FOREIGN OPERATIONS, EXPORT FINANCING, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - July 15, 2004)
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Garrett of New Jersey:
At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:
LIMITATION ON ATTENDANCE AT CONFERENCES OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
SEC. __. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to send or otherwise pay for the attendance of more
than 50 Federal employees at any single conference occurring outside the United States.
The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Garrett) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Garrett).
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, while those on both sides of the aisle may disagree exactly how we got here today, I think most of us,
myself included, would say that, as far as the Federal budget is concerned, we are spending too much and the deficit is too high. That is why I am offering an amendment that is, I think, a commonsense approach to help limit spending and the abuse that our constituents at home complain about.
I will say this: when I go home to my town hall meetings, so many times constituents ask me, why in the world is Congress spending so much money on this or that particular program. In short, my amendment will limit the number of
Federal employees that are able to be sent to international conferences to 50.
Recently, there has been a trend in our government to send far in excess of the amount of staff to these international
conferences, costing our taxpayers millions and millions of extra dollars. This amendment would simply put a cap on that number.
Now, like my colleagues on the other side of the aisle on this, I understand the importance of staff in our daily routines. I am simply saying that we should send the essential staff, those necessary in order to get the job done. Let me just give a couple of quick examples here why I bring up this amendment.
In this year, 2004, in a conference that was in Thailand for an AIDS conference, over 130 Federal employees of the
U.S. Government were sent to this conference. Had my amendment been in place at that time, and been able to limit the
amount of employees, Federal employees that went over there, we would have saved millions of dollars.
To put it in the context of dollars and cents, we could have provided a dose of nevirapine, which is an AIDS preventive
medicine which provides benefits to babies, to over 216,616 newborns in Africa. Over almost a quarter of a million
dosages could have been provided had we had a cap on people going there.
Another example, 2002: the U.S. sent 236 people to a conference in Barcelona, Spain. These employees were sent at a
cost of $3.6 million. Again, my people at home, the constituents at home, ask why do we spend so much money.
Due to the limited amount of time I have right now on this amendment, I cannot go into more of the examples we have
seen in past experience as far as excessive numbers of Federal employees going overseas to Federal conferences. I
would simply urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense and important amendment to
make a limit as to the amount of people we send over.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. KOLBE. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey, briefly.
Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Just very briefly, Mr. Chairman, I do not believe that the amendment would address
those concerns, or the points the gentleman raises, and I share his concerns there. This applies to those that would come
under this act, and that such conferences as those could very well conceivably be coming under the other act, like State
Department and the like.
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