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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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I thank my friend for yielding, and I rise in opposition to this amendment. The reason I do is as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, we had Commissioner Shulman before us talking about the IRS role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And he said virtually all of the additional funding that they will receive will be used for outreach efforts to inform small businesses of the tax cuts that they are now eligible to receive with the implementation of this law.

That means 16,000 small businesses in my district alone in western Wisconsin are receiving tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, making it more affordable for them to provide health care coverage to their workers.

And if you look at the 50 million uninsured individuals in this country every year, the bulk of them are working Americans, typically in small businesses or family farms who have a hard time providing health care coverage. And yet the IRS is going to be doing outreach to them to let them know the benefits they are eligible for, along with other individuals throughout the country, of what they are eligible for in the Affordable Care Act to make sure they receive quality, affordable health care coverage. That in essence would be the IRS role. And I think for that reason we should vote against this amendment.

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AMENDMENT NO. 89 OFFERED BY MR. KIND

Mr. KIND. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following new section:

Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide payments (or to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel to provide payments) to the Brazil Cotton Institute.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to the order of the House of February 17, 2011, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. KIND. I yield myself such time as I might consume.

Madam Chair, my amendment is very simple and straightforward. It would save the American taxpayers $150 million a year by ending a new American taxpayer subsidy that is going to Brazilian cotton agribusiness. If this program sounds crazy, it's because it is. But it's also the truth.

How did we get to this point? Well, Brazil had a successful WTO challenge against our own cotton subsidy program under our own farm bill. They prevailed; and you would think that the logical, reasonable response from us would be to reform our cotton subsidy program. But that's not what happened.

Instead, a new program has been created to the tune of $150 million per year to buy off Brazil cotton agribusiness so they won't pursue economic sanctions against our country. It's foolish, it's wasteful, and it speaks to the need for us to get into serious farm bill reform, especially under the title I subsidy commodity programs. We need to eliminate this new subsidy and then get onto the tough lifting of comprehensive farm bill reform.

I ask my colleagues to support the amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Again, the answer is not to invite a trade war. The answer is to fix our problem here in America by reforming the long overdue cotton subsidy program.

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Madam Chair, what is really ironic in this debate is that cotton prices are at an all-time high in the marketplace, and yet it shows the built-up resistance in this institution to get to the hard work of reforming these farm subsidy programs, which is long overdue. They claim they are going to do it in the next farm bill, but there is no assurance when that is going to come up. It could be 3 years from now. That could be an additional half billion dollars from the American taxpayer for subsidies flowing to Brazil. The answer is to do it now rather than waiting next year or 3 years from now, or maybe never at all.

I have been around here long enough to know the powerful special interests that resist farm reform. We should do it and save taxpayer dollars at the same time.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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AMENDMENT NO. 88 OFFERED BY MR. KIND

Mr. KIND. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

Sec. __. None of the funds made available by division A of this Act may be used to research, develop, test, evaluate, or procure any of the following:

(1) Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

(2) Surface-Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile program.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to the order of the House of February 17, 2011, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. KIND. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Chair, my amendment is pretty straightforward and simple. It would eliminate two weapons programs that the Defense Department, Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the bipartisan fiscal commissions all say are not necessary, they are not needed, they don't go to improve military readiness, and they are redundant. It's the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle as well as the Surface Launch Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile System, the SLAMRAAM for short.

Now, I am not going to get into the details as to why these weapons programs should be defunded. Those serving on the committee have heard these arguments for years. But what I want to make is a larger point here today; that if we're going to be serious about true deficit reduction, the defense aspect of the Federal budget also has to be on the table. And what better place to start than by listening to our own military leaders who continually tell this Congress: Stop appropriating money for weapons systems we don't want, that we don't want to use, that aren't necessary, they don't enhance military readiness, and they are not going to support our troops in the field. And these two programs fit that bill.

Now, we had a previous amendment from Ms. Woolsey in regards to the EFV program. She laid out the reasons behind that, that I don't have to get into. But the fact is defense spending is the second largest spending category in the entire Federal budget after health care costs. And if that is taken off the table, which I hear too often from too many of my colleagues, it's going to make restoring the fiscal health of our Nation that much more difficult.

And with just the elimination of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, Secretary Gates estimates it could save the American taxpayer over $12 billion. And then for the SLAMRAAM program, General Chiarelli estimated that would save an additional $1 billion. When the budget is going to be tight and there's inevitably going to be an increasing squeeze on our military and military readiness, what better place to start than these weapon programs that the military is not even asking for and instructing Congress to stop the insanity?

But I was also proud in the last session of Congress that the Democratic majority moved forward on another important area of defense reform, and that's the weapons procurement program. A recent General Accounting Office report indicates that current weapons programs in the pipeline today are over $300 billion over budget.

So this blank check that defense contractors expect from the American taxpayers has got to end, or we will spend ourselves into oblivion and we won't get a good bang for the taxpayer dollars and we won't be doing right for the American fighting soldier.

So the point of my amendment is simple. It's going to be tough making the type of budget decisions that we have to make in a bipartisan fashion to get these structural deficits under control. The defense budget should also be fair game for scrutiny and transparency and cost savings. And what better place to start than where our own military leaders are instructing us to go: weapons programs they don't need, will save money, reduce the redundancy, and help deal with the budget deficits that we're facing.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Madam Chairman, I am just going to conclude my statement with this. I have great respect and admiration for the two gentlemen who have been serving on the Defense Appropriations Committee for years and I am not going to stand here and pretend that I know more about the defense budget than these two gentlemen do. I don't. But I do tend to listen carefully to our own military leadership at the Pentagon.

Secretary of Defense Gates said about the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle that over two decades the program is going to consume half of the Marine Corps procurement funds and nearly all of the ground vehicle budget, something they are trying to avoid. Even though the Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos has supported the EFV in the past, he has now recognized that this is ``an onerous fiscal program.''

So if we can't start here with these programs, where are we going to go in defense for cost savings?

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