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Mr. HENSARLING. I thank the distinguished chairman of the Budget Committee for yielding and particularly for his leadership in being the number one budget hawk in the House.
Mr. Chairman, hopefully by now, all Americans know we have a spending-driven debt crisis. We are now looking at the fourth--fourth--trillion-dollar deficit in a row. Our debt-to-GDP ratio now exceeds the entire size of our economy for the first time since World War II. Again, we are in the midst of a crisis. We are mortgaging our children's future, we are bankrupting a great nation, and we are hindering jobs and economic growth in this country.
I've listened very carefully to friends--close friends--come to the House floor to argue against this bill, and I agree with much of what they say. This is one individual tool in a toolbox. They point out the absence of many more, and they are correct. And it is my hope and my aspiration that this House would take them up.
I want to also congratulate the gentleman from Maryland, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee. It's not always easy in these times to work on a bipartisan basis. We had an opportunity to work on the Joint Select Committee, to which he was a positive force. We often disagreed, but he has commanded my respect, and he commands my respect today for his bipartisan work.
I do want to congratulate the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the entirety of his committee. For the first time in my lifetime, under his leadership, discretionary spending will decline 2 years in a row--an incredible achievement.
I also want to thank our Speaker, Speaker Boehner, for his leadership on the entire subject of earmarks. Earmarks are not necessarily inherently bad. But, Mr. Chairman, we all know that too often they represented the triumph of seniority over merit and the triumph of local and special interest over national interest.
Under the leadership of our Speaker, with a little help from the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake), they are no more. But in a different time, a different era, they may return. This is at least an insurance policy that the one individual who is elected to represent the entirety of the Nation, the President of the United States, can at least put a spotlight on that type of spending and just ask the United States Congress to take that up-or-down vote.
It's about transparency, it's about accountability, and it's about a modest tool in a time of debt crisis to help with jobs, economic growth, and the survival of a great nation.
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