Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Rodney Frelinghuysen
Date: June 6, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentleman from Virginia for bringing these concerns to my attention.

I agree that we must assure that Federal agencies and regulations are not contributing to unnecessary delays that harm economic development and job creation, especially at a time of economic distress and high employment.

I pledge our committee pledges to work with the gentleman and others who have seen an overreaching regulatory process negatively affect job prospects in their districts to address these problems.

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

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I assure the gentlemen from Pennsylvania that I share their concern with the funding of the inland system and the solvency of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. This is why you see extensive report language on the Olmsted Locks and Dam and the cost overruns at that project, as well as language on the trust fund itself. As the gentlemen are aware, any changes to address the solvency of the trust fund are most appropriately discussed within the authorizing committees. I know they're aware of the situation and are evaluating various options.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I take exception to any claim that our bill unnecessarily increases spending. There is one reason that this bill is $188 million above fiscal year 2000: it's defense, national security. Many Members may not realize it, but nearly one-third of our bill supports critical national security needs, including nuclear weapons. That is actually the origin of why we have a Department of Energy today: it's the Atomic Energy Act.

Only two subcommittees received increases in fiscal year 2013, the Energy and Water bill and the Defense bill, because those increases are needed to support national security. There are no other reasons.

The defense portion of this bill is almost $300 million more than last year, an increase which directly supports our nuclear weapons and national security. Even with those security increases, our bill is still less than one-third of 1 percent above last year's bill. That means the rest of the bill is cut deeply.

It means that spending for our nondefense accounts is cut by 800 million below last year's levels. Even with the increase for defense spending, our bill is still below 2009 levels, actually quite close to 2008 levels. So I'll not accept any criticism that our bill in any way is not reflective of this body's work to reduce spending. The House's commitment to cut spending, Federal spending, was fully engaged in in a bipartisan way by the Energy and Water Subcommittee.

The gentleman's amendment would cut the bill simply because of the increases we provided for defense spending. To be clear, the amendment is a cut to national security. That's the point I'll make very clear to any Member who has questions on whether to vote for this amendment.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no,'' to protect defense spending, and I also add a postscript. Our bill, historically, has done things for a lot of States. And Arizona has benefited from the Central Arizona Water Project. It may not have happened during Mr. Flake's tenure as a Member of Congress, but in a bipartisan way we've looked after the needs his constituents and Arizonans.

We are reducing spending. And even as we reduce spending, we have obligations to look at other needs across the country in the energy sector as well as the water sector, which is why I relate the Arizona Central Arizona Project.

So we're cutting spending. We're reducing spending. We're keeping our commitment to the American taxpayers.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. The gentleman highlights some very difficult issues that deserve our attention, and I especially share my colleague's concern about gasoline prices, and that's why the committee has focused on trying to reduce gas prices in the future.

However, the areas of antitrust determinations, compliance, and enforcement that he mentions, quite honestly, are within the purview of the authorizing committee. We are aware of them. We're acutely aware of them. We understand where he's coming from.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise to oppose the amendment. There is valuable, cutting-edge research in the Department of Energy that enables future generations of vehicle technologies to proceed, technologies that are too far in the future for American private sectors to support, but that will keep future generations of manufacturing and jobs here in the United States and have the consequence of lowering what Americans have to pay for gasoline at the pump.

This amendment--and we're all supporting cutting wasteful spending--would virtually eliminate this important piece of our comprehensive approach; and, therefore, I strongly oppose it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I rise in support of the gentleman from Arizona's amendment. While we may have our differences--and not all of his amendments that he has proposed have passed--he has been congenial and a class act and I'd like to thank him. I would like to thank him also for his continued efforts, which have been recognized on the other side too, to fight wasteful Federal spending.

We agree, I think most of us, that our government should not be funding the deployment of proven technologies. For that reason, our committee and our bill has significantly ramped back the wind energy program to 25 percent below fiscal year 2012 and focused the remaining funds on unproven technologies not yet in the market, like far offshore wind. If there are small cases where the Department is carrying out activities not appropriate for the Federal Government, they should be eliminated.

So I salute the gentleman, and I am pleased to support his efforts. I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I suspect, Madam Chair, that the ranking member, Mr. Visclosky, and I are going to use this opportunity to thank a whole host of people who have allowed us to bring this bill to the floor and, we hope, to a very successful conclusion.

First of all, to Chairman Rogers from Kentucky and his working partner, Congressman Norm Dicks, on behalf of the committee, we want to thank you for giving us full support, bipartisan support, and giving us the flexibility to have a number of hearings to do a comprehensive approach through that hearing process and your insistence, both of you, on what we call regular order, the ability of the Appropriations Committee to work in a bipartisan way. I shouldn't comment on the House in general, but in terms of our committee, there's been a good bipartisan working relationship. So you've laid the foundation for Mr. Visclosky and me to sort of proceed in regular order, and we're grateful.

I'd also like to thank the Members for their cooperation in terms of amendments. I think we started maybe last year with 103 amendments. A lot of amendments were drawn into a unanimous consent situation, so we've been able to reduce the amendments, and Members have come to the floor, spoken on an expeditious basis and, I think, performed admirably, and I think they have made our bill better and more comprehensive.

I'd also like to thank those who are on the floor, particularly our committee staff, Rob Blair, our clerk, who's to my left, Joe Levin, Loraine Heckenberg, Angie Giancarlo, Perry Yates, and Trevor Higgins.

On the minority, I'd like to thank Taunja Berquam. I'd also like to thank my personal staff, Nancy Fox and Katie Hazlett, and Mr. Visclosky's personal staff, Joe DeVooght.

And of course, Madam Chair, there are a whole host of people who make the floor work on the appropriations side. Some of them would not like to be publicly recognized. But let me say, in our heart, we hold them dear because we're able to get our bill to the floor, make sure that our amendments all meet the letter of the law and the Constitution, the Parliamentarian having vetted all those amendments. So we're highly appreciative of that.

And I certainly would be happy to yield to my ranking member if he cares to--I'm sure he would--make some remarks.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Reclaiming my time, I want to also note this is the last Energy and Water bill that Mr. Dicks will be participating in. And I say on behalf of our committee that we've always known that you're fully engaged in every subcommittee where you are so prominent, and we want to thank you for that.

Let me say, too, that we're pleased we've built in our bill some common ground for energy policy across our Nation. Most importantly, as I said in my remarks, the national security segment: what we need to do to make sure that our nuclear stockpile is reliable, that we proceed with cleanups, things that we do relative to naval reactors and the next generation of nuclear ballistic submarines, and the comprehensive energy policy that's directed not only towards research into the future but trying to minimize rising gas prices, which have affected every American pocketbook.

Lastly, we've done it with a lot less money. We're actually, in some cases, close to the 2008 level, somewhere between 2008 and 2009. And while some people may like to damn us, we've done our best to cut spending and reflect the real economy out there, the fact that people are paying too much in the way of taxes, we have too much debt and such a large deficit. We've done our part.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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