The leaders of the New Democrat Coalition expressed their frustration today with the inactivity in the House of Representatives on critical legislation.  Since Congress’ return to session, the Republican leadership has failed to schedule a vote on legislation that enjoys broad bipartisan support and that they themselves have declared to be high priorities - Bankruptcy Reform and the Export Administration Act.  Meanwhile, with the fiscal year on the verge of expiring, the leadership has allowed intra-party politics to bring the appropriations process to a grinding halt.

Today New Democrat Coalition co-chairs Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement:

“While the House leadership is scheduling little more than non-controversial suspensions for debate, widely supported bankruptcy reform legislation has been repeatedly pulled from the floor because a small group of far-right Republicans are holding their own leadership hostage.  One piece of legislation labeled a White House priority, the Export Administration Act, has languished for months as the Republican leadership has failed to seek a compromise between the two Committees’ chairmen.  At the same time, Congress is well behind on the appropriations process, with the House having only taken up five of the 13 regular appropriation bills needed to fund the federal government for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

“The New Democrat Coalition has continuously offered support to the House Leadership on bankruptcy reform.  Last year, bankruptcy legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support including the votes of 50 members of the New Democrat Coalition and several members of the Democratic leadership.  Our group has consistently made this legislation a top priority and has delivered a wide base of support for the bill.  

“Most recently, on September 3rd, 30 New Democrats sent a letter to Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressing support for this year’s fair, balanced and reasonable bankruptcy reform conference report.  We pledged to work hard with leadership to make sure that this legislation passed this year.  But rather than moving forward in a bipartisan fashion, the Republican leadership bowed to pressure from the extreme elements of their party and withdrew the bill from the calendar, yet again.

“The Export Administration Act has also languished thanks to Republican Party in-fighting.  Many of the nation's leading defense experts recognize the need to fundamentally revamp the way we protect our nation's security, and the bottom line is that export control reform is critical to the future of U.S. global economic, technological and military leadership.  For years, New Democrats have been working to change the debate on export controls from a false choice between profits and national security to a matter of improving national security while maintaining U.S. competitiveness.  

“It seems clear that the White House is committed to ensuring passage of appropriate export control legislation and the New Democrats continue to be willing and eager to work with them to make that happen.  Unfortunately, despite our regular offers of support, and requests for meetings to discuss a bipartisan plan to move this crucial legislation forward, the House Republican leadership has continued to ignore all calls for action and reform.  Instead, they have proven unwilling to work with their own party’s chairmen to pass legislation that the White House has asked to see on the floor.

“Meanwhile, with the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching, the leadership is also refusing to bring to the floor the appropriations bills that we must pass to keep our government running.  Apparently, the leadership, in another bow to their right-wing Republican members, would rather send the House home for another long weekend than spend this Friday voting on any of the four appropriations bills that are ready for floor debate. 

“We, as members of the New Democrat Coalition, wonder what the Republican leadership is waiting for.  We see them torn between the two competing interests of intra-party politics and effective legislating.  We ask them to choose bipartisan action on these, and other, important issues and not to allow the narrow special interests in their own party handicap the legislative business of this nation.”