Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Steve Scalise
Date: May 8, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCALISE. Madam Chair, the amendment that I bring to the desk brings the two Agencies, EDA and Commerce, back to the pre-2008 spending levels. And as we're focusing on bringing overall spending in this bill, the CJS bill, to pre-2008 levels, I wanted to also bring those two Agencies in line on their overhead, and that's specifically what my amendment deals with.

I want to first applaud the chairman, the gentleman from Virginia, for the work that he and his committee have done to start the process of reducing spending. We recognize that Washington has a spending problem, and some of us here are willing to do something about it and start forcing Washington to live within its means, and that means we have to start the process of setting priorities.

One of the things that was done in the original CJS bill that's been filed is to implement a 52 percent cut to the programs that are implemented, for example, in EDA. And, again, I applaud the gentleman for making those improvements and those reforms in the base of the bill to actually bring the spending in those programs in line with pre-2008 levels.

But one thing that was not done was the spending for the salaries and expenses, the overhead of those Agencies. So as the agencies are being trimmed back, their salaries and overheads are not being subsequently trimmed back, and so that's what we do in this amendment. We actually reduce spending to the point where we will save $18.2 million that will reduce the Federal deficit.

Again, this is one small step in a large number of steps that we need to take as a body, but I want to talk a little bit about what these cuts will mean and what the subsequent corresponding cuts will mean to the cuts that have already been made in the programs themselves.

I think there have been some good examples that have been shown of these programs, what EDA does and some of the money that's wasted. And when you go and you look through what these Agencies have spent money on--again, this is money we don't have--they've spent money on things like building a replica of the Great Pyramids, building a replica of the Great Wall of China.

Two million dollars was spent giving money that we don't have to a city to build an amphitheater with a wine tasting room. I'm sure there are a lot of people in that amphitheater would like going to a wine tasting room, but there are a lot of places you can go in the private sector that already do that without borrowing money from China to go and build these things with money we don't have.

And so, again, as the committee did the work of cutting 52 percent of the EDA program, they did make some cuts in the overhead, but not to bring it to the 2008 levels. So, as the bill currently stands, in its base form, these two Agencies will see a 25 percent increase in their overhead from the 2008 budget. So, in that 4-year period, even with the cuts that have already been made, these two Agencies still have a 25 percent increase in their spending.

Now, keep in mind this is coming at a time when States, when local governments, when families in our districts back home have been cutting back, have actually been making due with less to live within their means, as everyone should when times get tough. And yet, in Washington, even though 42 cents of every dollar that's spent here is borrowed money, Washington still hasn't cut back subsequently to live within its means; and we've got to start that process, and that means setting priorities.

These Agencies would still have, combined, $74 million to spend on their overhead. But at least it brings them back to their 2008 levels, just as the programs that they're administering have been brought back to 2008 levels.

So think about it. You know, we're asking people to do more with less. If my amendment doesn't pass, they would be asked to do less with more. The programs that they administer are being cut, and yet the salaries and overhead are not being cut subsequently.

We just had a district work period this last week. I go back home and I talk to small businesses throughout my district in southeast Louisiana, and what they tell me, the things that are holding them back from creating jobs are the regulations, the red tape, and the excessive spending coming out of Washington. Yet, if you look at this, you know, nobody in my district said that they need to see the Great Wall of China being built with taxpayer money. But what they do say is what's holding them back from creating jobs is borrowing money from China to spend on programs that we just can't afford to fund.

So while I applaud the cutting of those programs, because the programs in the base of this bill have been cut, what hasn't been cut subsequently is the overhead to go along with it to bring it to those pre-2008 levels. This is a step we need to take to not only save $18.2 million that will reduce the deficit, but to start sending the signal that we're living within our means.

Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.

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