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Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. MATHESON. Mr. Chairman, 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 appropriated by this Act may be used for the Community Connect broadband grant program administered by the Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture.

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

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah.

Mr. MATHESON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My amendment would eliminate funding for the community connect broadband grant program which is administered by the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service.

Now, eliminating this program would save over $13.4 million. This is endorsed by Citizens Against Government Waste.

Look. We're all for broadband development, and we're all for rural broadband development. It turns out there are a lot of different Federal programs that try to do this. This is one in particular that does not have a good history. In fact, in 2005 and in 2009, Inspector General reports have raised questions about this specific grant program. And that is why I have raised this issue today.

As I said, I think as a supporter of rural broadband development, I want to see programs that work and are effective. This one has some serious questions about it. And that is the substance of my amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Matheson).

The amendment was agreed to.

AMENDMENT NO. 496 OFFERED BY MR. MATHESON

Mr. MATHESON. 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. __. The total amount of appropriations made available by this Act (other than for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security) is hereby reduced by $600,000,000.

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

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah.

Mr. MATHESON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My amendment addresses issues of nonessential travel by Federal employees that are not involved in the Department of Defense or Homeland Security.

Simply stated, the amendment says that appropriations made available by this act are hereby reduced by $600 million for all departments except for the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.

I originally was going to do an amendment that specifically talked about reducing nonessential travel. I was concerned about a point of order. So this amendment does not specifically mention nonessential travel. However, based on advice of the fiscal commission, the travel cuts could be proposed. And both Democrats and Republicans on the fiscal commission thought that this was a productive area to look for savings.

I decided to structure this amendment in a way that would not be subject to a point of order. But its intent is to reduce nonessential travel by Federal employees in departments outside of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

That is a description of my amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I rise in opposition to the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Mr. Chairman, we in this bill made it a point of being very careful about the cuts to the DOD and Homeland Security. We think it's the reasonable approach that's in the base bill. We do not need this type of a heavy, deep cut in the defense of the country here and abroad.

So I oppose the amendment.

Mr. MATHESON. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I yield to the gentleman from Utah.

Mr. MATHESON. My amendment affects departments other than Defense and Homeland Security. It's only for nonessential employees in other Federal departments outside of those two.

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Is this an across-the-board cut of the other agencies?

Mr. MATHESON. It's a goal across all of the other departments, all of the other appropriations areas, except Defense and Homeland Security are excluded.

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. But it's across the board?

Mr. MATHESON. That is correct.

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I'm in strong opposition to across-the-board cuts. We were elected to make choices. And on this bill we've made our choices, and we think we've done a fairly decent job of spreading the pain across the board.

But to have an across-the-board cut would mean putting our decisionmaking on automatic pilot, refusing to make decisions. And that's what we were elected to do.

So I oppose the gentleman's amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. MATHESON. I don't want to prolong this debate. I just want to point out, absent concerns of a point of order I would have prescriptively said this is specific to do with nonessential travel of Federal employees.

Due to concerns about a point of order, we structured this amendment where it says this is a cut of $600 million. However, the intent and hopefully the report language when folks in these agencies look at the debate that's taking place right here on the House floor is that it's addressing nonessential travel.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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