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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Eliminating the $400 million Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund is ill-conceived and unwise. This fund provides funding for high-priority, large-scale infrastructure programs in support of the civil-military campaign in Afghanistan. These projects are critical to convincing the Afghan population to reject the insurgency and side with the Afghan Government. This in turn significantly reduces the threat to our troops and quickens the security transition process, which we all seek.

Not only is this funding a top priority of the Secretaries of State and Defense, it is also a top priority of General David Petraeus. This fund is so directly related to the safety and security of our troops that it needs to be preserved, and thus I urge a ``no'' vote on the amendment.

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Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to my colleague from New Jersey's amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. The Iraqi Security Forces Fund is required to enable the Iraqi Security Forces to reach minimum essential capabilities. These capabilities will allow those forces to maintain internal security with police forces in the lead and defense forces in support while building foundational capabilities for the Iraqi military forces to provide external defense prior to U.S. forces' departure on 31 December 2011.

This is our Nation's commitment, our President's commitment, our Commander-in-Chief's commitment. It is a bipartisan commitment. It is more than just this majority's commitment to see the departure of our U.S. forces in that time frame.

This Iraqi Security Forces Fund funds the following five categories:

Equipment purchases and transportation of equipment, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, communications gear and spare parts;

Infrastructure projects such as construction and improvements of police stations, military bases, training centers, maintenance facilities, and border enforcement facilities, among other infrastructure;

Training and operations projects and programs such as training school and maintenance facilities, vehicles for training centers, and training of security forces;

Sustainment of security forces through maintenance programs, human resources, information management systems, support service, and medical services;

Other activities such as detainee operations, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.

These are essential to speed our departure from Afghanistan. So, Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on Mr. Holt's amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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We are here to follow through on our pledge to right-size the government, and I appreciate my colleague's amendment for that reason. However, in addition to enacting historic reductions in spending in the CR, we are also committed to an unprecedented level of oversight to ensure that every dollar spent by the Federal Government is, indeed, well spent.

My colleague's amendment would virtually eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency--Energy, or ARPA-E, as we call it. This relatively new program is getting positive early results for its strong management, for its ability to execute, and for its focus on American competitiveness.

We certainly can and must debate which programs are the most worthy of taxpayers' dollars and which we should terminate, but the debate to end a potentially promising initiative to increase funds for another Federal program, as this amendment does, must be thoroughly considered in more than 5 or 10 minutes.

I and the committee would be happy to work with my colleague in the fiscal year 2012 process to ensure the proper and thorough oversight and evaluation of this program. However, I must regretfully oppose her amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman's amendment adds, as we know, $50 million for ARPA-E while cutting funding for the fossil energy program. The Energy and Water portion of this bill strikes a careful balance between national security, American competitiveness, and the grave responsibility of deficit reduction. As written, this bill provides sufficient funding to keep ARPA-E operational and active in fiscal year 2011 while we thoroughly evaluate the program and its future in the fiscal year 2012 appropriations process.

ARPA-E has shown some promise in advancing our competitiveness; but in the light of the tough tradeoffs we've had to make in this bill--and indeed, they've been tough--I can't support further increased funding for ARPA-E before we've had a broader discussion of the new program.

Further, to achieve this bill's historic levels of spending reduction, the bill has struck a finely tuned balance of support across programs within the Department of Energy. The amendment would reduce funding for fossil energy research and development. The program cut by the amendment ensures not only that fossil energy which generates nearly 70 percent of the Nation's electricity is clean and efficient but that it uses technologies invented in America and creates jobs here at home. Yet, because reducing spending is our top priority, all programs must sacrifice, and the bill cuts fossil energy, research and development well below the 2010 mark and 21 percent below fiscal year 2008.

Further reductions to fossil energy can be damaging to the program's important goals and may lead to excessive job losses. For this reason and because further increases to ARPA-E are currently unwarranted, I oppose the amendment.

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Mr. Chairman, the continuing resolution before us enacts historic spending reductions but it does so by striking a careful balance between deficit reduction and other important goals.

I regret the gentleman's amendment goes far beyond the point of balance, and thus, I must oppose it.

Mr. Chairman, deficit reduction is the bill's top priority, and our bill already significantly reduces the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Account. As written, our bill cuts that account to 35 percent below current levels and 38 percent, or nearly $900 million, below the fiscal year 2000 budget request.

Our bill cuts the excess and provides only enough funding to continue past commitments, leaving little room left to cut.

While I support the intent of the gentleman's amendment, as it aims to reduce further spending, we must do so responsibly and with a careful balance among deficit reduction, jobs, and our Nation's energy security. The gentleman's amendment fails to maintain this balance and would, to my mind, create undue job losses which would be considerable and irreversibly damage this particular program.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. Chairman, while the energy efficiency and renewable energy program supports research and development important to American competitiveness, the program has seen a 30 percent increase since the fiscal year 2008 and received $16.8 billion in stimulus funding in the Recovery Act. Now is therefore the right time to cut the fat and replace indiscriminate spending increases with smart prioritization and oversight.

Two programs within this account, Weatherization Assistance and the State Energy Program, do not focus on competitiveness and instead pass funding on to state and local governments. These two programs together have $4.7 billion in unspent Recovery Act funding and have encountered substantial management challenges in the last 2 years. And I may say, substantial.

The bill eliminates funding in fiscal year 2011 for weatherization and state energy programs whose unspent Recovery Act funding should sustain it through fiscal year 2011. In fact, at current implementation rates, which have been incredibly slow, unspent funding would last through 2012.

The amendment ignores these commonsense facts and the imperative to reduce spending by moving unneeded funding back into an already bloated program. I therefore, oppose the amendment and urge Members to do the same.

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Mr. Chairman, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program supports technology, research, and development to keep America competitive and ensure our access to domestic energy sources. While these are critically important goals, so too is meeting our pledge to substantially reduce the Nation's deficit beginning this year.

Our bill cuts energy efficiency and renewable energy 35 percent below the current level and 38 percent, or $888 million, below the President's fiscal year 2011 budget request.

The bill limits funding for programs that are still supported by unspent Recovery Act dollars. It also eliminates earmarks and slims down research programs by more than $500 million while preserving core activities supporting American competitiveness in emerging energy industries.

After these cuts, there is simply no more fat to trim. Cutting the program would cost excessive job losses and defaults on past commitments. While I support the gentleman's efforts to further reduce spending, this amendment would go too far beyond the careful balance that we have crafted in this bill.

I and the committee fully intend to exert unprecedented oversight of this program. So as we move forward, I would be happy to work with the gentleman as we do; however, I must regret that I oppose his amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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