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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LATHAM. Madam Chairman, I rise to oppose the gentleman's amendment.

It's a good talking point, reducing administration accounts that received increases. We've scrubbed these accounts. We've held hearings, asked questions, and made recommendations about what should be funded rather than looking at an arbitrary number. The bill cuts $4 billion from fiscal year 2012, which is a fiscally responsible level.

I would urge a ``no'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LATHAM. Madam Chairwoman, I rise in opposition to the amendment. We went through the hearing process. We have worked on these numbers to, number one, stay within our allocation, which we have done--we are actually cutting $4 billion in this bill--but also to prioritize. There's no one more sensitive about hardworking taxpayer dollars than I am. But the fact of the matter is, this is an absolutely critical function. The increase that is here is extremely important so that these programs are carried out properly without waste, fraud, and abuse.

For that reason, I would again urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LATHAM. Madam Chair, I again rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment. There are some factors that we need to take into consideration. For one thing next year, next fiscal year, we have an additional compensable day which has to be paid for. We have GSA that has raised rents. We have already cut $14 million out of salaries and expenses, so we would not be able to meet our requirements. We are not giving Federal employees raises, but there are additional costs that come into play because of rents, because of the additional day that our Federal workers will be working next year. And for those reasons--and again, I want to reiterate, we have cut $14 million out of this account--I would just urge a ``no'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LATHAM. Madam Chair, I understand the gentleman, and I appreciate the fact that he wants to cut spending. We have, in fact, in this bill cut the spending from the request $1.4 million on this particular line item in the budget.

The fact of the matter is, Madam Chair, we have additional rent that we have to pay. We have an extra day of work for the Federal workers next year that we have to pay. So there's not going to be any increase. It's basically going to maintain where we are in this function.

But, again, we have already cut from the President's request, $1.4 million. And there are additional costs we're going to incur just to stay even from last year. So with that, I would urge a ``no'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LATHAM. Madam Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

We have been fiscally responsible in this bill by reducing the public housing capital fund by $85 million below the budget request, and we're hearing that this funding level will be a challenge because there's a backlog, Madam Chairman, of over $25 billion in capital projects. However, this does represent one of the toughest choices we've had to make to meet our allocation in this bill. A deeper cut to this account will merely defer projects to future years and I believe will cost more money in the future by running up the cost of those projects in the years ahead.

With that, I would urge a ``no'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LATHAM. Madam Chair, I do rise in opposition to the gentleman's
amendment. This is an amendment that on face value is somewhat confusing, shall we say.

While it appears that there is a large increase in this account when it says $562 million over last year, this account is approximately level funded from last year because last year we went in and took $500 million out of reserve funds of the public housing authorities that were sitting there that were unexpended balances.

Those reserves are no longer there. So what we're having to do in this bill basically to stay virtually even is to have the $562 million over last year.

This fund provides many of the necessary operating and maintenance activities for our housing authorities, including health, safety, and sanitation. Our funding levels for public housing build in savings from reform proposals that we urge the authorizers to complete before we go to a final conference on this bill. Again, in this entire bill, while you talk about the highway bill, financial services doing their work, but that would be extremely helpful if, in fact, we had authorizations that would actually limit spending and that we could follow.

But again, I just wanted to reiterate: We used $500 million a year ago out of the funds that were available, sitting there idle. So what, in fact, this does is basically even from last year. While it appears to be a large increase, it, in fact, is not because the use of those funds from last year, the reserve funds.

I believe we are providing a responsible level of funding for this program. And again, I want to reiterate, Madam Chairman, we are cutting about $4 billion in this appropriation bill--I think the gentleman earlier mentioned that's the largest percentage cut of any bill so far on the floor. But this particular issue, this particular amendment would be extremely devastating because of funding issues in the reserve account that we used last year. With that, I would urge a ``no'' vote on the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LATHAM. Madam Chair, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

The Community Development Block Grant program is very important to cities and States across the country. There is a great deal of local control in this program. Communities use the block grants to meet local needs such as building water and sewer infrastructure, community centers, housing for low-income families, and other development important to their local communities. Although the bill increases the funding, this funding level is still well below what it was in fiscal year 2010. The bill actually is $1.046 billion below the level of 2010, to be exact.

Madam Chair, as we were going through this bill, we had many Members on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, request additional funding for these grants. For many Members, there is strong constituent support for these programs. We have seen individual cases of abuse, not unlike a lot of other government programs, but really the way to fix those reforms, and we're not going to do it through the appropriations process, is through the authorizers, to have them do their work and make sure that these programs are well run, that they're focused and they actually do what the intention is.

Again, I want everybody to understand that we are actually below fiscal year 2010 levels on a very, very important program, and I would recommend and urge a ``no'' vote on the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LATHAM. I rise to oppose the amendment--the same, basically, that I said before: we are below fiscal year 2010 levels. Certainly, I believe the authorizing committee must set very strict parameters as to how these dollars should be used, but we are below fiscal year 2010, and I would urge a ``no'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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