National Security and Job Protection Act

Floor Speech

By:  Scott Garrett
Date: Sept. 13, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GARRETT. At this time, Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 1/2 minutes to myself.

Mr. Speaker, under current law, there will be a $110 billion across-the-board cut known as sequester. It will be imposed in this country on January 2, 2013, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in the Department of Defense programs and an 8 percent reduction in certain domestic programs as well.

In May of this year, the House passed a bill to deal with this. That was H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act. What this legislation would do is it would replace that sequester of 2013 with commonsense spending cuts and reforms. Unfortunately, we have seen a lack of leadership both over in the Senate and in the White House. The Senate has failed to act on this legislation--the Senate, where all good bills go to die, so too with this, or any sequester replacement bill. Today the House will once again try to responsibly fix the sequester.

The National Security and Job Protection Act would ensure our national security, but at the same time we do that, we'll cut spending. The National Security and Job Protection Act would do two things quickly. First, it would turn off the sequester of Congress, enacting the House-passed reconciliation bill or similar legislation that achieves equal levels of deficit reduction. Secondly, the National Security and Job Protection Act would require the President of the United States to submit to Congress a legislative proposal to replace the sequester with an alternative no later than October 15 of this year.

Up until this point, we have seen absolutely no leadership, we have seen no plan from the President to fix this sequester problem, but yet there is strong bipartisan agreement that the sequester, as it is right now, is bad policy and should be re-prioritized. Once again, the President has failed to lead in this area, failed to put forward a credible response, failed to put forward a legislative proposal, and the Senate has failed as well. The result is that in less than 100 days we will see reductions that our own Secretary Panetta says will hollow out our Armed Forces and make totally arbitrary reductions in other spending programs.

Not only has the President failed to lead in this area, he has failed to put forward a plan. The President has also failed--and this is important--to submit to Congress a report, as law requires him to do so, detailing specifically how this administration would implement the sequester.

Mr. Speaker, after months, literally months, of stonewalling Congress on how this administration would implement the sequester, Congress now comes to the floor because we are forced to pass legislation requiring the President to submit a detailed sequester implementation program. When that legislation became law, as we said, the President's response has been no response. Rather than him doing his homework, the President has simply taken a pass on this matter and instead has provided Congress with nothing, and he is not even meeting the requirements of the law. It is an example, I think, to use the President's own word, of an ``incomplete'' by this President on his report card.

That the President lacks leadership is simply stunning to this Member and to the American people as well. As I say, the Senate is no better for failing to respond in this matter. The Senate refuses to take up any bill or to replace the sequester whatsoever.

Today, Mr. Speaker, we again come here passing legislation to try to solve this problem, to fix the sequester, to make sure that these draconian cuts do not go in place now. We're not saying that it has to be the House-passed bill that passed. We're also asking the President to put forward his own legislative proposal, for the Senate to act before the legislation takes effect.

Americans are looking for leadership, and they're getting it from the House of Representatives today.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. GARRETT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Madam Speaker, I began this day being interviewed by a group of southern college students, and the primary question that they asked was why can't Congress seem to work in a more bipartisan manner, work across the aisle, work with the other Chamber. I had to explain to them what was about to occur here on the floor; that one of the most seminal issues that we have to deal with in this country is fiscal matters and also our defense matters that this House, led by Republicans, have done everything we possibly could to make sure that this country stands strong fiscally and stands strong in a defense posture, as well. We've reached across the aisle, and we've reached across to the Senate in a bipartisan manner to effectuate that.

We have passed a budget out of this House only to find that bill go to the Senate where as they say ``all good bills go to die,'' and not have anything come back. We've communicated to the President of the United States that we want to work with him on a budget, only to see his own budget come to the Senate and fail 97-0, and come to this House and fail 414-0, not getting any Democrat or Republican support for that bill, as well.

We have reached across the aisle. We have tried to work on the fiscal matters and the defense matters when it comes to the sequester. We recognize the devastating impact that this will have on our defense posture in this country. As other Members have already come to the floor, in light of all the past circumstances that have come across this country in the last decade, in light of the memorial services that we just held, all of us, in a bipartisan manner out on those steps just days ago on September 11, in light of what has just been in the newspaper in the last several days of our embassies being attacked and Americans killed on American soil, we realize the important significance of making sure that we have a strong defense at this point in time.

I ask anyone who considers this legislation to vote ``yes'' in favor of this legislation, and anyone who would stand and vote ``no'' against trying to make sure that we're strong fiscally and trying to make sure that we are strong in the defense posture as well, anyone who would vote ``no,'' I would ask them how do they when they go through the airport leaving here or coming to Washington, look anyone in uniform in the eye and say that they voted against a bill to make sure that there would not be the defense cuts here.

The other side of the aisle has no answer for that. Their only answer today, and as it's been ever since I've been here in Congress, is to say the solution to all problems is what? Raising taxes. As I said before, they want to raise $3 in taxes for every $1 in spending cuts.

We do not have a revenue problem in this country; we have a spending problem in this country. You know, there is an old saying that goes, if there is a dime left on the table in Washington, someone, primarily from the other side of the aisle I would suggest, will find a dollar's worth of use for spending it, and I think that's the case here. If they raise the taxes 3 to 1, they will find $30 worth of spending to increase.

As the gentleman from California pointed out, that was the example every single time in the Budget Committee. Every single time it was suggested for spending cuts, they were opposed. They would always use the same spending cuts to further increase spending elsewhere.

The gentleman from California makes the reference to spending a dollar every time for--what was it?--for breath mints, I think it was. Well, quite candidly, after listening to this debate, and after listening to the debate continuously in Budget Committee over years, I always leave there, as I will leave here tonight, with a sour taste in my mouth if the other side of the aisle does not agree to begin to work with us in a bipartisan manner to make sure that this country is strong fiscally, to make sure that this country is strong in a defense posture as well.

I would urge all of my colleagues from both sides of this aisle to vote ``yea'' on this legislation.

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

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Mr. GARRETT. The seminal question, I think, to those who are watching deliberations here on the floor tonight, they are asking themselves the question: Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?

When you look at the economy, you have to answer that question with a resounding, ``No.'' Poverty is continuously up year after year after year, at the highest levels in this country we have seen since back in 1995, when one out of seven people in this country now find themselves, unfortunately, on food stamps.

Forty-seven million of our friends and neighbors find themselves in that situation. One out of six Americans will be on Medicaid. Are you better off today than you were in the past? Absolutely not. And that's why it's astonishing as I stand here to listen to the other side of the aisle and the proposals that they presented so far and that they have over the years.

For the last hour of the debate, the gentleman from Maryland has been saying one or two basic things, but one primary thing is that he went to Rules last night, that he had a plan. He pulled out his plan and he said, This is what the solution is. This is how we solve the problem. But the problem was that that mean old Rules Committee just wouldn't allow him to have it come down to the floor tonight.

Well, my friend and colleague from South Carolina made the recommendation to him: Take that proposal. If that is truly the answer in your heart, it's the right answer, that is truly the way to go, and lay it out. If you really do believe that the solution to the problem is by raising taxes to the tune of $85 billion and cutting spending to the extent that there's only a net reduction of $5 billion; if you truly do believe, as you said for the last hour, that the way to resolve the issue of sequester is by raising taxes by $3 for every $1 in cuts; if you truly believe, and for the last hour, as he has said, that is the solution to the problem, then he could have come here and presented an alternative in this format. But he has not done so.

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Mr. GARRETT. Reclaiming my time, what we have here before us is a lack of direction, a lack of leadership that America is so looking for out of Washington. The American public is looking for leadership from Washington. They're not seeing it from the President, who has failed to present a budget that would get any single vote in either the House or the Senate--97-0, 414-0. They're looking for the Senate to demonstrate some degree of vision, some degree of leadership by taking any of the bills that we send over to them, whether it's the budget or the sequester legislation, and showing that they can pass that legislation. They're looking for some degree of vision from the other side of the aisle in the House as well on these matters to make sure that we can stand up fiscally and a strong defense, and they're seeing a lack of vision here by the other side of the House as well.

We know what writings tell us: A Nation without vision leads to a people that will perish. Well, Madam Speaker, I can tell you this: that the route these last 2 years, this Republican-controlled Congress has shown vision with our strong budget, with our sequester bill, and now with this bill as well to present the option to the other side, to the Senate, and to the President to make sure that we can defend this Nation strong militarily and fiscally as well.

I would encourage all my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this motion to recommit, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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