(House of Representatives - November 29, 2018)

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[Pages H9703-H9710]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I 
call up House Resolution 1160 and ask for its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:

                              H. Res. 1160

       Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be 
     in order to take from the Speaker's table the bill (H.R. 88) 
     to modify the boundary of the Shiloh National Military Park 
     located in Tennessee and Mississippi, to establish Parker's 
     Crossroads Battlefield as an affiliated area of the National 
     Park System, and for other purposes, with the Senate 
     amendment thereto, and to consider in the House, without 
     intervention of any point of order, a motion offered by the 
     chair of the Committee on Ways and Means or his designee that 
     the House concur in the Senate amendment with an amendment 
     consisting of the text of Rules Committee Print 115-85 
     modified by the amendment printed in the report of the 
     Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution. The Senate 
     amendment and the motion shall be considered as read. The 
     motion shall be debatable for one hour equally divided and 
     controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the 
     Committee on Ways and Means. The previous question shall be 
     considered as ordered on the motion to its adoption without 
     intervening motion.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 1 

[[Page H9704]]


  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield 
the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. 
McGovern), the ranking member, pending which I yield myself such time 
as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time 
yielded is for the purpose of debate only.

                             General Leave

  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this rule and 
the underlying legislation. The rule provides for consideration of the 
Senate amendment to H.R. 88, showing the text of the Retirement Savings 
and Other Tax Relief Act of 2018 and the Taxpayer First Act of 2018.
  This past December, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the 
interests of the American people. It was done around December 18, this 
last year.
  The legislation was a bold, pro-growth bill that helped overhaul our 
Tax Code, and I believe it has unleashed the free enterprise system all 
across this great Nation.
  Mr. Speaker, this was done because 8 years of anemic economic growth 
is what America had been working through. We had been working through 
high taxes, high rules, high regulations that were taking American jobs 
away from Americans and moving them elsewhere. It was limiting the 
future of not only America, but also Americans: the newest Americans in 
the job market, whether they be high school graduates, whether they be 
college graduates, or whether they be those that entered and finished 
professional school.
  The bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is that for too long, for some 8 years, 
we had had a circumstance where the American Dream for so many fathers 
and mothers became to get their child out of the house after college, 
and that became an American Dream if a job was possible.
  No longer, as a result of this tax act, do we find America in that 
sort of circumstance.
  Today we find not only are there jobs aplenty, but the market is 
rising, wages are being increased, and the opportunity for all 
Americans is bright again. That is because Republicans and President 
Trump worked together to pass not only a jobs and tax bill, but we had 
a bill that would increase the amount of revenue that is flowing into 
the United States coffers and Treasury right now.
  Despite what is being told by many in the marketplace, that we are 
simply running at a huge deficit, more money is coming into the 
Treasury supporting not only America, but the American Dream, and more 
people have money in their pockets.
  So growth and competition have always been keys to an expanding 
economy, more jobs, increased wages. And in my home city of Dallas, 
Texas, and across the country, it is seen by people every single day.
  Now, does that create new responsibilities and new issues? Yes, it 
does. And I will tell you that we must be prepared as a Nation to 
tackle those issues also.
  But today, this legislation is about the person that goes to work. 
This bill today is about the entrepreneur, the family, the small 
business owner, the American people.
  And also, as we will soon learn as we work through this debate, 
people who were impacted by disaster, whether it be floods, typhoons, 
tornados, fires, or other things that have occurred in this great 
Nation, we are turning the attention to ask for people back home to 
help and to help more, and we are going to do that through encouraging 
them as a part of the Tax Code.
  We are going to do much more. We are going to help the soldier and 
the soldier's family. We are going to help the people who are those 
that see tax cheats and tax fraud, and protect the whistleblower.
  We are going to take what is 300 pages of a small bill that can 
easily be read in a short period of time and understood, this is all 
about, not helping any one person or persons, it is helping millions 
across the country for an extension of their taxes and tax relief for 
yet one more year.
  This is simply a jump-start to make sure that the economy looks 
forward, not backwards, does not look to one year, but looks to two in 
the relief that we are going to have.
  Mr. Speaker, the question is, how is it going in America today?
  Well, the answer is we have the lowest number of people who are 
searching for jobs and entering the jobless market to about the same 
number since 1996.
  The annual skyrocketing amount that we have of business investment, 
of people who are taking jobs, people who are reinvesting in America is 
at a high level.
  This package today will build upon that, it will build upon the 
successes that we are presently having and will make sure that we are 
doing the right thing.
  We know that America is still hurting. We know that not all of 
America has recovered. As a matter of fact, we know that about 40 
percent of Americans would not be able to cover an emergency expense of 
$400 or more without having to take out a loan. We know that half of 
American working age adults say they do not still have enough savings 
to be prepared for their retirement.
  That is why Republicans are here, once again at the end of the year, 
to say we need to look at the aggregate, the whole country, and to make 
sure that we are looking at the effects of a year. We are trying to 
make sure that we continue making sure that the American family has a 
chance with an opportunity, not just to save, but to be able to use the 
Tax Code to their advantage.
  Mr. Speaker, what this is about is continuing economic success, 
economic development, the ability that we have to continue giving the 
American worker, the American who is out of perhaps work, the newest 
student, or someone who was deeply impacted by a natural disaster, or a 
person who serves in the United States military, or for a person who 
sees a tax fraud or tax cheat to have a fair and equal footing to 
continue to call out those that take advantage of our system rather 
than using it properly.

  That is what this small bill is about. It is about trying to end the 
year to give the American people the advantage that they need.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, 
and I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sessions) for yielding me the 
customary 30 minutes.
  (Mr. McGOVERN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, let me first of all say to the gentleman 
from Texas, the distinguished chairman of the Rules Committee, that I 
like him a lot, he is a great friend, and I respect him a lot, but I 
don't like this bill and I don't respect this process.
  Mr. Speaker, we are here today with the majority's last ditch effort 
to ram through another partisan tax bill before the end of this 
  And like so many of the Republican tax bills that came before it, 
this legislation hasn't been considered by the relevant committee. 
There was no hearing. There was no markup. Regular order was thrown to 
the wind. And Republicans didn't even consult with us, us Democrats, on 
this legislation.
  This 300-page bill was drafted in the dark of night behind closed 
doors in some back room somewhere. Apparently the majority has 
completely abandoned any semblance of responsible governing.
  My friends on the other side of the aisle are rushing to discuss how 
this is a commonsense plan and the result of some kind of negotiation.
  Mr. Speaker, are they discussing the same bill? Because this one was 
introduced late Monday night. Democrats learned about it after it was 
released to the press. To claim otherwise is revisionist history.
  This legislation goes beyond a traditional tax extenders deal. It is 
a vehicle for the majority to rush in fixes to their disastrous tax 
scam, which added $2.3 trillion to the debt to give the wealthy more 
tax cuts, fixes that are necessary because they rushed the bill through 
the House and the Senate in just 51 days. That is not a deliberative

[[Page H9705]]

process, Mr. Speaker. That is a disastrous process.
  This majority just had its worst election since Watergate. Democrats 
earned 9 million more votes, and counting. But apparently Republicans 
still haven't gotten the message, because they are continuing to fight 
for corporations instead of truly working with us to advance changes to 
our Tax Code that actually improve the lives of hardworking Americans.
  Let me say it as clearly as I can: this is no real fix for the tax 
scam monstrosity. So why are we wasting legislative time?
  We have real work to do, by the way. There are seven appropriation 
bills that still need to be signed into law over the next 5 legislative 
days, otherwise, our Nation faces yet another Republican shutdown. I 
read an interview with President Trump yesterday. He said he would 
``totally be willing'' to shut down the government if taxpayers aren't 
forced to pay for his offensive border wall with Mexico. This is the 
same wall the President promised Mexico would pay for.
  Apparently the majority is willing to have the American taxpayer get 
stuck with the bill, because instead of fulfilling our most basic 
responsibility of keeping the lights on, we are here today with another 
Band-Aid for their tax scam.
  They are also ignoring the need to reauthorize the farm bill, which 
expired on October 1.
  Oh, and the Violence Against Women Act will expire on December 7. It 
deserves a full reauthorization after a comprehensive floor debate so 
it could be updated to reflect the changing times.
  We still have no long-term plan to reauthorize the National Flood 
Insurance Program. This majority continues to kick the can down the 
road little by little, leaving millions of Americans that rely on this 
important program in limbo.
  But the only thing the majority apparently wants to debate over and 
over and over again are partisan tax bills.
  And by the way, for all their talk about the importance of providing 
disaster relief, the Republicans are refusing to support nationwide 
relief. They are picking and choosing which disaster victims deserve 
  Mr. Speaker, where is the coverage for the devastating flooding in 
Wisconsin or Montana or Kansas or many other States that aren't 
included here? Apparently to this majority, getting disaster relief 
depends on your ZIP Code.
  So I hope everyone watching here today isn't fooled when the majority 
presents its bill as just some mundane tax extenders bill, because this 
is really another partisan attempt to fix their tax scam before a 
Democratic majority takes over in January.

                              {time}  1545

  The American people made abundantly clear that they want Congress to 
listen to them. Yet today we are once again considering a tax bill to 
try and fix the Republicans' unfixable tax scam. This is the same 
agenda the American people rejected from coast to coast.
  The majority may be content continuing to turn a deaf ear to the 
public, but we will not.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Yesterday, we had an opportunity in the Rules Committee to hear many 
of the same words, words certainly of very kind and sincere remarks. I 
appreciate the distinguished gentleman. He and I personally get along 
very well and have enjoyed my time during the some, I guess, 18 years 
or so that we have worked together in the Rules Committee.
  But, Mr. Speaker, I also would say to you that there is kind of a 
different story to be told, and the different story is the actual bill. 
That is what we are going to focus on today.
  I had a chance to read the bill--I actually read it--and there was a 
conversation yesterday about that. I actually read it for comprehension 
to understand what is in it rather than to read it with the viewpoint 
of opposing it--actually, read it to learn more about it, to learn the 
business behind a lot of work that had been taking place by the Ways 
and Means Committee, a lot of work that had been public debate and 
public discussion for a long time.
  For instance, if we were to talk about those seniors who are required 
to begin taking part of their IRA at 70\1/2\ and start spending down 
that money that they have saved hard for over the years, government 
coming and telling them how they are going to become less able to 
support themselves by diminishing, taxing, using their IRA when they 
may not want to, that is a policy discussion. That is not related to 
millionaires and our GOP friends. That is related to some common sense 
and some policy.
  Perhaps, page 73, as an example, Mr. Speaker, disaster-related tax 
relief, providing for people who were in hurricanes, tornadoes, 
typhoons, and wildfires, it says here the Camp and Woolsey wildfire 
disaster area. These were declared disasters that had become national 
priorities, not only people from my home State of Texas, my home city 
of Dallas going to help our neighbors to the west, but actually getting 
this in legislation quickly to make sure that people who live there are 
able to give more charitable deductions and get credit not just for 
that, but doing the right thing.
  Mr. Speaker, it goes on and on, treatment of payments to Guam and the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  It is undeniable, as you read the bill, that you do this with an idea 
of understanding, comprehension. This isn't about special interests. 
This is about everybody who lived in these areas.
  The deferral of people who are in the military, for reservists of the 
armed services. For the American people, Mr. Speaker, and you, page 131 
of the bill, this is what we are attempting to get across, that this is 
for the American people.
  Mr. Speaker, page 203, the IRS Free File Program, this is something 
that came from lots of work with one of my colleagues, Lynn Jenkins. 
Ms. Jenkins from Kansas, as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, 
worked carefully for a long period of time with a large group of people 
who were involved in this program.
  We were able to upgrade not just tax law, but also to look at 
retaliation when people see tax cheats, tax frauds. They were given on 
page 238, Mr. Speaker, antiretaliation whistleblower protection for 
employees who see this.
  Mr. Speaker, I could keep going and might in a few minutes. That is 
what this bill is about.
  This bill is not as you have heard, but, as advertised, it is a year-
end extension to make sure that the things during the year that needed 
to be addressed are getting addressed.
  I read for comprehension to find a good deal, and, Mr. Speaker, I 
found one.
  The Ways and Means Committee, our young chairman, Kevin Brady, his 
membership, these hardworking people, this is done for the American 
people. This is not done, as we have heard, for special interests, rich 
people, or millionaires. It is done for the right reason.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, let me just make a couple of points before I yield time 
to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind).
  First of all, Mr. Speaker, the distinguished chairman of the Rules 
Committee mentioned the great people on the Ways and Means Committee. I 
just want to say that there are great people on the Ways and Means 
Committee, both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, they didn't 
get to do their job.
  When I think of committees doing their work, I think of them holding 
a hearing. I think of them doing a markup, or amendments are offered 
and things are adjusted and changed where everybody has an input. This 
bypassed the committee.
  We can say all the nice things we want about the members of the Ways 
and Means Committee, but they had nothing to do with this. Leadership 
kind of drafted this in the back room and put it forward.
  The gentleman talks about disasters. We need to help the areas of 
this country that have been subjects of natural disasters. The problem 
is--and I have a list that I am happy to share with the gentleman--
there are, like, 38 areas of this country that have experienced 
disasters that get nothing in this bill--not

[[Page H9706]]

a thing. Maybe if you had a hearing, you might have figured that out.
  Finally, there are a couple of good things in this bill we all can 
agree on, but let's not kid ourselves. This bill really is a way to fix 
the disastrous tax scam monstrosity which was about giveaways to 
corporations and wealthy individuals that they rushed through so 
quickly that it is filled with errors. That is what this is about.

  I stand by what I said when I said that this is not a good bill and 
this is a lousy process. We need to do better. I hope in the future, 
when we talk about tax legislation, we come to the floor where the 
committee of jurisdiction takes the time to deliberate on it, to do 
hearings, to do markups, and to hear from both sides.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Kind), a distinguished member of the Committee on Ways and Means.
  Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Massachusetts for 
yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, I am a member of that committee of jurisdiction. I also 
remember growing up as a kid in Wisconsin, and many of us looked 
forward to this radio program that Paul Harvey would deliver giving the 
news of the day.
  There was also a special segment of that program called ``The Rest of 
the Story,'' where he would fill in the blanks of what actually is 
taking place here. That is what I am here today to explain, the rest of 
the story of what is happening with this legislation and why I rise in 
opposition to the rule and opposition to the underlying bill.
  A little over a year ago, this Chamber passed comprehensive tax 
reform for the first time in over 30 years. I thought the process then 
was deplorable with no hearing, with no vetting, with no stakeholders, 
with no feedback from people back home, or with no opportunity for 
there to be any constructive review of what was attempting to be 
passed. In a little over 50 days, a major overhaul of the Tax Code.
  And yet, today, we have a process with this tax bill before us that 
is even worse. Not only was there no hearing held on it or vetting or 
feedback from any experts or feedback from people back home about the 
impact this is going to have, we didn't even have a markup in committee 
for us Members to be involved and try to find where mistakes were being 
made, and now with the rush to judgment with this bill that was finally 
offered late Monday night.
  I have been poring over this document over the last 2 years. I will 
guarantee the American people that the average Member of Congress had 
no way of reviewing this or even understanding what was in this bill, 
especially given all of the legalese that is involved with it.
  They will be forced to come to the floor tomorrow morning expecting 
to vote on a major piece of legislation with no clue of what it does or 
what the mistakes and the unintended consequences are. That alone is 
reason to reject this process and say ``no'' on the bill.
  But the other reason why this process is so bad is because of what we 
discovered the last time they jammed a major tax bill through: the 
mistakes that were made in it.
  They are attempting to try to clean this up again without any hearing 
or without any scrutiny of what policy needs to be corrected, and that, 
too, is wrong.
  Let me just give you one example, as my friend from Massachusetts 
pointed out. There is also tax relief for nationally declared Federal 
disaster areas in this country. Unfortunately, 44 disaster areas were 
declared in the last year. Only nine of them are qualifying for tax 
relief assistance under this bill, and they are on the coast: the East 
Coast, the West Coast, down South. It is the wildfires. It is the 
  There were other regions of the country, including my home State of 
Wisconsin that was hit with devastating flooding this summer. For 
whatever reason, the chairman of the committee decided to exclude those 
areas. The pain that those communities are facing--the homeowners and 
the small businesses--are just as real in the upper Midwest due to the 
devastating flooding as what has been taking place on the coast, yet 
there is no logical explanation why there has been this wholesale 
exclusion of other areas around the country that don't qualify for 
these tax provisions. That is something I would have anticipated we 
could have brought up in committee and tried to correct through the 
normal regular process but was deferred.
  Finally, let me add this thought. The last tax bill that they passed 
is going to increase our national debt over the next 10 years by $2.3 
trillion. This bill is another $53 billion downpayment on the fiscal 
irresponsibility that has been coming out of this Congress for too 
  This last session of Congress under Republican majority leadership is 
going to go down in history as one of the most fiscally irresponsible 
Congresses that has dug such a deep fiscal hole for the future of our 
children and grandchildren. It is going to be incumbent upon us as the 
new majority in January to start cleaning up the mess.
  Let me tell you how things will be done differently:
  We will immediately start having hearings on that massive tax bill in 
order to correct the problems and the mistakes and the unintended 
consequences by calling people with knowledge before us to get 
  We will go through the regular process of having hearings, of having 
markups, of doing proper vetting, and giving Members who aren't even on 
the committee an opportunity to weigh in on significant pieces of 
legislation rather than it coming out of one person's office--the 
chairman, in this case--in the dead of night on Monday night and 
rushing this to the House floor later on expecting the rest of the body 
to make an informed and reasoned judgment on it.
  This whole process is embarrassing. We can do better in January.
  I encourage my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this rule and oppose this 
legislation tomorrow morning.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I appreciate the feedback from the gentleman from Wisconsin, a very 
dear and very good friend of mine, and I appreciate the differences 
between our parties.
  The differences between the philosophies of the parties and the 
differences of the direction are apparent. But what is also apparent, 
Mr. Speaker, is that what these dadgum Republicans did is working: more 
money is coming into the Treasury; millions more people have a job.
  The opportunity that happened--a result of the Tax Code changes--have 
brought, at minimum, $50 billion back into America in less than about 9 
months, money flowing back in, which is the reverse of what was 
described in the nineties with that sucking sound of jobs leaving 
America. It is now the rush of the beautiful breeze of jobs coming back 
in, manufacturers not just in Wisconsin, but all through the Midwest, 
down even as far as Dallas, Texas.
  Mr. Speaker, there was one point where I held a meeting and a press 
conference at a manufacturer, and that manufacturer said that this is 
the most robust period of time he had had in the history of the company 
and actually challenged the TV stations to say he was looking for 12 
more workers. He found two the next day, people who called who were 
looking for jobs.

                              {time}  1600

  Mr. Speaker, we are talking about things that work, not axioms of 
these feel-good things: Oh, we can do better.
  Well, for 8 years, they didn't do better. For 8 years, the philosophy 
was tax, spend, regulate, overregulate, move jobs overseas, blame 
somebody else for their problem.
  That is not a winning hand. A winning hand is more people having 
jobs. Today, the highest numbers of people ever are working in America. 
The facts of the case are: more African Americans today work than ever, 
more Hispanics, more women, more opportunity, better chances for you to 
get a higher paying job, better opportunities.
  Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't have to say too much, but these same policies 
that they talk about here today are the same policies that you would 
get out of the State of California that has 125,000 homeless people, 
55,000 homeless people in Los Angeles. How can that be?
  Well, it is easy to understand. The same policies that they want for 
us in Washington are the same policies they

[[Page H9707]]

have in Los Angeles and in California. That is called overregulate, 
overtax, and run them the heck out of town.
  That is why there are so many unemployed people. That is why there 
are 55,000 homeless people in Los Angeles. Friends of mine who visit 
the beautiful, coveted city of San Francisco come back and tell the 
story of heartbreaking demise of people living on the streets of San 
Francisco, a drug-ridden, crime-ridden, despicable opportunity for 
people to see a great city in despair, in ruin.
  That is what you get when you raise taxes, when you don't give 
opportunity, and when America fails to be able to look forward for the 
best opportunity.
  Mr. Speaker, I get what they want. They don't want this bill that 
gives opportunity. They don't want the opportunity for people to have a 
fighting chance, and then they will blame it on somebody else.
  Mr. Speaker, we are going to stand behind this bill, and we are going 
to pass it. I think there will be some Democrats who will vote for it. 
We are going to be proud to have them.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Texas, the distinguished chairman of 
the Rules Committee, is right. There are differences between Democrats 
and Republicans on how we should approach some of these issues, 
including tax issues. We believe that the focus ought to be on the 
middle class and those struggling to get in the middle class.
  My friends on the other side are more interested in helping those who 
are well-off and well connected. We are horrified by the fact that my 
Republican friends seem to have no regard for adding to the debt the 
way they have. We think that there has to be some responsibility.
  But we can have those fights. I think whether you are a Democrat or a 
Republican, whether you are a liberal or a conservative, the one thing 
that we should all agree on is that the process should have some 
  When you bring bills to the floor like major tax bills, it ought to 
have been the result of the committee process. There should have been 
hearings where you have people who are pro and con come forward and 
testify and give their advice, or you have a markup where Democrats and 
Republicans can offer amendments to try to make the bill better.
  I still don't understand why so many areas of the country that have 
been victims of disasters are not even mentioned in this so-called 
wonderful bill that the gentleman from Texas talks about.
  Process has to matter. The committees of jurisdiction--in this case, 
it is the Ways and Means Committee--matter. But this is not unique. We 
have seen bills come to the Rules Committee time and time again that 
have bypassed committees of jurisdiction, have had no hearings, have 
had no markups, no nothing.
  If I were a Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, I would be 
upset that a major piece of legislation would come to the Rules 
Committee without having gone through the committee that I am on. That 
is not the way this place is supposed to work. We need to do better.
  I would say that if this were subjected to a normal process where 
committees could work their will, maybe we would be here having a 
different discussion. Maybe there would be more bipartisanship here, 
not just on a couple of items that are tucked into this bill, but on 
the whole package. I don't know. But I would like to see us go back to 
having committees matter again.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. 
Yarmuth), the distinguished ranking member of the Budget Committee.
  Mr. YARMUTH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, for years now, certainly over the last few months, we 
have been hearing concerns from our Republican colleagues about the 
exploding national debt. Yet, here they are today asking us to vote for 
another unpaid-for, multibillion-dollar, partisan tax cut. With the 
clock ticking on this lame-duck Congress and the Republicans' unchecked 
control here in Congress, they are rushing through another round of 
costly, reckless cuts.
  Now, as my colleague from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), the soon-to-
be chairman of the Rules Committee, said, Democrats were locked out of 
the process for this 300-page bill. There were no hearings, no debate, 
no markup. It went straight to the floor with the hope that the 
American people aren't looking.
  The thing is that the American people have made it very clear, both 
in polling and at the polls, that they did not support the Republicans' 
trillion-dollar tax cuts for wealthy corporations last time, and they 
certainly won't support even more tax cuts this time.
  The distinguished chairman of the committee, a very thoughtful and 
sincere individual, talked about all of the successes of the prior tax 
cut. But remember what they promised when they rammed this thing 
through i 2017: that the corporate tax cut from 35 to 21 percent was 
going to unleash incredible investment in the country, creating 
thousands of jobs and new facilities and new investments in plants and 

  What has happened? This year alone, there was $800 billion in stock 
buybacks--let me repeat, $800 billion in stock buybacks--increased 
dividends that mostly go to wealthy investors, about a third of which 
actually go to foreign investors.
  Where are all of these new investments? They weren't realized, and 
they weren't realized because the corporations said at the time that 
they don't need these crazy tax cuts. Republicans insisted on it. Part 
of the reason they insisted on it was because it is part of their 
three-step plan, which we talked about in 2017 during the debate on the 
tax cuts. We had charts. Here is what they are going to do: cut taxes; 
then complain about the additional debt; and then ask for cuts in 
Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to pay for those new 
  That is exactly what we have seen this year. The majority leader of 
the Senate from my State complained the other day: Oh, these deficits 
are getting really high. The debt is getting really high. We need to 
look at these mandatory spending programs.
  That is the playbook we have seen time after time after time. Let's 
stop pretending that my colleagues across the aisle are there for the 
American people. They aren't the party of fiscal responsibility or 
economic growth. They are the party of one thing and one thing only, 
and that is tax cuts for their wealthy corporate donors. This is a 
reflection of that truth.
  The American people don't want these tax cuts, and our country can't 
afford them. I, therefore, urge my colleagues to oppose this rule and 
the underlying bill.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the distinguished gentleman who will, 
presumptively, be the new chairman of the Budget Committee.
  I think what is interesting is, he said that Republicans promised 
more investment. Yes, that happened. Republicans promised more jobs. He 
said thousands. It is millions, Mr. Speaker, not thousands. We promised 
millions more jobs. He then said we promised thousands.
  Mr. Speaker, then he went to a very interesting perspective, and that 
was: all companies really use this money just to buy back their own 
stock. Mr. Speaker, investment in a company is great, and while that 
might not be necessarily one of the greatest ways to do it, it buoyed 
the stock market up 40 percent.
  It buoyed the stock market up to where every senior, every person 
that would have a stock market account, a savings account, a saving for 
their future, saving for their children, it buoyed that opportunity 
with value.
  That is what we promised, and it worked, and they don't like that. 
They don't like the success of the stock market. They don't like the 
success, and so they act like it didn't even happen.
  Mr. Speaker, the difference between thousands and millions is 
literally a thousand times difference. I spoke about this earlier when 
we were talking about this bill right here.
  Oh, it is full of giveaways, they say, to millionaires and GOP fat 

[[Page H9708]]

  It is extenders. It is continuing the success. It is doing the right 
thing. It is about people who had fire ravaging their homes and their 
areas, not just the Republican houses. It was about helping members of 
the military. It was about good policy from the Ways and Means 
Committee that was equally known as bipartisan with the work that was 
done there to make sure that we acknowledged tax cheats and let the 
employees who saw that get a better footing.
  There were lots of hearings, lots of information. But if you simply 
read to have a jaundiced view of the world and to oppose it, as opposed 
to reading for substance, I see how you could get it wrong, Mr. 
Speaker. I see clearly how you could get it wrong if you don't read for 
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the chairman of the Rules Committee keeps on talking 
about success and how the Republicans delivered and how great 
everything is. If that were the case, I think the election results in 
November would have been much different.
  The bottom line is that--this is according to exit polls that were 
conducted by major news outlets--28 percent of the people surveyed said 
that the Republican tax bill has helped them--only 28 percent. That is 
it. Sixty-eight percent say it has had absolutely no impact or has hurt 
them. That is what the American people think.
  So my friends can pontificate all they want and talk about how 
wonderful everything is, and it may be good therapy. But at the end of 
the day, the American people have a very different opinion of the 
  When the gentleman talks about investing in our country, where is the 
infrastructure bill? Where is the infrastructure bill that the 
President promised, that the Republicans said they were going to work 
on to rebuild our country, to put millions of people to work in good-
paying jobs? It is nowhere to be found.
  So the bottom line is, the American people issued their verdict on 
the Republican performance, and, quite frankly, it wasn't a positive 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. 
Blumenauer), a distinguished member of the Committee on Ways and Means.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy in 
allowing me to speak on this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I hear my friend from Texas talking about the booming 
stock market and the increase in employment. Actually, the statistics 
will bear out that the increase in employment has been a steady line 
through the Obama administration. It hasn't spiked. It is just kind of 
continuing the slow recovery.
  About that stock market, now maybe my friend was distracted for the 
last few weeks, but the gains for the entire year disappeared in a 
couple of weeks. The uncertainty troubles people who care about the 
future of this country.
  As the 115th Congress staggers to its conclusion, this rule enshrines 
the failure of the Republicans to deal meaningfully with America's 
scandalous Tax Code, although promising to reform the Tax Code.

                              {time}  1615

  I was one of the people on the Ways and Means Committee who worked 
the 8 years they were in charge to try and find areas of bipartisan 
cooperation, but they have repeatedly failed at reform. Instead, every 
year, they made the Tax Code more complicated and less fair. That came 
to a glorious conclusion with their tax scam which made a hash out of 
the Tax Code. It means that millions of people actually will pay more. 
Irony of irony, Americans trying to deal with a more complicated Tax 
Code won't even be able to deduct the accounting expenses to deal with 
this monstrosity.
  The centerpiece of the 8 years in charge was the tax scam costing 
taxpayers $2.3 trillion of additional debt. Now, you would think if we 
were going to borrow $2.3 trillion and lavish tax breaks, admittedly on 
people who need them the least, that you would think that would at 
least be popular. My friend from Massachusetts cited some of the 
perceptions of the American public. But what I think is most telling is 
that their tax cut that costs the American taxpayer $2.3 trillion in 
additional debt was less popular than Bill Clinton's tax increase.
  What was supposed to be the centerpiece of a ride to victory in 
November ended up being the largest net increase for Democrats since 
Watergate, and at the end they weren't touting it. They weren't 
campaigning on it.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Barton). The time of the gentleman has 
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentleman from Oregon an 
additional 1 minute.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. In fact, if that was such a great idea, don't you 
think they would have had a hearing on this bill?
  Don't you think they would get their Members involved?
  Where are the dozens of Republicans coming to the floor to celebrate 
the rule for this flawed piece of legislation?
  It is complex, and it is unfair. It is raising taxes on millions, 
destabilizing our economic future, and making it harder for us to 
compete in the future.
  Mr. Speaker, reject the rule, and reject the bill.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Once again, I will reiterate that this bill is about doing great 
things for events that have happened in this country. I really can't 
imagine that Members would want to simply take the things that the 
leadership class of people from Mrs. Pelosi want to vote against--
disaster tax relief for people all across California, all across the 
Mariana Islands, and all across the country--except just to say that I 
do know that people in their party oppose the tax bill. I get that.
  But there is more money coming in today than there was yesterday. 
There are millions of more people who have a job today than yesterday. 
I do know the numbers that were expressed are numbers that they want to 
tout, but that is not the way it worked. That was what the CBO said. 
But the reality of the circumstance is some 4 million people today have 
a job who did not have one and had been looking.
  Mr. Speaker, just a few years ago, the major newspapers and major 
magazines across America said:

       We are going to just have to get used to this is the way 
     the world is now--high unemployment, higher taxation.

  Newsweek magazine had on its cover: ``Is America Really Turning 
  The answer came back that the American people disagree with 
unemployment. The American people disagree with high taxes. The 
American people see what is happening in California, 55,000 homeless 
people in Los Angeles. That is not an accident. That is policy in 
action; 125,000 homeless people in California, that is not an accident, 
that is policy directly from the Democratic Party that ran jobs out of 
the State so that the average family there didn't have a job.
  That is what they are pushing right here. We are not going to do 
that. We are going to stand up and say: We read the bill. We read the 
bill. That is what it is here for. That is why we can stand up and tout 
  By the way, Mr. Speaker, when you are from Texas, if there is one 
riot, all it takes is one Ranger.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire from the gentleman from 
Texas how many more speakers he has?
  Mr. SESSIONS. Just one Ranger, Mr. Speaker.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, people are beginning to read the bill. Members should 
have just received a letter from 27 national groups, including labor 
unions, good government groups, and anti-poverty groups, who just sent 
us a letter strongly urging us to oppose this partisan tax bill. These 
groups represent millions and millions of people in this country. They 
don't represent the big corporations or the people who are well-
connected and well-off. They represent working-class people and middle-
class people, those who are struggling in poverty. But they are asking 
us to oppose this, and I urge my colleagues to take note of their 
  Mr. Speaker, this very week, General Motors announced that they are 
laying off nearly 50 percent of their workers

[[Page H9709]]

in North America and shuttering five plants. That is thousands of 
workers--thousands of families--who are going to spend their holiday 
season applying for unemployment and worrying about what is next. They 
don't have the luxury of waiting until the Democratic majority takes 
over in January. They are hurting right now. Many of them believed 
President Trump when he visited Ohio last year. He told them:

       Don't move. Don't sell your house. The jobs are all coming 
     back. They are all coming back.

  So what are House Republicans doing to help? Are they making good on 
their promise to help support working families?
  The answer is absolutely not.
  They are spending their last month in power doubling down on their 
tax scam to help the corporate elite. I have to ask my friends on the 
other side of the aisle: Are you kidding me?
  All the while, the President's disastrous trade war has been making 
things even worse. According to General Motors, his tariffs have cost 
the company an extra $1 billion--that is billion with a B.
  Tell me, is this what winning is supposed to look like? Because it 
feels an awful lot like losing.
  This bill is what happens when Republicans rush bills through so fast 
that there is no time to understand its impact.
  Let me tell you: things have to change around here. They really do. I 
say this over and over and over again, but I believe it. This should 
not be a partisan matter for debate, and that is that committees of 
jurisdiction in this House ought to do their job. They ought to do 
their work. On major issues like this, there ought to be hearings. 
There ought to be markups. People ought to be able to express 
  People fight to get on the Ways and Means Committee because they want 
to have their fingerprints on tax legislation. They don't fight to get 
on committees like Ways and Means so that somebody in the leadership 
just bypasses the committee totally, we go right to the Rules Committee 
with a closed rule.
  So much of what has happened in this last session has happened with 
total disregard to regular order. I think, quite frankly, it has 
negatively impacted the products that have come out of this Congress. 
But I also think it has been insulting to, not just Democratic Members, 
but to Republican Members as well.
  So we really need to step back and to figure out how we can run this 
place better, and I hope that a Democratic majority will do that.
  We are days away from a possible government shutdown. We have seven 
appropriation bills left to sign into law, and we are helping 
corporations instead. What an embarrassment and what a shame.
  Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I do want to take a moment, despite my strong 
reservations with how we are proceeding here today, to recognize the 
chairman of the Rules Committee, Congressman Sessions, for his service. 
He and I, obviously, don't agree on every policy or every piece of 
legislation, but despite our disagreements, he has always had my 
respect, and I have always appreciated his professionalism and the 
courtesy that he has shown those of us on both sides of the aisle who 
have testified before the committee over the years.

  The Rules Committee has a reputation for long hearings, and that is 
because the chairman insists that everybody has an opportunity to say 
what is on their mind, and sometimes people can't say it in 5 minutes. 
Sometimes they say it in 5 hours. Nonetheless, he has presided over a 
committee that has always been receptive to people's views.
  It is important as we discuss policy here that we don't lose sight of 
the people we serve with, and I know he will lead a professional 
transition as we prepare for the next Congress. But I wanted to say, 
for the Record, that despite our sharp disagreements on issues like 
today, and even on process, that I have high regard for him, and I 
thank him for his service.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the rule and vote 
``no'' on the underlying bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire as to how much time is 
remaining on my side?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas has 5\1/2\ minutes 
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  I, of course, want to acknowledge and thank the distinguished 
gentleman from Massachusetts. His time in the committee has been 
forthright, honest, and straightforward. The opportunity that he has to 
serve in the minority will be reflected with an opportunity for him to 
serve in the majority.
  I think the Rules Committee is also headed for a bright future with 
an opportunity to fully vet ideas, the opportunity to talk, and to hear 
dialogue. I must say I have been through a number of chairmen, several 
at least, and I attempted to craft my own way for the committee.
  I appreciate and respect the gentleman. I think it is also important 
to state that it extended to his young wife and his daughter who 
visited the committee several times. His wife, who, in a most genuine, 
professional and straightforward spousal context, to my wife, Karen, 
enjoyed a relationship and they found common interests, not only in 
working with cancer, but Jim's wife sent me a gracious letter 
acknowledging the work that I personally have done in cancer and in the 
areas of the FDA and dealing with cancer research and trials. That 
professionalism extended not just from Jim but to his young bride who 
was most genuine in her remarks.
  Mr. Speaker, the opportunity for us to close today is a chance to 
reflect upon not just the ideas that we represent, but really our 
commitment to the American people. The American people do deserve a 
right to see a better process, and that I acknowledge. They have a 
right to know that the forthrightness of a committee, whether they are 
up at 2 in the morning or 8 in the morning because we had not completed 
necessarily our work the night before, the Rules Committee did its 
service. It did its service to this body on a bipartisan basis. It did 
it from professional content of a professional staff, not only from the 
minority that was led at the very top with Don Sisson, who did an 
awesome job, but also Steve Cote, the staff director. It was a 
relationship that has been successful for this body.
  Mr. Speaker, I do want to say this, that just as the distinguished 
gentleman from Massachusetts, the soon-to-be chairman--I assume 
chairman of the Rules Committee--as he has asked his side to look at 
and how they would vote, I would also ask you, Mr. Speaker, and the 
team, which today is in the majority, to make sure they read this bill 
with content orientation to the needs of the American people, to look 
at the real successes as we walk outside today to see that the booming 
economy that is taking place in America where people who did not have 
jobs do; for those who have been on our TV sets and in our prayers 
where some natural disaster has claimed them, whether it be through a 
mistake or through necessarily Mother Nature, that we as America are 
better when we work to solve problems together.

                              {time}  1630

  We are better in America when we believe there is no problem bigger 
than a solution, where we in America want to put our best foot forward 
and can work together.
  Mr. Speaker, we are all better, all of us, than any one of us. My 
party is better with the Democratic Party than without the Democratic 
Party. My ideas are better to be vetted and even challenged. That way, 
the American people have a chance to see not only the possibility and 
probability, but also to vet the ideas that have made this Nation a 
great nation for so many years.
  While it is true my service to this body will be coming to a close 
after 22 years, I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, that your service, 
too, to this great Nation has made our country better.
  For those who are on the floor today, I would thank the distinguished 
gentleman from Texas. I would thank the distinguished gentleman from 
Massachusetts. I would thank the distinguished gentleman from Florida, 
one of my fraternity brothers, who has brought forth ideas on this for 
other colleagues of Texas, like Mr. Green, who might be in attendance 
  I would say that we have tried to make this work as evidence that the

[[Page H9710]]

American people can see, and I think they can see it today. Mr. 
Speaker, I end my statement with a focus on this innovation and 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the 
previous question on the resolution.
  The previous question was ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the resolution.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.