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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HOLT. Madam Chair, our Nation just marked another Memorial Day at war and another year in which the epidemic of suicides of our country's servicemembers and veterans continues. In April of this year, The New York Times' columnist Nick Kristof noted that for every American lost on the battlefield, about 25 servicemembers and veterans are dying by their own hands. These are silent casualties of war. And if we're to stop the epidemic, we must recognize it.

I want to thank the ranking member, Representative Bishop of Georgia, and the subcommittee chair, Representative Culberson, for their recognition that continued funding for suicide prevention and outreach programs for our veterans must be a national priority. I'm pleased that the committee looked favorably on my request and included an additional $20 million for suicide prevention outreach programs, including social media in this bill. This is the second year in a row that the House has taken this step because the administration and the VA have yet to create a dedicated programmatic funding stream for suicide prevention and outreach.

Let me take this opportunity to urge the administration and our President to direct the Office of Management and Budget to create such a dedicated funding stream for such programs. Our suicide prevention response must be coordinated and must be funded properly over the lifetime of our veterans, because this is not a problem that will go away once the guns fall silent.

I thank my colleagues on the committee for all they have done to craft a bill that will help provide the services that our veterans need and deserve.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong support for Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).

Today the Republican majority is again playing politics. They have brought to the House floor a bill to support our Nation's veterans and provide them with the care they earned. This bill should be approved by a unanimous vote; we all support our veterans and want to fully fund the various programs that care for them after they cared for us.

But in a cynical and politically motivated attack on working women and men across the country the Majority has tucked into this bill a ban on the use of PLAs. They are attempting to ban PLAs based on their ideology not based on any evidence. This is one more part of their anti-worker agenda.

I have always supported PLAs. PLAs are important, they have been used for many years and they work. PLAs ensure high skilled workers complete high quality work and provides fair local wages and benefits for all workers. I will be voting to support working women and men by repealing this anti-PLA provision.

On February 6, 2009 President Obama signed Executive Order 13502 encouraging federal agencies to consider requiring the use of PLAs for large-scale construction projects. In the Executive Order, President Obama noted correctly that by setting the terms and conditions of employment and coordinating the various employers, PLAs provide stability and help contribute to the efficient completion of Federal construction projects.

Last year, I joined a majority of my colleagues in the House to beat back this same anti-worker attack on PLAs and I am hopeful that we will be successful again today. President Obama has already indicated that he will veto this bill if the attack on PLAs reaches his desk.

While Republicans play politics today, I will be standing up for and voting for working women and men across the country and opposing this continued attack on them.

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