COMMITMENT TO CIVILITY
(House of Representatives - February 14, 2017)

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[Pages H1162-H1166]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         COMMITMENT TO CIVILITY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. GALLAGHER). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. 
Johnson) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority 
leader.


                             General Leave

  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that 
all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks 
and to include any extraneous material in the Record.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Louisiana?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, today a bipartisan group of 46 
freshman Members of this 115th U.S. Congress, representing red and blue 
States from coast to coast, released a document that we have entitled 
the ``Commitment to Civility.''
  This evening, I am grateful to be joined on the floor by 21 different 
leaders of our class, representing diverse districts in 15 different 
States across our great Nation to speak to this important and very 
timely issue.
  This commitment document was created in early January following our 
initial meetings together as a class. We discussed our mutual intent to 
serve the best interest of the country, and to return to statesmanship 
that was revered and modeled by the great leaders of our history.

  I drafted this document to memorialize our Members' agreement to, 
among other things, work towards restoring collegiality and civility in 
the Congress; encouraging more productive dialogue; and building 
consensus and strengthening the public's trust in America's 
institutions.
  This document is not intended in any way as a criticism of anyone 
else in any other Chamber or branch of the government. Rather, it 
represents the mutual commitments of the Members of our class that we 
have made among and between ourselves.
  As we teach our own children, we often have no control over what 
others may do, but we are ultimately responsible for our own actions. 
Personally, I want to say how encouraging it is to work with others 
from across the political spectrum who want to lead by example and work 
to restore civility in our public discourse. There may never have been 
a more important time for that very important effort.
  I am one who is regarded as probably being among the most 
conservative Members of the Congress, and I will never deviate from my 
core principles. However, I am mindful to always remember that while 
some of my colleagues and I may have very different ideas and core 
political philosophies, at the end of the day, we are all Americans and 
we are all made in the image of God; thus, we believe we should act 
accordingly.
  Before my esteemed colleagues come to share their thoughts on this 
important subject, I would like to introduce and read into the


 =========================== NOTE =========================== 

  
  February 14, 2017, on page H1162, the following appeared: Before 
my esteem colleagues come to . . .
  
  The online version has been corrected to read: Before my 
esteemed colleagues come to . . .


 ========================= END NOTE ========================= 
 Congressional Record, the document we refer to as the ``Commitment to 
                    Civility.'' It reads as follows:
  ``As new Members of the United States House of Representatives and as 
individual citizens we recognize the gravity of the responsibility we 
have been given and the significance of this moment in the history of 
our extraordinary country.
  ``America remains the most free, most powerful and most prosperous 
nation in all the world, and yet we face significant challenges. Among 
these challenges has been an increasing division in and coarsening of 
our culture fueled too often by the vitriol in our politics and public 
discourse. One result has been a loss of trust in our institutions and 
elected officials.
  ``We believe there is a better alternative.
  ``Although we represent both political parties and a wide range of 
individual views across the political spectrum, our common and sincere 
aims are to serve the needs and interests of the American people, to 
work with one another and the leaders of our respective parties to 
encourage greater confidence in our institutions, and to set an example 
of statesmanship for the younger generation of Americans that will 
follow.


 =========================== NOTE =========================== 

  
  February 14, 2017, on page H1162, the following appeared: . . . 
an example statesmanship for the . . .
  
  The online version has been corrected to read: . . . an example 
of statesmanship for the . . .


 ========================= END NOTE ========================= 

  ``To this end, we are dedicated to showing proper respect to one 
another and all others, encouraging productive dialogue, and modeling 
civility in our public and private actions. While we may vehemently 
disagree on matters of law and policy, we will strive at all times to 
maintain collegiality and the honor of our office.
  ``We believe that a leader can be cooperative and conciliatory 
without compromising his or her core principles, and we will remember 
that our political rivals in Congress are not our enemies--but rather 
our colleagues and fellow Americans. We also believe that maintaining a 
spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation will help make 
government work more efficiently and effectively, help build consensus 
and restore the public trust, and, ultimately, serve as a positive 
influence on society at large.
  ``For all of these reasons, we hereby pledge our names to this 
Commitment to Civility on this 10th day of January, 2017, in 
Washington, D.C.''


 =========================== NOTE =========================== 

  
  February 14, 2017, on page H1162, the following appeared: For 
all of these reasons, we hereby . . .
  
  The online version has been corrected to read: ``For all of 
these reasons, we hereby . . .


 ========================= END NOTE ========================= 

  The document is signed by 46 incoming Members of the 115th Congress.
  Mr. Speaker, at this time, I am delighted to yield to 21 different 
leaders of our class, representing both political parties and 15 
different States across our great land. Each will express their own 
thoughts on this important subject.
  I begin by yielding to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. 
Barragan).
  Ms. BARRAGAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, Congressman Mike 
Johnson from Louisiana, for helping coordinate this effort.
  When I got here to Washington for orientation, I will never forget 
very early on, one of my colleagues, Congressman Jodey Arrington from 
Texas, came up to me and said: I want to introduce myself. And he did.
  He was the first Republican that came up to me and said: I want to 
get to know you on a personal level. I want to be your friend because 
we are going to be working together.
  I have to tell you how impressed I was that somebody was reaching out 
across the aisle because they wanted to develop a personal 
relationship, knowing that we would be able to work together.
  Later on, I got to meet the rest of my colleagues at Harvard, where 
they have a bipartisan program that is a wonderful program and gives 
you an opportunity to help build these relationships, which I think is 
so important, especially today in our time.
  We just got off one of the ugliest elections in history where it 
really felt as if civility disappeared. Today it

[[Page H1163]]

sometimes still feels that way, which is why I think this is such an 
important effort.
  As Members of Congress, we need to set an example of statesmanship 
for younger generations of Americans to follow. We must remember that 
every person should be respected. Somebody yesterday said something 
that really struck a chord. It is not that we need to agree on 
everything or that we need to agree all the time, but we need to learn 
to disagree better.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Michigan (Mr. Bergman).

                              {time}  1700

  Mr. BERGMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of the 
freshman class's commitment to civility.
  Before the Revolutionary War, a 16-year-old George Washington copied 
110 rules for civil behavior out of his school book. The last of 
Washington's rules of civility, as they are now called, is this: 
``Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial 
fire called conscience.''
  Conscience: That should be our guide in everything we do, both here 
in Congress and back home--for me, in Michigan's First District. 
Conscience is why, as a Member of the freshman class of the 115th 
Congress, I have made a commitment to open and civil debate.
  We are facing many challenges in our country. And the folks here and 
back in Michigan, all across the land, on both sides of the aisle, have 
many different ideas about where we need to be and what we need to do 
to get there. That is democracy at work.
  Being civil means that the best and most effective ideas have a real 
chance to be heard. If we truly desire to move forward as a country, we 
have to do it together. We must treat each other with dignity and 
respect. We must be civil.
  This freshman class has dedicated itself across party lines to 
setting the example for ourselves and for our colleagues here in 
Congress and for all of our constituents.
  Mr. Speaker, I will uphold these standards, and I trust that my 
colleagues will also do the same.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I thank the general for his 
service to our country.
  I yield to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Suozzi).
  Mr. SUOZZI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the freshman 
class's effort to encourage civility in this Chamber and in our 
political discourse generally.
  Americans are divided. Hate speech and hate crimes are spiking. Fake 
news is increasing. Terrorism threatens the world, and 60 million 
refugees are displaced across the globe.
  The public is convinced that elected officials don't seem to get much 
done regarding the shrinking middle class, immigration reform, climate 
change, gun violence, and a whole bunch more. What should we do?
  Love thy neighbor: That may seem like a simplistic public policy 
prescription, but love thy neighbor is a concept that can be found 
across many traditions.
  If we are going to get Republicans and Democrats to actually come 
together as people of goodwill in search of the common good, it is 
going to require us to rely on some shared principles.
  Faith and religious beliefs are the most effective, existing sources 
of commonality that may be relied upon. If people of different 
political philosophies actually believed that their opponents were 
similarly motivated by a common set of values to love thy neighbor, I 
believe we would get a lot more talking and problem-solving and, yes, 
less yelling and screaming.
  Even nonreligious Americans have a fundamental belief in the 
religion-based concept of love thy neighbor. Discussing issues civilly 
and rooted in shared faith and values will result in more good work 
being accomplished.
  The good news is that, during the first 6 weeks, I found that many of 
my colleagues seemed genuinely inspired by their faith and their 
values. Maybe if we all agree to be civil and recognize that many of us 
here are motivated by the same command to love thy neighbor, we might 
be a little more effective.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Wisconsin (Mr. Gallagher).
  Mr. GALLAGHER. Mr. Speaker, I come from a place called Wisconsin. 
Besides having the world's best cheese and football franchise, we are 
known for being good neighbors. You may have heard of the phrase 
``Wisconsin nice.'' Well, that is a real thing, as any Bears or Lions 
or Vikings fans who have come to Lambeau Field and been greeted, not 
with jeers, but with a, welcome, it is good to have you have found out.
  The disparity between how we do business in Wisconsin and how 
business gets done or doesn't in Washington, D.C., couldn't be wider. 
Well, I am of the humble opinion that the world needs more of what we 
do in Wisconsin and less of how Washington, D.C., traditionally 
operates.
  At a time when politics seems more deeply divided than ever, further 
debased by an endless media cycle that rewards vitriol and scandal, at 
a time when faith in our basic institutions is diminishing, I think the 
overwhelming majority of the American people are looking for something 
better. They sent us here to fight for our ideas, not to demonize the 
other side in a cynical attempt to get on TV or fundraise. The American 
people voted against the politics of the past, which only seeks to 
divide us and stir up controversy.
  We can do better. We must do better. That is why I salute all of my 
colleagues for joining in this effort. I believe we, the freshmen 
Members of the 115th Congress, can be different. I believe that, 
through working together, we can break through the politics of the past 
and offer something better for the American people. I believe we can 
prove there is still room for civil, serious discourse in our political 
system.
  Now, a commitment to civility doesn't mean we are going to agree on 
everything. I suspect there will be legitimate battles ahead, but let 
it be a battle of ideas not political theater. I intend to come armed 
to that fight with all the weapons I have at my disposal, foremost 
among them, my fervent belief in my conservative ideas. And I don't 
expect to convert my Democratic friends, but I expect them to come 
armed with their ideas, and I intend to listen. In that process of 
serious debate, maybe--just maybe--we will learn something from one 
another and find ways to fix our Nation's problems together.
  Imagine if we were able to do that. Well, I am looking forward to 
trying.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Kansas (Mr. Marshall).
  Mr. MARSHALL. Mr. Speaker, I too am honored to be part of the 115th 
Congress, the freshman class, a group of people who want to work 
together.

  I think back to my campaign the last two years, and one of the most 
common concerns I had from people were: Why can't people in Congress 
get along? Why can't you respect each other?
  What I saw day after day was the left and the right yelling at each 
other and the press throwing gasoline on top of that fire.
  I remember, growing up, my dad had a saying: If you don't have 
something good to say about somebody, then don't say it. That is always 
something that I have taken to heart.
  I think back to my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Tyner. Her word for the 
entire year was ``respect.'' She taught us to respect ourselves and 
respect each other, and that is what I would like to bring to the 115th 
Congress, is respect for each other, for each other's points of views, 
and never question someone's intentions or motivations.
  I believe in iron sharpening iron and coming up with better ideas 
together. I believe in defining problems together, to talk about the 
problem, and then discuss solutions together.
  The hope is that you and I, my friends across the aisle and down the 
aisle, together we can come up with better solutions for this country. 
I believe that national defense is not a Republican or a Democrat 
issue. I believe the economy is not a conservative or a liberal issue. 
I think these are American issues that we need to fight to make better. 
I certainly don't think that health care is a Republican or Democrat 
issue.
  My pledge is to work with civility, to work with respect toward my 
colleagues across the aisle and down the aisle. I look forward to 
making America a better place to live.

[[Page H1164]]

  

  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Carbajal).
  Mr. CARBAJAL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recommit myself to work 
first and foremost for the interest of the American public, regardless 
of political ideology.
  I am under no illusion about the overwhelming partisanship that 
permeates this Congress. But I believe that, as vigorously as we debate 
our policy differences, we should also commit to upholding the 
principles of civility and respect to encourage productive discourse. 
To this end, we must work together, when at all possible, to advance 
the policy that serves our constituents and our country.
  In this effort, I reflect on my service in the United States Marine 
Corps. We did not first stop to question whether our fellow marine was 
a Democrat or a Republican. We counted on each other to protect and 
defend our country. That is the approach to service we should aspire to 
in this distinguished legislative body.
  On the issues of national security and to provide for the needs of 
the American people, there is no doubt in my mind that there is more 
that unites us than divides us. I look forward to working with my 
colleagues here today to do just that.
  In the infamous words of President Kennedy: ``Let us not seek the 
Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.''
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Nebraska (Mr. Bacon).
  Mr. BACON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today with my fellow freshmen of the 
115th Congress and commit to civility.
  The 435 of us represent 320 million Americans. With a population that 
large and that diverse, we are going to have our differences. We are 
going to disagree which direction the Nation needs to go. With a free 
and open democracy, we all have that right. Vigorous discussion makes 
us stronger.
  However, despite our differences, we are all still Americans, we want 
what is best for our country, and we must keep our debates respectful. 
We are all Americans first before we are Republicans, Democrats, 
Independents; and we can't forget this.
  As Americans, we do have major issues facing us; and the world is 
looking to us to be leaders and find solutions. We must remain civil to 
each other to achieve this goal. Let's not forget that ISIS will never 
ask if we are Republicans or Democrats. The unemployment line doesn't 
ask if we are Republicans or Democrats either. The Federal deficit 
doesn't care if we are Republicans or Democrats. These are shared 
issues, and we are all in this together.
  Politics is a contact sport, or so I am told. It has been that way 
since George Washington was President and Thomas Jefferson funded an 
opposition paper against him, all the while serving in his Cabinet. 
Still, today, character assassinations are a common occurrence in our 
political landscape, and it is wrong. Americans are at our finest when 
we work toward our common goals respectfully.
  I spent nearly 30 years in the Air Force, and, during that time, I 
was fortunate to hold five commands. It didn't matter to me or our 
mission if a subordinate or a teammate was a Republican or Democrat. We 
fought in Iraq, stood up missile defenses in Israel, and conducted 
missions worldwide as Americans, not as Republicans or Democrats.
  In the Air Force, we were all Americans, we are all airmen, and we 
all had one common goal. We need more of that on Capitol Hill. We are 
all Americans, we are all Members of Congress, and we all care about 
the future of our country.
  One day, like all of us, I will meet our Creator. And when I do, I 
believe He will not care about what political party I associated myself 
with, but He will care how I treated my brothers and sisters. Let us 
agree to be a bright light on how to treat each other while we debate 
the issues we care about.
  Let us, in the 115th Congress, all agree to work together, be civil 
to each other, be respectful with each other, and remember we are 
Americans before we are Republicans or Democrats.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Panetta).
  Mr. PANETTA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. 
Johnson) for this opportunity.
  Mr. Speaker, today, I rise to discuss our commitment to civility, a 
promise that I have made to my constituents at home and a promise that 
I have made to my colleagues here in Washington, D.C.
  Prior to my being sworn in, during my campaign of 2016, the number 
one question I heard and I received from the people in my district on 
the Central Coast of California was: Why would you want to go to 
Washington, D.C., right now?
  I heard that over and over and over. I heard that people were 
dissatisfied with the dysfunction in Congress. I heard that they were 
disgusted with the partisanship of Congress. I heard that they were 
disheartened with our system of government. And I believe that it is 
that sentiment that lent to the denouement of November 8.
  I admit I was disappointed by the Presidential election, and I 
believe that partisanship that was displayed during that election 
continued in Washington, D.C. It started when I got here for new Member 
orientation.
  When we got here as freshmen, Republicans and Democrats, we were 
automatically split up. I did not get to know my fellow freshmen 
Republican colleagues here in D.C. It wasn't until we went on to Boston 
and Virginia that we actually took time to get to know each other, 
where they are from, and what they were about.
  What I can tell you--the thing that I say that gives hope to so many 
people--is that my freshman class heard the exact same things during 
this past election: That it is time that we get things done and that we 
do it together.
  Now, I believe that once we get past these turbulent times at this 
point, I do hope we can work together on issues that affect our 
country, be it immigration reform, investment in our infrastructure, 
and ensuring that our health care is not just accessible but 
affordable.

                              {time}  1715

  But I also realize, as many of you, that that is easier said than 
done. Yet I believe that to get things done in Congress, you have to 
treat it like a marathon and not a sprint, and I believe that we begin 
this race by building relationships.
  My predecessor, Congressman Sam Farr, spent 23 years representing the 
place I call home on the central coast of California. He will tell you 
that for most of that time he was in the minority, yet he was able to 
get numerous things done; and he will tell you that the way he was able 
to do it is by relationships, with Democrats and Republicans.
  I can tell you that Sam's predecessor would say the exact same thing; 
and I can tell you that Sam's predecessor and his three roommates, whom 
I was able to live with back in the eighties, would all say the same 
thing, that it is the personal chemistry amongst people here in 
Washington, D.C., that will lead to our ability to compromise 
professionally. That is what we must develop.
  That is why I am honored and pleased to enter into this commitment of 
civility, for that is the first ingredient to that chemistry that we 
must strive for. And I believe that this commitment that we have all 
taken to each other, to our communities, and to our country, that will 
lead to our constituents' confidence, not just in Congress, but in our 
democracy.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Minnesota (Mr. Lewis).
  Mr. LEWIS of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join in this 
commitment to civility.
  First off, I want to thank all of my freshmen colleagues on both 
sides of the aisle for participating today and going through the 
orientation and getting to know one another. It was a wonderful 
experience. I had the pleasure of talking with many of them over the 
last few weeks, and they share many of the same goals as I do, as this 
entire body does.
  I agree with many of my colleagues on many issues. I can safely say I 
also disagree with some of them on a few issues. But while we may 
disagree, we do not assume that they are acting in bad faith. Rather 
than dismiss those who disagree with us, we must use that disagreement 
to challenge ourselves to be better.

[[Page H1165]]

  You see, this process isn't easy, and addressing the issues our 
Nation is facing isn't easy either. In fact, I would argue, our ability 
to get things done, why we were sent here, rests on the ability to 
participate in productive political dialogue and discourse.
  So substituting sincere communication, honest debate with 
grandstanding or a political ambush or shouting louder than somebody 
else is too clever by half, and it will not get the things done that we 
need to get done. Shouting louder than your neighbor doesn't accomplish 
anything other than silencing your neighbor. In fact, that is not 
progress; that is an affront to free speech and the ability to listen 
to all of those around us. It doesn't help, when we shout over each 
other, help you understand your neighbor's beliefs, and it doesn't help 
your neighbor understand your beliefs.
  Now, I am reminded of this quote that gets used all too often these 
days: While I disapprove or might disapprove of what you say, I will 
defend to the death your right to say it.
  So we may disagree with each other, we may even disapprove of what 
somebody else says, but it is important to know, it is always important 
to let each other say it. Freedom of speech is not limited to the 
loudest among us; it is a right afforded to all of us.
  Of course, this commitment to civility doesn't mean we don't believe 
in the essence of free speech or the right and necessity to disagree 
with one another. We will. It simply means that we will do it in way 
that respects the rights of everyone. We believe, and so should those 
who oppose our policies, that the right to speak also entails the right 
to be heard.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman 
from New York (Ms. Tenney).
  Ms. TENNEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address our commitment to 
civility.
  Let me quote: ``Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the 
determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos.'' 
President George W. Bush spoke these words at his first inaugural 
address in 2001. It was a time for new beginnings then, and it is a 
time for new beginnings now.
  I cannot think of a more well-intentioned way to begin the 115th 
Congress than to join my awesome freshman class, from both sides, in 
committing to work together civilly to unify and further strengthen our 
great Nation. Through this commitment, we promise to put people before 
politics, to thoughtfully advocate for the needs of our communities, 
and to renew confidence and trust in our political system. Although we 
may disagree on a number of issues, this commitment we make to each 
other today ensures that we will work together to always promote a 
positive and constructive discourse in our critically important work as 
representatives of the American people.
  This job is not about any one of us individually, but about the 
hundreds of thousands of people we represent throughout our districts. 
As a Representative of the people's House, we are expected to provide 
positive leadership, a strong voice, and to set the example for the 
American people.
  The ability to agree to disagree and to voice our differences is a 
critical part of the unique freedoms we cherish as Americans, but we 
must always do so respectfully. Malicious discourse is a disservice to 
those who risked their lives to fight for our freedoms and everything 
that our great Nation stands for.
  It is truly unfortunate that the tone of political discourse 
throughout our Nation has become so contentious and hostile. It is 
detrimental to fostering an open and productive dialogue and the unity 
of our Nation. The commitment our class makes today solidifies this 
promise to work together peacefully to provide leadership and 
inspiration to the American people, while further promoting the 
freedoms and individual rights that make our Nation the greatest in the 
world.
  We must look at 2017 positively, as a time for new beginnings. In the 
wake of new leadership, we are provided with a new opportunity for a 
fresh start and the chance to advance our shared mission of putting the 
American people first. It is my hope that the efforts of our great 
freshman class today, which, I argue, could be one of the greatest of 
this august body's history, will inspire people throughout the Nation 
to turn toward civility and to always treat each other with respect, 
despite our differences.
  I thank my freshman colleagues who have all accepted--almost all have 
accepted--this particular commitment, and I especially would like to 
thank the gentleman from Louisiana for leading us on this very 
important issue.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman 
from Delaware (Ms. Blunt Rochester).
  Ms. BLUNT ROCHESTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the 
chorus of new Members of the 115th Congress.
  It is fitting that we make this commitment on Valentine's Day. It is 
a holiday to show appreciation and also love, and I think that is what 
this is really about. It is about our love for our country and our love 
for our friends and families and neighbors.
  It is also about civility, and to me, civility is not about the what. 
We can all disagree on the what. Civility is about the how. It is about 
our tone. It is about our tenor. It is about the words that we choose 
to use, and it is about respect.
  As freshmen, our class is special. I feel we are special. Just like 
Claudia said, we are actually awesome. And it was really telling that, 
at one of our retreats, orientations, we came together and we asked if 
we could just be alone, no staff, no one else in the room--just us. We 
actually said: Let's try to find common ground. Who here has a port? 
Who here has served in public life? Again, our goal wasn't to find ways 
to divide, but to find ways to come together.
  If we expect civility from others, including our children, then we 
need to model it. Our signatures on this document show our commitment 
to civility, to caring, and, most of all, to getting things done. That 
is what America wants, and that is what America deserves.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Smucker).
  Mr. SMUCKER. Mr. Speaker, it is an honor to represent the people of 
Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District and to serve the community 
in which I grew up.
  I was very pleased a few months ago to come to Washington and join 
the new Member orientation. It was a great opportunity for all of us to 
meet our new colleagues on both sides of the aisle; and I must say, as 
has already been mentioned, I was impressed.
  As we got to know one another and talk about our vision for this 
upcoming Congress, we all agreed we wanted to work together as much as 
possible. We decided we wanted to work to find common ground.
  Today, across Pennsylvania and across America, finding common ground 
between Republicans and Democrats looks and sounds nearly impossible. 
We here in Congress may disagree on the issues, we may disagree on the 
solutions, but that is good. That is good because the purpose of this 
Chamber is to be a deliberative body. It is good because, collectively, 
we represent a wide range of issues across the political spectrum--we 
are supposed to--and, in fact, we are even expected to disagree, but we 
must always do so in a civil and respectful manner.
  We must understand that, while we may disagree on the issues and 
solutions, we share, all of us, the common goal of serving our 
constituents and of improving their lives. We must understand that just 
because we may disagree with one another, that doesn't mean the other 
side is un-American or out to get us.
  Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, calls 
this ``political motive asymmetry.'' Brooks says: ``A majority of 
people in our country today who are politically active believe that 
they are motivated by love but the other side is motivated by hate.''
  Now, I know I might disagree with some of my colleagues, but I can 
tell you, they are not motivated by hate. If we are to be successful in 
this Chamber and in discussions in our communities across the country, 
we must rid our discourse of this political motive asymmetry. Then we 
will be able, together, to find solutions more easily to the problems 
that we face.
  I am hopeful that our freshman class, along with the rest of our 
colleagues on

[[Page H1166]]

both sides of the aisle, will be able to do what is stated in our 
commitment to civility: ``make the government work more efficiently and 
more effectively, help build consensus and restore public trust, and, 
ultimately, serve as a positive influence on society at large.''
  We here in Congress are charged with an enormous task. In today's 
divisive and heated public discourse, we must be an example to our 
constituents by showing respect for one another at all times.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Khanna).
  Mr. KHANNA. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the freshman initiative on 
civility. I thank Congressman Johnson for his leadership.
  I want to echo the remarks of Congressman Suozzi and Congresswoman 
Blunt Rochester about getting things done. We have disagreements on 
many issues. I don't think I voted with the Republicans on almost any 
issue since I have been in this body. On economic issues, I come from a 
perspective of economic populism and a very different perspective than 
Members on the other side.
  But we also have areas of common agreement. Congressman Gallagher and 
Congressman Arrington have talked about term limits, and that is an 
area of potential agreement. Congressman Rooney has talked about 
getting PAC money out of politics. Congressman Will Hurd has talked 
about cybersecurity and tech jobs.
  So my view is that, in areas where we disagree, we should disagree 
with spirit and conviction, but that doesn't mean that there won't be 
areas where we can agree.
  And on a personal note, Congressman Fitzpatrick represents the 
district where I was born and where my parents are, so I have to be 
civil, certainly, to him and the other side.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Florida (Mr. Crist).
  Mr. CRIST. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this important document as 
well.
  Friends, we may have vastly different views on how best to create a 
more perfect Union, along with different styles and different 
temperaments, but we all share a commitment and, frankly, a 
responsibility to bring the voice of the people to Washington, D.C.
  I am honored to represent much of Pinellas County and my hometown of 
St. Petersburg, Florida, and I promise to fight for the needs of my 
home. But I pledge to do so in keeping with what is known as the Golden 
Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. This is a rule 
that I strive to live by every single day.
  Poll after poll shows that Floridians and, frankly, all Americans are 
fed up with the divisiveness and rancor of Washington. As we move 
forward debating the issues of the day, let us be mindful of the words 
of President Abraham Lincoln: ``Though passions may have strained, it 
must not break our bonds of affection.''

                              {time}  1730

  I am proud that our freshman class--yes, this awesome freshman 
class--has put forward its commitment to civility. It states that, 
despite our political differences, at the end of the day we must work 
together to move our country forward, putting people over politics and 
treating one another with mutual respect and much more grace even when 
we may disagree.
  I thank, again, the gentleman from Louisiana and the gentlewoman from 
California for their leadership and for their friendship, putting 
people over politics. God bless you all, and God bless America.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Fitzpatrick).
  Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all the members 
of the freshman class--members of both political parties and of every 
political background--who have joined us tonight in signing the 
commitment to civility pledge: love thy neighbor, no exceptions. Seeing 
46 Republicans and Democrats make this public commitment is encouraging 
for this Chamber and for the constituents that we serve.
  We can all agree that our Nation is facing some serious challenges. 
From increasing opportunity in an evolving economy to keeping our 
families safe from threats at home and abroad, the list in front of 
this body is heavy enough, and the last thing we need is to make that 
problem-solving even tougher. A statement made on the Senate floor last 
week offered a stark message: it is simply not possible to exist as a 
nation when half of its citizens hate the other half. If we are willing 
to end friendships or block our family members because of Facebook 
posts, we are not heading in the right direction.
  Despite the incredible responsibility entrusted to each of us by 
those whom we represent, this Congress has not been immune to the 
hardening of political division. However, we must not accept our 
current discourse as the new normal.
  Yet there is hope. There is hope because the Members standing with me 
tonight and those who have joined our pledge are willing to say, first 
and foremost, we are Americans, and the person I may disagree with--
even vehemently--is still an American. Just because someone has 
different viewpoints or policy priorities or a different letter next to 
their name does not make them our enemy.
  This Congress can and must play a part in restoring the civility and 
respect that makes productive dialogue possible. I am not saying we'll 
agree on everything, but a spirit of mutual understanding, mutual 
respect, and mutual cooperation is the bedrock for making our 
government and our communities work.
  Whether we are elected officials, moms, dads, neighbors, community 
leaders, students--or anyone--we must remember that there is more that 
unites us than divides us. That is a commitment I am willing to make my 
colleagues and constituents this evening.
  Again, I want to thank my colleagues, the gentleman from Louisiana 
and the gentlewoman from California, for all their work. I look forward 
to working with our awesome freshman class going forward.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I thank all these colleagues. 
We were anticipating remarks from Mr. Gonzalez of Texas, Mr. Comer of 
Kentucky, Mr. Raskin of Maryland, and Mr. Lawson of Florida, but their 
schedules have suddenly taken them away this evening.
  Mr. Speaker, I will close.
  As you can see, our commitment to civility is sincere and important 
to each of us and, we believe, to the Congress and to our country. As 
we said at the outset here, there may never have been a more important 
time for a commitment like this. Perhaps it is appropriate that our 
hour happened to be assigned here on this Valentine's Day.
  I am reminded, as I close, of the biblical admonition given to us in 
Philippians, Chapter 2, Verses 3 through 4. It reads as follows: ``Do 
nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, 
value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but 
each of you to the interests of the others.''
  Mr. Speaker, if we can do these things, we will do well by our 
exceptional Nation.
  I thank all of my esteemed colleagues for participating tonight and 
all those who signed this commitment.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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