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Ranking Member Cole Opening Remarks During Hearing on H.R. 8319, H.R. 4447, H.R. 6210 and H.R. 6270

As prepared for delivery during today’s hearing:

We have a fairly packed hearing for today, so I’ll get right to it.
 
The first item I will discuss today is a continuing resolution funding the government through December 11.

I had originally thought I’d be speaking today on a bipartisan, negotiated continuing resolution. Unfortunately, it appears that the Speaker is now making unilateral decisions and going a different direction. Despite all sides reaching a deal regarding what would be included in the CR, the text we just received removes key provisions agreed upon related to the Commodity Credit Corporation and an extension of the Pandemic-EBT food assistance program. This is an unfortunate and unnecessary outcome, Mr. Chairman.

Congress governs best when it governs together. This weekend, I thought we had a bipartisan deal that would fund the government and keep it open so that it can continue to provide critical services to our constituents. This, as I have said many times both here and on the floor, is one of the highest responsibilities we have as legislators.

But when the majority makes last minute decisions to renege on bipartisan work, it does not bode well for the legislative process or for the institution. It builds distrust and makes it harder to accomplish great things in the future. I would remind my friends of the proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Sadly, today the majority has decided on the former strategy rather than the latter. I’m saddened by that, Mr. Chairman. I would encourage the committee to make in order an amendment that gives members the opportunity to vote on the original deal on the House floor. And in the meantime, I hope the majority will see the light and decide that we can go far by going together.

Our second bill for today is H.R. 4447, an almost 900-page package of energy-related bills. Unfortunately, this bill was hastily cobbled together using the left’s wish list and truly misses the mark.

Throughout this entire bill, there is only one real unifying theme: for every problem, the majority thinks the solution is to spend massive amounts of money. Once again, the majority is falling prey to their base instincts to spend, spend, spend – rather than pass real, workable legislation.

Instead of undertaking policies to streamline permitting processes and lower costs for everyday Americans, the majority is pushing policies that would make energy more expensive and less reliable. Instead of improving and expanding infrastructure, the majority is imposing new green energy mandates from Washington. Instead of reducing costs, they are imposing new building codes that will guarantee higher construction costs without reducing energy bills. At every turn, this package is misguided and costly and will not do much to benefit the average consumer.

The majority also claims that this package is bipartisan. While it is true that the package includes some bills that were bipartisan at their introduction, and even some that I myself support, the overall package was built by Democrats for Democrats, and Republicans were not consulted about which bills should be included, much less about the changes they made to bills we did support. That hardly, in my mind, meets the definition of being bipartisan.

Finally, we have two bills concerning the ongoing human rights violations against the Uyghur people in China. H.R. 6210 and H.R. 6270 both seek to address this crisis using the tools at hand available to the United States government. The bills collectively will require disclosures by public companies doing business with entities responsible for the ongoing oppression of the Uyghur people and will allow the State Department to impose sanctions on the responsible parties.

Of course, no bill is perfect, and I understand that Republicans on the Financial Services Committee have concerns about some provisions in these bills. I look forward to hearing their concerns, and I encourage the committee to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that these issues receive full consideration on the House floor.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not note, again, that the Rules Committee is considering pieces of legislation that have not received a markup in the committee of jurisdiction. Once more, the Rules Committee is violating the so-called McGovern Rule, the solemn promise the majority made at the beginning of this Congress not to bring bills before the Rules Committee that had not received both a hearing and a markup in the committees of jurisdiction.

On items like today’s continuing resolution, while not ideal, given the short time frame and severe consequences of failing to act, I can understand why the majority would choose to move forward without a markup – and do not fault them for this action.

But when it comes to our other items, I am at a loss. Some of the items in the energy package have received a markup as individual bills, but that’s no excuse for not pursuing a markup of the whole package, especially since major and consequential policy changes were made behind closed doors. And I would be shocked if my colleagues on the Financial Services, Ways and Means and Foreign Affairs Committees did not want an opportunity to consider our two bills on the Chinese oppression of the Uyghur minority.

So sadly, I must once again say to the Chairman that we have to do better than this. The American people expect us to do better than this. 

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