Upton Statement: Conference Committee Meeting on the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act

January 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, delivered the following remarks this afternoon at the meeting of the House-Senate Conference Committee on H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.

(Full Text of Remarks as Prepared for Delivery)

This Conference Committee was assembled to finish our work on the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.  There are two parts to that bill name - Middle Class Tax Relief AND Job Creation. Today we're going to talk about both.

We're going to hear and discuss a lot about the tax relief piece of the puzzle, and certainly that's important.  In this weak economy, working families can use the extra $1000 per year that comes from a temporary payroll tax cut. Likewise, far too many Americans who cannot find jobs in this economy are forced to turn to unemployment benefits instead of a regular paycheck.

This Conference will address both of those issues, and I believe we need to address them thoughtfully. For example, we need to not just extend unemployment benefits, but reform them. We're also going to extend the "doc fix" as part of this package, giving important relief and security to seniors and their doctors that Medicare payments won't be slashed.

But we cannot talk about the relief portion without also addressing the jobs.

The House-passed Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act included several vital job-creating policies, many of them originating in the Energy and Commerce Committee. I'd like to talk about those provisions this afternoon, and why it is so important that we link long-term job creation to this temporary relief for middle class families.

The first pro-jobs provision included in the House-passed bill is, appropriately, called the JOBS Act. That's the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum Act, a bill drafted by our own Greg Walden to spur billions of dollars in private-sector investment and, most importantly, to help drive the creation of possibly hundreds of thousands of jobs.

By unleashing the power of the airwaves and allowing investment in - and development of - wireless broadband networks, we can spur the next generation of communications technology. And while we're at it, this bill will finally build the nationwide, interoperable broadband public safety network we have been working toward since the 9/11 Commission report. And remember, it brings in more than $16.5 billion that can help serve as a pay-for within the broader bill.

Also included in the House-passed bill is legislation known as the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, which addresses the Boiler MACT rules. President Obama's own Jobs Council recently suggested that we need to "enhance American competitiveness through smart regulatory reforms," and this bill will do exactly that.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill on October 13, 2011, with strong bipartisan support, and there is a companion bill, also bipartisan, in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the bill is to give just a little bit of regulatory relief to facilities all across the country facing costly new rules for industrial and commercial boilers and incinerators.

We're talking about everything from manufacturing facilities to colleges and universities - all of which will be affected by the EPA's new rules. EPA concedes major flaws in the rules, is reconsidering aspects of them, and itself has tried delay the rules, but the Court recently struck down the agency's self-imposed delay. As a result of the costs and unworkability of the rules as currently written, and the litigation, there is continuing and extensive uncertainty.

Our proposal is simple. We're talking about direction and extra time for EPA to develop rules that are achievable in the real world, and extra compliance time so that facilities can install the new technologies and make upgrades to their equipment to comply with the new rules. Is that really too much to ask?

Is it too much to ask when estimates show that EPA's rules will cost more than $14 billion to implement? Is it too much to ask when these new rules are projected to put more than 200,000 jobs at risk? Regulatory relief is a principle President Obama himself proposed about a year ago. It's a principle his Jobs Council recently recommended. And it's a principle that has drawn strong bipartisan support in the Congress because it's good for jobs. So it makes perfect sense to talk about regulatory relief as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.

Finally, I'd like to talk for a moment about one of the best-known job creating projects out there - the Keystone XL pipeline. Let's just lay out the facts.

We have before us a shovel-ready project. One that won't cost taxpayers a dime, but which represents about a $7 billion infrastructure investment. It is projected to create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, not to mention all the spin-off jobs that come from supporting an energy development project of this size. This is a pipeline that will add nearly a million barrels of safe and secure energy supplies to U.S. markets each day.

It has been under review for more than three years, and extensive environmental studies have been completed. The state of Nebraska sought a re-route to avoid sensitive regions within the state, and that re-route is being developed as we speak, which means the state of Nebraska is on board with the project as a whole.

If you were the President and you had the chance to say yes to a project like this, would you do it? Would you say yes to jobs and energy security? Would you say yes to private investment and a stronger alliance with our closest trading partner and ally?

President Obama had that chance, and last week he said no. He said 60 days wasn't long enough to say yes, but the truth is, he only took 26 days to say no. Well, to the President I say this: We can't wait any longer. If he can't say yes to jobs, Congress will. I believe it falls within the scope of this Conference, and we're going to talk about it as part of this package and in a lot of other places as well. We're going to talk about it in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing first thing tomorrow morning. And we're going to keep on talking about it until we finally say yes to jobs.

This bill is the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, and I truly believe we need to do both.