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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, today I voted against the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 3630, but within this legislation, there are provisions that I do support. I support giving a payroll tax cut to 160 million Americans, extending unemployment insurance to those Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and to allow seniors access to their doctors under Medicare. But there is a damaging aspect of this bill that will affect the pensions of future federal employees.
This bill raises an additional $15 billion to extend unemployment insurance coverage by requiring federal employees to contribute a larger amount to their retirement accounts. Federal employees are currently in their second year of a pay freeze while my colleagues across the aisle only a few short weeks ago voted to freeze federal employees' pay for a third year. Republicans don't think twice about limiting federal workers' ability to support their families, but are more than willing to shut down the government when bankers are asked to pay their fair share of taxes on their bonuses.
How much can we continue to pick on federal workers? They are not fat-cats. They are postal workers, janitors, teachers, nurses, social workers, and police officers. When did they become the bad guys? How much can we continue to pile on them before their backs break? How much weight should the wealthiest Americans, who can afford it, carry?
I am also concerned that this compromise to extend unemployment insurance reduces benefits from 99 weeks to as little as 73 weeks through December. I hear daily from constituents who are approaching the end of their 99 weeks and are at a loss as to where to turn next. Although the economy may be starting to recover, what are we supposed to tell those people who have been looking for a job for months and months on end? What kind of compromise are they supposed to strike with unemployment?
Furthermore, this legislation will blow a $100 billion hole in the deficit by not paying for the measure. It is a precursor from the Republicans for the beginning of the end of Social Security.
Millions of Americans all across this nation are struggling and they need our help. The Republican majority would rather implement policies that unfairly favor the wealthy, while asking the least among us to make enormous sacrifices. I am sick and tired of Republican gamesmanship. I voted against this measure, because `enough is enough.'
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