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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks on the House Floor today in response to Senator McCain's remarks on the Senate Floor yesterday about the need to return to regular order. Below is a video and a transcript of his remarks:
Click here to watch a video of his remarks.
“Mr. Speaker, yesterday we watched as Senator John McCain returned to the Capitol after having been diagnosed with cancer and undergoing a serious operation. All of us are praying for his swift and full recovery. In earlier days, as we all know, he faced danger with courage. He's doing the same again right now.
“When he spoke yesterday from the Senate Floor, he talked about a time when legislators, Republicans and Democrats, despite their differences, worked together to make progress, albeit incremental, on major issues through discussion and compromise. He lamented, as do I, the recent tendency to seek total partisan victory or nothing at all – something we see as much in the House as in the Senate.
“Senator McCain said this, quote, ‘we’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.’ He concluded in that paragraph, ‘we are getting nothing done.’ Instead, Senator McCain proposed legislators ought to return to regular order.
“Regular order, for those who aren't familiar with the day-to-day workings of Congress, simply means doing things in the proper way. Drafting a bill in committee; holding open hearings; marking it up with amendments; reporting it out; and then bringing it to the Floor for amendment and debate before voting on it. This process, this regular order of business, affords every Member an opportunity, regardless of party or district, to have input and help shape the policy. That is the way it should be.
“The product of such a process, as Senator McCain described it, would be, and again I quote, ‘something that will be imperfect. Full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side,’ but he concluded it was one that, quote, ‘might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.’
“Mr. Speaker, that is how our system is supposed to work. I started my career in this body in 1981. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Appropriations Committee. I like to tell people that I served on the Labor-Health Committee, and there were 13 of us. The Democrats were in the majority, and there were eight Democrats and five Republicans. And I used to tell people that he can take the 13 of us, throw us up in the air, have us come down in random seats, and have a markup, and you would have been hard pressed to find the party each person represented. Today, lamentably, Mr. Speaker, it would take you about a minute to determine those differences.
“Our Speaker said on October 29, 2015, ‘we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.’ Mr. Speaker, we're about to consider a so-called minibus. The former Chairman, my Republican friend, Mr. Rogers, is seated here in this chamber with us. He and I both recall a time when we considered one bill at a time. We brought it to the Floor, we amended it, we debated it, and we voted on it. One bill at a time. That's what Speaker Ryan was referring to when he said we will advance major legislation one issue at a time. Apparently, Mr. Speaker, that's become inconvenient or impossible, but it is not the regular order that we are pursuing.
“Speaker Ryan went on to say ‘we will not duck the tough issues. We will take them head on.’ Mr. Speaker, we will adopt a rule that will duck the issue, that will preclude full debate, and it deals with President Trump's proposal to build a wall that many in his Administration believe will be ineffective in accomplishing the objective that we all support and that is keeping our country secure and making sure that those who come into this country are known to us and don't sneak into the country. But the wall will not work, and we will not be able to debate that fully, because it will be included in the rule. And I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that is ducking the issue. It will be deemed passed. We won't vote on it. We will vote for the rule or against the rule and the wall and $1.6 billion dollars will be deemed passed.
“Mr. Speaker, that's not how our system is supposed to work. Neither side ought to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Neither side can claim credit for all the best ideas. That's why working together is imperative. That was my experience when I served for 23 years on the Appropriations Committee. That's why regular order is so important. It protects the American people. It protects each Member who is here representing some 700,000 people give or take. That's why regular order is so important. It facilitates dialogue and debate. It brings out every view and idea and provides the framework for compromise. Compromise is the essence of democracy, and I suggest it's the essence of successful families, whether they be countries, or mom and dad and kids. They come together and they agree, not because they get everything they want or the other side gets nothing they want, but because both sides compromise.
“Mr. Speaker, I agree with Senator McCain. We need to return to regular order. Speaker Ryan, as I’ve said, told us shortly after his elevation that he wants and I quote, ‘The House to work its will.’ Minibuses don't allow that, omnibuses don't allow that, frankly, CRs don't allow that.
“The Speaker adopted in principle transparent process. Sadly, Mr. Speaker, we haven't always seen that, but there's still an opportunity for the 115th Congress to reflect that vision. That's what Senator McCain was talking about yesterday. He was appealing to the best of us, the American in us – not the partisan in us, not the confrontationists in us – but the seeker of productive compromise in a democracy. The Congress and our country will be better if we return to regular order, and I yield back the balance of my time.”