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Public Statements

Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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

Madam Speaker, I rise in reluctant opposition to the continuing resolution. For the most part, it is a clean CR. It provides funding at $1.043 trillion through November 18. The amount reflects the Budget Control Act cap on FY 2012 appropriations. The CR continues funding as provided in FY 2011 with a 1.503 percent across-the-board cut to come down from approximately 1.059 to 1.043.

The CR adds a handful of anomalies requested by the administration through OMB, including provisions to cut back on overseas contingency operations funds from the level of 2011 down to the level that was passed in the Defense appropriations bill, which is approximately 118; authorize DHS work on national special security events; extend flood insurance; and delay the Postal Service payment obligation. The last provision will allow mail service to continue while Congress pursues legislative reforms.

The matter that concerns me and the Democratic Caucus is the way the majority has provided disaster relief funding. FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund is precariously short on money in FY 2011. Americans are trying to rebuild their lives after the devastating effect of floods, wildfires, and hurricanes in a record year of natural disasters, and FEMA is running out of resources to help them.

FEMA has deferred funding for all long-term rebuilding projects to focus on immediate needs. The administration requested a $500 million supplemental appropriation for the remaining days in the fiscal year. They requested 2011 emergency funds. They did not recommend an offset. This has been the practice for supplemental disaster relief.

Since 2002, Congress appropriated $95 billion in supplemental disaster relief. All of it was designated as an emergency, and none of it was offset. Some other emergencies may have been paid for during the Clinton administration; however, during the Bush administration, this was not so for disaster relief. Now, there were other categories of emergency spending and other supplementals that were offset but not disaster relief.

For fiscal years 2002 through 2006, President Bush requested supplemental disaster relief funding eight times. Each of the eight times was designated as an emergency and none were offset. With Republicans in the majority, some of the Bush emergency disaster relief bills, without offsets, were approved by voice vote and some were considered under unanimous consent.

Nonetheless, House Republicans today insist on departing from this practice. They take $1.5 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program at the Department of Energy to pay for $1 billion in disaster relief, disaster and emergency relief. We have discussed compromise with the other side. They have been unwilling to accept our suggestions.

The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program was started in 2008 to reinvigorate American manufacturing. To date, this program has awarded $3.5 billion of credit subsidy to promote energy efficient advanced vehicles and their component parts. The Department of Energy estimates that loan guarantees have created or maintained, in total, 39,000 jobs in California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Some have suggested that this program has been slow to spend emergency funding provided in the FY 2009 CR. I say the loan review process is and ought to be strenuous. One company, Tesla, originally applied under a different loan program in 2006 and received an ATVM loan in 2010. It required 4 years of due diligence and review to qualify for the loan.

Having read many of the press releases that went out when there was another DOE program that ran into difficulties, I didn't note anybody there saying we shouldn't take time for due diligence. Due diligence is required.

By the way, the company in question, Tesla, employed about 400 workers before receiving the loan. Today, they have 1,400 employees in the fields of engineering research and development, design, manufacturing, assembly, maintenance, service, sales, and support.

The ATVM program has an additional 18 loan applications in progress that are projected to create 50,000 to 60,000 more jobs, in total, in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. One pending application would support investments at 11 plants in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The company employs over 56,000 workers, and they are adding nearly 9,000 new workers since 2009. Some of the jobs will be at risk by using this offset.

This is not the time to put American manufacturing jobs at risk. If you want to make it in America, you can't take away this funding.

If there is one thing we've learned on the economic forefront, it's that we need a growth policy, we don't need a cut policy. Cut and grow just ain't so.

I would point out that we need to get people back to work. And the way you do that is programs like this that are going to hire people instead of fire people. We have been doing a lot of firing, and it hasn't worked. When are we going to wake up? When is the majority party going to realize that we have to do something to create growth and stimulate the economy and put people back to work? The only way we're going to get the deficit down is to bring unemployment down.

This is an employment program. It should be supported. We should defeat the continuing resolution and come up with--either take this out or come up with another offset that doesn't hurt job creation in our country.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. DICKS. Isn't it true that the industrial States are the ones that are getting most of this money because that's where the automobile industry has over the years been located?

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. VISCLOSKY. The gentleman is correct. But I would broaden that to suggest the United States of America is getting that money, and people who want to make things in the United

States of America and manufacture things in the United States of America are getting that money.

Mr. DICKS. Isn't it true we already know this program works, this program received $7.5 billion, and $3.5 billion of it has been obligated and is out there as loans? I think it tripled under the loan guarantee program.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

And so we are seeing that this program actually works. I mean, if there was some question that it was something that hasn't worked, but it is creating jobs and it will create jobs in the future. And there is a whole bunch of people in there making applications from many of these States that you and I just talked about.

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Mr. VISCLOSKY. Right. We have 10 pending, and I would not be on the floor if I did not believe we've maintained and created jobs and we have potentially 10,000 more jobs than we can create with the $1.5 billion that is pending; and I would point out, again, I would broaden your observation to the entire United States of America.

I mentioned two problems we face. The second is manufacturing in the United States of America. In 1977, we had over 18 million Americans engaged in manufacturing. Last year, we had over 11 million. The real hourly wage for what an American worker is paid for 1 hour's worth of their physical labor, whatever they may do in this country, is 53 cents less in 2010 than it was in 1977. That's not the country I want to leave the children of this world, and I'm convinced it's because of the loss of those manufacturing jobs.

If it's good enough to declare an emergency and build a children's hospital in Basra, Iraq, we ought not to take money out of an investment account that creates jobs in the auto industry to help people in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

If it is good enough to declare an emergency to have generators installed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by the Army Corps of Engineers, we ought not to take money away from job-creating programs to help people in Springfield, Massachusetts. If it's good enough to build a hydroelectric dam in Afghanistan on an emergency basis, we ought to declare an emergency to help people in Smithville, Mississippi.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. VISCLOSKY. I think I have made my point. I think the gentleman has, and I think this is the wrong policy. Again, institutionally we need to come to grips with natural disasters, set those moneys aside; but in the alternative and in the intermediate term, we need to recognize them for what they are and not rob the future of this Nation economically to do so.


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