(House of Representatives - June 13, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 100 (Tuesday, June 13, 2017)]
[Pages H4901-H4908]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           THE PEOPLE'S NIGHT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Walker) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, many times as our Members in the House 
travel throughout our districts, we are often asked: What is being done 
in the House? What is being accomplished?
  Well, this afternoon we are going to take a few minutes and allow you 
to hear directly from the Members, something that we like to call the 
People's Night. This is the people's House, so from time to time we 
like to bypass any of the outlets and talk directly to the American 
  Now, a lot of people might not know specifically what has been going 
on in the House. Well, I think these visuals may aid in specifically 
talking about some of the things that we are accomplishing.
  For example, if you will see the chart, this chart lists the House-
passed bills to date. It also includes the last four Presidents. As you 
can see, the House of the 115th Congress has passed 158 pieces of 
legislation; 158 bills we have sent to the Senate or to the President.
  The House isn't the only one that has been busy. Our President has 
been busy. In fact, if you will notice this chart behind, you will 
notice that we are also at a record pace if you look at the last four, 
five Presidents. Of these bills, the President has signed 37 bills into 
law, compared with the next most, which was George Herbert Walker Bush 
many years ago, with 35.
  That is what the House is working on; it is what we are working with 
the Senate, we are working with the President.
  But this afternoon I want you to hear directly from some of the 
Members themselves who have been very instrumental not only in what we 
have accomplished, but also some of the things that we are looking 
forward to accomplishing over the next few months.
  The first person I would like to introduce to you is our chairman of 
the Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling. Representative 
Hensarling is from Texas' Fifth District and has been instrumental in 
doing something that we have been promising and trying to accomplish 
for many years.
  Mr. Speaker, with that, I yield to Chairman Jeb Hensarling, my good 
  Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding to

[[Page H4902]]

me, and let me thank him for his leadership of the Republican Study 
Committee and what that committee means to the conservative movement 
and what it means to the cause of freedom and opportunity for so many 
working men and women.
  I especially want to thank the gentleman from North Carolina for his 
work on the American Health Care Act and what that means to so many of 
our constituents to truly be able, after this rise of premiums where 
people are paying more to get less in healthcare, to really bring us to 
a moment where we can have patient-centered healthcare. I just want to 
thank him for that.
  These are actually hopeful times for the American people. 
Regrettably, as we know, working America hasn't received a pay increase 
in almost a decade. Their savings have remained decimated since the 
financial crisis. So to get this economy moving again, our President 
knows, this Congress knows that, number one, we do have to return to 
patient-centered healthcare, not for what that means just to our 
families, but what it means to our economy.
  We have to have fundamental tax reform as well, and I know that our 
House Ways and Means Committee is working on that assiduously, but we 
also have to have fundamental reform of our regulations. There is no 
regulation that has imposed more burden on our economy than the Dodd-
Frank Act. In fact, it is more burdensome to our economy than all 
Obama-era regulations combined. It is simply that bad.
  When they passed this bill in the wake of the financial crisis, they 
told us that it would lift the economy. But instead of lifting the 
economy, we are mired in the slowest, weakest recovery in the postwar 
  They told us that it would end bank bailouts, but cynically, it 
codified them into law and backed it up with a taxpayer bailout fund.
  They told us and they promised us it would make the economy more 
stable, but instead, the big banks have gotten bigger and the small 
banks have gotten fewer.
  They told us and promised us it would help the consumer, but instead 
of helping the consumer, free checking at banks has been cut in half. 
Bank fees have increased. Has anybody within earshot tried to get a 
mortgage recently? They are harder to come by. They cost hundreds of 
more dollars to close. There are fewer credit card offerings.
  What has happened here is, under Dodd-Frank, those who are seeking 
credit are now paying more and receiving less. This is hurting not only 
our families, but it has hurt our economy. Small business lending 
hasn't recovered, entrepreneurship is at a generational low.
  So that is why it was so important that on Thursday of last week this 
body, this House, took action and passed the Financial CHOICE Act. The 
Financial CHOICE Act represents, for all of America, economic 
opportunity for all, bank bailouts for none.
  It replaces the era of bank bailouts with bankruptcy for these large 
financial institutions. It replaces Washington micromanagement with 
market discipline. That is how we help to grow this economy. It will 
create more credit for more people.
  There is a whole part of this legislation that is totally devoted to 
our small banks and credit unions because it is our small community 
financial institutions that help finance our small businesses. It is 
our small businesses which are the job engine of America. That is what 
has been choked off by this heavy hand of Obama regulation.
  So I was proud to play a very small role in the House to bring the 
Financial CHOICE Act to the House so that we can indeed, as the acronym 
suggests, create hope and opportunity for investors, for consumers, for 
entrepreneurs. We want the animal spirits in the American economy to 
move again. We want that budding optimism that tomorrow can be a better 
day, that you can be your own boss, that you can start your own small 
business. We want that opportunity to flourish yet again in America. 
That is what we managed to do with the Financial CHOICE Act.

  I am very happy that we have now sent it over to the Senate. We look 
forward to having the Senate act upon this. The American people can't 
wait to get this economy moving again.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman for highlighting this for 
the American people, and I want to thank him again for his leadership 
of the Republican Study Committee. Without this august group, the 
Congress' largest caucus, the caucus of conservatives, this would not 
have happened, and I want to thank him for that.
  Mr. WALKER. Thank you, Chairman Hensarling. Most people would not 
describe your role as a small part in making sure that people have more 
opportunities in our financial industry.
  Not that we are showing Texas any partiality this evening, but our 
second Representative is a former Federal prosecutor from the great 
State of Texas, and many would consider one of the top conservatives in 
all of the United States Congress, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Ratcliffe), my friend, is here to talk about the CFPB, among some other 
issues. So without further ado, I yield to Mr. Ratcliffe.
  Mr. RATCLIFFE. I would like to thank my colleague and friend from 
North Carolina, the gentleman, Congressman Walker, for yielding to me 
and for hosting this Special Order tonight, which is fittingly titled, 
``The People's Night.'' After all, there is a reason that the United 
States House of Representatives is often called the people's House. It 
is because our job is to fight for the priorities of the people that we 
are privileged to represent here.
  Over the past 6 months, Republicans have been fighting for the 
people, fighting to fundamentally change Washington and to return power 
to the American people where it really belongs.
  We have been doing this against a strong headwind of obstructionists, 
sometimes from colleagues across the aisle, sometimes from certain in 
the media more interested in a liberal agenda than in accurate 
reporting, and sometimes from embedded bureaucrats and special 
interests within the government industrial complex who really don't 
want to see the Washington swamp drained. But in spite of that, we are 

                              {time}  1700

  And while many of these conservative winds have gone unreported and, 
therefore, flown under the radar, the truth is that we are indeed 
steering the ship in the right direction, we are steadily undoing the 
damage done by out-of-touch policies by the Obama administration.
  Case in point is a fact that has not garnered a lot of headlines, but 
should have, something that Congressman Walker pointed out earlier: the 
fact that in the first 100 days of this 115th Congress, we have passed 
more bills--158 to be exact--than were passed during the first 100 days 
of any and all of the four prior administrations: the Obama, Bush, 
Clinton, and H.W. Bush administrations. And as proof of our 
productivity, we have signed more of those bills into law than in any 
of the other administrations' first 100 days as well.
  But it is not just the quantity of the bills that we are turning into 
laws. It is about the quality and the substance. We are passing 
legislation that is making government smaller. We are passing 
legislation that is making government less costly. We are passing 
legislation that is making the government finally more accountable to 
the people. We are dismantling the enormous bureaucratic overgrowth and 
underbrush that spun out of control under former President Obama.
  As a former prosecutor, I believe you have got to win your case with 
verifiable facts and evidence, so let me give you some. In the last 20 
years, prior Congresses have successfully used the Congressional Review 
Act one time. Just once in the prior 20 years has Congress used the CRA 
to undo midnight regulations passed at the 12th hour in the dead of 
night as administrations were walking out the door. But in the first 4 
months of this Congress, Republicans have united to use the CRA 14 
times to overturn 14 of President Obama's most harmful midnight 
regulations, and in so doing, we have saved the American people, the 
United States taxpayers, billions of dollars in the process.
  Now we are in the process of finally saving America from arguably the 
most disastrous piece of legislation in our Nation's history: 
  If anyone needs any further evidence of its implosion into a death 

[[Page H4903]]

just yesterday CMS announced that 2 million Americans dropped off of 
the ObamaCare exchanges in just the first 3 months of this year.
  The ObamaCare house is on fire, and rather than waiting for it to 
burn to the ground with American families still inside, Republicans in 
the peoples' House have acted now. Republicans won't let Americans 
suffer in the face of such inevitable continuing adversity when it 
comes to our healthcare. So as ObamaCare continues to dissolve in front 
of our eyes, we have already taken action by sending an ObamaCare 
repeal bill over to the Senate.
  All of this work makes me incredibly optimistic about the results 
that we are continuing to deliver on the people's behalf, just as we 
did again last week when we passed a House bill that tackles a key 
issue that I have been sounding the alarm about since my first day in 
Congress: ending the reckless overreach of Elizabeth Warren's Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau.
  I was so grateful for the opportunity to support the House's passage 
of my fellow Texan, Jeb Hensarling's, Financial CHOICE Act last week, 
which puts an end to the days of the Obama-era CFPB as we know it, 
because the Financial CHOICE Act legislation converts the CFPB into the 
Consumer Law Enforcement Agency, which is tasked with promoting 
competition rather than stifling it, tasked with enhancing consumer 
choice rather than eliminating it, all the while ensuring congressional 
oversight that has been missing for far too long.
  Mr. Speaker, every Federal agency needs to have someone grading its 
paper, and the Financial CHOICE Act will allow the CFPB's paper to be 
graded for the very first time.
  I am incredibly excited about the economic opportunities that our 
Nation is going to continue to be afforded as we continue here to wipe 
away President Obama's sweeping government mandates and regulations so 
we can get our country back on track and back working for all 
  There is a lot more to be done to ensure that America's brightest 
days truly are ahead of us, but with so many committed conservatives as 
we have here tonight, I am optimistic that we are going to continue to 
deliver results for the people here in what finally, once again, can be 
appropriately referred to as the peoples' House.
  Mr. WALKER. I thank Representative Ratcliffe for his comments.
  Mr. Speaker, once again, if people are watching at home or are 
gathering here today, I want to remind them that, many times--Members 
of Congress, when you go back home, you hear a lot of times: Do your 
job; get things done.
  And as I reflect your attention again to our chart here this evening, 
we can talk a little bit about what we have passed in the House: 158, 
the most in several different administrations.
  However, even though we are going to talk tonight a little about what 
we have done and what we look forward to, we are not stopping with 158, 
we are not stopping with the 37 that have been signed into law. We are 
looking forward to doing some new things.
  I think one of the best people to talk about something that we are 
excited about is certainly somebody that I call a friend, a fellow 
member, a colleague from North Carolina, someone who allows me to tag 
along into NASCAR country from time to time, a real friend of the 
people, someone who I have learned that will tell you the truth no 
matter what you ask. It is my privilege to yield to the gentleman from 
North Carolina (Mr. Hudson).
  Mr. HUDSON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman very much for yielding. 
I thank the chairman also for organizing, once again, an opportunity 
for us to speak directly to the American people, and for his tremendous 
leadership on the values that we conservatives hold very dear.
  Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about a piece of 
legislation tonight that we plan to bring to the floor of the House 
this fall. The right to defend yourself doesn't end when you cross 
State lines, which is where my Concealed Reciprocity Act of 2017, also 
known as H.R. 38, comes into play. We currently have 196 cosponsors 
from both sides of the aisle.

  My bill simply provides law-abiding citizens the right to carry 
concealed and travel freely between States without worrying about 
conflicted concealed carry State codes or onerous civil suits.
  As it stands, the patchwork of agreements is confusing for even the 
most cautious concealed-carry permit holder, and it has caused law-
abiding citizens, like Shaneen Allen, a single mother from New Jersey, 
to unwittingly break the law and suffer arrest and detention.
  Now, the Constitution's very clear. If you look at Article IV, 
section 1, it says: ``Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each 
State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every 
other State. . . . ''
  That is why a driver's license is recognized in other States. That is 
why a marriage license is recognized in other States. That is why 
divorce proceedings are recognized in other States; in the same way the 
concealed-carry permit or the right to carry concealed should be 
  In the Senate, Senator John Cornyn introduced companion legislation. 
Senator Cornyn has long been a champion for our Second Amendment 
rights, and I am pleased to work with him as he continues his strong 
leadership on national concealed carry reciprocity.
  I have already received a tremendous amount of support from my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle who recognize our constitutional 
right to keep and bear arms. However, the left continues to spread 
misinformation and employ fear tactics about this bill, erroneously 
saying it will increase crime and arm criminals.
  First of all, under this law, an individual who travels to a 
different State has to follow the laws of that State. In the same way 
with a driver's license, when you drive into another State, they 
recognize that you are a legal driver, but you have got to follow their 
  Second, every single person who wants to buy a firearm still has to 
go through the Federal background check. My bill does nothing to change 
  Further, statistics have shown that violent crime has decreased as 
gun ownership and concealed-carry permits have increased. Since 1991, 
25 States have adopted right-to-carry laws. The number of people with 
carry permits has risen to over 12 million people, and the Nation's 
violent crime rate has decreased 51 percent.
  Also, if a criminal with malice intent wants to get a gun, I can 
guarantee you that he or she isn't worried about following the laws 
that are on the books. Unfortunately, we can't change that, but we can 
ensure that law-abiding citizens can legally carry concealed firearms 
to defend themselves.
  As a shock to no one, big city liberal Michael Bloomberg has promised 
to spend $25 million to stop this legislation. He could spend all the 
money he wants, but our gun rights are not for sale.
  With a groundswell of support from Americans across the country and a 
pro-Second Amendment President, we will make national concealed carry 
reciprocity a reality this Congress. More and more States are 
recognizing the rights of law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed 
handgun without permission from government, including two this year, 
bringing that total to 12.
  In my home State of North Carolina, lawmakers in the House voted in 
favor of House bill 746 to make a concealed-carry permit no longer 
necessary in locations where it is currently permissible to openly 
carry a handgun. It is a commonsense bill. I am proud of the leadership 
of the folks in Raleigh. It just demonstrates that all across this 
country, the American people are recognizing that our right to keep and 
bear arms shall not be infringed.
  So I would just offer this very simple piece of legislation, 
following the Constitution that says a law-abiding citizen trying to do 
the right thing is not going to be criminalized because they have 
crossed an invisible line in the ground.
  I am pleased to be here today to talk about it, and I am thankful for 
having this opportunity and support.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Hudson for his 
passion about that.
  Speaking of passion, in the 2\1/2\ years that I have served in the 
United States Congress, there are Members who work on different 
projects, different concerns, different issues. I will tell you

[[Page H4904]]

someone who I have really grown to love and appreciate, someone who has 
lived it out on the battlefield as he has worked to literally put 
veterans back together as a surgeon on the battlefield, someone who 
understands and has worked well into the life arena, and that is Dr. 
Brad Wenstrup, a fellow steering committee member on the Republican 
Steering Committee.
  Without further ado, I yield to the gentleman from Ohio, Dr. 
Wenstrup, to please share what is on his heart today.
  Mr. WENSTRUP. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding, and I 
appreciate the opportunity to talk about this.
  You know, as a physician, we take an oath. We say: Do no harm.
  And today in America and here in Washington, D.C., we are debating 
physician-assisted suicide, where we are authorizing physicians to take 
someone's life--to assist in taking someone's life. To me, this 
undermines the very thing that healthcare is all about.
  Who is most affected in this situation?
  Our most vulnerable citizens: the disabled and the poor.
  As a doctor, I can tell you, what has always been in my heart is this 
is about care and about comfort, and those are our priorities.
  Physician-assisted suicide does not provide comfort. It merely ends 
  In Washington, D.C., a doctor can decide that you may be going to die 
within 6 months if you have a terminal disease--a terminal disease if 
you are untreated. Many terminal diseases would be terminal if they are 
not treated. With that, the doctor can write a prescription. There is 
no tracking of that prescription once it is given and there is no 
witness of the patient taking this prescription. They can simply go 
home to die alone.

  In one State where there is physician-assisted suicide, they have had 
an increase in suicides outside of physician-assisted suicides. I think 
that what we are saying to too many people is: You are not needed.
  Again, this undermines what I think we are all about and what 
healthcare should be all about.
  I think of the movie, ``It's a Wonderful Life,'' which so many people 
watch every Christmastime. Mr. Potter says to George Bailey: ``George, 
you are worth more dead than alive.''
  Is that really who we want to be?
  As a resident in Chicago in the 1980s, one of our responsibilities 
was to do physical exams on everyone admitted to the hospital 
regardless of what they were admitted for. I can remember a doctor 
coming up to me and saying: We just admitted our first AIDS patient, 
but you don't have to go see him.
  And this is a time when people didn't know what was going on, what 
was causing this, how it was being spread. And I thought that was wrong 
and I went in anyway to examine this patient. I had to go in like it 
was a lunar landing because there was so much uncertainty about what 
was causing death to so many people. This patient was very sick. I 
learned so much from this one patient because there were so many things 
wrong, but it didn't compare to what I learned when I finished that 
exam and he looked at me and said: You just examined me more than 

                              {time}  1715

  I have never forgotten, throughout my entire medical career, the 
value of human life and what it must feel like to be discarded. He died 
the next day. I still know his name. And he taught me a valuable lesson 
on his very last day of life: Healthcare is about cures, it is about 
caring, it is about compassion, and society should be about the same 
thing, and the ideal that every person has value until their very last 
  I am pleased to say that the President's budget addresses this issue, 
and we will, too, here in the House because you and your loved ones 
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Wenstrup. I 
appreciate his passionate plea.
  Speaking of life, one of the most outstanding voices that I have 
gotten a chance to meet, someone who, without compromise, unashamedly 
talks about the value and the worth of an unborn child is 
Representative Trent Franks from Arizona. He is here today to talk 
about a future bill, hopefully one that we can add to this total of 37 
in the not too distant future.
  Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to yield to the gentleman from 
Arizona (Mr. Franks), someone who is a warrior in Congress.
  Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Walker for this 
  It is so appropriate on People's Night to talk about the very 
littlest people in America, isn't it?
  Mr. Speaker, the United States of America is a unique nation that is 
premised on that bedrock foundation that we are all created equal, and 
that each of us is endowed by our Creator with the unalienable right to 
  That is why it is so important for Members of Congress to remind 
ourselves from time to time that protecting the lives of all Americans 
and their constitutional rights is why we are really all here. It is 
our sworn oath before God and the people of this Nation.
  Yet today, a great shadow looms over America. More than 18,000 late-
term abortions, very late-term abortions, are occurring in America 
every year, placing the mothers at exponentially greater risk and 
subjecting their pain-capable unborn babies to torture and death 
without anesthesia--this, in the land of the free and the home of the 
brave. It is the greatest human rights atrocity in the United States 
  Almost every other major civilized nation on Earth protects pain-
capable unborn babies at this stage, and every credible poll of the 
American people shows that they are overwhelmingly in favor of 
protecting them. Yet we have given these little babies less legal 
protection from unnecessary cruelty than the protection we have given 
farm animals under the Federal Humane Slaughter Act.
  But thankfully, Mr. Speaker, the winds of change have finally begun 
to blow, and the tide of blindness and blood is finally turning in 
America. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has already once 
passed in this body, and it will again, Mr. Speaker; and these little 
babies now have a new and very powerful friend and protector in 
President Donald J. Trump.
  No matter how it is shouted down or what distortions, deception what-
ifs, distractions, diversions, gotchas, twisting of words, changing the 
subject, or blatant falsehoods the abortion industry hurls at this bill 
and its supporters, it will remain a deeply sincere effort, beginning 
at the sixth month of pregnancy, to protect both mothers and their 
pain-capable unborn babies from this torturous atrocity of late-term 
abortion on demand. Ultimately, it is one all humane Americans can 
support if they truly understand it for themselves.
  So the question that now remains is whether the Republican leader in 
the Senate will find the courage to prevent pro-abortion Democrats from 
once again using the Senate filibuster to prevent this bill from even 
coming to the floor in the Senate for debate.
  Mr. Speaker, it is time for all Americans to open our eyes and our 
souls and recognize the humanity of these helpless little babies and 
the inhumanity of what is being done to them. Protecting these little 
children of God and their mothers is not a Republican issue; it is not 
a Democratic issue; it is a decisive test of our own humanity and who 
we are as a human family.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Franks as he 
continues to stand year after year in fighting and standing up for the 
unborn child.
  Many times you get to meet some wonderful people here in the United 
States Congress. And someone asked me the other day: Who is a strong 
Member? Who is someone who is willing to stand up?
  I guess they might have thought I would have said the Speaker or the 
majority leader, as well they do in their own right. When I think of 
somebody willing to engage, it is the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. 
Black). She is not just known in the Sixth District; she is known 
throughout all of Tennessee as far as being willing to stand up for 
those who cannot stand up and protect themselves.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Black).
  Mrs. BLACK. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from North Carolina 
(Mr. Walker), my colleague and friend, the chair of the RSC, for 
hosting this Special Order tonight to highlight

[[Page H4905]]

some of the recent victories that this Republican-controlled Congress 
has secured to ensure that every American enjoys freedom and 
opportunity for which our Nation was founded.
  I rise today to thank my colleagues in the House and the Senate for 
passing my resolution of disapproval, H.J. Res. 43, which used the 
authority of the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Obama 
administration's eleventh hour rule forcing States like mine, 
Tennessee, to fund abortion providers.
  Mr. Speaker, I also rise to thank Vice President Mike Pence, who cast 
that tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Tennesseans appreciate his 
courageous leadership.
  Now, abortion is not healthcare, and vulnerable women seeking true 
comprehensive care deserve better than abortion-centric facilities like 
Planned Parenthood.

  For over 45 years, States like Tennessee had the authority to direct 
their family planning funds to the healthcare providers that best 
suited their needs. Yes, they had that decision to decide what is best 
for their unique communities. Sadly, in a parting gift to the abortion 
industry, President Obama stole this freedom and flexibility and forced 
his own political agenda on States across the country like my very own 
State of Tennessee.
  While I am unapologetically pro-life, this bill is simply about 
states' rights.
  Mr. Speaker, when President Trump signed this bill, he put the 
American people, not the bureaucrats here in Washington, back in the 
driver's seat of empowering States like Tennessee to steer their title 
X dollars away from abortion-centric facilities like Planned Parenthood 
and to give the right back to the State to make that decision about 
which facilities provide the most comprehensive care for women in their 
  It was an honor to work with Senator Ernst and the pro-life community 
to help this life-affirming legislation reach the President's desk.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to once again thank President Trump for his 
leadership on this matter.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairwoman Black.
  When we talk about what is getting done, I want to remind our 
audience this evening, Mr. Speaker, that our President, even without a 
full Cabinet, has been busy taking time to make sure that what the 
House and the Senate are sending him is being signed into law.
  As you can see on my chart this evening, 37, that is the most. You 
have to go back. In fact, the last four Presidents haven't equalled 
that total. And 158 bills from the House have been passed.
  One of the things that has been promised by this administration and 
by Members of Congress is to make sure that we are doing everything we 
can to take care of a very important segment of our population, and 
that is our veterans.
  It wasn't long after I arrived 2\1/2\ years ago that I had a chance 
to meet someone. Now, as a former pastor, you can always tell the 
character and integrity of someone when they have gone through a 
  I met Dr. Phil Roe after he had lost a loved one in his life. He 
could have gone home, but he had a mission to complete, and that is to 
stand up for those veterans who needed standing up. A former physician 
himself, he was willing to come back and continue to fight. What a 
privilege it is to serve with the chairman of the House Veterans' 
Affairs Committee, Dr. Phil Roe.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Roe).
  Mr. ROE of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Walker for yielding.
  I would like to associate my remarks with Mr. Hudson, Dr. Wenstrup, 
Mr. Franks, and my good friend Diane Black.
  I am a concealed carry permit holder--full disclosure--and what Mr. 
Franks said: I am an OB/GYN doctor by training. I have delivered 5,000 
babies in my lifetime, and every single one of them I view as valuable. 
I have watched these young people that I have delivered grow up and 
become very productive citizens not only in my community, but around 
the country.
  Mr. Speaker, 44 years ago, I was a young soldier in southeast Asia. 
When we came home from the military, we were advised not to wear our 
uniforms when we traveled because of basically what was going on in the 
country: the opposition to the Vietnam war. That left a very deep, 
indelible mark on me, and I thought that is no way we should be 
treating our men and women who protected us and gave us the freedoms 
that we have and live by to this day.
  When I got the privilege of being elected--when I retired from my 
medical practice in northeast Tennessee and ran for Congress and was 
fortunate enough to win--I was asked to be on the Veterans' Affairs 
Committee, which I have served on for the past 8 years.
  We know that 3 years ago there was a scandal in Phoenix, Arizona. 
Then we realized it was not just Phoenix, Arizona. It was all across 
the country where veterans were not being served, and, actually, 
veterans were dying while they were waiting for care at a VA. That is 
as wrong as it gets.
  So, what we elected to do in our committee, when we discovered this, 
was to try to get some legislation up that actually did something about 
this. And one of the things that touched me--I watched late into the 
evening, like many of you all probably around the country and in this 
gallery watched--was the election results. It was around 3 or 3:30 in 
the morning when then President-elect Trump gave his election speech.
  Very shortly into it, not a minute or two into that speech, he 
mentioned our veterans. And it really, really encouraged me because I 
think he is an administration that is very sincere in improving care.
  And, Mr. Speaker, it is not money. When I came here in 2009, you, the 
taxpayers, were spending about $97 billion on VA care, on benefits, and 
on cemeteries. Today, that number is going to be $186 billion. We have 
gone from 260,000 employees in the VA to over 360,000 employees. There 
is enough money and personnel to take care of the problems.
  When the President was sworn in and he selected his Secretary of the 
VA, Dr. David Shulkin--I believe is now the man for the job--he was 
approved 100-0 by the Senate. Dr. Shulkin said: The first thing I need 
is accountability legislation that allows me to terminate bad 
  At the VA, the vast majority--and many of them are personal friends 
of mine that I have worked with in healthcare--are good people taking 
the very best care they can of veterans. But there are some bad apples 
there, and they cannot be terminated. It almost could not happen, Mr. 
  So what this legislation does is it protects the whistleblowers who 
call these people out. It provides due process rights for employees so 
that they don't have those trampled on, but it allows the Secretary 
to terminate these bad apples and, hopefully, improve the morale of the 
entire VA. This is only phase one.

  We also have passed out of this body and over to the Senate--I want 
to thank our Senate colleagues, Senator Isakson; Senator Rubio, who is 
a lead sponsor in the Senate; and Senator Tester, the minority leader. 
I also want to thank the minority leader on our side of the aisle, 
Sergeant Major Walz, who worked hand in hand. This was a bipartisan 
bill, which is how legislation should be passed. We passed it in the 
House and it went to the Senate. They reformed the bill. It came back, 
and we now await the President's signature.
  We are also doing repeals reform. We passed that out of here. We 
have, now, 470,000 backlog claims of veterans waiting for their 
appeals. Hopefully, we are going to address this problem.
  The Secretary, we have just extended the Choice Program for veterans 
who want to choose care outside of the VA, and also a new electronic 
health system. So we have a lot of work to do.
  It is a true privilege to do what I get to do, which is to help the 
21 million men and women who have served this country, who allow us to 
be free.
  I thank the gentleman for the privilege to be down here tonight to 
share this with the American people.

                              {time}  1730

  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Roe and appreciate his 
continued service. It is a privilege to certainly work with him in the 
  One of our newest Members who came in the 115th class, a gentleman by

[[Page H4906]]

the name of Jim Banks--in fact, he is the only new Member serving on 
the Republican Steering Committee. Some would describe him as a quick 
study, I guess, but he is here this evening to specifically talk about 
continued VA accountability and the Department of Defense readiness.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Banks).
  Mr. BANKS of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his 
leadership of the Republican Study Committee. It is one of the great 
honors that I have in this Congress to serve with him and others to 
advocate for conservative principles to move our country forward.
  With a new Republican administration, many of the innovative ideas 
coming from this House now have a chance to become law and achieve real 
results for the American people. The contrast between this 
administration and the last one is most clear when it comes to 
prioritizing readiness for our Department of Defense and caring for our 
  As those veterans in Congress know firsthand, shortchanging readiness 
on the front end will have long-term implications in the years that 
  We have the moral imperative to ensure that our young men and women 
who go into harm's way are never in a fair fight. We have an obligation 
to ensure that our forces are the best-trained, best-equipped, and 
best-led fighting force in the world. This obligation starts with 
prioritizing a stable and predictable budget and appropriations 
  Our leaders in the Department of Defense must be able to forecast and 
anticipate training needs, and that means ending the trend of 
continuing resolutions that offer neither good fiscal discipline nor 
the ability to plan that our military leaders desperately need.
  Consider that two-thirds of our Army are not ready to deploy. Our 
Navy is smaller than it has been in 99 years, and our Air Force is the 
smallest ever and losing pilots at an alarming rate. These are not the 
marks of a ready force, and the work to rebuild must begin right now.
  However, it is important to look at prioritizing the needs of our 
servicemembers holistically. Just as we would not send them into harm's 
way without the training they need, we have an obligation to care for 
the injuries they sustained when they return home. Our veterans deserve 
and have earned the highest quality of care and to have that care 
delivered in a timely and efficient manner.
  Unfortunately, too often the VA does not have the power to remove 
substandard employees who are failing our veterans. The overwhelming 
majority of VA employees are hardworking and dedicated to their jobs, 
and it is simply not fair to these employees that the VA cannot hold 
substandard employees accountable.
  But with a Republican President in the White House, our veterans will 
finally see real accountability in the VA with passage of the 
Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower 
Protection Act. With passage of this bill, there will be a new and 
expedited process to remove employees who are failing to properly serve 
our veterans, while maintaining the due process rights of VA workers, 
as well as their right to appeal.
  It would also implement stronger protections for whistleblowers, 
ensuring that no employee is intimidated into silence.
  Mr. Speaker, we now have a chance to make sure our Armed Forces have 
the means to protect our country and ensure all veterans receive the 
quality of care they deserve.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Banks, and I 
appreciate this is such an important issue that he is battling.
  Once again, this evening, Mr. Speaker, we are reminding that tonight 
is the People's Night here in the people's House. We are focusing in on 
the work of the Members of Congress.
  As you can see in our chart this evening, 158 bills have been passed 
through Congress. So many times we continue to hear: What is Congress 
working on?
  Well, not only have we passed these 158, we are still working on 
passing things in the future.
  One of the great Members from South Carolina, Mr. Jeff Duncan, is 
someone who has a genuine heart and passion for others, but also has a 
wonderful heart for the outdoors, as he is currently chairman of the 
Sportsmen's Caucus.
  Without further ado, I yield to the gentleman from South Carolina 
(Mr. Duncan).
  Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from 
North Carolina.
  I want to talk to America today about the Hearing Protection Act. 
Consequences of firearms exposure: Noise-induced hearing loss is a 
major health problem for hunters and recreational shooters.
  Now, I started hunting at an early age with my father; and in the 
field and hunting activities, I learned a lot about life, a lot about 
myself. Most importantly, I got time to spend with my father, who has 
now passed away.
  But we enjoyed the outdoors generally in the shooting sports, whether 
that was over a brace of bird dogs, quail hunting, shooting doves, 
hunting ducks, or deer hunting. And I can tell you, with my own 
experience, that firing multiple firearms--shotguns, rifles, handguns--
risks your hearing health.
  Men and women in our United States military experience hearing loss 
or tinnitus. That is a large expenditure for the VA. Tinnitus accounts 
for around 1.45 million disability-related instances for veterans. The 
most prevalent disability compensations are based on that.
  So what can we do about it?
  Well, there is an apparatus, a firearm accessory, that you can add to 
a firearm to muffle or suppress that sound. It is commonly called a 
suppressor or a silencer, but it does anything but silence a weapon.

  America, you need to realize that Hollywood has glorified suppressors 
for firearms. You can see it in your mind--James Bond taking out his 
concealed weapon that he couldn't conceal with a suppressor on it 
because the suppressor adds another 8 inches to the length of the 
barrel--screwing the suppressor on to commit a crime.
  Hollywood has made you believe that that suppressor silences that 
weapon when, in actuality, a suppressor on any sort of firearm drops 
the decibels about 30 decibels. Most firearms would be louder than a 
jackhammer, and no one would say that a jackhammer is silent.
  So we have got a bill that would allow suppressors to be sold, like 
they are sold in Europe, but with a little more American restrictions. 
In Europe, as restrictive as their gun laws are, you can go to the 
hardware store and buy a suppressor across the counter, just like you 
could buy a scope, a sling, or a magazine for a deer rifle. It is 
gentlemanly to hunt or shoot in Europe with a suppressed weapon to keep 
the sound down, but it doesn't silence it, as we mentioned before.
  Depending on the caliber of ammunition, a typical hunting rifle is 
160 to 180 decibels--suppressed would be about 125 to 145 decibels.
  The bill we have would allow you to go in and purchase a suppressor 
from your Federal firearm license-holder, do a background check, just 
like you have to go through to purchase the firearm itself--background 
check, and purchase a suppressor to help the hunting and the hearing 
health of the hunters and the shooting sports enthusiasts across the 
  I hope we can get this bill passed to help the hearing health of so 
many people in America and dispel all the rumors. I thank the gentleman 
for letting us speak to the American people tonight.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Duncan.
  Many times in Congress you hear sometimes maybe big words or crazy 
words, words like ``appropriations'' or ``appropriators.'' We have one 
of those appropriators with us tonight, a strong conservative from the 
State of Georgia, my friend, Representative Tom Graves, who is going to 
talk a little bit about his proposal and an idea that I believe helps 
us continue adding to this number of 158.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Graves).
  Mr. GRAVES of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I could not be more excited to be 
here tonight and to experience what we are experiencing here.
  You know, when this President was elected, he made a promise: He was 
going to drain the swamp, he was going to shake things up, and he was 
going to make government work again.

[[Page H4907]]

  I have got to highlight real quickly though, before I talk about 
appropriations, what really has happened. Here in the last--in this 
under 5 months, 600,000 new jobs have been created. Unemployment is at 
the lowest it has been in nearly a decade, at 4.3 percent. He has put a 
plan forth to help rescue Americans from a healthcare plan that has 
been failing.
  The largest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years has 
already been passed and signed into law and is part of your display 
  He has presented a budget to this Congress that balances in 10 years, 
rebuilds our military, reforms our Tax Code, and empowers the 
taxpayers, while not empowering government.
  And he has also put the American people and the American workers and 
American businesses first by pulling us out of that Paris accord. He 
has been shaking things up and draining the swamp.
  So what is next? For us, it is, we have got to reform this 
appropriations process.
  Let me read you some statistics here. The current process that we 
operate under to fund the greatest Nation on the globe has only worked 
four times in the last 40 years. The last time we passed all 12 
appropriations bills that were enacted by the start of the new fiscal 
year was in 1996 is the last time.
  And, in fact, a more stunning statistic: Since 2009, not one 
appropriations bill has passed this House, passed the Senate, and been 
signed into law by the President before its time was due. That is zero 
for 96.
  So I have just got a simple idea, a simple concept. Let's just change 
what is not working. Let's change the process. Let's design a process 
that actually works for the American people and funds the government in 
a very responsible, fiscally responsible way that begins streamlining 
government; that is eliminating agencies; that is empowering the 
American people; and, ultimately, showing a responsible House of 
Representatives and a Republican vision forward.
  And it is real simple. Let's run it through the committee. Let's do 
12 bills, all through their different subcommittees. Let's combine them 
in full committee, and let's bring them to the House floor for 
everybody to have an opportunity to vote on, to amend, to engage in the 
  I believe, if we do this, we are going to save time. We are going to 
have more time for tax reform. We are going to have more time for 
infrastructure investment. We are going to have more time for finishing 
out the healthcare bill. But it is going to be transparent. Everyone 
can see it. It is going to be effective. We are going to get it done.
  At the end of the day, we are going to be able to rebuild our 
military to where we know it needs to be. We are going to be able to 
secure our border. We are going to protect the innocent unborn. We are 
going to reform Wall Street. We are going to invest in roads and 
infrastructure. We are going to streamline or eliminate a lot of 
agencies, and we are going to do all that while cutting spending. But 
that is only if we are willing to make government work again.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Graves.
  It doesn't take you long, around the Halls of Congress, to see 
someone who has a genuine heart for service, someone who can quickly 
give up his chair, or someone who sees someone that is without. 
Sometimes I think that is a person who has served in faith many years, 
and sometimes I just think that is part of the natural tendency of a 
person who certainly has a heart, not only for God but to serve others.

  I can think of nobody who better fits that description than our 
chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, here to talk a little bit 
about his passion and his vision for tax reform.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Brady).
  Mr. BRADY of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Walker. And 
first let me thank him for not just hosting this evening, People's 
Night, but his leadership of the Republican Study Committee and how he 
is leading our efforts to truly move this country back in the right 
  As a friend, and from someone who admires him so much, I thank him 
for his leadership. It has already made a huge difference in issues 
like repealing ObamaCare.
  So how many of you are pleased with the way you are taxed in America? 
Not many Americans are because the code we have got, it is so complex 
and so costly, it is just unfair.
  So House Republicans are working with this President and the Senate 
to deliver the first pro-growth tax reform in a generation. We know 
this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and the goals we set out 
from the House is, first, we want a Tax Code not designed merely to 
wring money from you. We have that Tax Code. We want a Tax Code built 
for growth, designed to grow jobs, your wages, and the U.S. economy.
  In doing that, we want to leapfrog America from nearly dead last 
among our global competitors back into the lead pack as the best place 
on this Earth for that next new job, that next new investment.
  What we propose is a Tax Code with three big reforms: The lowest 
rates for our local businesses in modern history, and redesigned so our 
local companies can compete and win anywhere in the world, especially 
here at home.
  Secondly, we are proposing for families and individuals a code so 
fair and simple that 9 out of 10 Americans will be able to file using a 
simple postcard system, and it works.
  And the final reform is because we propose a much fairer and simpler 
Tax Code; we propose a fairer and simpler tax collector.

                              {time}  1745

  So we proposed to bust up the IRS and redesign it into a 21st century 
agency focused on you, the taxpayer. These are the reforms included in 
the House Republican blueprint. We are excited to work with President 
Trump and the Senate to deliver on pro-grow tax reform, bold, that 
leapfrogs America back to the front and returns jobs back to the United 
States--manufacturing, research and headquarters jobs.
  It is a tough challenge. We will need your input. I encourage you to 
come to the Ways and Means Committee website, learn more, speak out, be 
part of changing and reforming this horrible Tax Code.
  Mr. Walker, thank you again for your leadership of this Special Order 
and our efforts.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Brady for his comments. It 
is an honor to have him with us this evening.
  We have talked a little bit about veterans tonight. Former veteran, 
chaplain, and pastor, Representative Collins, we would love for you to 
talk about something that is part of that 158 pieces of legislation 
that has been passed, what we called the REINS Act.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Collins).
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congressman Walker for 
yielding, and I appreciate him offering this. It is providing a 
different take that we are not getting in the meeting anywhere.
  Go back real quickly: a few months ago, the first week of the 
session, the House comes in and does what it promised. It says it is 
going to take on regulatory reform. It is going to take on the burdens, 
and one of the first bills out of the chute was the REINS Act.
  The REINS Act is very simple. It has a $100 million impact on the 
economy. It comes back to the people's House, into the Senate for 
approval. Instead of bureaucrats in cubicles down the street thinking 
they know what is best for our districts and for our country, it is 
back to the people that were elected.
  You see, when it was first brought up, they said: Well, this is going 
to put a burden on our bureaucrats, our government workers. They are 
doing all these things.
  Well, if they want to run for Congress, then pay the fee and run for 
  The REINS Act puts it back where it is supposed to be. This is an 
accomplishment that I am proud of. The Senate just recently passed 
their version. This is something that President Trump has said he would 
sign. This is about moving forward on the promises we have.
  Congressman Walker does a great job highlighting where we have been 
and where we are going. This is a promise kept. If anybody wants to 
know what the American agenda looks like, look to the Republican 
majority, look to the past 5 months. And all I can say

[[Page H4908]]

is that the promises are being kept, and there is more to come.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Collins for his 
  As we continue to talk about some of the things that have been 
accomplished and also things that we are looking forward to, it is a 
wonderful opportunity to introduce my friend, Representative Jody Hice 
from the great State of Georgia, a fellow former pastor who still 
enjoys those opportunities, I am sure, when you have a few. But tonight 
I want him to talk about the Free Speech Fairness Act.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Jody B. 
  Mr. JODY B. HICE of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for 
yielding. It is an honor to be here with you.
  I think by this time most people are familiar, at least they have 
heard about the Johnson amendment. It came about in 1954, when Lyndon 
Johnson barely won a race for Senate because many people thought he was 
soft on communism. So one of the first things he did when he got here 
was, behind closed doors, without any vetting, without any debate, had 
inserted into the IRS Code a statement that basically says that 
nonprofits cannot address political issues, or they could potentially 
lose their tax-exempt status.
  That now, for 60 years-plus, has become a target for pastors, for 
churches, for nonprofits using tax-exempt status as leverage to prevent 
them from speaking, addressing political issues. It is political 
correctness at its worst.
  When our government becomes the gatekeeper of free speech, then we 
actually have no free speech at all. And in this process, they also are 
influencing what religious institutions can and cannot be.
  Our Founders believed that our country should not establish a State 
church. They also believe that government should not dictate the 
religious practices of its citizens, or abridge the free speech of 
Houses of worship. That is what is taking place.
  As a result of this, my good friend, Whip Steve Scalise, and I 
introduced H.R. 781, the Free Speech Fairness Act, which creates a 
carve-out for 501(c)(3) organizations to address political discourse as 
long as it is within the normal course of business with de minimis 
associated expenses. I am pleased that the President has also been 
extremely vocal on this issue, but we really need this codified because 
the unfairness must stop.
  I know our time is running short, but I urge our colleagues to 
support this, and I deeply appreciate the gentleman providing me the 
opportunity to speak on this Johnson amendment.
  Mr. WALKER. I thank Representative Hice and I appreciate his courage 
in being willing to stand and speak out.
  My great friend, Representative Gary Palmer, from the home of the 
University, Crimson Tide Alabama football, great to have you here 
tonight talking about a very important issue, the Agency Accountability 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Palmer), who 
will close us out this evening.
  Mr. PALMER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congressman Walker for arranging 
this Special Order.
  Looking ahead, H.R. 850, the Agency Accountability Act, would be a 
game changer for government run amuck. In 2015, Federal agencies 
collected over $530 billion--that is billion dollars--in fees, fines, 
and other revenue independent of the appropriations process.

  Article I, section 9, clause 7 of the Constitution grants Congress 
the power of the purse. This assigns to Congress the role of final 
arbiter of the use of public funds. Allowing agencies to have slush 
funds outside of the normal appropriations process is a recipe for bad 
  For instance, during the Obama administration, the Department of 
Justice would send money collected through fees and settlements to 
political activist groups aligned with the administration policies; 
many times in contradiction to Congress' will. Nearly 15 percent of the 
Department of Justice's entire budget is from alternative funding 
sources, not Congress. However, DOJ isn't a lone wolf.
  The Department of Labor has raised over $1.3 billion from fines and 
fees and the Environmental Protection Agency collected over $600 
million, just to name a few.
  Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Palmer and all the Members for 
coming out this evening and listening to our presentation on the 
passage of 158 bills.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.