(House of Representatives - May 10, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 76 (Thursday, May 10, 2018)]
[Pages H3920-H3921]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                        DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give notice of my intent to 
resign from the United States House of Representatives on May 12 and to 
share a few words with my fellow Members and the American people.
  It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve the people of 
Pennsylvania's 15th District, and I am proud of my time in Congress. I 
believe that I have made a difference and improved the lives of the 
constituents whom I have served in Pennsylvania: from serving on the 
House Homeland Security Committee and the Transportation and 
Infrastructure Committee, which is being very ably led by my good 
friend from Pennsylvania (Mr. Shuster)--and his term is also coming to 
its end. I want to commend him and congratulate him on his dedicated 
service all these years--and to my current role as a senior member of 
the House Appropriations Committee, chairing the Subcommittee on 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; and as 
past chairman of the House Ethics Committee.
  And I was delighted for my good friend Linda Sanchez, who just spoke 
a few moments ago, serving with her. She was a wonderful partner on 
that committee. So much of the staff, some of whom are here in the 
Chamber today, I was so thrilled to be able to have that opportunity to 
work with her and the staff, who are all so professional.
  I also had the opportunity to serve as co-chair of the Tuesday Group 
Caucus. I was very pleased with what we were able to accomplish in that 
role. And as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought 
to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the 
government funded and preventing default on our Nation's obligations. 
At times, that has not been easy.
  I see my good friend Mr. Cole is here, too. He has been a great 
appropriator, a great leader, and a great mentor to me.
  Unfortunately, due to disruptive political influences, increased 
polarization has led the Congress to becoming more paralyzed and unable 
to perform even our most basic and fundamental tasks. This phenomenon 
manifested itself most clearly during the 2013 Federal Government 
shutdown, but it continues today.
  This political polarization has led to a disturbing trend where 
fringe elements of both the far right and far left are emboldened and 
empowered. And while the bases of both political parties are well 
represented in Congress, the governing center has been under increased 
  Too many Republicans expect unquestioning--blind, unquestioning--
loyalty and obedience to President Trump, no matter how absurd or 
disruptive the comment or behavior. Constitutional separation of powers 
is almost an alien concept, after relentlessly demanding Congress 
assert its Article I powers during the Obama years.
  On the other side, far too many Democrats offer unflinching 
resistance and opposition to President Trump, even if they agree with 
him on a given policy or position.
  Separation of political parties has replaced separation of powers as 
a guiding, governing philosophy. This dynamic is simply not 
sustainable, and it is already having troubling consequences.
  We have already seen a rise in the three-headed monster of 
isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. These are not qualities of a 
great nation. In fact, they dishonor the sacrifices and service of the 
Greatest Generation, who delivered both victory during World War II

[[Page H3921]]

and the farsighted, outward-looking, post-war, rules-based order that 
has brought unprecedented freedom and prosperity to America and its 
friends, allies, and partners.
  Furthermore, traditional democratic values--the rule of law, freedom 
of press, an independent judiciary--are under unprecedented attack 
throughout much of the world.

                              {time}  1245

  It is incumbent upon all of us to stand up and defend our way of life 
and our institutions. In Congress, we need to reestablish a strong, 
bipartisan governing center that will help restore order and stability 
to Washington and that will also help alleviate a lot of concerns 
throughout the country.
  To be sure, there are a number of Members working towards that goal: 
the members of the Tuesday Group, Republican Main Street Partnership, 
the Blue Dogs, New Democrats, Problem Solvers Caucus, and there are 
others. Many of these Members understand that consensus and compromise 
are not capitulation or surrender but, instead, are essential to a 
functioning republic.
  We need to pursue real fiscal reform, both on the mandatory side and 
the revenue side of the ledger. We need a Simpson-Bowles 2.0, with 
teeth; and reforms must be bipartisan to ensure they are both durable 
and sustainable, which we know won't happen on a partisan basis.
  Additionally, we need to address other challenges, such as how to 
increase access to and affordability for our Nation's healthcare 
system, expanding educational opportunities for our children and our 
grandchildren, and making needed improvements to our infrastructure 
like so many around here are dedicated to, especially my friend 
Chairman Shuster.
  The administration must realize that America has to honor its 
agreements if we ever hope to enter into new ones. We simply cannot 
walk away from American commitments, even ones we may have voted 
against or disagreed with, if we expect to continue to build new 
coalitions and enter into new agreements.
  Instead, we should double down on the multilateral rules-based order, 
whatever the flaws, that America worked so hard to establish after 
World War II by defending the institutions, alliances, and partnerships 
we established or helped establish: NATO, European unity, and, yes, a 
global trade regime through which we have advanced America's economic, 
security, and strategic interests.
  We should look at ways to open new markets and expand new 
opportunities that unleash the power and benefits of the American free 
enterprise system. All of us, Republicans and Democrats, need to work 
together to move America forward as friends and partners who share 
values, ideals, and common interests.
  Whether confronting a revanchist, aggressive Russia; a terrorist, 
theocratic Iranian regime; or China's mercantilist policies, success 
can only be achieved by finding strength in unity.
  And while I may be leaving the Halls of Congress, I am not retreating 
from the battlefield. Some of you may regret that. I intend to continue 
aggressively advocating for people and the policies of the sensible 
center. I hope to provide an even larger voice in favor of responsible 
governance and hope to foster a strong center-right movement that 
embraces traditional conservative virtues of order, discipline, 
stability, measured statements, and incremental change--not the 
incendiary rhetoric, chaos, and dysfunction that we have, 
unfortunately, grown accustomed to in recent years. Although my time in 
Congress is drawing to a close, I know that our Nation's future is 
  Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thanks to all my friends and colleagues, 
again, some of whom are here today. I thank them all, my friends and 
colleagues not only here in the House, but also in the Senate, for 
their support, their guidance, their wisdom, and their friendship over 
the years. It is truly very meaningful to me, and I have been 
especially touched by some of the very nice things people have said and 
other tributes that have been paid to me.
  My wife said, after she heard a few of them, she is kind of waiting 
to meet this guy that they are all talking about. But seriously, I 
can't thank you enough.
  I also want to give a special thank-you to all my staff, both past 
and present, for everything that they have done dutifully to serve our 
constituents in Pennsylvania and to my legislative and policy 
  I should note, some of my staff are seated up in the gallery, past 
and present. I am not supposed to do that, but, hell, it is my last 
day, so I can do that.
  I just want to again thank the staff for their dedication and work, 
both my Washington and my district staff, who do a lot of work not just 
for me, but all of our staffs. They do a lot, and sometimes they take a 
lot of grief, and we don't say thank you enough to them. But the bottom 
line is we could have never achieved as much as we did without their 
dedication and their commitment.
  And above all, thank you to the people of Pennsylvania's 15th 
Congressional District for the trust they have shown in me time and 
again. I have always said I don't know how many constituents would 
allow their Member the amount of latitude they have given me to be 
somewhat of an independent voice here and say what I felt needed to be 
said. I really appreciated my constituents allowing me to do that. I 
recognize in some districts that might not be case, so to them I say 
thank you again. After my family, representing them and carrying their 
voice to Washington has been the honor and joy of a lifetime.
  Mr. Speaker, I say thank you, and I yield back the balance of my