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Public Statements

Prohibiting Use of Presidential Election Campaign Funds for Party Conventions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5912, which would terminate taxpayer financing of party conventions.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry to say that party conventions today are by and large week-long televised movie sets and almost entirely symbolic. Although conventions do provide important insight into party platforms and Presidential candidates, spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fund them, particularly in today's environment, is simply untenable.

American taxpayers should not be subsidizing political party conventions. With our historic levels of deficit spending and our national debt over $16 trillion and climbing, this Congress and this President need to be thinking very differently about how we use taxpayer dollars.

Since 1976, approximately $1.5 billion has been spent on publicly funding our Presidential primaries, our Presidential general elections, and our Presidential party conventions. Each party's national convention this year received almost $18 million in taxpayer funding. While I believe we should be getting rid of public funding of Presidential campaigns as well, at a minimum we should pass this commonsense measure to stop financing our parties with taxpayers' dollars. The American taxpayer has paid enough for this unwise experiment. It should be ended.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, introduced by my colleague from Oklahoma, I would hope would garner overwhelming bipartisan support. I thank him for introducing it and for his commitment to a responsible and efficient stewardship of taxpayer dollars. This should stop funding going to all party conventions. It is a bipartisan solution to a bipartisan problem.

I urge all my colleagues to support H.R. 5912, Mr. Speaker, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 15 seconds.

Mr. Speaker, it is a shame we've come to a point where it can be said on the floor of the House attempting to save the taxpayers of America $36 million is a waste of time.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Cole), a distinguished member of the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on the Budget. Mr. Cole is the sponsor of this bill.

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Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, it may be a voluntary checkoff, but the money is not voluntary. It is part of the income tax you are required to pay. While we all do support government, I would wonder, if you made the income tax entirely voluntary, whether we could get anything close to what we do now. It is, in fact, the tax that you must pay. So that part is not voluntary.

Secondly, I'm surprised that one would not want to attribute this to reducing the deficit even though it's only $36 million, as suggested by the other side. If we can't even do this here, what confidence can the American people have that we would deal with the tougher issues and larger amounts? If $36 million is too difficult for us to use to somehow reduce the deficit, what hope is there that we can do anything seriously in this Congress or Congresses in the future?

I must respond to the repeated suggestion that we have done nothing in this Congress.

The Obama administration would be surprised, since they said that the FISA amendments, which we passed on this floor with 301 positive votes, were the number one priority for the administration in the area of intelligence. In the aftermath of what happened just a couple of weeks ago, one would think that we would understand the seriousness of intelligence. And that which is the greatest tool, according to the DNI currently and previous DNIs, that tool, which got strong bipartisan support, was indeed an important thing for us to do here.

We had three free trade agreements that we finally approved. They have been waiting around for a number of years. The consensus is they create jobs in this economy and give us a fair playing field in which our workers can compete.

We had a transportation bill that we passed. We dealt with the interest paid on student loans. And I would just say, for 2 years in a row, we have, in fact, spent less on discretionary spending than we did the preceding year. I think that's the first time we've done that in a generation.

There are other things that I could talk about. It is a shame that the other body has not acted on the nearly 30 bills we've sent over there that deal with jobs.

Oh, yes, we also had my bill, H.R. 4, which repealed that section of the President's health care bill that placed an inordinate paperwork burden on small business, and that was the number one priority of the small business community in the country.

I wish we would do more. I wish we would have the cooperation of the other body. It's very difficult to negotiate when the other party won't come to the table or even articulate what their position is; but, nonetheless, I would suggest that those things I have spoken about are not unimportant.

But, of course, that's a digression because that's not talking about the bill before us.

The bill before us is a simple bill. All it does is say that the party's over. The taxpayer will no longer pay with taxpayer dollars for the conventions of the two national parties. Doesn't stop them from having their conventions, doesn't denigrate their conventions, doesn't take them off television; it just says the American taxpayer will not pay for it. We're going to save $36 million. Fairly straight forward, fairly simple.

I would hope that we would have a strong bipartisan vote for this, because it is truly a bipartisan problem and timely, because many of our constituents, at least when I was home in the district, said, Why are you in the Congress voting to put taxpayer dollars for these conventions?

That was a tough question to answer. We can answer that question here in a very bipartisan way by passing this bill.

With that, I would ask my colleagues to support H.R. 5912, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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