prosecution or a punishment. it's a really -- it's really a constitutional check. i think as you listen to some of the conduct that the i.r.s. engaged in, my colleagues will go into more of it, obviously there's a need to get the truth, but there's also a need for this institution here to stand up for itself. it's really a question of the house's self-respect. how much longer can we, as elected officials, allow the bureaucracy to simply walk all over the congress? we're supposed to be the people's representatives. we're supposed to be able to do justice for them when the government is not aing appropriately. fear of a media backlash or the people in the beltway will say you shouldn't be doing it, that's no excuse for our failure to di discharge our basic -- discharge our basic constitutional duties. ambition, as james madison said, must be made to counteract ambition. no government agency is above oversight and accountability by the people's representatives. and so, as it stands now, we
6:33 pm
have filed articles of impeachment that have been collecting dust for several months. we think they should be brought up on the judiciary committee and we should have a debate about whether this commissioner's conduct satisfied the standards of conduct that the founding fathers envisioned for civil officers of the united states. i think any taxpayer who looks at what the i.r.s. did will instinctively say, you know, it just ain't right that they're able to get away with that when they're dealing with the congress. but i would never be able to get away with that when i'm dealing with the i.r.s. with that, i would love to recognize my friend and colleague from ohio, a guy that's been really, really fearless on holding the i.r.s. to account, the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan. mr. jordan: i thank the gentleman. mr. speaker, and -- for organizing this pegs order. but more importantly for the fight he's waged in holding the i.r.s. accountable and saying
6:34 pm
to the american taxpayer, the american people, when you have individuals running an agency with the power of the internal revenue service, doing what was done under commissioner -- the commissioner's watch, he in fact should be impeached. let's just walk back through the story. remember how this started. we had conservative groups around the country saying, hey, we're being harassed by the i.r.s. for filing -- failing to get tax--- filing to get tax-exempt status. we're being harassed for doing so. and so we called the -- the congress of the united states called for the inspector general to do an investigation. the inspector general does an investigation. takes a long time. about a year. they do an investigation and they find, you know what, our very own tax collection agency is in fact targeting citizens for their political beliefs. they find it. they find targeting took place. they tell the inspector general of treasury -- the inspector general of treasury says what they've discovered and they're going to file their report the following week.
6:35 pm
in an unprecedented move. lois lerner, the friday before the report supposed to be made public the following week, friday, may 10, 2013, lois lerner does what all kinds people who do when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar. she wants to get ahead of the story. so at a staged event, bar association event, staged question, planned question from a friend, she gets asked about the targeting and the inspector general's investigation and she does what all kinds of people do when they get caught. she lies. she flat out lies. and she tries to blame good public servants in cincinnati. this is all about cincinnati. we all know the evidence pointed -- it was about washington. it was about the folks right here in the internal revenue service. the report comes out the following week on the following monday, two days later, the president of the united states and the attorney general say, this is inexcusable and they call for a criminal investigation. in fact, it's so bad the
6:36 pm
president fired the then commissioner of the internal revenue service. they bring in an interim commissioner. and for a long time we have hearings and a bunch of things happen and of course one of the most noteworthy tchings is the very lady who is at the center of the storm, who lied when she first made this public, gets brought in front of the congress and what did she do? she takes the fifth. so when you have the central figure exercising their fifth amendment right, not willing to testify in public and answer the people's representatives' questions, it sort of puts a premium on getting the documents and the communications that the i.r.s. had relative to this issue. long investigation ensues, both the criminal investigation and a congressional investigation. the commissioner is then brought in as the commissioner's going to clean it all up. clean up this agency with so much power over american people's lives. and he's brought in and guess what happens? everything congressman desantis just described.
6:37 pm
422 backup tapes are destroyed. containing potentially 24,000 emails, many of those emails most likely were lois lerner emails that the american people, the congress, will never get a chance to see. they were destroyed as congressman desantis pointed out with three preservation orders in place. one from the i.r.s. and the treasury themselves. another preservation order by the justice department. saying, preserve all documents, preserve everything. so three preservation orders, two subpoenas in place, and the commissioner under his watch, 422 backup tapes are destroyed, containing 24,000 emails. and what's the commissioner going to do when he learns about problems with these tapes and problems with ms. lerner's hard drive? he waits four months, four months before he tells congress. again, raising the obvious question, if you're a taxpayer being audited and you realize, whoops, i lost some documents or destroyed something, and you wait four months to tell the
6:38 pm
i.r.s. what did you, oh, my goodness, you're in huge trouble. but the eanup guy, he's the president's hand picked person, he's brought in, he thinks it's just fine that there are all these problems that he knows about. he didn't just wait four months and tell us. in that time when he first learned there were problems, he testified in front of congress several times. and didn't tell us. and then the worst thing is, he provided false testimony. which again, my colleague from florida's pointed out, he said, look, everything -- and then finally, think about -- think about all the duties this guy, the guy brought in to clean up the mess, think about all the duties he had. a duty to preserve all the documents, particularly in light of the fact that central figure has taken the fifth, a duty to produce them when they're asked for by the congress, a duty to disclose to us if he couldn't preserve and produce them, a duty to testify accurately and then finally, a
6:39 pm
duty to correct the record if he testified and said something that wasn't accurate. and every single duty he had he breached. every single one. and here's the final point i'll make. this is why what congressman desantis, what congressman hice and congressman lamborn are going to talk about, why this is so important, why this is so critical that this individual be brought in front of congress and actually get through the arms of impeachment and we have what -- we exercise the right that the constitution requires us to do, of a situation of this magnitude. why it's so important is, remember the underlying offense. this is an agency with the power and influence that the i.r.s. has, systemically and for a sustained period of time targeting americans most -- americans' most cherished rights. think about your first amendment liberties. freedom of the press, freedom to petition your government, freedom to assemble, freedom of
6:40 pm
religion, freedom to practice your faith, but under the first amendment your most funnel liberty is your right to speak and when the founders put together the constitution and the bill of rights and that first amendment when they were talking about your free speech rights, what they were mostly focused on was not just any old speech. any old talk. they were mostly focused on do what -- doing what we're doing right now. political speech. talk about politics, talking about government. you have the right as an american citizen to speak out against your government and not be harassed for doing so. and yet the i.r.s. did just that. and that's why we filed these articles of impeachment and that's why we're asking that they move forward in the judiciary committee and we do what the american people sent us here to do. with that i would yield back to the gentleman from florida, who has done so much good work on this issue and a host of others. i thank the gentleman.
6:41 pm
mr. desantis: i thank my friend from ohio. it's my pleasure to recognize for as much time as he may consume the gentleman from colorado, mr. lamborn. mr. lamborn: thank you. i appreciate the leadership of representative desantis, representative jordan, in holding the obama administration accountable. mr. speaker, i rise tonight to call for the impeachment of the commissioner of the internal revenue service for high crimes and misdy meaners. this effort is needed to hold the i.r.s. commissioner accountable for allowing documents to be destroyed, and for providing misleading statements to congress after i.r.s. targeted conservative organizations. i am a co-sponsor and proud to be one of the resolution and i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation. as it has become abundantly clear, commissioner has failed the american people by stonewalling congressional investigations into the i.r.s. targeting scandal. conservative organizations were
6:42 pm
intentionally targeted by our federal government simply because they believed and expressed message that was in opposition to the administration. now, while i may disagree with many on the left, i would never seek to threaten them by use of government force and coercion and take away their freedom of speech. moreover, what is truly disturbing about the i.r.s. scandal is that chairman -- the commissioner has violated the public trust. as a commissioner, he failed to comply with a congressional subpoena, failed to ensure that evidence was preserved, failed to testify truthfully, and failed to notify congress when he learned that thousands of emails were missing. our constituents expect congress to exercise oversight of this administration and to demands accountability. we know the i.r.s. commissioner cannot be trusted. impeachment would help rectify this sorry situation. and would go a long way toward showing the american people
6:43 pm
that we are serious about our constitutional duties. impeachment is the appropriate means to restore balance between the branches of government. the framers included itch peoplement in the constitution for -- impeachment in the constitution for precisely this scenario, where an executive branch official who violated the public trust will not resign and they refuse to fire him. that's exactly what should happen here. i.r.s. commissioner must go. thank you, mr. speaker. and i yield back the balance of my time. mr. desantis: i thank the gentleman. it's my pleasure now to recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. hice, for as much time as he may consume. mr. hice: i thank the gentleman. mr. speaker, we all know this time of year is when the american people are held accountable. to pay their taxes. unfortunately the i.r.s., and especially its head, commissioner, has proven over
6:44 pm
and over and over that they cannot be trusted to hold themselves to the same standard that they hold the rest of us. and it's critical that we as congress, as we are trying to do here this evening, that we ensure that the i.r.s. is held accountable for its actions, the same way the american people and other federal agencies are held accountable for their actions. the house republicans, my colleagues, and i, many of us on the house oversight and government reform committee in particular, are very familiar with the commissioner. under his leadership the i.r.s. has failed to respond to multiple subpoenas for evidence . there has been destruction of thousands of key documents, thereby really hindering the work of oversight investigations, possibly obstructing justice.
6:45 pm
and the commissioner, as has already been mentioned here just moments ago, sat before the house oversight committee and lied under oath multiple times, providing false and misleading testimony, which of course as we all know is outright perjury. the chairman's continued role as commissioner of the internal revenue service, which we all know is one of those powerful federal agencies, despite his continued attempts to deceive congress and the american people, this whole thing is nothing but the living embodiment that the i.r.s. indeed does not play by the same rules that they demand of other americans. its american people and according to the recent poll, 30% of americans trust the i.r.s. to fairly enforce the law
6:46 pm
which means we have 70% of americans who don't trust the i.r.s. to abide by the law, here in america. one of the most powerful agencies that we have cannot be trusted and the american people don't trust them. this is a federal agency that needs to be set on the right track and the first step to that is eliminating the failed leadership. i join my colleagues on the house oversight committee and many of whom are here this evening and proud to be a co-sponsor to impeach the commissioner. this is one of our most important roles in congress. and hold our agencies accountable and with that mission, i appreciate the gentleman for the opportunity to speak a few moments and i urge my colleagues to support this
6:47 pm
h.res. 494 to impeach the i.r.s. commissioner. i want to thank my good friend for leading this special order and i yield back. mr. desantis: i thank the gentleman and it's my pleasure to recknies my colleague from the great state of florida, who is really a stalwart in terms of bringing accountability to government, ted yoho. . yoho: i thank my colleague and i say good evening, mr. speaker. this is a great moment in time and i appreciate you bringing this up and this is an important issue and this is something that every american has a vested interest in. and the topic of tonight's discussion is important one.
6:48 pm
one that demands attention. my district and i have never been a fan of the i.r.s. it wreaks terror and in a perfect world we would eliminate it all together. when you consider their actions of targeting conservative groups and individuals seeking nonprofit status or ideology that does president agree with an administration. although the focus tonight is the conduct of the i.r.s. commissioner and his failure to perform his duty to respond to wfully-issued subpoenas, the scavendal began back in 2010. 2010. over six years ago this started and you want to know why the frustration of the american people is so high and why you guys don't change in washington.
6:49 pm
you never hold anybody accountable. we see the law being broken every day and we stand here neutered, afraid to do something. mr. speaker it's time we stand up and we hold those people accountable and the commissioner, his goal is to do that and his goal is to do that and my goal is to help them accomplish that. many have accused the commissioner of the multiple investigations into the i.r.s. of conservative groups. some argue that in the process of misrepping the facts, he has committed misdemeanor. if he has misled the american people, congress has the constitutional responsibility to hold him accountable to the american people. hole else can do that?
6:50 pm
only this bodies has this power. the house of representatives, the people's house, that's why our founders instilled that power, that authority, that oversight with this body. the american people can't hold anybody accountable. it's us, the legislature and i support his impeachment. i field the that his agency went off the rails and by doing so, to impeach support for high crimes and misdemeanor. this is something that is only been used 19 times. impeachment of a federal official. 200
6:51 pm
we don't agree with their political i'd oming. this has been used sparingly and a tool must be used when the time is right to be using it. the american people want to see this done. that resolution was introduced last year and we have yet to see it. what's the holdup? we know the white house will not liftal finger. this white house and administration will not hold anyone accountable why hasn't this house leadership bring this leadership to the house floor. why are you guys not holding people accountable. if we don't hold ourselves accountal and we break the law, why should not the american people do that. this is to set an example that we cannot break the law, why
6:52 pm
should the american people. the people want answers. as members of the house, we have heard their crigse to hold the obama administration accountable and bring house resolution 494 for an up and down vote. ust this month, i held our first town hall mall meeting. and we hear it a lot. government accountability and transparency. we don't see it. that lead to the frustration. why aren't they held accountable. we have government agencies targeting americans, for their beliefs ignoring our demands and ignoring the laws. we cannot change our nation for the better if we cannot change
6:53 pm
how business is done in washington and nothing in washington will nothing change. we need to start here. we need to start now and start the impeach of the commissioner. and i want to reiterate and used 19 times in 200 years. i urge my colleagues to support the impeachment of the commissioner and continue to hold strong and the disregard that they disregard the law. the constitution and the great people of this great nation. and i yield back so you can continue your great fight. mr. desantis: i would like to mention, you know, the speaker, mr. palmer from alabama is skembing there, we were discussing before he had to go
6:54 pm
up and serve in that duty, and that is a good point, if this wsh a private business and the private business behaved this way, the c.e.o. would have been fired and would have been absolute hell for the company. that is one reason why the american people are so frause terroristed. there are different standards that apply for people in washington versus the rest of the american people and the taxpayers. d that is intolerable in our government. nd i you start talking about impeachable offenses. while there are criminal offenses, the two are not exclusive and the founders believed that the real reason you needed impeachment are for things that are not necessarily criminal. and joseph storey, he noted that
6:55 pm
impeachable offenses are aptly termed political offenses neglect ut of personal or that bital disregard. at hey must be looked comprehensive principles of public policy and duty and i think that is made for that. some of the fall statements, they very well made. we can simply say as he violated arbitration shown a disregard for the public interest ks has he been grossly negligent and that is clearly the case here. e need to get the dust off the impeachment resolution and pass it out and let the house make a
6:56 pm
decision about whether this is valid or not. the senate may not want to do it. they will have to defend it. st americans want the i.s.s. to live under it. and given the power. i appreciate my colleagues for coming and discussing this issue. but we are not forgetting, many of our constituents are not forgetting and the time to act is now and if we don't, this is absolutely true, the i.r.s. will have gotten away with everything. that is unacceptable. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida yields back. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from ohio, ms. kaptur for 30 minutes. ms. kaptur: i thank the speaker, for the time this evening.
6:57 pm
d i want to acknowledge that congressman tim ryan of ohio and congressman nick olen of minnesota had scheduling cancelling and they were here earlier and i thank them for their strong support of the pension benefit rights of america's workers and retire years and i rise to bring a very serious situation to the attention of the american people, a situation that demands justice and it relates to something called to erisa passed decades ago that says to workers when they work and accrue benefits in their -- for retirement, those are earned benefits and no one can cut them. theerisa said they will get
6:58 pm
benefits. i want the american people to know that today i stood with thousands of america's workers out here on the lawn of the capitol facing the capitol. american retirees, their families and supporters who are here in our nation's capitol to save their hard-earned pensions that should be guaranteed under the laws of this country. they are here in washington because congress abandoned them. they were abandoned by the executive branch, too. and what has happened is is that hundreds of thousands of american worksers are getting notice in the mail, people who are already retired getting notice that their pensions are eing cut by half, by 30%, some as much as 70%. under something that passed here
6:59 pm
in the congress called the multi employer pension reform act and it didn't pass on its own, it a stuck in a gigantic bill, must-pass bill that in december of 2014 that if it had not been passed, the government would have shut down. most members of congress didn't know what was in that bill. that section was airlifted into what was called the the continuing resolution appropriation bill of that year. but on the section that dealt with pension rights, which had nothing to do with the appropriation process or the continuing resolution, these pension cuts were dropped in. there was no floor debate, there was no separate debate on that issue, there were no amendments
7:00 pm
allowed. members didn't know what was in that will section of the bill. so that multi employer pension sfose form act mpra, was supposed to solve one crisis and that is a shortage in the funds currently in that particular pension fund but it plays the backs of the workers and the those benefitsed themselves, retirees who never caused the financial shortfall are going to bear the entire burden of the shortfall in that fund. . nearly 48,000 retirees in ohio, the state most impacted in the union, are now getting noticed that their pensions are going to be cut. -- notices that their pens


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on