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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. I am honored to join the gentleman from New York, the gentleman from California, and the gentleman from Maryland.
Martin Luther King once described the need to act as the ``fierce urgency of now.'' Nothing is more important to the American people, nothing is more important to anyone listening to this broadcast than seeing this country go back to work.
Representative Garamendi talked very eloquently about Make It in America. People want to see jobs created in this country and want to see Americans back to work because we all know that when we put America back to work by making things here in America, that it provides the opportunity for every American to succeed.
The President has called upon Congress to act. He did so in a speech last week. We need to respond now.
He did so in bipartisan fashion, citing bills that have come from both sides of the aisle. Congress as an institution should be about the vitality of ideas that you heard expressed here this evening but then turned into a plan of action that sees us lowering our unemployment rate.
It is simply unacceptable that Congress would dawdle while 14 million Americans are unemployed and a sum total of 25 million Americans are underemployed. The time schedule that Congress has here should be expanded so that we're working every day to see that Americans are put back to work. Fourteen million Americans are crying out for the President's proposal to be enacted, to see this body take action. They are tired of the endless bickering between both sides and want to see action taking place in this body. My colleagues have outlined very specific proposals that will achieve those goals.
We've just witnessed one of our colleagues who spoke so eloquently--and I'm referring to Mr. Tonko from New York State--about what has happened to his community, his district, the very character of which was changed because of a calamity, more than a 500-year level storm that ravaged the States of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont and left people not only destitute in terms of their very homes and their livelihood, but again, seeking what is fundamental to this country, a certain sense of fairness and shared sacrifice and commitment to helping out fellow Americans. What better way than rebuilding our country and starting with those communities that have been ravaged. The youth that could be employed immediately in our urban and rural areas. The rebuilding, as Mr. Garamendi has said, of roads and bridges and sewage systems. And fire departments and public schools with broadband to light up the desktops of our children and the blackboards and white boards, if you will, of our teachers so that we can once again assume our rightful position as the preeminent economic leader in this global economy.
We had Professor Dr. Joseph Stiglitz speak before the caucus today. And he said it very clearly--that job creation equals deficit reduction. We are not talking across the aisle here; we need to come together as Americans.
We witnessed this past weekend what can happen when America decides to be unified in common cause, as we did and as we responded after the events of September the 11th. We need to respond to the crisis at hand, which is 14 million Americans that are unemployed, the devastation that it has wreaked on our economy, what it's meant to our housing, what it's meant to our education system, what it's meant to our manufacturing base that Mr. Garamendi has talked about time and again on this floor. That's what we have to do--reinvest in Americans. And in doing so, as Dr. Stiglitz, the preeminent economist in this country, has indicated, we can both reduce our deficit by more than 25 percent and put America to work. What we need is action from this Congress, from this House of Representatives.
Bring the President's bill to the floor. If you won't bring the President's bill to the floor, then engage the select committee that has a very specific timeframe with deadlines and dates and no cloture votes in the Senate, no poison pill amendments in the House, an up-or-down vote on jobs. That's what the American people are demanding. That's what you gentleman have so eloquently put forward here.
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Thank you again, PAUL, for organizing this Special Order. And I think John Sarbanes said it well. The gentleman from Maryland spoke eloquently about the need for us to act and the need for us to act now.
It has been a storm. It has been a hurricane for the 14 million people that are unemployed, and for their families; and all Americans are asking is the simple dignity that comes from being able to look across the table at your spouse and your family and let them know that they are safe and secure because you have a job and you are providing for them.
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