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Public Statements

Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HONDA. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Chairman, I also rise in opposition to the amendment which seeks to cut $1.2 million from the Architect of the Capitol's Botanic Garden.

The hardest hit agency in this building is the Architect of the Capitol, which was cut by $52.5 million, or 11 percent, making it impossible to fund the Capitol dome restoration in this bill. However, the chairman found a small amount of funding to try to keep up with the maintenance of the Botanic Garden. Nevertheless, Members attack because they can get a good headline in the papers for cutting a garden.

To that effect, the author of this amendment put out a press release after offering this same amendment last year. In that press release, Representative Gosar stated:

The Botanic Garden has proven its ability to use tax dollars in a cost-effective and efficient way.

If the Botanic Garden has indeed proven it's ability to use its tax dollars in a cost-effective manner, why is the gentleman targeting this agency?

The public should know that after this amendment, we still won't finish the dome restoration. We still have to rehabilitate the Cannon House Office Building. The gentleman from Arizona wants to make sure the Botanic Garden is added to the scrap heap of buildings that we are unable to keep in working condition.

Our constituents sent us here to do real work and look for real solutions to the deficit, not to make political points by attacking institutions like the Botanic Garden, which was established back in 1820. As a Member of Congress, we have a responsibility to ensure that our Nation's heritage is kept intact for future generations by both tackling unnecessary spending, but also by making investments in our future.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I urge defeat of this amendment.

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Mr. HONDA. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would cut the funding level of the Congressional Research Service by $878,000, returning it to the 2012 level.

He said that he's not doing anything to harm it because it's the same level as last year, but everybody knows that every year the cost of living, the cost of doing services, increases. So a flat, across-the-board push ahead kind of a budget is really a decrease. It's subtle, but it's still a decrease. I just want to let the gentleman know that that's the fact.

The other fact is the CRS is a research arm of the congressional Members. It's a research arm that we're able to use to do the kind of research that our folks really depend upon and is nonpartisan, is not biased in one way or another, and they are very professional in doing so. If we're expected to do the right kind of work for our constituency and then also for our country on issues, then we should be able to expect good work from our CRS.

In fact, Chairman Crenshaw and his staff should be commended for recognizing the funding shortfall that CRS has incurred in recent years.

As other congressional staff can attest, CRS is really essential to help Members to be able to perform the duties by this kind of a nonpartisan research and policy analysis. I believe this divided Congress should take more advantage of this unbiased resource and not reduce its capacity. Therefore, I oppose the amendment and urge my colleagues do so also.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. HONDA. Thank you for yielding.

I won't need the full 2 minutes because I think that the proponent, Congressman Holt, has done an excellent job in expressing our sentiment about the importance of the pocket Constitution. I appreciate the chairman of the authorizing committee, Congressman Lungren, and my chairperson for taking the initiative in moving forward on this and prodding the other body to make sure that they act on Resolution 90.

So I would urge all Members to vote ``yes'' on this amendment.

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Mr. HONDA. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman's amendment attempts to cut $1 million in the bill for the Open World program, and I want to emphasize the word ``attempts.'' I also want to emphasize that it's not my intent to support the idea of shutting down the program; it's the issue of the process of the gentleman's resolution.

Now, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the official bookkeeper of Congress, this amendment would net to zero. They believe that the organization would need at least $1 million to ramp down the organization. That's the CBO's impartial analysis. That means that this amendment has no effect. Maybe the gentleman did not know that, or maybe he disagrees with the Congressional Budget Office, but the Congressional Budget Office is a fine arbiter, and it has concluded that this amendment would not save one red cent. Again, this is a process of zeroing out, and you need that money.

But let me emphasize again that it is not my intent to support the idea of closing down the program at all; it is just my comment on the process.

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