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Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker. I rise today to express my strong support in favor of the H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Act of 2012. This legislation reflects the support I have for the Republican Budget and the principles I have stood for during my almost thirty years in this House, a return to fiscal sanity and responsibility. This legislation also makes certain that the brave men and women in our Armed Forces will have the resources to protect this Nation from the many threats we face in an uncertain world.
However, I do have one concern. During my tenure here I have been an advocate for equal treatment for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, who have defended this Nation in record numbers in every military conflict since U.S. citizenship was conferred on them in 1917. Puerto Ricans take pride in their American citizenship and our Nation should be grateful for their service.
My dear friend and former colleague, Governor Luis Fortuno, was recently able to accomplish what other Puerto Rican Governors have tried to do for decades in lessening the disparities between the funding of federal healthcare programs in the territories and the states. Through his hard work, persistence and dedication, Governor Fortuno was able to obtain an increase in Medicaid funding for the US territories that reduces the gap. Unfortunately, the available legislative vehicle in which this could be accomplished was Obamacare, which I have been a staunch opponent of for a whole host of reasons that have nothing to do with Medicaid in Puerto Rico. I am, as a result, troubled that we have included the repeal of the expansion of Medicaid for Puerto Rico and the other territories in H.R. 4966. I believe there are other ways to cut spending that do not contribute to the perception that Puerto Ricans are less deserving U.S. citizens than residents of the states.
I want to assure our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico that the action we take today is just a step in what promises to be a long budget negotiation. As we continue to move forward to repeal Obamacare, I know I am not alone among my Republican colleagues in the belief that we should adequately fund federal healthcare programs in Puerto Rico and the other US territories. As we continue to work this year to reach an agreement on the budget with the Senate, I am hopeful that the principle of equal treatment for Puerto Rico will not be lost, and that the final budget product will bring our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico closer than ever to the parity they deserve in federal healthcare programs.
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