tv [untitled] CSPAN March 10, 2010 10:30am-11:00am EST
federal employees of the u.s. department of transportation. they were unintended victims of standoff in the other body which resulted in a two-day lapse in the authorization of funding for federal highway motor carrier safety and public transit programs. . the house passed by voice vote the temporary extension act of 2010. the bill extended the authorization for federal surface transportation programs which otherwise were scheduled to expire on february 28. the senate's efforts to pass the bill and clear it for signature by the president were stalled by the actions of one senator from the other party.
his repeated objections held up consideration past the february 28 deadline. as a result of those objections, authority to reimburse states, metropolitan regions, public transit agencies for federally approved highway trust funds lapsed. states like missouri immediately canceled bid openings. d.o.t.'s authority to pay employees from the highway trust fund also lapsed. that was restored only when the senator relented on the evening of march 2 to allow the senate to consider the bill. the senate passed it and the president signed it that evening. but these 9,722 employees were collateral damage. they were doing their job, career professionals, and they
just happened to be hit by this roadside bomb. now, it affected them in a very specific way. and let me toll the numbers. 1,307 employees of the federal highway administration, 434 employees of the federal motor carrier safety administration, 143 of the national highway trafficed a mfrlings, 38 employees of the research and innovative technology administration. in a few days, march 16 in fact, toth will process its payroll for the current march pay period. if congress does not act to reinstate those career employees, those 1,922 public servants will through no fault of their own having simply been doing their jobs as they've done for decades, in many
cases, suffer a 20% pay cut in their biweekly paychecks. now, this is not an abstraction. this is not a debating point. this is not something we think about it later. at the national highway traffic safety administration, a long-term career secretary of nhtsa in seattle, washington, normally would net $1,540 per paycheck. but because of the furlough would be paid $1,050, a $390 cut. $390 cut, that could affect your paying your mortgage, buying your weekly groceries, buying fuel for your car, maybe even sending a birthday card to a child or a fwrand child. it has real effects -- child or
a grandchild. it has real effects, and i don't think the senator on the other side had no interest or care about what the effects would be of his actions. an entry program analyst, a gs-7 in chicago, illinois, at nhtsa would normally net $1,200 per paycheck two weeks. because of the furlough would be paid only $900. that's a $300 cut. if you're taking $900 home over two weeks, $300 out of that paycheck is serious money. serious effect on your life. and it's a serious devaluation of appreciation for your service to the public. these are career personnel. at anytime that's painful, but at this time with this severe
meltdown, economic recession, it's devastating. miss a car payment, miss a tuition payment, miss part of your mortgage payment, miss your fuel bill, miss combrur electric bill, all -- miss your electric bill. some piece of this bill had nothing to do with these personnel, these careerists. through the great credit of our secretary transportation, ray lahood, former colleague of ours in this body, he called and said, i am really concerned about these career personnel. we have to make them whole. they didn't do anything wrong. the department didn't do anything wrong. they were just stand-by victims of this action, and we will be able to restore the funds without any -- restore their pay without any increase in
budget. just shift dollars from one account to another. the bill that we bring before you today does not require any new federal funding. the secretary, as i just described, will draw on administrative funding previously authorized and appropriated to finance the compensation, the lost compensation for those personnel. it's the right thing to do. we need to do this. we ought to pass it by unanimous voice vote, and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from north carolina. mr. coble: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise today to voice my strong support for h.r. 4786. i yield myself such time as i may consume, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized. mr. coble: the distinguished gentleman from minnesota has covered this bill in detail. i'll speak briefly to it.
midnight february 28 through march 2 all the programs in the operations of the agencies funded under the highway trust fund came to a halt because an extension of these programs was not passed by congress, as the chairman has already pointed out. as a result, nearly 2,000 department of transportation employees were furloughed. this bill will ensure that these employees furloughed at no fault of their own will receive their normal compensation for that period of time. between february 28 and march 2 certain service transportation activities were classified as essential, such as federal safety inspection of trucks and buses. this bill approves these activities as essential actions taking to save lives and protect property, allowing the d.o.t. employees who worked on those activities during the
furlough to be paid. i urge my colleagues to support the passage of h.r. 4782. i support the bill, and, mr. speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from minnesota. mr. oberstar: mr. speaker, i yield such time as he may consume, the gentleman from northern virginia, and yield myself 10 seconds to express my admiration for his concern of these federal employees, many federal employees reside in his district and even some of these 1,900 likely reside in the gentleman's district. i appreciate him coming forward to champion this bill. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia, mr. connolly, is recognized. mr. connolly: thank you, mr. speaker. and i rise in strong support of this bipartisan legislation, compensating those federal transportation employees who were unfairly furloughed on
march 1 and 2 because of the lapse in the highway trust fund. i want to thank the chairman of the transportation and infrastructure subcommittee, mr. oberstar, and mr. mica, for their great service. and there's too many. mr. coble for his support on a bipartisan basis. their leadership is just critical in resolving this problem. h.r. 4786 a is -- is a simple, commonsense bill. employees were forced out of their job for two days because of political gamesmanship on the other side of the capitol. the federal highway administration, the motor carrier safety administration, the national highway traffic administration and the research and innovative technology administration were furloughed through no fault of their own. they became victims of an arcane practice in the upper chamber that i laos one
member's objection irrespective of merit to grind to a halt the work of the american people. as my colleagues recall, an objection by one senator from kentucky led to the lapse of authorization for the highway trust fund, despite the objections of 21 of his republican colleagues, a majority of the republican caucus who supported the ultimate extension on a 78-19 vote. this bill does two simple things. it authorizes those workers who were furloughed to be compensated for their normal rate of pay in the two days which they were laid off and ratifies actions taken by d.o.t. during those two days to maintain minimum services. the congressional budget office says this legislation has no new costs associated to it, as the chairman indicated, as the funding will come from existing expenses. by taking action now, this congress will prevent a 20% cut in the next biweekly paycheck for these dedicated public servants.
this dates back to the government shutdown late in the 1995, 1996 period during the clinton administration. during that period there were two funding gaps totaling 26 days that affected more than 800,000 federal workers. as part of the final appropriations bill part of f.y. 1996, the republican congress restored compensation for those employees. it was the right thing to do then, and it's the right thing to do now. i thank chairman oberstar for his leadership and his collaboration and generosity on this important legislation, and i urge my colleagues to vote yes. i yield back to the chairman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from north carolina. mr. coble: mr. speaker, i continue to reserve. i say to the gentleman from minnesota i have no more speakers. i yield to you, mr. oberstar. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from minnesota. mr. oberstar: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume.
i say to my good friend that we have no further speakers. i will just have a couple of sentences to close. if the gentleman wishes to close, then we should be able to wrap this up. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from north carolina. mr. coble: with no additional speakers, i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: all right. the gentleman from north carolina yields the balance of his time. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. oberstar: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. i simply express my great appreciation to mr. mica, the senior republican on our committee and my partner and good friend and co-participant in all the works of our committee. i share with him this tragic fact of the loss of pay for these 1,922 employees. he immediately said we have to fix that, we have to make it right by them and volunteer to co-sponsor of legislation, which he has done. i'm delighted he designated the gentleman from north carolina,
mr. speaker. a great advocate for our committee, a great participant in all of our work and also a very good and fair and decent-minded member. and today we'll do something really good and decent. we can all go home and feel we've accomplished something useful in a very specific and direct fashion for 1,922 career professionals in transportation of the u.s. department of transportation. again, i express admiration for secretary lahood for taking the initiative to bring this issue forward and find a funding solution for it as well. we ought to be able to pass this on a voice vote and do good by these 1,922 and set a good example for the other body as well. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time.
the question is now, will the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 4786? those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the reconsider is laid on the table. for what purpose does the gentleman from tennessee seek recognition? mr. cohen: thank you, mr. speaker. i move that the house suspend the rules and pass house concurrent resolution 249. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the concurrent resolution. the clerk: house concurrent resolution 249, concurrent resolution commemorating the 45th anniversary of bloody sunday and the role that it played in ensuring the passage of the voting rights act of 1965.
the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from tennessee, mr. cohen, and the gentleman from texas, mr. poe, each will control 20 minutes. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from tennessee. mr. cohen: i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks on the resolution under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. cohen: and i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. cohen. mr. cohen: thank you, mr. speaker. just this past sunday on march 6, we commemorated the 45th anniversary of bloody sunday, one of the most significant moments in the civil rights moment. it was a day when i was in selma, alabama, with john lewis, one of the heroes of the united states of america and one of the great saints and heroes of this united states congress. other congresspeople were there on both sides of the aisle, and we first went to brown chapel in selma for prayer service for reverend c.t. vivian led us in the wonderful sermon, and it
was a civil rights pilgrimage the faith and politics institute put on. after going to birmingham going to the 16th street church and the montgomery and saw the rosa parks museum, went to research ander gnatty church -- be a -- went to reverend abernathy church and headed up by morris dei montgomery. john lewis marched there. the government stopped them with horses and with sticks and gas and all other means of oppression to stop people who were marching simply to have the right to vote and to participate in this country's great democracy. voting is essential and african-americans were denied voting.
after the civil war they had the right to vote up until about the turn of the century and then the jim crow laws was put in place. john lewis was a leader culminated in selma and they were beaten. after that and the retreat to brown's chapel, the government came to the aid of john lewis and others and saw to it they could march. and dr. king joined that march and ralph abernathy joined that march and marched down highway 80 from selma to montgomery going straight to the capitol but just around the corner is the church of dr. martin luther king. the voting rights passed and the president said it was the most important legislation that that congress had passed and one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed by this house. . it was fought by a lot of
people. people said we are not going to stand it anymore. we are going to participate in this democracy and start a change that's going to fulfill america's purpose and promise. that started in selma. it started with john lewis. and it culminated with that great march. so it's important that this congress take time to recognize this 45th anniversary. that forced this nation to live up to its ideals of justice, freedom, and equality in a society generally and realm of voting rights specifically. the pilgrimage was one of the best experiences i have had. i'm from memphis, tennessee, where dr. king was slain on april 3. there were times when chairman lewis and other members came up, mr. lewis and other members came up to me and asked me to go on the pilgrimage. i thought i was from memphis, i had been to the civil rights museum, i had been to lorraine so many times. i knew about civil rights history. but nobody knows it until they go to the battleground where this country's future and its promise was turned around and
brought to bear because of a group of students and ministers both black and white who came together to march for civil rights and to make this country fulfill its destiny and promise. mr. lewis is a man we are lucky to serve with and i am lucky to serve with. and what i learned this weekend from being with him on the edmund pet tiss bridge with -- pettis bridge where that first march ended in violence and later struggled to montgomery. 600 civil rights marchers stood strong and in solidarity on the march to montgomery 45 years ago. our democracy reflects the government of the people and by the people. a principle articulated by president abraham lincoln in 1863. until bloody sunday and dr. king's participation and the successful march and the passage of the voting rights act by the congress, it wouldn't have happened.
it wouldn't have been a government of the people and by the people. it was a government of the white people. it was a government of the wealthy people, the property people. and alabama there were literacy tests, poll taxes, and these stopped people from having the right to vote. they were intentional impediments to letting people participate in democracy you wouldn't have thought would happen in a country with our great constitution. the words in our constitution were simply words. they needed to have purpose and a spirit put behind them and fulfillment. that didn't happen until montgomery and alabama. besides voting rights, that march led to other issues. there's economic justice as well as social justice. and we are working in that -- in those areas. access to education, housing, and health care, and more. have not been available to all.
dr. king in his famous speech in new york at the river view church talked about not only racism but mill tarism and materialism. and there's still problems in this world today and problems that affect this congress when too many times we do work on military solutions rather than peaceful solutions and we worry about materialism rather than spiritual goods. we worry too much about people who have and not people who don't have enough. that's part of dr. king's dream and that's part of the legacy that has not been fulfilled in this country and this congress needs to do more. that's why jobs bills are so important to give people opportunities and job training bills that we are working on. so it was fortunate that we had this opportunity to participate in the pilgrimage. and this country needs to reflect back upon what happened 45 years ago. understand the promise is not fulfilled. pay homage to those individuals that participated and made this country a better country, but know that the dream is not finished.
the dream endures. we need to fulfill that destiny and there are opportunities to do it here on this floor with jobs, tax policy, and with other issues. i urge my colleagues to support this important resolution and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from tennessee reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas. mr. poe: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized, mr. poe. mr. poe: mr. speaker, i support house concurrent resolution 249. this resolution commemorates the 45th anniversary of bloody sunday and the role it played in ensuring the passage of the voting rights act of 1965. on bloody sunday march 7, 1965 john lewis, john congressman and chairman john lewis, and the late jose williams led a march in selma, alabama, to demand the racial and political equality in the united states. they led 600 civil rights marchers east out of selma, alabama, toward the state's capital in montgomery. they got as far as edmund pettis bridge, six blocks away,
where state and local lawmen attacked them with clubs, tear gas, and forced them back into selma. congressman lewis was beaten unconscious, leaving him with a concussion and many other injuries. the events on bloody sunday were televised nationally and the nation responded to these actions. as a result, within eight days president lyndon johnson called for a comprehensive voting rights bill to protect african-americans and other citizens' right to vote that is already guaranteed in the 15th amendment. bipartisan majorities in both houses of congress approved the voting rights act of 1965 and president johnson signed this historic legislation into law on august 6, 1965, less than five months after bloody sunday. i totally support this resolution's observance and celebrate the 45th anniversary of bloody sunday marchers whose sacrifices made it possible for the voting rights act to come into being. i urge my colleagues to join in
supporting this resolution. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from tennessee. mr. cohen: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield as many minutes to the gentleman from -- one minute to the gentleman from maryland, mr. hoyer, who joined us on this civil rights pilgrimage, and i was so proud to be with him. he's one of the most constant attendees. it reflects on his character that he goes and participates. i yield time to the majority leader. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized for one minute, mr. hoyer. mr. hoyer: i thank my friend for yielding. i thank the ranking republican for his comments. i thank mr. cohen for his leadership on this issue. we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. so spoke our founding fathers.
our founding fathers spoke, however, without a clear understanding of the impact of their words. and even as great as our founding fathers were, they did not live out the promise of those words in this land. some were slave owners. and clearly the contradiction between our words and the actions of our date-to-date lives -- day-to-day lives were a contradiction from our stated values to our practices. -- martin luther king jr. called america's attention to that paradox, to that contradiction, to that schizophrenic life that we had led.
martin luther king jr. had a lieutenant who was a giant of a leader in his own right, and we are honored to serve with him. in my view the most historic figure that serves among the 535 of us who have been given the privilege to represent our people and defend the constitution and protect and preserve our democracy. john lewis is a giant among us. a quiet self-effacing, humble giant. but a giant nonetheless. 45 years ago civil rights activists attempted to march from selma to montgomery. to demand that their governor honor their right to vote and their god-given equality.
remember jefferson's words. that our rights are not given by the majority, they are not given by congress, they are not even given by the constitution, they are given to us by a power higher than us. that is the glory of america. that every individual is an important being. endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. the world knows what happens to those marchers, how they were stopped by state troopers at the end mund pettis bridge. -- edmund pettis bridge in selma. how they were savagely beaten with night sticks and how this 23-year-old giant whose name was then not known, this young man from troy, alabama, john
lewis who was helping to lead the march from the front with jose williams, beaten to the ground, and took life threatening injuries. today as a member of congress john lewis still bears those scars, but he does not bear resentment. what a lesson for all of us. who suffered the verbal slains almost daily in this public profession which we pursue. but john lewis took more than restorkal -- rhetorical slings and arrows, he was beaten, subjected to hate, spit upon, subjected to prejudice, and division, and segregation, and rejection. but still crieslike -- christ
-like john lewis following gandhi's example turned the other cheek and said i seek justice. and i will continue to seek justice for myself and for others. no matter the opposition. and i will not do so violently. i will not do so by assaulting those who assault me. but i will appeal to the conscience of the nation, i will appeal to the promise in our declaration, in our constitution, and in the principles for which this nation stands. and it was a powerful appeal. this weekend i and others, mr. cao was with us, were privileged to walk with that giant of a man, john lewis, across that bridge, and it is a bridge across a river, but it bridge across a river, but it is also a bridge