DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - July 18, 2007)
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Madam Chairman, I move to strike the last word
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Madam Chairman, I rise to support the gentleman from Georgia in his amendment. And the overall focus of his amendment is to do two things, first of which is what Congress should be asked to do by all of our constituents in all our districts from all across this country, and that is to take their hard-earned dollars that they send to us in the form of tax revenue and to prioritize them into the most efficient manner and into the most efficient programs and into the most efficient methodologies in order to get those programs effectuated for the good of the citizens. And that is what this amendment does.
In accord with the opinion of the administration, there are a number of programs now in existence essentially attempting to do the same thing. Here with regard to education, essentially trying to lift up the quality of education in this country, a laudable goal obviously; secondly, to lift up the quality of teachers in the classroom, again a laudable goal obviously. But we are asked to prioritize this to make sure that those dollars actually get to those programs and effectively down to the teachers, where it can do the most good. The gentleman from Georgia's amendment would do just that.
One of the fundamental flaws in the No Child Left Behind program is to take away the issue of authority and local control from the frontlines, and that is the classroom and that is the teacher, and shift it someplace else. The fundamental flaw with No Child Left Behind is to say that the parents should not be involved in making the decisions or the teachers should not be the ones making the ultimate decisions on how we educate our children, but it should be the bureaucrats down in Washington and unelected at that.
We need believe that the focus should be shifted back to the parents, back to the teachers, for those who are the people on the frontlines, those are the people who are having the day-to-day interaction with our children.
When you think about it, if you have kids in school or if you have neighbors with kids in school and they have a problem in the classroom, where is the first place that they go to to try to resolve that problem? They go into the schoolhouse and into the classroom and talk to the teacher. They want to get to the bottom of it right then and there. And ultimately it is a matter of making sure that that teacher is the best qualified teacher that you can actually have in that classroom.
Parents do not go to Washington, DC, and speak with the U.S. Department of Education to try to resolve some difficulty they have in their classroom. Parents do not come down here to speak with the Secretary of Education to deal with difficulties they have in their classroom. They go to the teacher. And they sit down and work things out to try to get to the heart of it and the root of the cause of the problem.
And the gentleman from Georgia realizes this. And he realizes that in order to make a better classroom where more learning can occur, where we can have better schoolhouses and classrooms, where we can raise up the quality of education, it is to raise up the quality of our teachers. The gentleman from Georgia's amendment does just that by ending programs that are ineffective, ineffectual, and don't get the job done, and transfers them over to those programs that do get the job done. In this matter we should all be commending the gentleman and support his amendment.
Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Madam Chairman, I rise today to offer an amendment that mirrors the President's budget request to eliminate funding in the bill for the Alaskan Native Education Equity Program. By so doing this, it will save our Nation's taxpayers $33.9 million.
Now, as with many of the programs that you will be hearing us discussing both yesterday and today and in the future, this program does, in fact, support a worthwhile goal, and that is providing additional educational services to Alaskan Natives. The services provided to Alaskan Natives that are students through this program, however, are redundant of many of the other types of programs that are provided through various other agencies, most notably through the Department's other education programs.
See, our funding priorities must be exactly that. When we come together as a conference and then as a body to support appropriation bills, we are called upon by the American taxpayers to set those things, priorities, just as the American family budget is created each day, each week, each month in American families across their country and they sit down at their kitchen table to decide what are their priorities when it comes to spending their hard-earned dollars.
They have educational interests in mind as well. They may have children that they have to decide whether they're going to be sending them to college this year or next, to a high-priced college or a moderate-priced college, et cetera. They have to set priorities when it comes to how much money will they be able to set aside in their savings account for educational purposes. Or if their kids are in a K-12 system, whether it's public school or private school, likewise, the American public has to set their own priorities, decide how much money they can set aside if they choose to send their kids to a private school. Or if their kids are going to a public school, how much money will they set aside so that they can spend on their children when it comes to educational purposes for extracurricular activities or supplements to the school program.
American families are called upon to do this every single day, every single week of the year with their budget. And all we are asking right now is that the U.S. Congress and the Senate do the exact same thing with their hard-earned tax dollars that they've entrusted to us. In this matter, what we are doing is saying we have several programs, the same laudable goals. We are eliminating one and shifting the dollars to the another so that the program gets done.
I would now like to bring my colleagues' attention to a recent report by the Nonpartisan Tax Foundation. This report details how much money each State taxpayer contributes in Federal dollars and how much money each State taxpayer receives back. This is very interesting, especially if you come from the State of New Jersey, as I do.
According to this report, Alaska, which is the subject of this amendment, ranks second in the Nation, getting $1.80 back for every $1 that the taxpayers up there pay in Federal taxes. In contrast, my good State of New Jersey ranks dead last. We receive back a paltry 63 cents back for every dollar that a New Jersey taxpayer sends to Washington. What does that mean? That means that New Jersey taxpayers, working just as hard as the taxpayers up in the great State of Alaska are, are sending one dollar in with their paycheck each week, or multiple dollars as it is. But at the end of the day, when they see how Congress appropriates those dollars, New Jerseyans find out that they're only getting back 63 cents on the dollar.
Conversely, we look up to Alaska, the subject of this amendment. How much does every taxpayer get back from the dollar that they contribute to the good of the country and the State? They get back $1.80. It's a fairness issue, quite honestly, Madam Chairman. Where are our dollars going?
And with the new Democratic majority passing the largest tax increase in American history recently in its budget, the burden on New Jersey taxpayers will only continue to rise. Yet at the same time, we are providing nearly $40 million for redundant services in a State that is already nearly on a 2-1 ratio on every dollar that it sends to Washington.
Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Let me just finish this thought.
Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. I have a parliamentary inquiry, Madam Chairman. There is a problem with the amendment that is at the desk.
The CHAIRMAN. Will the gentleman from New Jersey yield for a parliamentary inquiry?
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I am not yielding. I am finishing my thought.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Madam Chairman, and I will be brief, we must remember that every dollar that we send to Washington comes out of that proverbial ``family budget'' that I referenced before. So when duplicate programs like this come before us, we should put ourselves in the shoes of the family in the same situation.
So, do you think that families would go out, families from the other side of the aisle would go out and spend their hard-earned tax dollars on a month's worth of groceries and then go out and eat every single night of the week? I don't think so. That would be duplicative. They would be spending money on the exact same thing. American families don't do that; neither should Congress. That doesn't make much sense to me, Madam Chairman, and quite frankly, neither does the funding of multiple Federal programs do the same.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman's time has expired.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I thank the gentleman from Georgia.
And let me just begin to reference the chairman's comment as far as whether we should be excluding one set of children from this. Well, that's exactly the point; I believe that we should not be excluding any children. And the language in the bill that is before us right now excludes the children of 49 other States.
As the Representative of the Fifth District of New Jersey, I am concerned. I come to the floor because this underlying bill excludes the children from the State of New Jersey with this special extra funding. Let me assure the gentleman there are children with special needs in the State of New Jersey, and there are children with special needs in the State of Wisconsin as well. They are excluded from the Alaska Native Education Program. I am trying to bring fairness to the overall program, which is also what the administration is trying to do.
Let me make that point by sharing with you this comment. The Alaska Native Education Program is authorized by the ESEA of 1965 and they are subject to the reauthorization. But the administration was not recommending reauthorization and, accordingly, funded it at zero. The administration, as do I, recognizes the importance of ensuring that the Alaska Native students receive appropriate educational services. This request is consistent with the administration policy of increasing resources for high-priority programs by eliminating small categorical programs that have a limited effect, such as this.
In addition, the services provided to Alaska Native students through this program are redundant with many of the programs through the Department's Indian Education Program already being funded.
School districts that wish to implement programs and services tailored to the educational and cultural needs of the Alaska Native students are able to use funds already provided under other Federal programs in the 2008 budget. That includes $1 billion in direct support for the education of Indians and Alaska Natives in addition to the significant funds that are provided to those students who receive services through broader Federal programs; grant programs such as title I grants to local educational agencies and special grants.
Further, let me point this out as well: Alaska Native students will also benefit in addition to $1 billion that I also already referenced. They will also benefit from the Department of Indian Education Programs, which provide more than $118 million, $118 million, in formula grants to school districts and competitive grants for demonstration and professional development programs as well.
You see, these programs already serve as the Department's principal vehicle for addressing those unique educational and culture-related needs which the gentleman from Wisconsin is referring to.
The bottom line is there are already programs established that address those concerns that the gentleman from Wisconsin raises. The administration recognized this and already requested appropriations of $1 billion overall, plus the $118 million in special formula grants.
So it is our position, in line with the administration, that we do need to address those specific needs of those children who are in unique circumstances such as we find with Native American Indians in Alaska. But we do not need to do it in a redundant manner.
Finally, I would just conclude by saying the gentleman from Wisconsin is correct. We do not want to have children not being educated, regardless of what State they come from, whether it is from New Jersey, the good State of Georgia, the good State of Wisconsin or Alaska. But we are not doing the children any favor whatsoever if we do not appropriate the dollars in a manner that effectively gets that job done. This amendment works to effectuate and ensure those kids get properly educated.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I thank the gentleman from Georgia, and I would just make reference to the gentleman from Hawaii. I believe he misstates the intent of the legislation here when he says that the intent is to make sure that Alaska or Hawaii, and this bill is only on Alaska, does not get a dime. As my testimony indicated, Alaska will continue to get more than a dime, as the President's budget request included $1 billion in direct support for the education of Indian and Alaskan Natives. That is more than one dime.
Native Alaskans will also get $118 million in formula grants to school districts, competitive grants for demonstration and professional development programs. That is more than one dime.
Finally, to the gentleman from Hawaii's first point, which he agreed with the previous comment that education is best done locally and that the folks of Alaska know best about how to educate their children and the folks from Hawaii know best how to educate their children, I would presume he would agree the people from New Jersey also know how best to educate their children.
I would ask the gentleman from Hawaii, if he truly believes that, would he support our initiatives and my initiative in the LEARN Act to allow States to opt out of the cumbersome regulations of education from the Federal level and keep their dollars in Hawaii and keep their dollars in Alaska so they would be in the best position to educate their children.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, is it appropriate for the speaker to say that the people from New Jersey should be electing----
The Acting CHAIRMAN (Mr. Capuano). Does the gentleman from Alaska yield for a parliamentary inquiry?
Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. I have not yielded. I will not yield.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I make a point of order.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman will state his point of order.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Is it a violation of parliamentary decorum by suggesting that a Member not be reelected in the State of New Jersey?
Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. I don't know what the gentleman is talking about. I just said they were not well represented. Respectfully, if I can say that. I don't name anybody's name. I don't mention anybody. I don't specifically mention any names. And that is not why.
For the rest of you that continue this constant harping on this floor about cutting monies from other areas under the guise of balancing the budget, I say shame on you, too. I say shame on you because we are not doing the legislative process any good.
Regardless of who is in power in this House, Democrat or Republican, we should be leading this Nation and we are at a standstill now. That is one reason our ratings are very low, totally, and that is a shame. Because we do have the work of this Nation that we should be doing and we should be addressing and we should take care of it.
I don't agree with everything that side does. We should not always agree on everything, but we should have the ability to get together and solve problems and to legislate, and we have not done that. So I am a little frustrated. And like I say, those that bite me will be bitten back.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Parliamentary inquiry.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman may state his parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Is it appropriate political decorum for a Member to say that he represents his State in a better manner than the entire delegation of another State represents their State?
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Chair is unable to rule on such remarks after other debate has ensued.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Further parliamentary inquiry.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman may state his parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Is there a manner in which I can rephrase the question so that the Chair will be able to answer the question or comment on the previous speaker's statements?
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Chair can only rule on such words if a timely point of order is made.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I'm sorry, I didn't hear the last part.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Chair is unable to rule on words between Members previously spoken in debate, absent a timely point of order or demand that such words be taken down.
Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Chairman, I have noticed that the last several speakers on the House floor were rather strident in their comments, engaged in ad hominem attacks and perhaps at least one of them could have had their words taken down.
Having served in this body for several years, I have yet to discover any direct correlation between the stridency with which one delivers their message and the righteousness behind their cause.
Many have come here to say that somehow House decorum demands that one speak to another Member before offering an amendment that somehow may be injurious to their district's interests. In all of the years I have served in this body, I have yet to have somebody come to me and explain to me ahead of time how their amendment, how it impacts the people in the Fifth Congressional District of Texas.
Yet every day we see something like the largest tax increase in history, which certainly has a terrible impact on the hardworking people of the Fifth Congressional District of Texas. Nobody sought out my permission before they brought that particular piece of legislation to the floor.
We have pieces of trade legislation, or it should be called anti-trade legislation, coming to the floor, harming my cow-calf operators in the Fifth District of Texas. Nobody seeks my permission or acquiescence before that legislation is brought to the floor.
We have legislation imposing death taxes on people who have worked their whole life to build small businesses in the Fifth Congressional District of Texas. Nobody seeks my acquiescence or permission before bringing that legislation to the floor.
I also noticed that an earlier speaker referred to the funds in this amendment as ``my money.'' Well, isn't that a fascinating concept, ``my money.'' I thought it was the taxpayers' money, many of whom reside in the State of New Jersey. Many of whom reside in the State of Texas.
I am interested why we seem to have on top of all the other education funds we have, and it is not exactly like this is an area of Federal funding that has gone lacking, since 1995, the elementary and secondary education budget function has increased 147 percent. That is about the highest increase of any budget function in that period of time.
I wonder, Mr. Chairman, maybe we ought to go out and create a special education fund for New Jersey and for Texas and for Arkansas and Maine and New Hampshire. Why don't we create one for all 50 States. Then what we can do is we can go ahead with the Democrats' plan for the largest tax increase in history, and we can take all of this money away from American families. Then Washington can keep, say, a third of it in administration cost and waste and inefficiency, and then we can design these programs with our State names on them, take credit for it, and then hand it back to the taxpayers, whose money it is in the first place.
So I want to salute the gentleman from New Jersey for his courage, for his steadfast leadership on this issue, his dedication to education, his dedication to fiscal responsibility, and for coming and suffering these ad hominem attacks. That, Mr. Chairman, is what is truly shameful about this particular moment.
I would be happy to yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding for just a moment.
As the Representative from the Fifth District of the State of New Jersey, I remind the gentleman from Alaska that the State of New Jersey has 13 congressional Representatives from both sides of the aisle. And so when the gentleman from Alaska makes reference to our Representatives from the State of New Jersey not doing their job and not appropriately representing the people of the State, I remind him that it is an accusation not against simply this one gentleman who is standing at the microphone right now proposing this one amendment, but it is an entire body of 13 gentlemen from both sides of the aisle who I say, and I commend both Representatives from the Democrat and the Republican side of the aisle, for appropriately and admirably representing the good citizens from the State of New Jersey.
My colleagues from the other 12 districts do not need to be defended against these rash accusations by the gentleman from Alaska. But I do come to the floor now to appropriately defend them, nonetheless.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman's time has expired.
Ms. FOXX. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentlewoman from North Carolina is recognized for 5 minutes.
Ms. FOXX. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.
I also take up the comment that the gentleman from Texas was just making reference to which the gentleman from Alaska stated in his statement what was ``my money'' or it is Alaska's money. Well, maybe that is the problem we have had in this Congress for too long, even when Republicans were in the majority and now that the Democrats are the majority, too. Too many Members of Congress see the dollars that we appropriate here not as the taxpayers' dollar, but see it as their very own personal checking account. Maybe that is the fundamental problem that we have with why we spend more and more each year.
I remember when the Democrats were running for office this past election. They were railing against the Republican Party, that we were the party out of control, spending more and more and more. If they were elected to office, they would come here and rein things in when it came to spending. And I served on the Budget Committee when the Democrats were in the minority, and how they railed against us from the other side of the aisle. And at times I even agreed with them on some of the charges that they made, that we were spending too much money.
And now when the Democrats take control, what do they do? Give us the largest tax increase in U.S. history, and we see spending continue to go through the roof. Where do those dollars come from? They come from American taxpayers, from the family budgets, from men and women in Alaska and New Jersey and across this country, working hard just to get by, and yet they are being forced by the Democrats' tax increases to send more dollars here to Washington.
When the gentleman from Alaska comes forth and says it is ``my money,'' maybe that is why in some respects when there are projects that are appropriated such as bridges to nowhere and the like, the American public says that is our dollars going to Washington, and it shouldn't be looked at for just such frivolous things as this.
The amendment that's before us right now is an appropriate amendment to say that the hard-earned tax dollars should go to programs that are necessary but be spent in an effective manner.
Members from all 50 States see the need to educate our children. Members from all 50 States, including the State of New Jersey, see the need to deal with the issue of Alaska native students, and that is why this administration has already requested appropriations of $1 billion for that, $118 million in other categorical aids such as that. So all we are doing is saying make sure that those dollars that come from New Jersey and elsewhere are spent effectively.
Finally, to close on this point of ``my money,'' maybe the gentleman from Alaska was not listening at the opening of my comments when I said that New Jersey taxpayers send a dollar to Washington and only get 63 cents back on the dollar, whereas his constituents, yes, they do much better. They send a dollar to Washington and then they get $1.80 back.
I would ask the gentleman from Alaska and other Members from the Democrat side of the aisle, where do they think that other 80 cents on the dollar is coming from? I will tell you it's coming from the good, hardworking taxpayers from the State of New Jersey and Connecticut and New York that are donor States to States like Alaska, that we are subsidizing their programs.
I would ask the gentleman from Alaska to refrain from, therefore, referring to it as his money. It is the taxpayers in the Fifth Congressional District and the rest of New Jersey, whether you're in a Democrat district or Republican district, who are helping fund these programs.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I will not use the whole 5 minutes. I just want to make one point.
The gentlelady from Minnesota, I believe, who was just speaking, I want to concur with a portion of her remarks with, A, the remarks with regard to the physical problem with childhood obesity in the country, and that is of a concern nationally. And, B, the problem that she set out with regard to NCLB not funding to the level necessary so that school districts across the country are put in what you might call a catch-22 situation.
And a catch-22 is, okay, do we, A, comply with NCLB? In which case we spend a lot of our own money on tests, fourth and 8th grade reading and math tests; or, B, if you don't comply with it, then of course you get written up in the local newspaper because your school failed, or your school didn't do very well on the test and you've become an underperforming school. And, instead, provide the funds where you would like to put them, which may well be in physical education programs.
So I concur with her comments on that and suggest that the solution to the problem may be multifaceted. Part of it is the gentleman's amendment right here can be one aspect to address it. And I support the gentleman's amendment to make sure that the dollars that are coming from the Federal Government go to those programs that are effectively getting the job done, including the issue of physical education and childhood obesity and what have you. And just like all the other amendments, I'm sure the gentleman will concur that you want to make sure that the money goes to those programs that really accomplish something, and are not duplicative.
The other aspect of the problem, however, is with NCLB and the burden that they put on the schools as saying, do I do this or do I do that; do I comply with NCLB, or do I do what I really want to do locally? And I think the answer to that is to say this: NCLB is just too top town, ordering the schools, basically you've got to do this or you've got to do that when, with all due respect to all the educated, I'll say bureaucrats, who are in the U.S. Department of Education and in all due respect to the Secretary of Education, a very nice lady and well-intentioned, the people who really can decide where the dollars can be spent best is the teacher in the classroom, the local school board in conjunction with the parents. They know whether their school has more of a problem in the area of childhood obesity than other schools. I find that, from the studies that I've seen, that it is in certain areas of States and certain demographic regions as opposed to other ones. Those are the people who really know how to decide these things.
And so I would concur with the gentlelady from Minnesota and suggest that the solution is, A, put the money where the dollar should go to effectively; and, B, get out from under the rubric of NCLB and just let the schools, the teachers, the parents, the local school boards first and foremost make those decisions, because they know best.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the remainder of my time.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I rise right now to offer what really is a modest amendment with the hopes of returning some degree of discipline to the annual appropriation process. When the President submitted his budget request, he proposed the elimination of a number of programs that were duplicative and unable to demonstrate effectiveness or otherwise not worthy of the priority of spending American taxpayers' money.
Generally speaking, with the savings achieved from eliminating ineffective programs, we can use it to do things such as pay off the debt or support programs that have a proven track record of success. I guess that last line I should reiterate: To support programs that already have a track record of success.
As I also often do, I will refer this back and make the analogy back to the American families' budget. This is really no different from what American families do every month at the proverbial dinner table. Think, for example, when it comes to TV. If a family is paying for both cable TV and DirecTV, or what I have in my house, Dish TV, chances are that they would probably decide which service suits them best as a family, and then cut one or both of the other services out. You only need one service coming into the house; cable, Direct, Dish or what have you. That is what a family would do; prioritize them.
Mr. Chairman, given the content of our spending bills, if the Federal Government were a homeowner and how the Federal Government operates now, well, it would pay for both the cable TV, the Dish and DirecTV, and the cable at the same time, satellite, all three or four coming into the house.
If the Federal Government were a family and they continued to operate as they do right now, they would probably decide that they were going to have gas heat in their house and oil heat in their house and electric heat in their house and wood heat as well. It would probably pay to dig for its own water and have a well in the backyard, all the while continuing to pay for city water coming into the house from the front.
That, unfortunately, is how the Federal Government operates itself. I think it is time to change. We do a disservice to the American people by not eliminating duplicative and ineffective programs. It proves that the Federal Government is unaccountable. By increasing the size of the U.S. budget, it takes that money, again, out of the family budget by sending it to Washington as tax dollars.
So the amendment that I am offering now would only reduce this by $2.3 million, out of a $607 billion appropriation. I used the paper before while I was sitting here trying to figure out how much of a percentage of that is. That is a .0002 percentage point reduction. I think what it does do, more importantly, is to make a statement that there are truly areas within the Federal budget where money can be saved.
What my amendment does is restore funding to the level requested in the President's budget. The administration zeroed this account out because it duplicates other Federal programs. The Migrant and Seasonal Farm Workers, the MSFW, Program provides discretionary grants to make comprehensive vocational rehabilitation services available to migrant and seasonal farm workers with vocational disabilities. Now, if I ended right there you would think, well, what is wrong with that?
Well, according to the OMB, here is the problem: This program serves the exact same population and provides the exact same services as another separate Federal program already is doing, and that is the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants Program. The acronym is VR. The authorizing legislation for the VR State Grants Program contains provisions in it to ensure that State VR agencies must reach out and serve all individuals with disabilities within the State. That includes minorities and unserved and underserved populations.
So what this means is that under the MSFW program, which is what we are talking about here, the Federal Government is in essence micromanaging, if you will, what essentially is a State and local government issue that is provided Federal funds through the VR program. The VR State Grants Program in the bill already is expanded by $36 million on top of the increases that were there before in the fiscal year 2007 levels.
So there is little need to be spending an additional $2.3 million on, yet again, a separate program that does essentially the same thing. The government, you see, does not need to buy both cable TV and satellite TV at the same time. The government does not need to be providing funding for programs that do the exact same thing.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I thank the gentleman from Georgia for yielding.
To answer the question of the gentleman, yes, I have picked vegetables and I have worked on a farm and I have thrown bales of hay and I have worked in the sweltering heat of greenhouses picking vegetables as well. So, yes, I do have that experience. So, yes, I do know of what I speak, to some extent, but never to the extent, I am sure, of the chairman or some of what the people go through in these situations.
The chairman also makes reference to words about being stingy. You know, it is awfully easy, it is awfully easy, to be a generous individual if you are using somebody else's money, and basically that is what Congress does every single day of the year. We come to the floor with the appropriation bills railing about how much more we are spending than last year and saying how generous we are, when in fact these are not our dollars. Despite the statement of the gentleman from Alaska at the last debate, these are the taxpayers' dollars coming in.
So it is easy to be generous with other people's money. What we here as Members of Congress should therefore do is consider ourselves in a position to be wards of that money, protect it and make sure that it goes to the most effective places.
I refer you now to a statement from the administration with reference to this program to point out the necessity of cutting the funding here and making sure there are funds in similar programs. The administration states this: ``This program was established as a demonstration project,'' a demonstration project, ``in the mid-1970s, and it is no longer needed to demonstrate the benefits of these strategies to serve underserved populations such as migrant and seasonal farm workers. Many of the same States have received continued funding over the last 30 years and should be able to effectively serve this population under the VR State Grant Program,'' that program that has continued to be funded in this underlying legislation, that VR program that sees a $36 million or $37 million increase in the funding.
The gentleman from Georgia, when he speaks to what his constituents feel, I wonder what his constituents would feel when they are told that we have a demonstration project established back in 1970 and we are still following that demonstration project to see whether or not it is necessary to run the program.
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman yielding. I didn't want to interrupt your comments, so I waited to be yielded time here just to respond to your statements through the Chair.
No, I have not ever administered or run a school. For that matter, I imagine that out of the 435 Members of Congress, there are probably one or two or three who have ever run or administered a school. And I would hate that to be the barometer or the test that we would have to take before we could ever propose an amendment, vote on an amendment, or even consider legislation that comes before the House. If that were the case, programs like the VR program would never be established in the first place. If the test is whether a Member of Congress has experience in it to propose a new program or expand a program, there is not enough educators here or people who have run title I schools to get the backing of legislation in the first place. So I would question the gentleman's premise.
Now the gentleman on the other hand questions our basic premise for supporting this amendment. Our basic premise is that you don't have to actually run the school to know that perhaps the best way to serve a particular segment of our country is to make sure that the dollars go to programs that are up and running and do serve that program.
The administration has looked at this and has seen that the program in place that we are talking about now has been in place since 1970 as a demonstration project. ``Demonstration,'' the word itself connotes the fact that this is temporary in nature.
Since that time, we have the VR program, which I pointed out earlier, maybe the gentleman did not hear my testimony, the VR program handles these same services. In fact, it says: ``The activities needed to successfully serve the migrant and seasonal farmwork population do not differ from those that benefit a much wider group of VR consumers.'' For example, the outreach activities in churches and community centers may be effective for identifying farmworkers with disabilities, what this amendment deals with, but they also assist in identifying other persons with disabilities who visit these places. The hiring of bilingual counselors will assist all consumers who are monolingual in a non-English language, whether they are farmworkers or not. And the provisions of the transportation services for rural areas will benefit all rural residents, whether farmworkers or not.
The bottom line is, our basic premise is, if you are going to serve a segment of the population, in this case individuals with disabilities and migrant farmworkers, let's do so, but let's do so with programs that are already up and running and have a track record. That is what this underlying bill does. It even does it with spending $36 million more. I think we can make sure that program runs and eliminate the duplicative program.
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