This week, the House and Senate joined together on a variety of issues to find common ground on behalf of the American people, including responding to the Flint water crisis, installing new sanctions against North Korea’s rogue regime, and better enforcing our trade laws, all while holding the administration accountable for contemplating illegally transferring Guantanamo Bay prisoners to our soil. Speaker Ryan elaborated on these victories at his weekly press briefing this morning:
“Before I want to take your questions, I’d like to touch on a few areas where we found common ground this week on behalf of the American people.
“First, with regards to the crisis in Flint, one thing we want to do is make sure that something like this never happens again. So yesterday, the House passed a bipartisan bill that holds the EPA accountable for keeping the public informed in the event of high lead levels.
“As Chairman Upton said yesterday, this bill should not be necessary, but it is. This is a good first step in our response.
“Second, we have moved one step closer toward a new round of North Korea sanctions. This is a bill we first passed in the House last month under the leadership of Chairman Ed Royce. The president’s strategy of strategic patience with North Korea—it’s just not working. Let me say this again—the president’s strategy of strategic patience with North Korea is simply not working.
“We can’t be patient when a dictator threatens our country and our allies with advanced nuclear weapons. These sanctions will cut off a key subsidy for the regime’s weapons of mass destruction program. We hope to make this law soon. This will be on the floor here in the House this week.
CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT
“Third, the Senate will complete work today on legislation to improve our nation’s trade enforcement system. This is a very big deal. This is something that I negotiated as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. It is the most comprehensive overhaul of our custom laws in a generation.
“One of the big reasons we’ve updated our trade laws is that we don’t want to allow competitors like China to write the rules of the global economy. So this bill provides the tools we need to actually enforce the agreements we have. This is a big step in the right direction.
“It eliminates barriers to trade. It levels the playing field for our manufacturers and for our small businesses.
“The customs bill also places a permanent ban on taxing Internet access. Internet Tax Freedom is one of those provisions that we’ve been extending every year in fits and starts. Americans should not have to worry about something as vital as this being taxed by any government at any level. So now, we are banning taxes on your internet access for good.
“This customs bill is also a bipartisan, House-Senate conference report. That’s very important. Getting a bill passed in the House, getting a bill passed through the Senate, then having a conference committee and a conference report, and passing it through both chambers—this is how bills become law. This is called regular order. So this also is another step toward regular order. I’m very proud of that fact.
“Last thing: While we’re working to get things done, we’re also focused on keeping the president [in check] and holding him accountable. As you know, the president is contemplating closing Guantanamo Bay by transferring detainees to American soil. This is against the law.
“The president’s own Attorney General agrees it’s against the law. The president’s own defense secretary agrees it is against the law. So, we are pressing ahead with legal preparations. If the president takes illegal action, we will be ready to respond.
“The law is the law and it is just that clear.”