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Mr. MARKEY of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the House was called back into session to take up and pass this critical jobs measure today. This bill will bolster working-class Americans, ensure that our teachers are protected from layoffs and reduce the deficit.
However, I am very concerned that the Senate chose to take $1.5 billion out of the Renewable Energy Loan Guarantee Fund to help pay for this legislation.
Congress already tapped this program once when it took $2 billion out of this program to extend the very successful ``Cash for Clunkers'' program that did so much to jump-start auto sales last year. While the House voted last December to restore that funding, the Senate failed to act. Now, with this bill, Congress will be taking another huge bite out of the program. That's $3.5 billion cut out of a $6 billion program.
Through discussions with the Department of Energy, I understand that this fund will still have enough money to finance renewable energy projects through the first quarter of next year. But the funds that we are borrowing today must be replenished before then.
The $1.5 billion in loan guarantee funds would pull an additional $15 billion of private investment off the sideline and put it into the economy at a time when we need that investment the most. It would continue to build on the 190,000 new jobs that this program and others from the Recovery Act have created in the clean energy sector.
American consumers currently send half a billion dollars a day overseas to pay for foreign oil--money that goes to the Middle East, OPEC and countries that wish us harm. Instead, we should invest that money here at home, putting people to work building electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels and smart grid technology.
Make no mistake, we are in a global race with China for clean energy manufacturing jobs and technology. The country that leads the world in developing clean energy will lead the world in creating jobs.
China just threw down the gauntlet with a $738 billion investment in renewable energy over the next ten years. We must respond to that challenge rather cutting our own investment.
This bill is worthy of our support and I encourage my colleagues to vote ``Aye'' on the underlying bill. But let's make sure we work to replenish the renewable energy loan guarantee fund so that our young industry has a shot at winning the clean energy race with China.
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