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Ranking Member Cole Floor Remarks on H.R. 4350, H.R. 5305 and H.R. 3755

As delivered on the House floor during debate on the rule providing for consideration of H.R. 4350, H.R. 5305 and H.R. 3755:

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin my remarks in a positive way by discussing H.R. 4350, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. I am glad that this bill has not been poisoned by all the partisanship that has plagued this House for the past year and that, as it has done for the past 61 years, the House Armed Services Committee came together and produced a bill that both Republicans and Democrats can support. We saw this in the overwhelming 57-2 vote to report the bill out of committee.
 
This outcome wasn’t always assured. Unfortunately, President Biden proposed a defense budget number that was woefully inadequate for America’s defense needs. At a time when we are facing new and emerging threats around the globe, from the Middle East to Afghanistan to the South China Sea, we cannot afford to underfund our national defense.
 
Chronic underfunding of national defense was a hallmark of the Obama-Biden Administration, and it appears that President Biden himself is determined to continue down that path. Fortunately, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees disagreed, and the House now has before it a bill that fully funds our defense needs for the coming fiscal year.
 
The bill before us funds continued acquisition of ships to ensure the U.S. Navy can meet its mission. It funds the procurement and development of new weapons systems, which ensures that our military will be well prepared to meet new and emerging challenges in the coming years. It provides our service members with a 2.7 percent pay raise. And perhaps most important of all, it includes many provisions designed to provide much needed oversight of President Biden’s bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan. America deserves answers about the decisions that were made and the resulting failures of leadership that occurred, at all levels. Thanks to this bill, they can be assured they will get them.
 
And while I do not support every provision in the NDAA, I want to applaud the good work of the House Armed Services Committee. I think its process should serve as a model for all committees in the House. In an age when so much legislation is produced by one party behind closed doors in leadership offices, the committee did the hard work and produced a bill that both parties can support. Indeed, it is truly refreshing to be considering this bill today, and I want to commend Chairman Adam Smith and Ranking Member Mike Rogers for their good work and their bipartisan working relationship. 
 
Unfortunately, the next measure I’ll discuss isn’t nearly so positive. This bill is a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 3, 2021. But rather than advancing a clean, negotiated CR, the majority is using this bill as a vehicle to push through a suspension of the national debt limit. This is a non-starter with Republicans, as the majority well knows, and as such, I expect all Republicans will oppose it.
 
Since taking control of the presidency and the Senate in January, this majority has been on a spending spree unlike any other in history. Earlier this year, Democrats rammed through a partisan $1.9 trillion reconciliation bill, ostensibly about COVID relief, but really about pushing forward a laundry list of progressive policies. Last week, 13 authorizing committees met on another partisan reconciliation bill, this one larded up with a whopping $3.5 trillion in progressive policies – like those found in the Green New Deal. And sadly, even that wasn’t enough for some committees, who, according to CBO, spent more than double what the budget resolution told them to. These bloated spending measures come on top of normal federal spending and on top of the large bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages passed last year.
 
The last suspension of the debt limit covered all the spending that was done in the past, along with the first nine months of the Biden Administration. But since then, the majority has opened the national checkbook. They have done so with only Democratic votes. That is their prerogative. After all, they control the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. But since the majority is spending this money over Republican objections and without Republican cooperation, it is up to the majority to raise the debt limit. They should not expect Republican votes to help them cover their out-of-control spending.
 
Mr. Speaker, it is a sad state of affairs that what should be a relatively simple measure to fund the government is being used in this manner. I urge my friends across the aisle to rethink this plan, and I hope they will come to their senses before government funding runs out nine days from now.
 
Our last bill covered by this rule is somehow even more partisan and controversial than the CR. This is H.R. 3755, which the majority is pitching as a simple codification of the Supreme Court decision of Roe versus Wade. In reality, this measure goes far beyond that. It is the greatest threat to the protection of innocent unborn life than we have seen for the past 50 years.

The bill before us preempts any state law that seeks to protect life, including policies that those who identify as pro-choice support. Instead, every single state would be required to allow abortion on demand at any time up to the point of birth.
 
No more would states be able to protect conscience rights. No more would they be able to ban barbaric procedures like dismemberment abortions. And no more would they be able to prevent abortions targeting fetuses with Down Syndrome, which 70 percent of Americans oppose. 
 
I would call on all members – Republicans and Democrats – to reject this measure.
 
Protecting the unborn has always been one of my highest priorities as a Member of Congress. We need only to look at the Declaration of Independence for a reminder that the right to life is one of those inalienable rights endowed upon all of us – even unborn children – by our Creator. I urge this House to remember those words, remember the unborn and to reject this egregious attack on life.
 
With that, I urge opposition to this rule.

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