Neal Opening Statement at Tax, Trade, Worker and Family Support, and Social Security Markup
Washington, D.C., November 2, 2023
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today is our first gathering since our esteemed colleague, Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member, Earl Blumenauer announced this will be his last term on the dais. First—Ranking Member Blumenauer, thank you. Earl has led the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee through tremendous triumphs and been a leading voice in holding administrations, corporations, and trading partners accountable. Your leadership has protected American workers through the USMCA, delivered historic climate action with the Inflation Reduction Act, and built a better future for so many in America and around the world. We will not be the same without you, and will think of you whenever we see a bike pin. I am grateful for your friendship and for your leadership, and I know I speak for our colleagues on both sides of the aisle when I say you will be greatly missed in the halls of Congress and that we wish only the best in what’s next.
Before I turn to the bills under consideration today, Mr. Chairman, there has been some discussion of siphoning off our jurisdiction to empower a temporary commission. I believe we share a protective instinct toward this Committee, and would therefore urge the use of regular order. This is the oldest, most venerable Committee of the House of Representatives. The Social Security Act was developed and passed on this dais and we have maintained continual oversight over its programs for 88 years, since Social Security’s inception. Bypassing regular order and circumventing this Committee is a dangerous precedent. But more than that, to do what’s best for the American people requires the expertise of our Committee members. I hope you will join me in opposing this misguided stunt.
That being said, thank you for holding this markup today. Each of these bills includes real input from both sides and represents genuine agreement among Members with deep expertise in the policy. These bills under consideration will help Americans facing personal and financial loss from wildfires and support our ongoing efforts to bolster enforcement of U.S. trade laws. We will also consider legislation previously passed by this Committee to make technical corrections to unemployment insurance to keep workers eligible for critical support. Finally, extending Social Security protection to certain members of the clergy —another example of why we want to protect our jurisdiction.
In my view, these bills have an easy glidepath to the floor and to becoming law, but that’s what I thought about the supplemental funding package that has now been politicized. Mr. Chairman, can you commit to protecting these bills from partisan politics and not let our bipartisan progress be tainted?
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.