BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I thank my friend from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) for yielding me the time.
First, Mr. Speaker, thank you. I don't know if I will have the privilege again of speaking on this floor while you're presiding, and I want to thank you for your service and especially for your friendship.
And to Mr. McGovern, I thank him for his kind words. I said a few days ago in some remarks here on the floor that this is a great honor of being a Member of Congress of the United States I will never forget, and for the rest of my days, I will feel that honor. And I thanked all of my colleagues, those who have helped me during the years here and the many battles that I've been involved in, and those who have opposed me. And so I think it's appropriate to point to the example of the graciousness demonstrated by Mr. McGovern. We've had very strong debates on this floor, and yet, he demonstrated that graciousness once again today. I thank him for his words, and as I did the other day, I thank all of my colleagues, those who have agreed with me and those who have opposed me, for the great honor of having been able to serve along with them here in this Congress.
Mr. Speaker, we have been discussing the issue of the effect of the debt on the economic reality of the American people, and as a matter of fact as this Congress starts reaching an end, I think it's appropriate to bring forth the fact to remind our colleagues that this is going to be, I believe, the first Congress where we have not seen even one open rule. So we stand here today with another piece of legislation being brought to the floor with no amendments allowed by the Rules Committee and, in this case, a product from the Senate before us that has had absolutely no input from Members of the House.
I think that all of us in this House, certainly an overwhelming majority of the membership of the House, would support--I certainly do--the continuation and reauthorization of reduced and free school food programs. The bill before us unfortunately does not improve upon the current situation in that regard.
In fact, the bipartisan National Governors Association has outlined several problems that they have with this underlying legislation, and I was reading some hours ago their objections. Governors Ritter of Colorado and Rell of Connecticut highlighted new certification and monitoring mandates that will be forced on States by this legislation in order for the States to be able to continue their important participation in these programs.
Actually, I was disturbed to learn from the bipartisan National Governors Association that the underlying legislation sets a federally mandated minimum price that school districts must pay for meals. In the past, if a school district negotiated lower food costs, that was considered applying smart business practices by the school districts. But no longer. With a mandatory minimum, school districts are now going to have to pay more for their food programs, which of course will be passed along to middle class families in the form of higher meal costs.
So I think, in reality, what we are seeing in this legislation is a tax increase on working families. Unfortunately, a substitute that was brought forth in the Rules Committee by the minority, by Ranking Member Kline, which would have reauthorized these important programs, was not allowed to be offered. That substitute amendment would have extended and strengthened the existing important programs but would have avoided the new mandates on States and communities.
There is another issue, Mr. Speaker, that I think is important to bring out. In order to pay for the new programs in this legislation, the congressional majority decided to use previously appropriated funding intended for the Food Stamp Program. The Food Stamp funds were provided under the so-called stimulus legislation, so it's as though the majority is admitting that taxpayer dollars were incorrectly spent, and they are now using those stimulus funds to pay for these programs.
The stimulus bill was not subject to the so-called PAYGO requirements because the majority labeled it as ``emergency spending.'' Under the rules of the House, emergency spending cannot be used as a PAYGO offset for future spending because it was never originally offset. As a result, the rule that we are debating must again waive the important PAYGO requirements.
Now, I know it's difficult to follow. I was trying to understand it in the Rules Committee last night. But the end result is that this bill is paid for by funds that are borrowed by the Federal Government. So I guess we could say that we are voting to provide our children with nutritious school lunches which will be paid to foreign entities in the future, with interest, foreign entities from which we are borrowing funds, thus adding to our national debt and imposing new fees on families.
By the way, we could have reauthorized these programs without adding to our national debt and imposing new fees on families. Adding to our national debt in that way and imposing new fees on families is not the solution to improving the Nation's school meal programs at a time when, obviously, many are struggling.
At this time, I reserve the balance of my time.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I'd just like to point out I think it's important to clarify that if our proposal today, the YouCut proposal, to eliminate for the taxpayer unnecessary spending on paperwork, if that's adopted it would not negate in any way consideration of the underlying bill on the lunch programs.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, in closing, I believe it's fitting that those of us on this side of the aisle are bringing forward another proposal, a YouCut proposal that's been voted on and recommended to this House by a significant number of our constituents. They continue to sound the alarm on government spending, and we must, this Congress must finally listen.
To date, participants in Republican Whip Cantor's YouCut initiative have voted to cut over $180 billion in spending. This week, those participating have voted for a proposal by Congressman Lee of New York, who we heard from before, to end the unnecessary printing of congressional bills and resolutions.
I think it's appropriate that we finally acknowledge the existence of the Internet, and that much unnecessary spending is taking place through the printing of documents. That was appropriate and logical in the past, but not after the development of many new technologies.
So I will be asking Members to vote ``no'' on the previous question so we can have a vote on Congressman Lee's proposal. And again, I remind my colleagues that a ``no'' vote on the previous question will not preclude consideration of the underlying legislation that we have been debating today.
I ask unanimous consent, Mr. Speaker, that the text of the amendment and extraneous material be placed in the Record prior to the vote on the previous question.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT