(House of Representatives - November 19, 2013)

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[Pages H7195-H7196]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Tonko) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. TONKO. Mr. Speaker, this week, it was reported that House 
Republicans are looking for a legislative plan to close out the year 
and to move forward into 2014 and, as such, passed out a blank sheet of 
paper as their agenda--a blank sheet.
  Each month, polls put congressional approval rates at new lows, and 
more independent organizations rank the 113th Congress as one of the 
least--if not the least--productive of all time.
  In response, leadership of the people's House has continued to govern 
by sound bites and pass messaging bills that simply go nowhere--even 
painfully shutting down the government for more than 2 weeks in the 
  If House leadership is looking for an agenda, they need only to look 
across the aisle to their friends. We have some suggestions, and chief 
among them is putting Americans back to work.
  During our August work period, I participated in some 166 events, 
meeting with constituents each and every time. At nearly every stop, my 
friends and neighbors wanted to know what was being done in Washington 
to help the private sector create jobs.
  My district is extraordinary, but not in this regard. I have to 
believe that the people of Albany and Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, 
New York, my hometown of Amsterdam, New York, in the 20th Congressional 
District, are thinking what America is thinking. They are asking what 
myself and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle are doing to grow 
the economy.
  House Democrats stand ready to work with Republicans to address the 
real challenges that face this great Nation of ours.
  Sequestration-related cuts are estimated to cost our economy some 1.6 
million jobs through 2014. Let's work together to save jobs and pass a 
budget that invests by growing in a justified way, in a fair way, 
revenues and belt tightening so that we cut as we can, so that we then 
invest as we must.
  Our family farms deserve the certainty that a 5-year reauthorization 
of the farm bill has brought them for decades upon decades. Our parties 
clearly don't see eye-to-eye on cutting such items as hunger 
assistance, hunger assistance for millions of veterans, millions of 
frail people, millions of elderly, millions of children.
  If we work together on jobs, we will help the private sector put 
people into jobs and cut poverty and reduce the need for hunger 
programs. Now, isn't that a humane approach?
  We see middle class America experiencing pain at the gas pump, and we 
worry that our foreign policy is dictated by our dangerous dependency, 
our gluttonous thirst for fossil-based fuels. Yet, we stand today 
without a clear and definitive clean energy agenda that would make our 
Nation a safer place and create tens of thousands of jobs in the short-
term, boosting an American green-collar economy. It can be done.
  A report just last week on solar panels was interesting. If we would 
use just simply 5 percent of available rooftops in Los Angeles County, 
we would be able to create 29,000 jobs in that effort.
  In the past week, we have seen major severe weather events wreak 
havoc on the Philippines and across 12 States within the Midwest of our 
country. Even if you choose to ignore fact-based science that really 
proves climate change to be real and here, we can all agree that our 
aging infrastructure needs our assistance, it needs to be upgraded, it 
needs to be improved and replaced, so that we are taking a proactive 
approach to the soundness of infrastructure, which grows jobs. Instead, 
we are allowing storms of the century to impact our communities and 
then have a reactive process that simply isn't the best way to do 
  I could go on and on, but I only have 5 minutes here.
  Immigration reform, updating the Voting Rights Act, tax reform, 
expanding background checks for gun owners, or passing ENDA--there is 
more than enough for us to tackle that translates into jobs. The vast 
majority of these policies would pass in a bipartisan fashion, as the 
government shutdown was avoided by a bipartisan vote with a

[[Page H7196]]

unanimous vote from the Democrats with a minority of votes from the 
Republicans. We could get things done if we would allow votes to be 
taken up on this floor, a simple up or down vote, but get it done and 
grow jobs.
  This week, we solemnly observe the 50th anniversary of the death of 
one of the greatest leaders our Nation has known, President John F. 
Kennedy, a man who once said:

       Never before has man had such capacity to control his own 
     environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and 
     disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We 
     have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in 
     the history of the world--or to make it the last.

  To act is both in our power and our duty. We must tackle these 
problems. I implore this House to take up a jobs agenda. Let's put 
America to work.