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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.R. 5116, America Competes Reauthorization Acy of 2010; Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendments to H.R. 2751, FDA Food Safety Modernization Act; and Providing for Consideration of Senate...

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. FOXX. I want to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts for yielding time, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today very disturbed by the lack of respect the ruling Democrat elites have shown for the will of the American people since election day. Having lost 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate, one would think the liberal Democrat regime would think twice about continuing their reckless pattern of spending that has been so overwhelmingly rejected by the American voting public. However, these Washington elites have spent their last days grasping frantically to their waning power and continuing to spend, spend, spend, even in the final hours before Christmas.

This rule is a slap in the face to the institutional integrity of Congress and the way this body is intended to operate.

Mr. Speaker, I have an article that I would like to insert in the Record from The Wall Street Journal of November 30. This article talks about what has been happening since we have come back into session, and I think it is something that we need to be talking about.

Also, I want to say that rather than having conference committees meet to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of bills, Democratic leaders have waited until the last minute and the House will now concur with the Senate-passed measures, sending them to the President.

Thus far in the 111th Congress, only 11 conference reports were considered in the House and 25 amendments between the House and the Senate, which denies the minority a motion to recommit. In the 109th Congress, 25 conference reports were considered and only one amendment between the Houses, on which the Rules Committee made a motion to recommit in order. The 109th was when the Republicans were last in control.

In Pelosi's New Direction for America, page 24, it states, ``Bills should generally come to the floor under a procedure that allows open, full, and fair debate consisting of a full amendment process that grants the minority the right to offer its alternatives, including a substitute.''

It is clear that the House Democrats on the Rules Committee have not lived up to this promise. Instead of allowing sufficient time for debate on these separate measures which collectively authorize billions upon billions in new spending and grant Federal regulators even more overreaching power, the Democrat elites are arbitrarily presenting us with one overarching closed rule for three separate and enormous pieces of legislation.

For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I will urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the rule and ``no'' on the underlying bills.

[From the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 30, 2010]

Federal Freeze Play

American Federation of Public Employees President John Gage yesterday derided President Obama's federal pay freeze as a ``slap at working people.'' It might better be described as a small but symbollc first step toward reining in a ballooning federal payroll that is a slap at the non-government workers who pay the bills.

Mr. Obama proposed a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal employees, a move that will save taxpayers $2 billion in fiscal 2011 and $28 billion over five years. (Congress must approve it.) As cost-cutting goes, this is modest: The freeze doesn't extend to new hiring, bonuses or step increases. It doesn't even match the three-year freeze recommended by the President's deficit commission. But it is more than this Administration has ever been willing to consider, and it suggests that Mr. Obama, post-midterm-shellacking, realizes he must show some willingness to restrain the growth of government.

It certainly needs restraint. As the nearby table shows (see accompanying table--WSJ November 30, 2010), federal employment has grown by a remarkable 17% since 2007 to an estimated 2.1 million nonmilitary full-lime workers (excluding 600,000 postal workers). This is the largest federal work force since 1992, when civilian employment at the Pentagon began to shrink rapidly after the Cold War.

These federal employees operate in a pay-and-benefit universe that no longer exists in the private economy. According to recent analyses by USA Today, total compensation for federal workers has risen 37% over 10 years--after inflation--compared to 8.8% for private workers. Federal workers earned average compensation of $123,000 in 2009, double the private average of $61,000. Unions like to argue that federal jobs are unique, yet in occupations that exist both in government and the private economy--nurses, surveyors, janitors, cooks--the federal government pays 20% more than private firms.

Voters have swept GOP reformers like New Jersey's Chris Christie and Wisconsin's Scott Walker into gubernatorial office precisely to rein in bloated public-employee pensions and salaries. If Mr. Obama is serious about cutting spending, his pay freeze needs to be an opening bid for a leaner, more modestly compensated, federal work force.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to my distinguished colleague from Oklahoma (Mr. Lucas).

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Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Lucas has spoken very eloquently about one piece of the legislation rolled into this rule. I would like to speak about all three of them, briefly. One piece is H.R. 5116, the COMPETES Act, a behemoth, authorizing nearly $86 billion, which is $22 billion above the fiscal 2010 base amount and $8 billion above the original 10-year ``doubling path.'' This is in addition to the nearly $5 billion in additional funding that was provided in the so-called ``stimulus'' bill.

When H.R. 5116 was authorized in 2007, it enacted approximately 40 new programs. The new spending under H.R. 5116 would create at least seven new government programs, many that are not associated with research and development, and others that are duplicative and unnecessary. This is plain wrong, Mr. Speaker.

It's worth recalling that when H.R. 5116 was originally considered by Congress earlier this year, Republicans attempted to make several constructive changes which were systematically blocked by the ruling liberal majority. One of these changes would have saved billions of taxpayer dollars by reducing the authorization levels to FY 2010 levels and freezing them

for 3 years. However, in an effort to obstruct Republicans, the liberal Democrat elites did the American people disservice by using a series of parliamentary tricks to shove their bill through without allowing any Republican input.

Mr. Speaker, in these difficult economic times, American families across the country are tightening their belts and cutting their spending. Why then are the Democratic elites increasing spending by $22 billion with this legislation and creating new duplicative government programs? The American taxpayers cannot afford this bill.

The second bill encompassed by this closed rule which the Democrat elites have brought before us today is H.R. 2751, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, again, which my colleague from Oklahoma (Mr. Lucas) has spoken on so eloquently. This bill increases spending by $1.4 billion, subsequently increasing the price of food and increasing the size of government without actually improving food safety.

This hastily considered closed rule provides for consideration of yet another bill, H.R. 2142, the Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Act of 2010, which is so riddled with problems that last week it failed to garner the votes necessary to pass under a suspension of the rules. Instead of taking this as an opportunity to fix the flaws and address the other concerns prompting the bill's failure, the ruling liberal Democrats predictably chose to ram it through by any means necessary. And since they've wasted so much time tilting at windmills, they find themselves here in the waning days of this lame duck Congress scrambling to address issues that should've been dealt with through a responsible legislative process.

As they wait for the Senate to act, they're refusing to yield any free moment to pursue one of their last opportunities to slam through another so-called rule--unworthy even to be called a rule--providing for consideration of flawed legislation, such as H.R. 2142.

This bill would amend the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, GPRA, a law which currently requires agencies to develop 5-year strategic plans, annual performance plans, and actual program performance reports. Unfortunately, under the rules of debate provided for by this rule, the ruling Democrat majority refuses to allow Members to offer these types of real reform ideas or any other amendments, leaving this legislation unlikely to do anything to change the incentives facing decision-makers and will not end the perpetual funding of failing Federal programs.

As has been made perfectly clear to the ruling liberal Democrat leadership, many are concerned that although there's no cost estimate available for this version of the bill, it authorizes $75 million over 5 years to establish agency performance officers and interagency councils, but does not contain an effective means to consolidate or eliminate ineffective programs at each agency. If you add the 17,800 employees that the food safety bill is contemplating and then the new employees that will be required under the GPRA bill, we are adding to the number of Federal employees. But we should be decreasing the number of Federal employees.

I want to talk a minute about what has happened in terms of Federal employees since the Democrats took over the Congress. In 2007, there were a total of 1,832,000 executive branch employees and in the civilian agencies there were 1,173,000. In 2010, it goes to 2,148,000 and 1,428,000. Federal employment has grown by a remarkable 17 percent since 2007, to an estimated 2.1 million nonmilitary full-time workers. This is the largest workforce since 1992.

Also, Mr. Speaker, according to a recent analysis by USA Today, total compensation for Federal workers has risen 37 percent over 10 years, after inflation, compared to 8.8 percent for private workers. Federal workers earned an average compensation of $123,000 in 2009--double the private average of $61,000.

Mr. Speaker, our country cannot afford this expansion of the Federal Government. We need to be reducing the Federal Government, not expanding it.

I would like to say further this version of the bill does not contain an amendment considered in committee markup by Republican Representative Schock and supported by Democrat Congressmen Cooper and Quigley that would have established a more thorough process for evaluating agency performance and eliminating programs that failed performance standards, were found to be duplicative or determined to be unnecessary.

H.R. 2142 mandates the creation of several new government-wide and agency-specific management plans. However, it does not--does not--increase executive accountability for failing programs.

Mr. Speaker, again, this bill is going in the wrong direction. What it does is it allows agencies to design their performance plans and then to measure their own results, using their own performance indicators. Rather than requiring agencies to focus on achieving measurable outcomes, the bill makes the creation of outcome-oriented performance measures optional. This would be like, Mr. Speaker, letting students set the criteria for getting their own grades, and we all know that doesn't work very well.

Strangely enough, also in the process, the bill directs agencies to ``identify low-priority program activities,'' which is ridiculous because, even if agencies had an incentive to label their own programs as ``low priority,'' they do not. This begs the question of why such programs are funded at all.

Mr. Speaker, the evidence is in. The liberal Democrat agenda has failed. They need to go back to the drawing board and come back to the American people with real solutions to their real problems. This isn't the time to dither and blame the Republican minority for the disappointing collapse of governance we have seen since the liberal majority seized control of Congress in 2007.

I urge my colleagues to take this opportunity to force the ruling liberal Democrats to rethink their misguided proposals by rejecting this rule and the underlying legislation and by protesting the liberal agenda that continues to distract from private-sector job creation and from getting the economy back on its feet.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. McGOVERN. I yield myself the balance of my time.

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