(House of Representatives - September 14, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 149 (Thursday, September 14, 2017)]
[Pages H7417-H7420]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           ISSUES OF THE DAY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Gohmert) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, it is always an honor to be here on the 
House floor.
  We passed appropriations bills. It is a rare thing to hear it coming 
from me, but the Appropriations Committee for the Republican majority 
here in the House of Representatives has actually done an extraordinary 
job this year. It hasn't been easy. They have spent a tremendous amount 
of hours taking votes, during which it was made particularly partisan.
  It is just a shame when people will take votes just along party lines 
and not even reach out in the areas where there is mutual interest. 
But, as with any bill, there are things that could have been better. 
But our appropriators took some tough votes, and some of them tough 
politically, but, overall, they did a remarkable job and they are to be 
commended for the work they did.
  We actually got our 12 appropriations bills passed in the House. I 
look forward to the day--it may be years away, months away, weeks away, 
days away--when the Senate is capable of passing 12 appropriations 
  It is very important, too, that we note the agreement that President 
Trump reached. Widely reported, the President made a deal with Nancy 
Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. But whether it is one of the worst votes I 
have taken or not, I knew, number

[[Page H7418]]

one--Texas had been going through Hurricane Harvey, but Texas had 
planned for the future. And God bless the Texas Legislature. Governor 
Greg Abbott has been a dear friend since we started as district judges 
together back in January of 1993. And I think the world of Governor 
Greg Abbott. He is doing a superb job through the emergency situation 
that Hurricane Harvey has created in Texas.
  Also, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is a very good friend. I think 
the world of him. He has done a remarkable job leading there in Texas 
from the standpoint of being the head of the Senate. He's a very 
conservative man of principle. It is just a pleasure to have such able, 
competent, not just conservatives, but very smart people who are people 
of principle.
  They created a rainy day fund. It has billions of dollars in it. 
Obviously, Harvey was definitely a rainy day.
  But when we took this vote on getting money into the emergency, the 
FEMA, our emergency system, we were assured by people that I believed 
to be very honest that they really were out of money for FEMA. That 
vote had to be taken to get money into our emergency system so they 
could help Florida prepare as Hurricane Irma approached.
  Like I said, Texas had prepared for a rainy day as far beyond the 
extent of their preparation. But I knew we could haggle over emergency 
funding, we could haggle over the debt ceiling, we could haggle over a 
CR coming up, and Texas would be okay while we were debating for 2, 3, 
4 weeks, whatever it took until we got agreement. But Florida did not 
have a rainy day fund. They needed help. Irma was approaching.
  But the other thing that struck me about the need to get that vote 
done, give the President 90 days, was that we still have not changed 
the law to give Americans the help that so many tens or hundreds of 
millions needed. We have got over 300 million here in the country and, 
of course, there was bragging about the millions that got healthcare 
under ObamaCare.
  Well, that is a misnomer. It is a misstatement because the truth is 
that some people got health insurance, but there were millions of 
people that got--well, they lost the insurance. So all the statements 
about, ``If you like your insurance, you can keep it,'' those were 
lies. Those people making those statements have been now shown they 
knew they were lies at the time they were being made. The architect of 
ObamaCare knew that people would lose their insurance they liked; knew 
that they would lose doctors they liked.

  The way ObamaCare was designed, it even gave huge incentives, 
financially, to the remaining big monopoly health insurance companies 
not to bring into their network hospitals like MD Anderson or Cleveland 
Clinic. There were actually incentives built in ObamaCare to have 
health insurance companies not put chronic care facilities like cancer 
and heart disease in their network because that meant people that had 
those conditions would get that insurance because they had things like 
MD Anderson or Cleveland Clinic or Mayo, whatever it was, in network, 
and they didn't want them because that would be costly.
  So it was a very subtle way ObamaCare was designed in order to 
encourage insurance companies to actually avoid giving people the 
doctors they had had before, the facilities they had had before and, in 
many cases, lifesaving and life-lengthening facilities.
  So there are just so many people hurting. In August, as I went all 
over east Texas--from the very southeast end down in Sabine County to 
the very north end, up in northwest end, up in Wood County, to the 
northeast end, up in Harrison County, down to the southwest corner of 
my district, down below Diboll in Angelina County--people are hurting, 
and they are begging for Congress to keep its word.
  We said: If you gave us the majority in the House and Senate, we 
would repeal ObamaCare.
  And, by golly, the American public gave us the majority in the House 
and Senate. Yes, President Obama was in the White House, but we got the 
majority in the House and Senate. And, holy smoke, we were able to 
get--it wasn't a total repeal, but, under reconciliation procedures, we 
were able to repeal most of ObamaCare in the House and in the Senate, 
and send it to the President's desk, where he vetoed it. Well, that 
wasn't a big surprise.
  So Republicans were saying: Okay. You give us the House, the Senate 
majority, and the White House, then it is a no-brainer because then we 
have a President who will sign the bill that we passed when Obama was 
President, and this time the Republican President will surely sign it.
  Well, not only do we know we have a Republican in the White House, 
but President Trump--God bless him--made clear: If you just send me 
that bill that you passed in the last Congress that Obama vetoed, I 
will sign it, and then we can work on a healthcare system where people 
can get the care they need.
  Now, what has not been talked about in the alt-left media--some 
people call them the mainstream media. But the alt-left, mainstream 
media, whatever you want to call them, they have talked about all the 
millions of people that now have health insurance.
  No. Most of those--it may be a few, but most of them have got 
Medicaid. That is not the most desirable insurance you can have.
  And another thing that needs to be made clear: health insurance is 
not healthcare. Anyone in America here legally, illegally, criminal, 
non criminal, it doesn't matter, if you are in the United States and 
you have a problem, you can go to the emergency room.
  I have been in emergency rooms with my immediate family members, 
including kids, in-laws. I mean, I have been there. And we wait in line 
behind people that may have a cold or a cut or a minor this or that. 
They have got healthcare.

                              {time}  1315

  And most of those people aren't going to pay anything, and they got 
the healthcare they needed. Now, they don't have health insurance, 
apparently, most of them that I have been in line behind, because you 
could hear the discussion as they go through filling out the forms with 
the hospital people. It would be far better if we had a better system 
of clinics for people like that so they didn't have to go tie up the 
most expensive healthcare there is in the emergency room. They could go 
to a clinic and get the things they need.
  I was yanking a hook out of a catfish that my youngest daughter had 
caught some years back, and it is kind of embarrassing, a Member of 
Congress, and the hook had not set until it was well down in the 
catfish, so I was having a lot of trouble getting it out. And I got a 
long needle-nose pliers and I was pulling it out, and I just strained 
as hard as I could and, lo and behold, pulled the hook out and embedded 
it very deeply in my hand down at the base of the thumb.
  People started freaking out. It was no big deal. I mean, I just had a 
hook buried about three-quarters of an inch or so in my thumb.
  I went down for an emergency. I didn't want to. Somebody said: Look, 
we will take care of your daughter. You need to get a tetanus shot. 
When I found out the line was going to be about 2 hours before they 
could get around to messing with the hook that was embedded in my 
thumb, well, I went home and ended up using ice, and I eventually got 
it out myself.
  But I know, even without one of my kids or relatives, just by myself, 
I have been there. I have sat there. I have listened to conversations. 
There is no question, health insurance is not healthcare.
  People are still hurting, and they relied on our promise; and if we 
don't get the big part of ObamaCare repealed, at least at a minimum, 
and get a system in place that gets people back toward the kind of 
healthcare they once knew and loved--if we weren't part of the 
government, as an old judge, I know those lawsuits would be brought.
  The allegation in the pleadings would be that a promise was made 
which lured someone in to act to their detriment based on those 
promises. The doctrine, legally, is called promissory estoppel. The 
judge could issue an order, if you win the case, and prevent someone 
from going back on their word after they made a promise on which 
another party relied to their detriment.
  Unfortunately for the American public, when it is Congress, or, in 
particular, the Senate, and in particular a Republican Senator, or 
more, who makes an absolute repeated promise

[[Page H7419]]

over and over that they are going to do something if you elect them or 
reelect them and people rely on that, they vote them in and it turns 
out it is to their detriment because that Senator was not being honest 
in running for office, well, it is kind of a shame that you can't get a 
judge to come in and say: ``I am issuing an order under the doctrine of 
promissory estoppel. You will not be allowed to back down off of your 
promise. You will make good on your promise.''
  When it is the government, you can't sue them and force that, because 
promissory estoppel does not apply in a government situation, not 
  So what are we left with? Well, people can say, well, you know, wait 
until the next election. We will have to replace people. No. This is 
it. This is the chance. This is a generational chance. We promised 
people certain things we would do, and I was fully supportive of the 
promises that President Donald J. Trump made that helped him get 
elected. Particularly, he promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare. For 
heaven's sake, we ought to be helping him in that.
  I am very grateful. We had some difficult times there between some of 
us, particularly the House Freedom Caucus and the House leadership, but 
Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, they came through. We worked 
together and we got an agreement that repealed most of ObamaCare, and 
we got it down to the Senate.
  I have my friend from West Virginia, and I would be glad to yield to 

                   Expressing First Amendment Rights

  Mr. MOONEY of West Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend the 
football players of Clay and Braxton County High Schools, both in my 
congressional district, the Second District of beautiful West Virginia. 
I commend them for exercising their right to pray before a football 
game on September 1.
  After one person complained about prayer at football games, Clay 
County High School decided to institute a moment of silence instead. 
Much to everyone's surprise, during that moment of silence, both teams 
ran onto the field, knelt, and prayed together. In a spontaneous action 
throughout the stands, individuals stood and joined the prayer.
  In this time of great divisiveness in our Nation, gestures like these 
remind us about what is great in America. Our First Amendment protects 
all Americans from laws that hinder our religious freedom, our right to 
free speech, and our right to worship God as we see fit.
  Even though Braxton and Clay County are bitter rivals in football, 
they came together to share this moment to worship the Almighty God. I 
commend them for this gesture.
  For the record, Braxton County won the game 23-13.
  To the gentleman from Texas, thank you. I appreciate your good work 
here and your words for the American people.
  Mr. GOHMERT. I have been to my friend's home, beautiful as it is in a 
beautiful part of the country, and I appreciate the gentleman's 
recognition. It sounds like it is well deserved.
  Regarding what has to be done about healthcare, clearly, the Senate 
is not going to get to 60 votes on anything to do with repealing, 
replacing ObamaCare. We have this reconciliation procedure that we went 
through all the hoops, dotted the I's, crossed the T's, and we passed 
the budget, got the rule set for reconciliation so the Senate can pass 
a bill in reconciliation with 51 votes instead of 60.
  Of course, the majority leader could say: You know what? This is such 
a critical promise we made about healthcare that, just like the Reid 
rule, when it is really, really important, we will set aside the 60-
vote cloture rule so that we can get something done, whether it is a 
confirmation, whatever it is, that saves lives, helps Americans.

  Well, if there was ever a bill that fit that situation, it would be 
one that helped save lives through repealing at least the biggest, 
worst parts of ObamaCare.
  Nonetheless, under that reconciliation procedure, we have until 
September 30 to get it done with 51 votes. I have got to say, earlier 
this summer--I have been here 12\1/2\ years. I have never seen a 
situation where the majority party in the Senate was calling those in 
the majority party in the House, including the Speaker and the 
leadership team, and calling those of us in the House Freedom Caucus, 
calling those in the Tuesday Group, and their one big question--I have 
never heard of this happening in American history--their big question 
was: Would you please promise us that, if we pass this bill in the 
Senate, you promise us you will not take up our bill and pass it as it 
is, because the only chance we have, we are told, of passing this bill 
in the Senate is if we know for sure it won't become law.
  I have never heard of that happening before, but that is what 
happened this summer. From our Speaker on down, our different groups: 
Yes, we promise you we won't let that bad bill you're voting on become 
law. We will make sure it goes to conference, and we will get something 
a lot better than that that we send to the House and Senate to vote on.
  It didn't get passed, and we have until September 30 to keep from 
being about as big a bunch of liars as has ever been in Congress. That 
is it.
  I am very grateful--again, here, I appreciate the Appropriations 
Committee, and I will express appreciation here, now, for Speaker Paul 
Ryan, because he has agreed with me and some others about the kind of 
pressure we are going to put on when we get back the last week of 
September if the Senate has not passed their ObamaCare repeal bill. 
They have got to pass something or we can't get it to conference. We 
can't get the American public what they need.
  Now, some of you have said: Well, if you had just passed that first 
bill the Republican leaders had put together. Well, I am not sure who 
put it together. It may have been the remaining health insurance 
companies and Big Pharma, from what I could tell, but it was not going 
to do anybody any good except the insurance companies and Big Pharma. 
It was not going to help rank-and-file Americans the way we promised 
them we would help them.
  There are some that say: Yeah, but, Louie, if you guys had just voted 
``yes'' immediately on that bill, it would have gotten wind in the 
sails of the President and we would already have tax reform.
  Well, I am here to tell you, Mr. Speaker, if we had passed that first 
bill, and when people saw their premiums continuing to shoot up and 
their deductibles continuing to shoot up and just these overwhelming 
prices, it would not have been wind in the sails of President Trump. It 
would have meant that people would have been so angry, a lot of 
Republicans would have stayed home and a lot of Democrats who voted for 
Donald Trump and Members of the Republican House and Senate, they would 
stay home or they would go out and vote for someone else, and the first 
order of business in January 2019 would probably have been, when we 
lost the majority, the impeachment of President Trump. It shouldn't be. 
It is not appropriate, but that is probably what would have happened if 
we had just jumped on that first bad bill.
  We have got a good bill. We have still got a chance. We have got to 
get this done for the good of America. If we can't get this done, we 
have no business being in the majority. It just brings you to just 
throw up your hands: My goodness, what good is this?
  I will also say, Mr. Speaker, the old adage is true: democracy 
ensures a people are governed no better than they deserve.
  We have got too many Americans across this country that are not 
paying attention. They are like some friends I had in high school that 
said: Well, Louie, I don't care what the government does as long as 
they stay out of my business. Well, they have come to find out, if you 
don't care what the government does, they are not going to stay out of 
your business; they are going to take it over--your life, your 
business, everything.
  People have got to get reengaged, pay attention, get out and vote, 
and we have got a chance to get it fixed. It is absolutely essential 
before September 30, at midnight, that we get something done to help 
the American people.
  I am looking forward, if the Senate doesn't get a decent bill done, I 
want us to pass a sense of the House bill right here in the House that 
says it is the sense of the House that the Senate absolutely must pass 
a bill to give the American public the help they need with healthcare 
by repealing the worst parts of ObamaCare, at a minimum.

[[Page H7420]]


                              {time}  1330

  And then follow the Speaker out here on the steps, and every one of 
us point to the Senate, and keep putting the pressure on. Keep on 
putting the pressure on until, hopefully, they do something.
  But it may be that they get it done. We don't have to get into a 
battle of words and wits like that. The American public is expecting 
it. We promised it. We have got to get that done. In the meantime, I 
know there is a lot of discussion, a lot of calls today about, oh, gee, 
the President is talking about DACA this, and DACA that.
  I have spent so many hours, so many nights, down on the border all 
night long, and I always heard the same things from my friends in the 
Border Patrol. Every time anybody in Congress, or in the 
administration, starts talking about, well, we are working out a deal 
for amnesty for this, or to legalize that, then we get a huge surge in 
people coming across our southern border.
  So I will continue to refuse to make statements about what I think 
about--should we agree to this; should we compromise on this 
legalization, this amnesty? Because every time we do, people get lured 
into the United States.
  When that happens, there are always some that get drawn into sex 
slavery. Some get drawn into being mules and drug dealers for the drug 
cartels; and some--we have seen the video, we have seen the evidence--
they die trying to get in.
  We should not be luring people in. We need to secure the border. That 
includes building a wall where we need it. We don't need one in Big 
Bend National Park, in my opinion. If you can get across Big Bend 
National Park carrying all of the water you are going to need to get 
clear across there, then I want you in America, and I want you in our 
military. You are an extraordinary person. We don't need a wall through 
Big Bend National Park, most of it, anyway, but there are places we do.
  We have got to secure the border. If you go down there, south of 
McAllen, the river is wide, flowing fast. If you just have people along 
the river--I have been there, I know. The coyotes will not bring people 
across if they see there is law enforcement that will stop them. The 
trouble was, during the Obama administration, they didn't stop them. 
They didn't even process them when they got across. I have seen it.
  Why wouldn't you stop them? Why wouldn't you say: No, you are not 
coming on to U.S. land. Go back. Come in legally. We want you, but you 
have got to come in legally.
  It is time to secure the border. President Trump is making great 
strides in that area. General Kelly--God bless him--he was making great 
strides when he was head of Homeland Security. I was so thrilled he was 
there. I knew about the things he was doing, and I sure hope it 
continues, whoever replaces him. But we have got to secure our border, 
build a wall where it is needed.
  We have got to repeal ObamaCare--the worst parts of it, anyway--and 
get people the help they need.
  We have also got to give them the tax reform they need. As Art Laffer 
told me--he was asking me: Louie, you know, once we got that 30 percent 
tax cut in 1983, the third year of the President Reagan administration, 
do you know what the rate of growth was? Here we have been talking 
about 1.92 percent. It was 8 percent or over when they had the big tax 
  People got jobs. They made more money than ever. It was incredible. 
It is time to get back to that kind of growth. It is time to get back 
to a healthcare system where we are not slaves to a health insurance 
company, and we are not slaves to the U.S. Government, where we have 
control of our doctor-patient relationship, and America can heal; it 
can grow; it can prosper.
  We can bring back manufacturing jobs, which are so critical to this 
Nation, but we have got to get it done, and it has got to start this 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.