Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act and the need for the Republican-led Congress to stop wasting time on non-urgent issues while time-critical legislation isn’t being addressed. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“Madam Speaker, this bill and the other two House bills we will consider this week were put forward, in my opinion, to fill time. Yes, they are unifying issues on the Republican side of the aisle, Madam Speaker, but they're not pressing. Even if they were good policy, they're not pressing.
“We stand here without a budget. We stand here with ten days left to go. Madam Speaker, it's now quarter of 3:00 – and it was about 2:30 – and our business is through for the day. No budget. No unemployment insurance extension. No farm bill. No conference report, even, on the budget. No immigration bill. No ending discrimination, ENDA bill. A raft of critically important issues that this House ought to be considering – and so this is somewhat the fiddle on which we are playing while Rome is burning.
“We shut down the government for sixteen days. For the first time in seventeen years, a conscious decision to shut down government. And 147 of my Republican colleagues, Madam Speaker, voted to keep the government shut down and voted against paying our bills. And yet we consider this legislation.
“Now, I’m against this legislation substantively, but even more egregious is the wasting of four of the twelve days we had available to address the issues I’ve just discussed. America is rightfully disgusted with the Congress of the United States. Me too.
“Energy security remains an important issue. I agree with my colleagues on that. But these bills offer partisan solutions to energy production that are taking our time away from pressing matters, as I’ve explained, like the budget conference, unemployment insurance, comprehensive immigration reform, the farm bill, Medicare physician payment formula and tax extenders. We're all going to be wringing our hands just a few days from now, saying, of course we want to make sure there is doc fix so that people with Medicare can make sure their doctors are paid appropriately so they'll continue to serve them. We'll say, of course we want to do that. Well, why did you waste a week? We won't have an answer to that. Unless the answer is, well, we're really not going to address them. We'd rather address these issues that bring our party together and make us look like we're doing the work that our base wants us to do.
“Tomorrow's legislation seeks to block a proposed Bureau of Land Management regulation that's not even yet in effect and overreaches to cover all Interior Department lands. The first of these bills sets arbitrary deadlines on leases, permits, and reviews that stand in the way of regulators doing their job to protect citizens and affected communities. I think citizens want to be protected. Yes, they want it done in an efficient, effective manner – but they want to be protected.
“These bills were put forward in the name of achieving energy security when, in truth, ironically, America is now more energy secure than it has been in decades. As a matter of fact, when I talk about the Make It In America agenda, making manufacturing jobs and making things here in this country, one of our assets is we are the abundant energy supply in the world today. There are more oil rigs in America today than the rest of the world combined. And yet we're talking about energy security. We have it. Do we need to enhance it? Of course.
“Just days ago, the Energy Information Administration announced that we produced more crude oil last month, Madam Speaker, than we imported for the first time in almost twenty years. Under President Obama, oil production is up and we now have more rigs operating, as I said, than the rest of the world combined. Domestic natural gas extraction has also grown to an all-time record. Energy companies already hold more than 20 million acres of public land onshore on which they have yet to produce oil or gas. That is 56% of leased public lands onshore.
“The Gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Holt, was speaking of that. These bills distract and delay this body's critical attention to the issues of critical concern to all Americans, and, yes indeed, to the rest of the world that wants to see and needs a responsible, fiscally secure America. No budget, no budget conference, no farm bill, no immigration bill, no ENDA bill, all which passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion. They're worthy of debate. That doesn't mean either side has to agree, but that's what we ought to be debating, ladies and gentlemen of this House, because they are the critical issues confronting us before the end of this year, and yet we waste our time, and, frankly, we let ourselves off early because we don't have enough work to do.
“I urge opposition to these three bills. I urge the Majority party to bring the important pieces of legislation to the Floor that America needs, and I yield back.”