/  Ranking Member Cole Remarks on Democrats' Unprecedented Reconciliation Bill

Ranking Member Cole Remarks on Democrats' Unprecedented Reconciliation Bill

As delivered during today's hearing on the Rules Committee Print to replace H.R. 5376:

To be completely candid, I have no idea what we are doing here today. And I’m not certain my colleagues on the other side of the dais do either. 

For the last several months, Democrats have run around in circles trying to unify their caucus with their Senate colleagues on a massive spending bill that would alter American society as we know it – and not for the better. From what the news outlets report, it is apparent that this Frankenstein monster of a bill is intended to be one of the largest tax-and-spend bills in history. Make no mistake – massive tax increases would be required to pay for the massive spending on socialist programs. For Americans, this bill means not only higher taxes, but even more inflation, more big government socialism and heightened government control in every American’s life.

It is severely out of touch with the actual priorities of the American people.

Yesterday, I found out about this hearing the same way most did: from Twitter and press reporting on a Dear Colleague from Speaker Pelosi to Democrats indicating the Rules Committee would meet. That is a sad state of affairs, Mr. Chairman. Relying on the press to tell us what is happening is the furthest thing from how we should legislate.

And the legislation before us today? Well, the ink is barely dry. We received the text only an hour ago and, even though my colleagues on the other side of the aisle marked up a reconciliation bill in committee over a month ago, the legislation before us today was spun out of whole cloth, behind closed doors and, as the Chairman noted to the press last night, is only a starting point.

Mr. Chairman, this is ludicrous. The Speaker is asking the committee to meet on one of the largest tax-and-spending bills of all time – a bill that spends untold trillions of dollars. We have no score from the Congressional Budget Office or the Joint Committee on Taxation and no idea when we will get one. And our witnesses today cannot realistically discuss the ramifications of this bill because most do not know what is, or may later be, included. It’s the old Democratic playbook of passing a bill so we can find out what’s in it. 

This is no way to govern, Mr. Chairman. Even with the track record of the current majority, this is outrageous. This poor excuse for a piece of legislation was written behind closed doors on an artificial timeline, and our families, our communities and our businesses will pay the price. With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, this process is a sham, and I’m embarrassed for the Rules Committee today. I hope you know that I do not take any pleasure in that statement, Mr. Chairman. But it shows how deeply disappointed I am that your leadership’s public posturing has replaced sane, rational governing. 

Given what has been reported to be in the final version of this bill, and given how consequential these provisions reportedly are, this process is patently absurd. If you want to fundamentally change our country, as your side has claimed this package will do, at least have the decency to do so in the light of day. Have a process so robust and fulsome that members of all political persuasions can feel confident that their ideas were considered and their constituents’ voices were heard. 

Since this package is not being negotiated through a normal process, let’s talk about some of the things the Democratic majority is trying to do. They want to give the IRS the power to spy on Americans’ bank accounts, along with imposing massive tax increases on Americans and the businesses that create jobs. They want to raise home heating bills for millions of Americans and raise gas prices so they can give the wealthy a tax break on electric cars. They want to threaten the solvency of Medicare and penalize energy companies for using fossil fuels despite how critical these are for American consumers. 

But what’s most telling about how out of touch this majority’s priorities are is what this bill won’t do. It’s apparent they have no interest in solving the current emergencies facing our nation. They continue to do nothing to deal with the border crisis. Nothing to address rising inflation; in fact, this bill will make inflation worse. Nothing to help small businesses get their workers back. Nothing to encourage, instead of criminalizing, parents who advocate for their child’s education. And nothing to address the looming threats America and our allies face abroad.

The failings of the majority’s entire approach are glaringly obvious.

Mr. Chairman, no member of this committee and nobody appearing before this committee is prepared to debate the merits of this legislation. We received this bill an hour ago. We received no documents showing the changes made and no explanations for why such changes were made. No witness before this committee is prepared to answer questions about the 1,700 pages of new text and the almost 800 pages of text that were removed from the version previously reported by the Budget Committee. 

The events and circumstances that led us to this point are unprecedented. The Rules Committee has no business meeting today. We're the last stop in the legislative process, not the first. This is a room where governing occurs. What we are doing here today is not governing. It's performance art. 

Mr. Chairman, you've left me no choice. And I move that the committee now adjourn. 

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Created: October 28, 2021