[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 65 (Wednesday, April 27, 2016)]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
UNAUTHORIZED SPENDING ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Trott). Under the Speaker's announced
policy of January 6, 2015, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Yoho) is
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. YOHO. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks on tonight's
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from Florida?
There was no objection.
Mr. YOHO. Mr. Speaker, I want to very quickly thank all of the
Members who have volunteered their time to speak tonight. I know they
are running on a tight schedule, as we all are.
With that in mind, I yield to the gentlewoman from Washington (Mrs.
McMorris Rodgers), a tireless advocate for conservative values, whose
bold leadership, tenacity, and kindness make her one of this body's
greatest Members. I would like to thank her for introducing H.R. 4730,
the Unauthorized Spending Accountability Act, that is a vitally
important piece of legislation that will go a long way in helping to
eliminate Federal programs that have not been authorized by Congress,
yet somehow still come in to receive appropriations. I am a proud
cosponsor of this legislation, and encourage all Members of the House
to support it.
Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for
bringing us together this evening. This is a very important discussion.
It really goes to what is foundational about America in Article I and
the authority that rests in Congress, as outlined in Article I.
I am looking forward to this Special Order and hope that we will
continue this discussion in the weeks ahead. But a big thank you to the
gentleman from Florida for his leadership and bringing us all together.
In the fall of 2014--so this was right after the Ice Bucket
Challenge--Gail Gleason, who is a mom in my district in eastern
Washington, had a meeting with me. She was almost in tears because CMS,
the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, was proposing new rules
and regulations that would take away the important communication device
for those who have lost their ability to speak, largely impacting a lot
of ALS patients. Her son, Dave Gleason, is a football player, a
football star. She came to me in desperation because CMS rules were
going to take away his communication device.
Do you know what? This is just one of many examples where
bureaucrats, arrogant and unaccountable so often and disconnected from
their mission, are making rules and regulations outside of the
Congress, outside of the vote and of the approval of the elected
representatives of the people.
I think about the VA, the Veterans Administration. This is an agency
that is dedicated to our veterans. So often our veterans feel like they
get lost. Instead of having the red-carpet treatment, they feel like
they are given the runaround. They have to wait weeks and weeks, even,
just to schedule a simple doctor's appointment.
Recently, the FDA came out with new rules, 400-page menu labeling
rules, that for a pizza restaurant would require them to somehow
disclose on a menu board the 34 million combinations of pizza. Land
management, environmental regulations, threatening to regulate every
mud puddle in America from Washington, D.C., and the list goes on and
Our Founding Fathers envisioned three branches of government--very
important. There was the judicial branch, the legislative branch, and
the executive branch. Each one has very important roles. No one person
was to be making all of the decisions.
Part of the reason that people in this country are so frustrated
today is due to 1600 Pennsylvania. The President has been
delegitimizing us as an institution and in our role as Representatives
on behalf of the people. Too often, Members of Congress feel like we
are bystanders in the process as more and more rules and regulations
are generated outside of our input and certainly outside of our
It is interesting to note that the Capitol--the Congress--is really
the center of Washington, D.C. Our Founding Fathers, I think,
envisioned that this would be the center and that all other roads would
lead from the Capitol. The White House is actually on a side street
down on Pennsylvania.
How did we go so far from being what our Founders envisioned--a body
that is closest to the people, most accountable to the people? How do
we restore people's trust in this institution, which is the branch of
government that is directly elected by them?
At the start is Article I of the Constitution--getting our government
off of autopilot and restoring the decision-making that belongs in the
House and in the Senate with the elected Representatives of the people.
There are many ideas out there as to how to restore the balance of
powers, but I want to focus on one in particular--a way that we can be
positive disruptors, can challenge the status quo, take back the power
of the purse, and get the Federal Government off of autopilot. That is
by tackling what we refer to as ``unauthorized spending.''
There are hundreds of programs and departments that have stayed on
the books despite the fact that their deadlines have come and gone. I
like to refer to them as ``zombie'' government programs, potentially
living beyond their intended lifespans because they have not been
authorized in years and sometimes in decades. For example, the VA
hasn't been authorized since 1996; the BLM hasn't been authorized since
1998, as well as other agencies, such as the Federal Election
Commission. There is a long list. It is estimated that over $300
billion in spending is in these unauthorized programs.
If we, the elected Representatives, committed to doing our jobs--
reviewing, rethinking, possibly eliminating these programs if they have
exceeded their lives--the people would be well served.
I recently introduced the USA Act, the Unauthorized Spending
Accountability Act, to require these expired ``zombie'' programs to be
renewed, to hold the bureaucrats accountable who have become
disconnected from their missions. Programs and agencies should not
receive taxpayer funding unless the people's Representatives--their
voices in government--have authorized them to do so.
The demands on families, on businesses, and on institutions have
changed. In some ways, the only place that hasn't changed is Congress.
We need to rethink government from the top-down and restore the power
of the purse. Article I is just as relevant today as it was at the
founding of our country. Our Founders recognized that every individual
is made in the image of God. We celebrate the potential of every
individual, and our laws must reflect the will of the people. This is
the genius of America.
Mr. YOHO. I thank the gentlewoman from Washington for her great words
in preserving our Constitution and for the work that she is doing to
bring Article I powers back to the House.
We get blamed a lot for the dysfunction in this country about what
this body is not doing, and the gentlewoman is so right in bringing
this power here; so I thank her for her leadership on that.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to a stalwart from the great State of Utah, Mrs.
Mia Love, who is leading a charge and is making quite a name for
Mrs. LOVE. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, I am so excited to talk about Article I. Right now I am
working on a project called the Article I Project in order to restore
Article I back to the United States Congress.
Today I rise on behalf of all of the Utahans in my home State who
have expressed frustration with our regulatory state. For decades,
Congress has essentially delegated many responsibilities to executive
agencies. As a result, unelected and unaccountable agencies have
impacted American lives more than the decisions have of their elected
officials. In this Congress, for example, 146 bills have been signed
into law after going through the House and the Senate. Meanwhile 3,378
rules and regulations were finalized last year alone, joining thousands
of others that ultimately cost the American economy $4 trillion a year.
Our Constitution is designed to preserve individual liberty, but this
government instead seeks to increase bureaucratic influence. The
American people deserve better. They deserve Representatives of their
choosing who are empowered to make decisions. They also deserve to know
that if those Representatives fail, they can hold them accountable and
bring about change. At the end of the day, that is what restoring
constitutional powers is about--giving the American people a voice. It
is for that cause, especially, I am proud to fight.
Mr. YOHO. I thank the gentlewoman from Utah, and I appreciate the
work she is doing.
Keep it up. We only have a Nation to save.
Mr. Speaker, the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the
United States of America. Ours is the shortest Constitution in
existence and is the longest-serving--227 years since its ratification
in 1789. Our Founders can have many things said of them, but one thing
we can all agree on is, through divine guidance, they got this as near
to perfection as a document can be.
Our Constitution has created the freest, the largest middle class,
the most successful country on the planet. For the first time in
recorded history, it has allowed people to become self-determining, it
has allowed for personal freedoms never before seen in human history.
It grants us unalienable rights, those being life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. It allows for personal property rights.
These are the things that allow a Republic, as ours, to flourish and
for ideas to be created and expanded upon because they allow for the
possibility of that unlimited potential inside each and every human on
the planet. It is our Constitution that allows for the way of life we
have for which others will risk everything, including life, so as to
have a chance at freedom.
So it is a document worth protecting, preserving. It is a document
that should be revered by all so we can pass it on to our future
generations, as well as the prosperity and the good fortune that was
inherited by us, this generation. The price that has been paid came
from the blood, sweat, and tears of our Founders, from the people who
came before us, and from every military person, including their spouses
and families; and each and every Member of Congress takes an oath and a
pledge to uphold our Constitution.
Article I, section 1 reads: ``All legislative Powers herein granted
shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist
of a Senate and House of Representatives.''
Article I, section 8 lists clearly that Congress has the power to lay
and collect taxes, to provide for the common defense, to regulate
commerce, to declare war, to establish a uniform rule of
naturalization. It ends in section 8: ``To make all Laws which shall be
necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers,
and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of
the United States or in any Department or Officer thereof.''
The President's responsibility, as delineated in Article II, section
3, reads that the President is to see that the Laws are faithfully
executed. I want to repeat that. The President is to see that the Laws
are faithfully executed. This is called the Take Care Clause.
I have only spent 3 years here, but in that time we have watched this
body work multiple times to rein in not just the executive branch, but
the administrative agencies. We have sued the President and have won
two times in the Supreme Court. We have had fights over the power of
the purse. We have had Supreme Court fights whether it has been dealing
with immigration laws and rules or not enforcing the laws on the books.
We have fought the President just on enforcing the laws that are
already on the books. We don't need any more laws. We just need to
follow the ones we have.
This is not just this administration--this is previous
administrations--but I fear where we are going in this next election.
If we don't get our House in order, if we don't bring back Article I
powers to this House, at that point, when we overstep the boundaries of
our Constitution by an executive branch or by administrative agencies,
it is too late to try to reel them in. Now it is urgent to do that. To
put it off any longer would be buying fire insurance for your house
after your house catches on fire. It is too late.
In addition, as I talked about, we have fought overstepping, out-of-
control Federal agencies that are wreaking havoc on American businesses
and are costing every American, according to the CBO estimates,
If I look at the administration's rules and regulations that have
come out since 1999 to 2008, there have been approximately 750 rules
that have come out. From 2009 to 2015, there have been over 530 rules
coming out just from the Obama administration. If I look at the final
rules and regulations that were issued just under George Bush, the
amount for his 8 years was 2,430. When I look at President Obama's
rules and regulations--and we are only 4 months into his last year and
term--to date, the Obama administration has had over 28,000 rules and
regulations coming out, which are strangling and suffocating American
businesses, paid for by the American taxpayers.
I recently introduced H. Res. 693, which asks for a permanent select
committee to investigate not just this executive branch, but all future
ones so that we can have in place a vehicle to rein in an overstepping
Mr. Speaker, I yield to a colleague and a classmate of mine from the
State of Texas, Mr. Randy Weber, who has cosponsored H. Res. 693. I
appreciate the gentleman's work on this important topic.
Mr. WEBER of Texas. I thank my friend from Florida (Mr. Yoho) for
yielding the floor and for leading this Special Order and introducing
H. Res. 693.
Mr. Speaker, as of yesterday, the Obama Presidency was 90 percent
over. So let's do a quick recap of just what has happened over these
past 7\1/2\ years.
First, the President violated the Constitution by unilaterally
changing sections of the Affordable Care Act at least 23 times without
having congressional approval. That is Public Law 111-148. Even though
he said, probably, on some 20 occasions that he didn't have
constitutional authority to do things, he still did them.
Two, the President and the Department of Justice were in direct
violation of their constitutional responsibility to the Defense of
Marriage Act, which is Public Law 104-199.
The President and his department of injustice continue to choose not
to enforce Federal drug laws, which are Public Law 91-513, the
Controlled Substances Act, and Public Law 100-690, the Anti-Drug Abuse
Act of 1986.
The President violated the Constitution by making Presidential
appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and to the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau while Congress was not in session, so
declared by him.
I have read the Constitution, Mr. Speaker. Only the Senate majority
leader can decide when the Senate is in session, not the President. I
might add that the President was slapped down by the Supreme Court 9-
Further, the President and the department of injustice abused
executive privilege in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal by
refusing to comply with a subpoena that was issued by the Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform of the United States House of
Representatives, thereby violating section 192 of title II, United
The President violated the law, which is Public Law 89-236, by
unilaterally changing our Nation's immigration laws with regard to
deferred action, giving illegal aliens access to government programs
and tax credits that are funded by our constituents, which is in
contravention of our Constitution.
The President and the Department of Health and Human Services failed
to enforce Federal law, which is Public Law 111-5, by illegally waiving
the work requirement for welfare recipients.
Under this President, the IRS violated the First Amendment to the
United States Constitution by targeting nonprofit organizations because
of their religious or political beliefs.
The President and the Department of Defense knowingly violated the
National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA of 2014, which is Public
Law 113-66, by not providing a 30-day notice to Congress prior to
transporting five Guantanamo detainees to Qatar in a prisoner swap.
Some would say in military terms that the terrorists got five nuclear
weapons and we got one conventional weapon, which turned out to be a
The President and his administration continue to move forward with
his plan to close the Guantanamo detention facility and move the
By the way, did you know that one out of three prisoners released
rejoin their terrorist organizations and wind up at the front lines,
seeking to kill yet more Americans?
Folks, it is the duty of the legislative branch to write and pass
laws, the judicial branch to interpret those laws, and
the executive branch's duty to enforce those same laws.
The very success of our form of government comes from this simple
balance of powers. This critically important founding principle is
currently being trampled on by this President while most of our
citizens may not even be aware of its damaging implications.
Our Nation's laws are not mere suggestions to be dismissed on a whim.
Our laws are binding. If we in Congress allow this or any President to
ignore the rule of law, then we allow the foundation of our Nation to
I thank my colleague, Mr. Yoho, for introducing this resolution of
which I am a proud cosponsor.
Mr. Speaker, there you have it. You know I am right.
Mr. YOHO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Weber).
I appreciate him standing up for the rule of law because, if we are not
a Nation of law, everything falls apart, civil society falls apart.
Just last week in my district there was a fight over transgender
bathrooms. It is a fight people want to have.
We came up here at the beginning of last week and spoke in front of
the Supreme Court. They heard the argument on the President's Executive
order on November 20, 2014, to waive our immigration laws and grant 4
to 5 million people here illegally resident status.
That case was heard last week, and there was a large group of
proponents wanting the Supreme Court to side with the President. Our
President has said over 22 times that he cannot change that law. He has
admitted to that.
I thought it was ironic that the people in my district were arguing
over transgender bathrooms and the group up here--and I know a lot of
them were here illegally--were arguing in the United States of America
in front of the Supreme Court, the freest country in the world. The
only reason that they can come up and have a voice of dissension is
because we have a Constitution.
Our Constitution, when it was formed, wasn't a Republican idea and
wasn't a Democratic idea. It was something that came together after
1,000 years from the Magna Carta on up that formed a Constitution that
formed the Republic that we have.
When I look at the people arguing--and, you know, it is the
Republicans against the Democrats or the Conservatives against the
Liberals or whatever group you want to put in there--the only reason we
have those arguments is because we have a document that is an American
document. It is American ideology that all parties should come together
to preserve. That is why this argument is so important.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman, a freshman from the State of
Georgia (Mr. Carter).
Mr. CARTER of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I commend Representative Yoho for
holding this Special Order on executive overreach.
As a lifelong healthcare professional and former businessowner, I
believe the healthcare industry is flooded with examples of President
Obama's administration overreaching its authority and either ignoring
congressional intent or refusing to enforce laws enacted by Congress.
As recent as last Monday, April 18, the FDA issued new guidance
related to the Drug Quality and Security Act and compounding
On November 27, 2013, President Obama signed the Drug Quality and
Security Act, DQSA, into law. Within the DQSA, several important
provisions were related to the oversight of compounding human
In fact, DQSA created two types of compounding pharmacies, 503A
pharmacies and 503B pharmacies. 503A compounding pharmacies are small,
community pharmacies that only compound small quantities of medication
to a very limited number of doctors and patients with very specific
A perfect example of this is a servicemember who has lost a limb in
war. Some servicemen and -women who have lost their limbs experience
significant amounts of pain that regular medication does not adequately
address. Compounded medication helps with this specialized need.
503B compounding facilities are those outsourcing facilities that
manufacture compounded medications and ship them all over the country.
When Congress debated DQSA, many statements were made by both House
and Senate congressional Members stating that there was no intent for
this bill to restrict State pharmacy licensing boards and their local
control of small, community pharmacies.
In fact, the FDA was directed by Congress that, in regards to
inspection standards, 503B facilities would be the only ones subjected
to good manufacturing inspection standards. You would think that that
would make sense, that only manufacturing facilities would be subjected
to good manufacturing practice standards.
In addition, congressional intent was clear that 503A community
pharmacies could continue to provide office-use compounded medication
as they had always done. Did FDA adhere to the obvious congressional
intent of DQSA related to compounding? No.
FDA's recent guidance states that all medication that is compounded
by small, community pharmacists needs to have a specific patient
Your local dermatologist, who keeps a local anesthetic in the office
to remove skin to test for cancer, is going to have to write a
prescription, have the patient go to the pharmacist, get their
prescription filled, and then schedule another appointment before
checking to see if they have skin cancer.
This goes against all congressional intent, to allow State pharmacy
boards to continue local control of their small pharmacies. Now, all
State pharmacy boards that allow office use have had their powers taken
away from them.
The FDA guidance also pointed out that, except under certain
circumstances, good manufacturing inspection standards will always be
used to inspect all compounding pharmacies.
So pharmacists who provide specialized compounded medication to one
patient with a specific need will be subjected to large corporation
inspection standards that will cost significant financial investments.
In essence, the FDA has ignored congressional intent related to the
DQSA and has ultimately eliminated an entire sector of the healthcare
industry that was providing specialized care to patients with special
In fact, the HHS informed my office that, if we continue to pursue
this matter and try to rein in the FDA's overreach, we, Congress, would
be responsible for the next 100 deaths from compounded medication.
This example is just one of many that I have experienced with this
Recently, HHS instituted a rule that would require pharmacy benefit
managers to update their maximum allowable cost list every 7 days.
These MAC lists control what pharmacists are reimbursed. If they are
not updated regularly, pharmacists lose business because they are not
reimbursed by Medicare at the present market price.
A recent call with the inspector general of HHS informed my office
that pharmacy benefit managers are not complying with this new rule
because HHS has not designated anyone to ensure that pricing lists are
updated every 7 days.
Mr. Speaker, let me rephrase that. HHS is not enforcing their rules
on MAC price updating because no one is assigned to enforce this law.
You would think that, if a rule was created, the agency would work to
enforce that rule, but apparently not.
Over the last 7\1/2\ years, President Obama's administration has
shown a complete disregard for Article I of our Constitution and the
powers that our Founding Fathers wanted this institution to have.
They interpret enacted legislation against the intent of Congress,
they refuse to enforce laws that were meant to bring transparency to
the American people, and they choose when congressional direction is
applicable law and when it is not.
This body should take a long, hard look at the actions of these
agencies. They are not following the law and intent that was created by
this body, and action should be taken to remove these bureaucrats so
the American people can have the government they deserve.
Again I want to thank the gentleman, Representative Yoho, for
bringing this to light. This is a very serious subject that needs to be
Mr. YOHO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Georgia for his
comments, for his work, and for bringing this to light because, again,
these issues that we are discussing are not Republican or Democrat.
This is about the rule of law and maintaining the uniqueness of this
institution, and that is something all Americans benefit from. If we
lose it, all Americans are going to be hurt by that.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Benishek), a
friend and colleague.
Mr. BENISHEK. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Yoho for organizing this
Special Order hour.
You know, this is one of the reasons I ran for Congress. The abuse of
power and executive overreach coming from the White House right now is
Like many of my colleagues here tonight, I am a firm believer in the
Constitution. I believe it is the duty of the President to faithfully
execute the law, not to willfully ignore it for political gain.
A President cannot implement legislation through Executive orders or
agency rulemaking. Yet, we have witnessed this administration launch
attacks against the Second Amendment, impose burdensome regulations
through the EPA and other agencies, and enact many policies without the
support of Congress or the American people.
I have spoken to a wide array of my constituents throughout the
northern half of Michigan in the time I have been here in Congress.
They are constantly telling me about some new regulation that some
Federal agency is coming up with that doesn't seem to do anything as
far as promoting welfare or improving the environment, but it is simply
making it more difficult for businesses to remain open. It is really
affecting their ability to hire people.
In my district, one of the big complaints we have had is the EPA
attempting to limit the ability to have a wood stove. Well, it gets
pretty cold in northern Michigan in the winter, and people save money
by cutting their own wood and burning it in their homes. Then the EPA
comes out saying that we can't have wood stoves that don't meet this
criterion, and it doesn't make any sense for people in my district.
Furthermore, the EPA's waters of the U.S. proposal to regulate
ditches to manmade ponds doesn't do one thing to truly protect our
water resources. Instead, it overloads small farmers, loggers, and
other businesses with needless red tape and compliance costs.
There is a reason that our Founding Fathers created separate, but
equal, branches of government. The executive branch and agencies like
the EPA are charged with carrying out the intent of Congress. We have
made incredible strides in cleaning up our Nation's air and water.
However, what happens when these giant bureaucracies start to feel
themselves becoming relevant? Unelected bureaucrats began writing
onerous legislation to justify their own existence, and they do this
with absolutely no regard for the practical effect that these
regulations have on local families and businesses.
Mr. YOHO. Mr. Speaker, I reclaim my time.
I got a notice from the EPA when I first got up here. It was January
2014, and it was a pamphlet with their new regulations.
In that, what they were talking about is that their new rules and
regulations would have minimal effect on air quality and human health,
but they are going ahead anyway.
In the example you brought up about the wood-burning fireplaces, we
have done a tremendous job of cleaning up the air quality in this
country, as other countries need to do, but we shouldn't go after
things that aren't going to really have a difference.
I yield to the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. BENISHEK. Mr. Speaker, I agree with the gentleman from Florida.
In my district, although it has been several years, the EPA shut down
the construction of a brand-new coal plant. Okay? This coal plant would
have been the purest coal-fired power plant in the country.
It ran with new technology, and there is no reason for it being shut
down. This plant would not even produce any CO2. That
CO2 was being captured by the coal plant and used by
industry to create other products.
So this administration has taken on a proposal and used the EPA not
to make our environment better, but to have a war on coal. I mean, the
EPA and the President doesn't talk about making our atmosphere and our
environment cleaner. It talks about a war on coal.
That is just the wrong attitude to have, and it really needs to be
directed by Congress. It is unbelievable what we have gone through. It
can cause economic damage to this country. Right now we are competing
with the Chinese who don't have any significant pollution controls on
their power plants, and we have invested billions as Americans, each
one of us, by paying for more expensive power to really clean up our
How are the Chinese doing that?
Now that we have basically cleaned up our atmosphere, they want to
impose even higher and higher standards that actually are causing our
business to go down and steel production is going over there where they
are polluting even worse.
Mr. YOHO. Reclaiming my time, I think you and I were in a meeting the
other day in one of the committees. We had a fellow, he was an attorney
who worked under the Reagan White House, and he worked with the EPA. He
was saying the EPA went from regulations to clean stuff up. Now it is
regulations that you can't. You can't have coal-fired power plants, you
can't do this, and it was an agency of can't. I think you were in that
meeting. It shows, again, the overstepping of agencies, and it shows
how administrations or executive branches rewrite laws or they
legislate from the executive branch through the administrative
agencies, and we have seen an increase in this.
Again, it is not just this administration, but I think President
Obama, this administration has done us a favor by bringing this to
light with the 24,000 regulations that are coming out that are
crippling the American economy and businesses. If it is doing that, it
is crushing the middle class and all Americans.
Mr. BENISHEK. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. YOHO. I yield to the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. BENISHEK. Mr. Speaker, the things we are talking about here today
really are examples of the Federal Government getting involved in
things that they don't have the right to do. I think a lot of it comes
from these bureaucrats that are just writing regulations that really
you can't comply with, and that is basically the reason that these
coal-fired power plants are going out of existence.
Most of these problems have been eliminated by the work that we have
done on improving our environment, and I applaud that America has made
the investment before any other country in making that happen, but to
regulate us to the point that businesses are going overseas and
polluting the planet worse because of our policies, because if we did
the stuff here, we would do it cleaner.
The University of Michigan has had an environmental research station
in northern Michigan in my district for the last 60, 70 years. The
scientists at the University of Michigan tell me that most of the
mercury that falls from the sky in Michigan comes from China and India,
that we have essentially eliminated mercury as a problem in the
environment from our industry here. But because we are not dealing with
that problem of the Indians and the Chinese doing that, we are ignoring
that and actually giving them the ability--by not having to comply with
a lot of these rules, the ability to pollute the planet worse than we
would if we were doing those things here.
Mr. YOHO. May I add to that?
Mr. BENISHEK. Sure.
Mr. YOHO. We went to a coal-fired power plant in our district, and
they were saying in the old days a typical coal-fired power plant would
put out approximately 50 pounds of mercury a year. Today it is less
than 2 pounds. That is a significant difference from 50 to 2. That is a
48-pound reduction in mercury going into the atmosphere.
What is the significance and the benefit going from 2 pounds to 0,
and at what cost do you go forward?
Being a veterinarian for 30 years, I have never treated an animal
with mercury toxicity. I think you need to have common sense in
regulations, and, of course, the worst place to go for that is
I will let you continue.
Mr. BENISHEK. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Mr. Yoho for putting on
this Special Order hour. I am very happy to be able to participate in
it. I think that we really need to be sure the American people are
aware of what is going on and that they make their decisions when they
go to the polls based on this information. So thank you very much.
Mr. YOHO. I appreciate the gentleman's participation and his
Mr. Speaker, this is not a Republican or Democratic argument. That
should not even weigh into this. It is not conservatives versus
liberals. These are American ideologies that we all have to come
together to preserve, and I can't think of one person more suited to
talk about this than somebody I have a lot of admiration for who sits
on the House Committee on Agriculture with me. He is from the State my
wife is from, the State of Iowa.
I yield to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King).
Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Florida for
pulling this Special Order together and for his generous introduction,
and especially for Mr. Yoho's leadership on the restoration of article
I authority and addressing the executive overreach that has become part
and parcel of the Obama administration. It didn't begin there, but it
needs to end with the next President of the United States and be slowed
down in the last months of the Obama administration.
Mr. Speaker, I was just exercising a thought here as I was reviewing
some of the executive overreach that we have seen from this President,
and it occurred to me to take a look at the Declaration of Independence
and review some of what I will call the lamentations of our Founding
Fathers. It is to this effect, Mr. Speaker. When we get to the laments,
these are the things, the wrongs that have been committed by the King
It says in the Declaration: ``The history of the present King of
Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations''--that
sounds like the history of our current President of the United States--
``all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny
over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid
This is from our Declaration, Mr. Speaker. I will just quickly hit
some of these.
``He has refused his Assent to Laws . . .''
``He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws . . .''
``He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation . . . of
people . . .''
``He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual . . .''
``He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly . . .''
``He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby''--summarizing that, hindering
legislative activity elsewhere.
``He has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for
that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;
refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither . . .''
``He has obstructed the Administration of Justice . . .''
``He has made Judges dependent on his Will . . .''
``He has erected a Multitude of new Offices''--that would be his
``He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies . . .''
Well, not quite, but rumors of them do exist.
We could go on and on and on, the grief that King George dished out
on our original colonists here at the time of the Revolution, at the
time of this Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, but I look at
the present times, and it rings to be pretty close--along the way there
are echoes of 1776--in the overreach of the President of the United
I mentioned them. This is a list from some testimony before the
Executive Overreach Task Force, which I have the privilege to chair,
and among this list are some of these:
He has appointed policy czars to high-level positions to avoid
constitutionally required confirmation hearings--that could be lifted
almost right out of the Declaration of Independence.
By modifying, delaying, and ignoring various provisions of ObamaCare,
in violation of the law itself--that is a long list of things on
ObamaCare that the President has altered outside of the law.
By attacking private citizens for engaging in constitutionally
protected speech--utilizing the IRS to diminish that as well.
By issuing draconian regulations regarding sexual assault on campus.
By ignoring 100 years of legal rulings and the plain text of the
Constitution and trying to get a vote in Congress for the D.C.
Delegate--I had forgotten that one, actually.
By trying to enact massive immigration reform via an executive order,
demanding that the Department of Homeland Security both refuse to
enforce existing immigration law and provide work permits to millions
of people residing in the U.S. illegally.
Now, these all ring like the laments, the charges that were laid
against King George in 1776. It is the same tone. It is a similar
message. It is going outside the law and outside the Constitution.
By imposing Common Core standards on the States via administrative
By ignoring bankruptcy law and arranging Chrysler's bankruptcy to
benefit labor unions at the expense of bondholders.
And I could continue.
Well, here is one that is of significant interest to my State and I
think to Florida and many other States, and that is his imposition of a
regulation called the Waters of the United States. That dropped on us
on May 27, 2015.
The Waters of the United States said we are going to regulate all the
navigable waters of the United States. Oh, and this ambiguous term that
is called--let's see. It used to be ``and waters hydrologically
connected to them.'' That got litigated into being too ambiguous even
for the courts to tolerate. They are the masters of ambiguity. But
instead they put the language in that said ``these waters of the United
States shall be the navigable waters of the United States and waters
that have a significant nexus to the waters of the United States.''
Now, a significant nexus is going to be determined by the
administration, another term of ambiguity.
I see some eagerness over here on the part of the gentleman from
Florida. Does he have something to add?
Mr. YOHO. The interpretation we got: ``and seasonably wet areas.'' I
come from Florida. It is seasonably wet all year long. I mean, we get
57 to 60 inches of rain a year, so everything is seasonably wet in our
great State, and they fall into that. The little puddle in my yard,
when it rains, it might stand 3 or 4 inches. We are on a sandy soil.
When it stops raining, it goes away in 5 minutes, but that could be
interpreted as navigable waters, and I am probably 10 miles from a body
of water. It is just amazing.
Mr. KING of Iowa. Well, to the gentleman from Florida, we may have a
legitimate competition going on here. The Waters of the United States
regulation would put 96.7 percent of my State under the EPA's
regulatory jurisdiction. Florida would be a competitor to that number,
I would think.
Mr. YOHO. Yes, it would be all of Florida.
Mr. KING of Iowa. All of Florida. I have said that once you regulate
waters hydrologically connected to or once you get to define
significant nexus, that goes all the way up to the kitchen sink. We
know that soil itself, whether it is under water, it can be saturated
with water, and just old black Iowa dirt can be 25 percent water, so
they have got it all, this overreach of the Federal Government.
Our Founding Fathers envisioned that there would be a competition
between the branches of government to sustain their constitutional
authority in each branch. They wanted to draw as bright a line as
possible between the three branches of government, with the courts
being the weakest of the three. They expected that we would jealously
guard the constitutional authority. Congress writes all the laws. The
President is supposed to enforce all the laws. That should be pretty
the President has reached across that over and over and over again, as
evidenced by this list of laments that I offer, Mr. Speaker.
Does the gentleman from Florida have something to add?
Mr. YOHO. As I traveled as a veterinarian, and I was talking to
somebody, we got in a discussion about the Constitution, and they
wanted to know why I was so hung up on it. I explained to them that the
very people that are fighting to preserve our founding principles that
our rights come from a Creator, not from government, that government is
instituted by men and women to preserve those God-given rights, and
that our core values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,
the unalienable rights of those things, that all men are created equal,
and they are protected by the Constitution.
I said it is that very document that people are fighting to preserve
that give people on the left a voice of dissension or people on the
right a voice of dissension. I said: If we lose those very things that
made America great, if we lose those, people will lose their voice of
dissension. If you don't believe that, go to a country like Cuba, go to
China, go to Iran and proselytize. It is not possible.
The amazing thing is that person called me about 30 minutes later and
said: You know, we got thinking about that, and that really is what
this is about. It is not Republican or Democrat. It is not conservative
or liberal. Those are American ideologies that made this country great.
I would hope our friends on the other side of the aisle would come
and say: You guys are right, we want to preserve the constitutional
Does the gentleman from Iowa have anything else to add?
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentleman from Florida for those
timeless thoughts. Something that our Founding Fathers discovered was a
concept that was relatively new to society at the time, and that is the
concept of God-given liberty and God-given rights, natural rights,
natural rights that did emerge with Locke, for example, in the United
Kingdom, but they hadn't been implanted into culture and civilization
until they were implanted in America.
Here we are in this country, everyone that serves in this Chamber
takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United
States, as do all the Senators on the other end of this Capitol
Building, as does everyone who puts on a uniform to defend our country,
and many of them who serve within our executive branch as well. The
President is a bit of an exception because he is required to deliver an
oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United
States, and he is required to take care that the laws be faithfully
And what he has done, instead, is turn himself into an independent
legislative body. He has said 22 times: I don't have the constitutional
authority--and I am going to summarize here--to grant amnesty to
millions of people in America. That is up to the legislature.
He taught the Constitution at the University of Chicago for 10 years
as an adjunct professor teaching Con law. And that was the message, I
am sure, that he taught in those classrooms; and it was a message he
taught in a classroom out here at one of the high schools in D.C.
shortly before he decided to reverse his position and impose this edict
of amnesty on the United States, which went down through a long path of
litigation for more than 2 years and a week ago last Monday was heard
before the United States Supreme Court, at least in the DAPA case--the
deferred action for parents of anchor babies is actually what that
acronym stands for, in my view.
So I take this oath that I have to support and defend the
Constitution seriously. I have the privilege of serving on the
Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee of the House Judiciary
Committee and of chairing this task force. I congratulate the gentleman
from Florida for stepping up to the lead on this issue.
Mr. YOHO. If I may add to one of your comments, because you brought
up the philosophers Locke and Howe, philosophers of old, when we look
at the American period of time--227 years, roughly, the U.S.
Constitution and a constitutional Republic as a country have been in
existence, the longest time a republic has been in existence--when you
go back to the beginning of human recorded history to today and you
look at the American period where we are at today, it is but a dot on
Yet that dot represents the largest middle class that has ever been
allowed to happen. It is the first time there have been property rights
that you can have and the right to pursue life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. It is only possible because we had a Constitution
that preserved those rights. So I would think we could all come
together and protect those rights for the next generation, for the
posterity of this Nation.
I would like to see if you had any thoughts on that, and then I will
Mr. KING of Iowa. I am looking at our job and our destiny here, and I
think that our constitutional obligation is to restore the pillars of
American exceptionalism. You can identify many of them in the
Constitution itself. In the Bill of Rights it is pretty well
summarized: freedom of speech, religion, the press, the freedom to
peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of
The Second Amendment rights, which are the property rights that the
gentleman mentioned, I would point out that, in the Kelo decision,
which happened about 10 years, the Supreme Court ruled that they could
amend the Constitution itself. Well, they didn't say they did, but that
was the effect of their decision. ``Nor shall private property be taken
for public use without just compensation'' is part of the Fifth
Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that private property could be taken
for private use as long as there was just compensation. So they struck
the three words ``for public use'' as a conditional clause out of the
Fifth Amendment. We had a Supreme Court that amended the Constitution,
We have a Supreme Court last June that amended ObamaCare by writing
words into it; ``or Federal Government'' would be the three words
inserted there. And then, the next day, they decided they would create
a new command in the Constitution, a command that all States shall
conduct same-sex weddings and honor them from other States, as if
somehow that were the will of the people or something done under the
This is an appalling reach on the part of the Supreme Court. It is
even more appalling on the part of the President of the United States,
and it is our task to identify what needs to be done and start down
that mission of restoring the constitutional authority and this balance
between the branches of government.
I am happy to have a chance to say a few words.
Mr. YOHO. Today, in one of our committees, we were hearing about the
Attorney General and how she stated that those who speak out against
the administration's climate change policy possibly being a crime.
Think about that. They are examining if you speak out against
something that is unfavorable to an administration. It is going against
freedom of speech, our First Amendment, the very things that we fought
for and that everybody who has come before us has fought for. I think
this would be something that would scare everybody, if we are that
close to losing the very document.
I hold in my hand--and you have seen me do this before--the
Declaration of Independence, in total, and the U.S. Constitution, in
total. I think we can all agree this is not an epic in volume. I can
read this in a day. This is not an epic in volume, but yet it is an
epic in ideology of what free men and women can do in a country that
honors and reveres this document. It just so important that we come
As I stated earlier, I think Mr. Obama has done us a favor in showing
us how weak we have become as an institution and how weak our rule of
law is. And for us to succeed and continue as a constitutional
Republic, we must--we have to--bring those Article I powers back to
I yield to the gentleman.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentleman from Florida for that
statement. I absolutely believe that, deeply.
I think one of the important things is that we educate the young
what the Constitution says and what it means. We have a President of
the United States who was a professional Constitution teacher, who we
know knows the history and the text of the Constitution and takes his
oath to preserve, protect, and defend it and take care that the laws be
faithfully executed and explains it in stop after stop succinctly, in
ways that I agree with this President, and then he turns around and, by
his own definition--and by his definition is all I am referring to
here, Mr. Speaker--breaks his own oath. So we are here now trying to
restore the knowledge base of America.
Members of Congress arrive here as freshmen, and they take an oath to
the Constitution. They don't know what it means anymore. The Supreme
Court thinks they can amend the Constitution; they can manufacture new
commands in the Constitution; they can violate Article I authority. And
the President can do so at will.
But I would point out that, 13 times, the President of the United
States' position has been unanimously reversed by the United States
Supreme Court--President Obama, 13 times, unanimously reversed. Another
11 times, he has lost on a 5-4 decision.
So he has stretched this Constitution beyond that. Even his own
appointees in the Supreme Court can't stomach it; that is how bad this
is. But I want to see the right appointments to the Supreme Court so
the whole Constitution is revered, respected, and we see cases go
before the Court and, once again, we can predict the Court will rule on
the Constitution rather than their political whims.
Mr. YOHO. I appreciate you bringing that up, because you bring up how
many times it has been overstepped as of recent, but other
administrations have done it in the past. But it sets a precedent from
this point forward. If we don't rein it in now, when do you rein it in?
Do you wait for the next candidate to come in? And we have had talks
about that. If we don't do it now, it be would like buying fire
insurance after your house catches on fire. It doesn't work.
So it is so important that we come together as a body. Again, the
Constitution is not a product of Republicans or Democrats or
conservatives or liberals. The Constitution is not a function of
government. Government is a function of the Constitution.
When government steps over the boundaries of the Constitution, it is
us--we, the people--the Representatives that were sent up here to hold
and rein in the branches that are out of balance. This is all about
bringing the three branches of government into balance.
Let me just wind up with this. Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like
to thank all the Members who have joined me this evening. Restoring
Article I powers is so vital to the survival of our constitutional
At this very moment, there are individuals seeking the highest office
in the land who have stated, if Congress disagrees with them, they have
no qualms about taking action on their own, circumventing Congress and
disregarding the founding principles enshrined in our Constitution.
That should give concern to everybody.
The time has arrived for us to take action to restore this
institution to the one the Founders envisioned. Granted, you can say
what you want about our Founding Fathers, but they got this right--
again, as you and have I have talked about, with divine intervention--
and they put in place a way to amend it to make it better, not to get
rid of it. It is time for us to stand up for this body, the people's
I will leave you with this reminder. All it takes for evil or tyranny
to prevail or for our constitutional Republic to fail is for those good
men and women to do nothing.
I, Mr. Speaker, and the people that have joined us tonight, our
colleagues that participated, will not sit idly by when the very
document that has allowed so many people to be free, to achieve beyond
their beliefs to a level never before ever achieved in human history,
is being marginalized by inaction.
I know my good friend from Iowa feels the same. And if you have any
last remarks, you have got about 1 minute, if you want to wrap it up.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank, again, the gentleman from Florida. I
appreciate you coming to the floor with this leadership that is here.
If no one stepped forward in leadership and we just went along as if
somehow the Constitution were going to be restored, it would never be
restored. And I would remind people, Mr. Speaker, that it is one thing
to give lip service to the Constitution; it is another to exercise it.
Freedom of speech is being exercised here right now. Freedom of
assembly is being exercised across this country right now. The right to
keep and bear arms, if it were never exercised, the liberals would
define it away from us.
Any one of these rights that we have that come from God, defined by
our Founding Fathers, is also something we have got to exercise and
utilize; if not, over time, the enemies of freedom will find a way to
say: Well, it is just an artifact of history.
If we stop exercising our right to keep and bear arms, in a matter of
a generation, someone will say it is just an artifact of history. We
are going to confiscate your guns. And after a while, they will zip
your lip if you don't watch it. We can't let that happen.
So I appreciate this Special Order here tonight with the gentleman
from Florida's leadership, and I appreciate my Constitution and the
rights that come, especially from God.
Mr. YOHO. I thank my colleague from Iowa, and I want to thank
everybody that participated.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are advised to refrain from engaging
in personalities toward the President.