Continuing Resolution to Fund the Government: Yes. Hopefully, this is the last continuing resolution that we will see. Like those before it, it spends too much, abandons Congress’ fundamental responsibility to superintend the nation’s finances, and circumvents the normal budget process. But it also gets us out of the debt, doubt and despair of the Obama administration into the prosperity, hope and promise of the Trump era. It will give our new President enough time to change the spending priorities that will fund the remainder of the fiscal year and set our course toward solvency and prosperity in the years ahead. This alone gets it past my gag reflex.
WRDA Conference Report: Water for California; Fire Protection for Tahoe
December 7, 2016
The conference report on the Water Resources Development Act is the product of many, many hours of good-faith negotiations between the House and Senate and between Republicans and Democrats. Like any compromise, I don’t like everything in it; but the net effect is an important step forward in protecting against the devastation of future droughts in California and catastrophic wildfire that threatens Lake Tahoe.
It provides for $335 million for desperately needed surface water storage. It opens a new era of hatcheries to provide for burgeoning populations of endangered fish species. It adds flexibility to management of New Melones Reservoir and water transfers to assure water can be more efficiently moved to where it is most needed. It adds strong protection to Northern California area of origin water rights. It expedites review and approval of new projects. It updates flood control management criteria to make better use of our existing reservoirs.
I particularly want to highlight the provisions related to Lake Tahoe. For many years, we’ve spent enormous resources to adjust drainage in the basin to improve water clarity at the lake. The Senate version of the measure introduced this session by Senators Heller and Feinstein continued this effort.
But the Heller-Feinstein bill neglected the most immediate environmental threat to Lake Tahoe, and that is catastrophic wildfire. The Senate bill had no provision for forest management specifically for fire prevention.
The number of acres burned by wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin has increased each decade since 1973, including a ten-fold increase over the past decade. Eighty percent of the Tahoe Basin forests are now densely and dangerously overgrown. They are dying. At lower elevations, there are now four times as many trees as the land can support. Modeling by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit warns that in two thirds of the forest, conditions now exist for flame size and intensity that are literally explosive. If a super-fire of the size we’ve seen in other parts of the Sierra were to strike the Tahoe Basin, it could decimate this lake and its surroundings for a generation to come.
For this reason, Congressman Amodei and I introduced a bill aimed strictly at fire prevention. This measure is specifically designed – after extensive input from fire districts throughout the Tahoe region – to reduce excess fuel before it burns.
It provides for expediting collaborative fuel reduction projects consistent with the Lake Tahoe Land and Resource Management Plan and it calls for funds generated by timber sales and other fee-based revenues to stay in the Tahoe Basin to provide for further fuels management and other improvements.
This was falsely portrayed by left-wing activists in the region as a substitute for the Senate bill. As Congressman Amodei and I repeatedly made clear, it was designed to supplement that bill and to fill a very glaring deficiency that ignored the single greatest environmental hazard to the lake.
I am very pleased to note that the critical provisions of both bills – for lake clarity and fire prevention – are now in the conference report, thanks to the bipartisan negotiations between House and Senate negotiators, most notably by Senator Feinstein and House Majority Leader McCarthy.
Unfortunately, in the last 48 hours, Senator Boxer has threatened to blindside this effort and destroy the fruit of these years of labor and endless hours of negotiation. She has threatened to assemble enough votes – not to put forward a positive and credible plan of her own to address these critical needs – but rather to ruin the painstaking negotiations of many others just as they are coming to fruition.
In the last four years, the King Fire, the Butte Fire, the Rough Fire and the Rim Fire have destroyed more than a thousand square miles of forests in the Sierra. If we don’t restore forest management in the Tahoe Basin NOW, the next fire could reduce its magnificent forests to cinders, and clog the lake with ash and debris for decades to come.
We can only pray that wiser heads prevail in the Senate and that this conference report is speedily adopted by both houses and signed by the President.
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On the Impeachment of John Koskinen as IRS Commissioner:
On the motion to lay on the table: NO.
On the motion to refer to committee: YES.
On December 6, Congressman Jim Jordan moved to impeach John Koskinen as IRS commissioner for actions related to the IRS harassment of taxpayer groups based on their political beliefs. Although Koskinen did not order the harassment, there is considerable evidence that he willfully obstructed a lawful Congressional investigation of the matter and that he lied to Congress. If proven, either of these actions constitutes an impeachable offense. Nancy Pelosi moved to lay the motion on the table, which in House practice is the same as defeating it. Because I believe the motion to impeach Koskinen is a legitimate exercise of Congress’ constitutional authority, I voted against this motion.
However, the power of impeachment is one of the most serious checks on an abusive executive branch that Congress possesses, and it must be exercised judiciously and with full respect to due process. Once an impeachment resolution is introduced, the Judiciary Committee must then begin a full investigation, the accused accorded the right to answer the charges, and the evidence obtained from this investigation must then guide the Congress in its deliberations. Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte moved to refer the motion to his committee to begin this constitutional process. I voted to do so.
It is unfortunate that this impeachment motion was made in the closing hours of the session, with no time for serious and sober consideration in the House or trial by the Senate. I believe this tactic made a mockery of this vital constitutional function and trivialized the very serious charges against Koskinen. This resolution should have been introduced many months ago, so that a credible impeachment process could proceed. It was not.
The new Congress convenes on January 3rd. Koskinen’s term as IRS commissioner does not expire until November of 2017. If the authors of this resolution were serious about proceeding – and they should be – the time to introduce an impeachment resolution would be in less than a month, when a credible, factual and compelling impeachment could be undertaken.
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H.R. 4680 – National Park Service Centennial Act
House Chambers, Washington, D.C.
December 6, 2016
This year marked the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service and of the uniquely American notion that our most beautiful and historic lands should be set aside for the use, resort and recreation of the American people as set forth in the original Yosemite Grant Act. Or, in the words of the Organic Act of 1916 that established the National Parks, “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same.”
Yet, a century into this endeavor, the Park Service faces considerable challenges to achieving these objectives. The Park Service’s original charge was to manage just 35 national parks and monuments. Today, it is responsible for over 400 units across 84 million acres. This exponential growth has left many locations in disrepair, facing a growing backlog of deferred maintenance, now exceeding $12 billion.
In addition to desperately needed maintenance, the Park Service also faces challenges with fee collection, technological upgrades, management of concessions contracts for visitor services, and most disturbingly, a substantial decrease in over-night visitation. The decline has been particularly high among young people. Recent reports indicate that visits to parks by those 15 years of age and younger has fallen by half in the last decade.
The National Park Service Centennial Act provides the Park Service with new tools and authorities it can use to maintain and improve the system. Provisions in this bill help reduce the Service’s deferred maintenance backlog by generating new revenue to pay for needed capital improvements and leveraging private philanthropic donations to amplify this effort. In turn, these funds will be used to enhance visitor services, provide wi-fi and cellular access that young people demand and expand the Volunteers in Parks and Public Lands Corps programs that are so important in welcoming the public to the public lands.
I believe the three greatest challenges to federal lands management are to restore public access to the public lands, to restore sound management to the public lands, and to restore the federal government as a good neighbor to those communities directly affected by the public lands.
This bill does all three. It promotes public access and enjoyment of the parks by promoting the expansion, modernization and improvement of visitor services and amenities. It promotes good management by placing priority and generating funds to address the growing maintenance backlog. And it repairs the relationship between the federal and local governments by giving local officials a say in future historic designations.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the last century and begin the next century of our National Park Service than to restore the vision of its founders.Read More
Paying for Infrastructure Without Soaking the Taxpayer
Congressman Tom McClintock
House Chambers, Washington, D.C.
December 1, 2016
President-elect Trump has many difficult fiscal tasks ahead – one of which is to promote long-overdue infrastructure construction at a time when the national debt exceeds our entire economy and interest costs alone are eating us alive.
Some have said that a rebounding economy resulting from tax reform will pay for it. That may be, but it’s not guaranteed; it cannot be accurately forecast; and we’ll need any new revenues to beef up our defenses and reduce our deficit – two other critical objectives of the new administration.
Others have proposed tax credits to leverage private capital for infrastructure improvements. But tax credits reduce revenue and widen the deficit. Worse, such public-private partnerships have also proven a fertile breeding ground for corruption, crony-capitalism, waste and fraud.
And as we learned during the Obama stimulus fiasco, massive government spending might stimulate government, but it does little to stimulate the economy when it is squandered for boondoggles like subsidizing Solyndra and paying cash for clunkers.
So how do we avoid the mistakes of the past, control the deficit, protect taxpayers and yet add a trillion dollars of new infrastructure in a way that helps the economy and not merely lines the pockets of politically well-connected interests?
FIRST: Get government out of the way! Stop obstructing major infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline. Keystone and many other projects like it across the country already have private capital ready to finance them. Keystone by itself would unleash an estimated $8 billion of privately financed infrastructure construction and would deliver a half million barrels a day of Canadian crude oil entering U.S. markets.
In my district alone, one abusive official at the Sacramento office of the Army Corps of Engineers single-handedly blocked tens of millions of dollars of critical infrastructure construction desperately sought by local governments in the region. Multiply that across the country, and you can see how much infrastructure is ALREADY financed but cannot move forward because of federal obstructionism.
SECOND: Streamline radical regulations that have made many infrastructure projects cost-prohibitive.
In my district, the little town of Foresthill gets its water from the Sugar Pine Reservoir, formed by a dam that has an 18-foot spillway, but no spillway gate. The town is trying to increase the reservoir’s capacity by adding the missing gate. The gate will cost $2 million. But environmental studies, environmental mitigation and U.S. Forest Service Fees have inflated that cost to at least $11 million – so this project has stalled. Multi-billion dollar expansion of Shasta Dam is stalled for the same reason. Once again, multiply this across the rest of the country.
THIRD: Use revenue bonds to finance capital-intensive projects like dams and bridges. California built its iconic Golden Gate and Bay Bridges with loans from private investors – repaid by tolls charged only to the users of the bridges. The taxpayers were never on the hook for a dime, and the loans were paid back ahead of schedule.
The famous California Water Project constructed 21 dams and more than 700 miles of canals. The revenue bonds and self-liquidating general obligation bonds that financed it were paid back not by general taxpayers, but by the users of the water and power.
FOURTH: Restore the integrity of our highway trust fund. We built the modern Interstate system with the federal excise tax paid only by highway users at the gas pump. The more you drove, the more you paid for the roads you were using. But over the decades, more and more of these funds were bled away to subsidize mass transit and other purposes unrelated to highway construction. Restoring highway taxes for highways would go a long way toward addressing the maintenance and construction backlog.
FIFTH: Repeal the outdated Davis-Bacon Act that requires federal projects to pay grossly inflated wages. Think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimate that Davis-Bacon alone inflates total construction costs by roughly 10 percent. Just repealing this act alone would add one new project for every ten existing ones at no additional cost.
These are just a few ways that massive infrastructure projects can be financed at zero cost to general taxpayers. And because these reforms are actually directed at projects for which there is a demonstrated economic need, political favoritism and corruption inherent in government-directed programs can be greatly reduced.
Mr. Speaker, freedom works. And it is time we put it – and America – back to work.
H.R. 6 – 21st Century Cures ACT: YES. This bill expedites FDA approvals for new medical drugs and devices and authorizes spending on major research into cancer and Alzheimer’s. I voted against the original bill because it established multiple new mandatory spending programs outside of Congress’ annual appropriations review and depended primarily on budget gimmicks to pay for them. This version replaces the mandatory spending aspects of the bill with discretionary spending that Congress must review and approve ever year, and greatly reduces the pay-for gimmicks. It also incorporates HR 2646, a sweeping mental health bill that is critical to public safety. It is not a perfect bill, but does far more good than harm.
The Senate Must Reform Cloture
Congressman Tom McClintock
House Chambers, Washington, D.C.
November 16, 2016
The American people have given our 45th President and the 115th Congress a clear mandate to revive our economy, secure our borders, restore our nation’s sovereignty, reinstate our Bill of Rights, and uphold the Rule of Law. Moreover, they have given us majorities in both houses of Congress to do so. There is no excuse for failure.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton set a positive tone for the peaceful transition of power, a tone no doubt shared by many members of Congress and many Americans of good will who did not vote on the prevailing side. This represents the best of American statesmanship.
Yet we have also heard reactionary elements of the Democratic Party make a vicious pledge to thwart this mandate and destroy this president. One need look no further than Senator Reid’s disgraceful diatribe on Friday to realize that these threats far exceed the lunatic fringe now violently rioting in our streets. They reach directly into the halls of Congress.
To fulfill the mandate of the American people, we will need to deliberate wisely and in good faith, with all sides participating in the discussion and all voices heard. But ultimately, those deliberations must result in laws to fulfill that mandate. The agenda is daunting and time is fleeting.
The greatest single obstacle to this era of reform is the 60-vote threshold to invoke cloture in the Senate, and I rise today to urge the Senate to finally reform it. Given the record of abuse of this rule and the avowed intentions of many in that body, nothing will change legislatively unless the Senate Republican majority takes action when they organize in January. All the reforms that the American people called for and that the President will request and the House will pass will be stopped dead in the Senate.
I do not argue to abandon this rule, but rather to restore it to its original purpose. Cloture is rooted in a sound and ancient parliamentary principle: that as long as one third of a deliberative body wants to debate an issue, that debate should continue. After all, a minority exists to convince the majority to its way of thinking; this is the essence of deliberation.
But this principle assumes it is an actual debate where members are talking to one another – and it requires that the debate be germane to the question at hand and that it is not dilatory. That is how cloture started – but over the 20th Century it degenerated into a 60-vote administrative threshold just to consider legislation. Ironically, a procedure designed to PROTECT debate has now morphed into a procedure that very effectively PREVENTS debate.
The two houses of Congress are designed to disagree with each other. Once the House and the Senate independently exercise their best judgment on a particular matter, there is a conference process developed over centuries to resolve their differences. But this process cannot function if one house simply refuses to consider the other house’s work.
The modern notion of cloture prevents that process, and the system breaks down. During the last several congresses, the House sent hundreds of bills – including the appropriations bills that fund this government – to the Senate. But instead of amending their ideas into those bills – or sending us bills of their own – they have simply refused to consider them by a minority denying cloture.
Some Senators have said that this mechanism is necessary to preserve collegiality and encourage compromise. How can you have collegiality when one side simply refuses to talk to the other? How can you have compromise when the matter to be compromised cannot be taken up and discussed?
Others have said that since most legislation grows the powers of government, this is an effective brake on that tendency. It’s true this rule effectively blocks bad legislation. It also very effectively blocks good legislation that is necessary to reverse this trend. The current cloture rule provides a ratcheting effect that locks in every expansion of government over the past century.
Some Republicans have said it has been most useful when they’ve been in the minority. I ask them: do you want to be a successful MAJORITY or a successful MINORITY? You cannot be both as long as cloture exists in its current form.
Voters elected Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and they expect action. They’ll get it from the President and from the House. But in order for the Senate to rise to this occasion, it must reform its cloture rule when it organizes in January.
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Statement on Enlistment Bonus Scandal
The reports that the California National Guard is demanding repayment of bonuses offered as enlistment incentives is one of the most outrageous injustices I have ever seen. These men and women acted in good faith and responded to incentives that were promised them in small compensation for their service. For the government now to renege on that promise is dishonorable, despicable and shabby.
If the administration refuses to stand by the promises it made when these soldiers enlisted, immediately forgive these debts and make the soldiers whole, I expect Congress will demand it – and hold accountable the officials responsible for this outrage.
I urge any constituents who are in this position to contact my district office at 916-786-5560. I will stand by them and do everything I can to see this injustice corrected.
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Dedication of FBI Regional Office Site
October 11, 2016
The oath taken by every FBI Agent is not to fight crime, uphold the laws, stop terrorists, or protect the country or its government. Certainly they do all these things, but the ONLY oath an FBI agent takes is to “Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States.”
There’s a reason for that. The American Founders understood that if we ever lose our Constitution, we will have already lost the rule of law, the freedom it protects, and everything that makes our country exceptional and preeminent among all the nations of the world.
Ours is a Constitution that commands the chief executive to “Take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Our President and his officers do not get to choose which laws to enforce and which to ignore; or choose who gets to live above those laws and who must live within them; and they certainly do not have the power to make or modify law by whim. THAT is the very bright line that separates a nation of laws from a nation of men.
It is also a Constitution that gives limited and enumerated powers to the federal government, and specifically reserves ALL other powers to the states and to the people. In a free society, law enforcement is supremely a local and state responsibility.
And our Constitution divides the federal government’s limited powers so they cannot be abused. Congress makes law but cannot enforce it. The executive enforces law but cannot make it. And the independent judiciary alone decides guilt or innocence under the due process rights protected by that same Constitution.
We meet here today to dedicate a new regional office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will cover 122,000 square feet on a sprawling 12 acre parcel originally intended as a commercial center. It will house some 400 employees, a small portion of the more than 35,000 FBI agents and support staff across the nation.
Each agent is sworn solely to “Support and Defend" our Constitution. Their fidelity to that oath is paramount, for the power they wield is immense, and if not bound by that oath, could quickly consume our Republic and everything it stands for.
We dedicate this building today with the faith and expectation that these principles will animate every agent who serves here and with the confidence that in so doing, we will continue to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” unto the latest generation.Read More
Senate Amendment to HR 5325 – Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution: YES. This bill avoids a government shutdown on October 1st by extending current spending authority through December 9th. This is the WORST way to fund the government, because it fails to exercise congressional oversight through the budget and appropriations bills. Unfortunately, sincere but poorly reasoned opposition from the “Freedom Caucus” blocked adoption of the budget this year and doomed legislative efforts to exercise that oversight. Now we have the Hobson’s choice of continuing spending at current levels or shutting down the government on the eve of a presidential election. Ironically, some conservatives who urged defeat of the budget now oppose the continuing resolution (CR) that has resulted from their opposition. They are correct to note that it fails to exercise oversight and spends too much. Yet, oddly, their solution is a much longer CR that carries these bad practices half-way through the next fiscal year!
I normally share conservative skepticism of lame duck legislating, but the election of Donald Trump would dramatically change the lame duck dynamic. This stopgap makes that prospect more likely by preventing a national fiscal crisis from disrupting and distracting from the election. In short, this is the least damaging of the alternatives we currently have and it pains me that some of my conservative friends can’t see that.
434 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Tom McClintock was elected in November 2008 to represent the 4th Congressional District in the United States Congress.
During 22 years in the California State Legislature, and as a candidate for governor in California’s historic recall election, Tom McClintock has become one of the most recognizable political leaders in California.
First elected to the California Assembly at the age of 26, McClintock quickly distinguished himself as an expert in parliamentary procedure and fiscal policy. He served in the Assembly from 1982 to 1992 and again from 1996 to 2000. During these years, he authored California’s current lethal injection death penalty law, spearheaded the campaign to rebate $1.1 billion in tax over-collections to the people of California, and became the driving force in the legislature to abolish the car tax. He has proposed hundreds of specific reforms to streamline state government and reduce state spending.
In 2000, McClintock was elected to the California State Senate, where he developed innovative budget solutions such as the Bureaucracy Reduction and Closure Commission and performance-based budgeting, and advocated for restoring California’s public works.
From 1992-1994, McClintock served as Director of the Center for the California Taxpayer, a project of the National Tax Limitation Foundation. In 1995, he was named Director of Economic and Regulatory Affairs for the Claremont Institute’s Golden State Center for Policy Studies, a position he held until his return to the Assembly in 1996. In that capacity, he wrote and lectured extensively on state fiscal policy, privatization, bureaucratic reform and governmental streamlining.
McClintock’s commentaries on California public policy have appeared in every major newspaper in California and he is a frequent guest on radio and television broadcasts across the nation. Numerous taxpayer associations have honored him for his leadership on state budget issues.
McClintock has twice received the Republican nomination for the office of State Controller, narrowly missing election in 2002 by the closest margin in California history – 23/100ths of one percent of the votes cast.
McClintock is the Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, and is a member of the Budget Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. He is also a member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.
Tom McClintock and his wife, Lori, have two children, Justin and Shannah.