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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Chairman, the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill before us today includes $30.6 billion in funding. That falls $1 billion below last year's level and $5.9 billion beneath the President's budget request.

While I applaud our appropriators for the great work they've done in reducing this spending, I am one of those Members of the House who believes there is still room for improvement. We are in an extraordinary time when it comes to our budget and when it comes to the budget of this Nation in the spending, and this extraordinary time does require some extraordinary measures.

That's why I am introducing a 5 percent across-the-board spending reduction amendment. This amendment has the backing of 10 national conservative groups. This amendment would reduce the funding appropriated by this bill by an additional $1.5 billion and would take Federal spending back to just above the fiscal year 2007 level.

Across-the-board spending cuts effectively control the growth and the cost of the Federal Government. They give agencies the flexibility to determine which expenses are necessary and which are not. In fact, in my State of Tennessee, as I have mentioned many times as we have debated these across-the-board amendments--and Mr. Chairman, I know many of my colleagues are probably a little bit tired of hearing of these across-the-board spending cuts--we bring them forward because the States have used them, and they've used them successfully.

A Governor in my State, who is of my colleague's party across the aisle, made a 9 percent across-the-board spending reduction to bring that budget back into balance, to put our State on a firm fiscal footing. Our States that have balanced budget amendments take these actions, and they take them carefully, cautiously, and with an eye towards securing fiscal stability.

It is time for us in Congress to begin to enact these very same measures. Removing a nickel from every dollar is a way we can help our departments find new efficiencies and to reform wasteful business practices. It would save taxpayers millions of dollars in the process. Indeed, if we had been doing this for years, we probably wouldn't find ourselves in the situation that we are in right now. It's a step in the right direction, so I encourage the support of my colleagues on the amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. In closing, I do appreciate the comments that have been made, and I appreciate the work of the Appropriations Committee. I do agree that the issues that are dealt with are important issues. So is the fiscal stability of this Nation, I think. That's a very crucial and very important issue that is laid before us at this time. So is sending a message to our constituents and to the taxpayers of this Nation, that, yes, indeed we are going to require the bureaucracy to tighten its belt.

One of the questions I am most often asked by my constituents is, in our homes, in our businesses, in our churches, we're all tightening the belt. Why is the bureaucracy not tightening its belt? Why does Washington seem to be recession-proof?

They want to see this bureaucracy engaged in this. They want to see the bureaucracy join us in the fight to put this Nation on a firm fiscal footing.

When it comes to our Nation's security, I would just remind my colleagues that on July 6, 2010, Admiral Mullen made the comment that the greatest threat to our national security is our Nation's debt.

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

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the chairman of the Appropriations Committee for the time to speak on this and to bring this amendment forward.

Again, this is a cut amendment. Every year, I say let's look at 1 percent, 2 percent, 5 percent. Let's look at where to make these reductions. I do it because I know that we all realize and probably many of us in this Chamber agree with the sentiment that Ronald Reagan regularly expressed, and that is that the closest thing to eternal life on Earth is a Federal Government program. We are reminded of that fact today as we are here debating this funding bill.

This amendment calls for a clean 1 percent across-the-board reduction in each account of this act. One penny on a dollar. We are doing this, yes, for today; yes, to send a message to constituents that we are working to reduce the spending; yes, to send a message to those that are watching the growing debt in this country; yes, a message that we are getting the fiscal house in order. We are also doing it for our children and our grandchildren, to make certain that they have an America that is strong, that is safe, that has its fiscal house in order.

We are in a time where every child that is born in this Nation is now seeing $46,000 worth of debt heaped on their head, Federal debt, that is theirs. It is so important that we make this cut. It's an extra $306 million that would come out of this budget.

As I said in my previous remarks, the appropriators have worked hard. They have worked diligently to make certain that they were reducing and coming in below last year's level, and they are to be commended for that. But these are extraordinary times and it requires that we put the focus on going a step further, that we engage those that are running the bureaucracies, and that we have them go save a penny out of a dollar and that they do it for future generations.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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