Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
First, Mr. Speaker, I urge a `no' vote on the previous question. If the previous question is defeated, I will offer an amendment to the rule which would make in order a substitute amendment. My substitute simply directs the International Relations Committee--using existing resources--to do the very same investigation the Republicans would have their new subcommittee do.
There is no dispute that the appropriate committees ought to review and investigate the foreign policy decision of this or any other President. But before you can say we need to create a new subcommittee, you have to establish that the existing committees aren't capable of doing their job. No one has made that case. Frankly, the only difference between the Republican resolution and our substitute is whether to create a million dollar subcommittee or whether to carry out the investigation within the current committees using funding already available.
Vote `no' on the previous question.
The text of the proposed amendment is as follows:
Strike all after the resolving clause and insert the following:
That (a) the Committee on International Relations is authorized and directed to conduct a full and complete investigation (using existing committee resources), and to make such findings and recommendations to the House as it deems appropriate relating to the following matters:
(1) The policy of the United States Government with respect to the transfer of arms and other assistance from Iran or any other country to countries or entities within the territory of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during any period that an international arms embargo of the former Yugoslavia was in effect.
(2) The nature and extent of the transfer of arms or other assistance from Iran or any other country to countries or entities within the territory of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the period that an international arms embargo of the former Yugoslavia was in effect.
(3) Any actions taken by the United States Government to facilitate or to impede transfers described in paragraphs (1) and (2).
(4) Any communications or representations made to the Congress of the United States or the American people with respect to the matters described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3), with respect to the international arms embargo of the former Yugoslavia, or with respect to efforts to modify or terminate United States participation in that embargo.
(5) Any implication of the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) for the safety of United States Armed Forces deployed in and around Bosnia, for the prompt withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Bosnia, for relations between the United States and its allies, and for United States efforts to isolate Iran.
(6) Any actions taken to review, analyze, or investigate any of the matters described in paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (5), or to keep such matters from being revealed.
(7) All deliberations, discussions, or communications within the United States Government relating to the matters described in paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), or (6), and all communications between the United States Government (or any of its officers or employees) and other governments, organizations, or individuals relating to such matters.
(b)(1) The chairman of the Committee on International Relations, for purposes of its investigation, may, upon consultation with the ranking minority party member of that committee, authorize the taking of affidavits and depositions pursuant to notice or subpoena, by a member or staff of the committee designated by the chairman, or require the furnishing of information by interrogatory, under oath administered by a person otherwise authorized by law to administer oaths.
(2) The Committee on International Relations shall provide other committees and Members of the House with access to information and proceedings, under procedures adopted by the committee consistent with clause 7(c) of rule XLVIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
However, the committee may direct that particular classified materials shall not be made available to any person by its members, staff, or others, or may impose any other restriction. The committee shall, as appropriate, provide access to information and proceedings to the Speaker, the majority leader, the minority leader, and their appropriately cleared and designated staff.
This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote against the Republican majority agenda and a vote to allow the opposition, at least for the moment, to offer an alternative plan. It is a vote about what the House should be debating.
Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, (VI, 308-311) describes the vote on the previous question on the rule as `a motion to direct or control the consideration of the subject before the House being made by the Member in charge.' To defeat the previous question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling of January 13, 1920, to the effect that `the refusal of the House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes the control of the resolution to the opposition' in order to offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: `The previous question having been refused, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first recognition.'
Because the vote today may look bad for the Republican majority they will say `the vote on the previous question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an immediate vote on adopting the resolution . . . [and] has no substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.' But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition, page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous question vote in their own manual:
`Although it is generally not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of offering an amendment, the same result may be achieved by voting down the previous question on the rule. When the motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the time passes to the Member who led the opposition to ordering the previous question. That Member, because he then controls the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for the purpose of amendment.'
Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the subchapter titled `Amending Special Rules' states: `a refusal to order the previous question on such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further debate.' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who controls the time for debate thereon.'
The vote on the previous question on a rule does have substantive policy implications. It is the one of the only available tools for those who oppose the Republican majority's agenda to offer an alternative plan.