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Madam Speaker, as we meet this morning, there are 15 million unemployed people in our country. And what I'm hearing from our constituents is they want us to work together to find ways to help the job generators of this country, small businesses and entrepreneurs, to put Americans back to work.
Here we are again, really, just having a political discussion that doesn't hire a person, help a company, or really go anywhere. Frankly, the majority has gone from ignoring the unemployment problem to worsening it in the last couple of days. In the 5 weeks that they've been in the majority, there has not been one bill, not one word, not 1 hour of debate on a bill that would create jobs in the American economy. Instead, what we've had is a series of political exercises that have ignored their promise to ``focus like a laser beam on job creation.''
Now, the problem has gotten worse this week, and it will get worse as the day goes on with the announcement of the majority's plan to finish out the budget year with massive cuts in the budget.
Now, let me say from the outset, we agree completely that sensible spending restraint is necessary to reverse our trend of deficit and debt and help the American people and the American economy, and we look forward to working with our friends in the Republican Party to make this a reality. But one of the areas that is being considered for up to a 30 percent cut is education.
Now, the Federal Government spends education money on essentially five things: We help the most disadvantaged children in the country learn how to read and do mathematics through Title I; we help children confronted with a learning disability, with Downs Syndrome or autism, get special education services through the IDEA; there are scholarships and student loans for people of all descriptions to get a higher education at a college or a tech school; there are programs for someone who's lost his job at an oil refinery or her job at a bank to be retrained for their next job; and there's a small but crucial amount of money that helps our teachers become better
instigators of science education or math education and instill in the next generations the hunger to learn and the power to achieve.
You need not listen to Members of Congress about the consequences of these kinds of cuts. Listen to the job generators of our country. Listen to Andrew Liveris, the leader of the Dow Chemical Company, who, as part of the business roundtable report in December, said the following, and I quote. ``I think if you had to go to the easy ones, education is a sweet spot for the government, for Congress and for all of us. If we don't get a well-educated workforce back in this country, if we don't invest in science, technology, engineering and math, if we don't pull it all together,'' he goes on to say, ``there will be trouble.'' And he further says, so what we've got to do is ``have a sustained investment, government and public companies together, private partnerships in education.''
This is not the Democratic leader of the House. This is not President Obama's administration. This is the leader of Dow Chemical Company saying that to grow jobs in America and win global economic competition, we need to invest in education.
The majority's taking us in exactly the wrong direction. Proposing cuts of up to 30 percent in education programs will be on the floor next week. So, sadly, they've moved from ignoring the jobs problem to worsening it.
We want to work together with the Republican Party and with Independents to find ways to empower small businesses and entrepreneurs to put our country back to work. We've spent 9 1/2 hours in this debate talking about something else. Let's get on with this debate, get on to business, put the American people back to work.
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Madam Speaker, the prior gentleman who spoke is right. Americans are asking, ``Where are the jobs?'' And the majority is saying, ``We'll get to that later.''
This week, the first thing that they did was to try to rush to the floor, without hearings or consideration, an extension of the Patriot Act, which is a very serious and profound issue for the country. And it didn't work.
Then they brought to the floor a bill that was supposed to recover money from the United Nations, which we're all for, but the Congressional Budget Office says it wouldn't actually save any money. The New York City police commissioner said it would be harmful to his efforts to protect the people of New York against terrorism that might come up around the United Nations. And I think the rest of the world said, Why is the United States rocking the boat at a time when there is profound global crisis going on in the most dangerous area of the world? So that didn't work.
They then brought to the floor this bill, which commendably says that committees should look at whether there are regulations that don't make any sense, that are harmful to jobs and businesses in our country. They're right. We should do that. We're already doing it. In other words, each committee adopts what's called an oversight plan when it meets. It talks about all the different things it wants to do. In Education and the Workforce, we did that. In Armed Services, we did that. So we've now spent 9 1/2 hours debating whether we should keep doing something we're already doing and bring to the floor someday, in the distant ozone future, actual bills that might actually reduce such regulations.
Now if that really weren't bad enough, the majority really switched this week, from ignoring the jobs problem to worsening the jobs problem. Because out of the view of the public on this floor, in their private meetings, they're planning to bring to the floor next week a bill that will dramatically reduce investments, and let me give you an example. We only know what we read in the newspaper because my understanding is that they have yet to post their spending bill online, which they've promised to do 72 hours before it comes up, but you can project this out that they're probably calling for a 30 percent cut in things like air traffic controllers.
I want you to think about this, Madam Speaker, for a moment. Putting aside the obvious safety consideration, I don't think any of us would put anyone we love or care about on a plane we didn't think was safe. That's obviously true on both sides of the aisle, and I'm not suggesting the other side wants to do that. But there are consequences to not having a full complement of air traffic controllers. And beyond the safety consideration is an economic consideration: How can you have a thriving economy if people feel like they can't fly safely?
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I come from a State, New Jersey, which prides on being the medicine chest of the world, in our pharmaceutical industry. How can you have a cutting edge in pharmaceutical products if you lay off people from the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, that review the applications for new drugs? How can you have a supermarket industry that's thriving and employs millions of people in the agriculture and food industries if the people who inspect our meat and our milk and our food are not there?
Now these are questions that are going to be debated and answered next week here. They do have an effect on jobs--a profoundly negative effect on jobs. We understand that there is a common responsibility to enact sensible restraint on what our government spends. That's why Democrats balanced the budget when President Clinton was in office. That's why Democrats passed a pay-as-you-go statute.
I would urge that we return to the business of the House.