("Quid coniuratio est?")
THE MEXICAN RESCUE PACKAGE
[From The Congressional Record -- House, H1271-H1278, Feb. 6, 1995]
THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE:
Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 1995, the gentlewoman from Ohio [Ms. Kaptur] is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
Mr. Speaker, we are holding this special order this evening because our various offices here on Capitol Hill have been inundated with telephone calls and inquiries regarding the Mexican rescue package, and many questions are being asked by constituents and citizens of our country that we can not, in fact, answer.
I was asked today how much money has already left our U.S. Treasury as part of the drawdown on the deal that was announced last week by the Secretary of the Treasury and the President. The facts are that we cannot tell you.
Therefore tomorrow morning, likely after the morning business, there will be a special resolution brought up here in the House, and it will be a privileged resolution. In that resolution we will be asking for a vote of the House and a ruling of the Speaker so that we can obtain the information that we cannot give you this evening about the terms of the arrangement that was made by our Government with the nation of Mexico. Our resolution requires that the Comptroller General of the United States report back to us within a 7-day period.
So, we would try to draw to the Members' attention that this vote will likely occur tomorrow morning after the regular morning business, the 1-minutes and, perhaps, a vote on the Journal, and we will look forward to that moment.
It is likely that in the way that the resolution will be brought up there will be very little time for debate. There may actually be an effort by certain interests in this Chamber to table the resolution, and we would ask the Members to vote against tabling the resolution so that, in fact, we will have an opportunity to get the facts that we really want.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Oregon [Mr. DeFazio].
So, the situation we are confronted with is the Treasury, in concert with the Federal Reserve Board, agencies of the Federal Government of the United States, have extended, as far as we know, in excess of $40 billion of credits, loan guarantees, currency swaps and other instruments to Mexico, that our questions regarding the source of these funds, the exact amount and the term of these funds, whether or not these funds are somehow secured -- you know, what authorization exists for extending these funds without coming to Congress for appropriations; the gentlewoman [is] saying that there is a possibility that this House will not ask to have those questions answered, that we could just be shut down here on the floor by ruling of the chair, and we will have no opportunity for debate, no opportunity to go forward and ask these questions.
I, for one, as a Representative of a district from the Far West United States, feel that my constituents -- this is not the greatest issue before them, but they would certainly like to know what authority the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve, have, if it was extended to them by Congress, what amounts of money are controlled, what risks are involved, what collateral are involved. I mean all sorts of things we would like to know about even a small business transaction let alone one of this magnitude.
But in this ruling we could just be shut down and not have any opportunity to discuss that?
That is really what the vote tomorrow is about. We know that the constitutional authority of the House as the place within the Congress; that is, the first to authorize and appropriate dollars through the U.S. Treasury, was essentially shut off. Our Members were muzzled. We were not privy to information that should be ours in relation to the dollars of our taxpayers being put at risk either inside the United States or outside the United States, and we thought we were going to have full debate and disclosure on this matter when a decision was made without the involvement of the legislative branch of the United States of America.
We now have to resort to special parliamentary tactics in order to bring this measure to a vote on the floor, and the gentleman is correct, that there are so many questions we want answers to that we are being asked, which are impossible for us to obtain, and we think that that is not what the Constitution intended, that in fact this is not a monarchy, this is not a parliamentary government. We are not an arm of the executive branch. We have our own status within the Constitution, and our constituents have an absolute right to know when their tax dollars are at risk, as they are, in this agreement, what the terms of that agreement are, what the terms of repayment are, what the nature of the collateral is. We need to know how fast money is being drawn down. Otherwise you cannot make a judgement as to what might happen in the future.
What type of precedent does this set? It is our understanding that never has the authority of this particular set of institutions within the Government of the United States been used to such a degree, and, therefore, we think there are some very serious constitutional questions to be asked, as well as questions to be asked about the nature of the agreement itself.
You know, I say with some humor this evening, "I hope the Mayor of Washington, DC, will take it in the humor that I offer it, but, you know that the District of Columbia here in our Nation's Capital has been having a lot of difficulty with its finances and is about to go bankrupt. It has been on all the pages here in the Nation's Capital and in other parts of the country, and we know that it's going to cost the District of Columbia real money to bail itself out, and it's money that we don't have in this Congress."
So I had an idea over the weekend that what we ought to do for the Mayor of Washington and the citizens of the Nation's Capital is to get the executive branch involved because they obviously are very creative in figuring out how to make things happen and make it seem as though you are not spending any real money, and they ought to work up a Mexico-type deal for Washington.
Perhaps, if the gentlewoman would yield, I like that idea, and perhaps what the Government of the District of Columbia could do would be similar to what Wall Street has been doing.
They can go down to Mexico, get a bunch of pesos, which are declining rapidly in value, and then they can take and exchange them to the Federal Reserve Board for United States dollars at a preferred rate, and by arbitraging this they can probably earn up to a billion quite readily, and they can pay off their debts.
I mean, if we can do this for the Government of Mexico and the Wall Street speculators, why would we not do it for the District of Columbia?
I figure, if the Capital of Mexico can draw on the taxpayers of the United States, why should not the Capital of the United States be able to draw on the taxpayers of the United States? I agree with the gentleman, and, knowing that those tesobonos are paying anywhere between 20 and 40 percent interest rates, the Mayor of Washington would certainly be well advised to get in on that because he could probably get the money he needs in a flash.
I bet, if the gentlewoman would yield further, I would imagine, if the city were to engage, perhaps, Goldman Sachs as their financial adviser, perhaps they could do very well on this matter because, if I could go back to the questions the gentlewoman is asking, as I recall, the gentlewoman from Ohio and a number of us signed a letter with a series of questions probably 3 weeks ago --
There were 13.
To the Treasury and the Secretary of the Treasury and asked many of these same questions in a just, straightforward, and friendly manner. We thought it was things it was essential we know before any sort of bailout go forward.
Have we had any response?
I am glad the gentleman put that on the Record.
We asked over 12 questions, over a dozen questions; the first one: Who are the creditors that Mexico was paying off, seeing as how they were going to be borrowing the money from us to do it. We wanted to know specifically. We did not want to know some sort of general answer.
We have received no reply from the Department of Treasury to our questions.
So, if the gentlewoman would yield further, it is not exactly like we are sandbagging them with this resolution of inquiry. We have been waiting 3 weeks on issues of national concern involving tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars, and we have had no response to a group of Members of Congress who have asked these questions.
That is correct.
I yield to the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Brown].
[...to be continued...]
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