Gohmert’s Statement on 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34)
Washington, November 30, 2016
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) released the following statement on his decision to vote against the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34) today:
“While I voted in favor of the original House version of H.R. 6 (the “21st Century Cures Act”), as well as voting for the original House version of the mental health reform bill, H.R. 2646, (the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016”), I could not vote for the recently introduced House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 34 - 21st Century Cures Act since we were not allowed adequate time to read the brand new bill to find all of the changes.
The 21st Century Cures Act morphed from an original 300 pages to nearly 1000 pages and is now loaded with so many new provisions, I would have to wait until after it passed, to find out what was in it. I had hoped we had learned our lesson against using this foolish manner of passing long bills, with sweeping changes to our very personal lives. The only explanation for such a fast, last minute “shove through” of a massive, combination of bills into one, is that someone thinks that President Obama and those voted out of office will create a much better law than the new President and newly elected Congress would. Those who demand that we should have passed this law that allows involuntary mental health treatment with new, much broader language, without having time to read it, are apparently not as concerned with the power to involuntarily force shock or other treatments on others as I am.”
“The original bill had language that was much too broad in allowing force-able treatment on those who did not want it. Before we originally passed that bill in the House, that language was tightened. Now it has been loosened back, and I am extremely concerned that there are many other provisions that were added or changed to the American public’s detriment without our knowledge or time to read the new super-sized bill. I noticed that one of the provisions in the new bill was that Americans could be forced into mental treatment for such reasons as not wearing or providing oneself appropriate clothing. Immediately I thought of the time my kids were embarrassed because I had used duct tape to hold my tennis shoes together that I mainly used in the backyard working. Another reason that would allow shock therapy or other involuntary therapy is if someone is not eating proper foods. So under the newly passed law, if your adult kids do not think you are eating healthy, you may want to surround yourself with new people who do not fault you for how you eat. You may need their testimony in court. As a former judge and chief justice, I know better than most here in Congress that words have meaning and that small word changes can profoundly change liberty or destroy lives.”
“In addition to this, the bill authorizes the creation of federal drug and mental health courts, which, by their nature, would operate as pre-trial and incarceration diversion programs. Given the data we have on FEDERAL drug offenders (e.g., that they are dangerous narco-terrorists and not simple possession offenders as are often found in state courts), the creation of federal drug/mental health courts not only perpetuates the false narrative that simple possession defendants are incarcerated at the federal level, but also runs the risk that dangerous drug traffickers could be re-routed from federal prison to treatment alternatives. With crime rising and drug addiction at an all-time high, this seems like a truly misguided approach for the U.S. Congress, although states and local situations may find it quite appropriate.”
“Ramming this bill through Congress while it is chock full of White House top priorities that the President has said he wants for part of his legacy should have more scrutiny than this. Those who wanted to rush it through apparently believe that Representatives and Senators who voters have declared they no longer want with the power to pass laws should be the ones to make this the new law of the land. Over 90% of geographical America said they do not want the policies and agenda of the current administration to continue. What are American voters left to think but that the Republican majorities in the House and Senate apparently disagree with their opinions that gave them renewed majorities.”
Congressman Gohmert is the Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Prior to being elected to serve in Congress, he was elected to three terms as District Judge in Smith County, Texas and was appointed by then Texas Governor Rick Perry to complete a term as Chief Justice of the 12th Court of Appeals.
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