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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1216

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. FOXX. House Resolution 269 provides for a modified open rule providing for consideration of H.R. 1216, which amends the Public Health Service Act to convert funding for graduate medical education in qualified teaching health centers from mandatory spending to an authorization of appropriations; H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act; and same-day consideration of a rule to consider extending certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. Mr. Speaker, this is the seventh modified open rule that the House Republican majority has offered this Congress, compared to the liberal Democrats' one modified open rule during the entire 111th Congress.

The first underlying bill today, H.R. 1216, continues the fulfillment of the Republican Pledge to America and illustrates that once again Republicans are keeping our promises to the American people to cut Federal spending. The American people want transparency of Washington's spending of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. In an act of gross irresponsibility, the Federal Government is spending $1 out of $4 of gross domestic product.

We hear the term ``Federal money'' as though it is manna from heaven. Let me dispel that misconception, Mr. Speaker. The Federal Government has only the money it takes away from hardworking American families through taxes or the money it borrows. As a Nation, we are currently borrowing 43 cents for every dollar spent at the Federal level.

Some argue that to balance the Federal Government and pay down our debt, we should raise taxes. As a fiscal conservative, I have to disagree. Raising taxes on hardworking Americans and job creators is simply a way to pass the blame. We must rein in out-of-control Washington spending and put an end to it. The American people are sick and tired of reckless government spending and Washington's disregard for basic budgeting principles of living within its means. This is one of the many reasons I urge my colleagues to support this rule and the underlying bill before us today, Mr. Speaker.

H.R. 1216 restores congressional oversight to Federal spending by ending the autopilot spending for physician residency programs at teaching health centers and restoring it to the annual appropriations process. When a program is put on autopilot, Congress abdicates its authority to unelected bureaucrats and takes a hands-off approach. House Republicans are committed to ending that approach to Federal spending and ensuring that government programs are accountable for how they are spending money. No longer will we accept politically popular excuses. Each program must prove that it is a wise steward of taxpayer dollars. If Congress will not address out-of-control spending now, we are passing the buck to our children and grandchildren.

Therefore, I commend my Republican colleagues at the House Energy and Commerce Committee for seeking to end mandatory or autopilot funding for programs in the liberal Democrats' government takeover of health care. Because the liberal elites knew their government takeover of health care was unpopular and would likely have consequences at the ballot box, they included $105 billion in mandatory taxpayer spending in the law itself to protect their favorite programs.

Let me take a moment, Mr. Speaker, to explain the difference between discretionary and mandatory government spending. Discretionary spending is appropriated by Congress annually and, therefore, subject to congressional oversight and review. Discretionary spending allows Members of Congress the opportunity to be wise stewards of the taxpayers' money by not funding ineffective or duplicative programs. On the contrary, mandatory spending operates irrespective of congressional appropriations and must be spent whether we have the money or not. The most recognized mandatory spending programs are Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security which operate on autopilot and have not been subject to congressional oversight from year to year as funds automatically stream from the Treasury to anyone who qualifies for a particular benefit.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the liberal elites in Washington chose to hastily ram through their government takeover of health care with no regard for the staunch opposition of the American people. The audacity of an elected official or, worse, an unelected bureaucrat basically saying to a taxpayer that he or she knows how to spend the taxpayer's money better than the individual taxpayer is appalling. That is what the ruling liberal elites in Washington did when they chose to forgo the annual appropriations, also known as oversight, process by putting their favorite programs on autopilot under ObamaCare.

Mr. Speaker, it is my firm belief that Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. During committee consideration of the underlying bill, my Republican colleagues rightly pointed out that the liberal Democrats in control last Congress put the funding for residencies at teaching health centers on autopilot but left residency programs at children's hospitals to fend for themselves in the annual appropriations process. In fact, President Obama's FY 2012 budget proposes eliminating funding for residency programs at children's hospitals.

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to understand why residencies at teaching health centers should receive special treatment. Why were these residency programs protected while others languished and were eventually proposed to be eliminated?

This is a classic example of Washington bureaucrats deciding which programs will win and which will lose. As I said earlier, every program should be properly scrutinized by Congress through the appropriations process and be accountable for how it is spending taxpayer money. While this accountability should always be important, it's even more critical because we're facing the third straight year of trillion dollar deficits. This fiscal year our deficit will be $1.6 trillion.

Mr. Speaker, remember the figure I mentioned earlier about our Nation's borrowing habits? We're borrowing 43 cents of every dollar the Federal Government spends. This translates to a national debt that has now reached more than $14 trillion and has gotten the attention of the American people. If you're having a hard time visualizing $14 trillion, let me put it this way: If America was required to pay back its national debt right now, each citizen--man, woman, and child--would owe more than $46,000.

The simple truth is that we have a spending crisis in this town due in large part to mandatory spending that operates on autopilot. House Republicans are committed to bringing government spending under control, and we're continuing to build on our Pledge to America by restoring congressional oversight and accountability for government programs.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote for this rule and the underlying bills.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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