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Department of Defense Appropriations Act - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, when Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people were without power. We all saw the video footage. We saw the terrible trauma, and people are still trying to dig out from underneath the debris of Hurricane Sandy.

During that period of time, hundreds of workers drove up from the South wanting to help. These workers were nonunionized, and they were turned away. This was a sad day for our country that nonunion workers were not allowed to participate in the cleanup and were asked to join a union before they would be accepted as workers.

I think it is a mistake to politicize things such as this, particularly in a time of an emergency. So what I have asked for and what my amendment would do is allow an exemption to Davis-Bacon.

Davis-Bacon is a Federal law that requires that we not have competitive bidding on Federal projects. What happens is on Federal projects the wages are fixed at a union scale wage and there is not a competitive bidding for wages.

So what I have asked is that we suspend that and say, in order to get better use of the money, in order to advance the money by billions of dollars and do more with the money--and this is an enormous amount of money, running into the billions of dollars--in order to get better use of our money, to suspend Davis-Bacon, and we would basically be allowing competitive bidding on wages.

This has been done before. President Nixon and both President Bushes did this. During Katrina, we suspended Davis-Bacon because it was an emergency. We wanted to make the best use of our Nation's dollars.

This amendment would suspend Davis-Bacon for this emergency. It is estimated it might save as much as 22 percent of the cost.

We are talking about billions of dollars. Mr. President, $60 billion is being requested for this cleanup. Where is the money going to come from? You have heard we have an enormous debt--$16 trillion--in our country. We have over $1 trillion in debt this year. We print up the money, but that simply steals from your savings and steals from your current currency. We can tax you or borrow more. But we owe $16 trillion already.

What I am asking is why don't we try to make good use of the money that is going toward this disaster, allow money to go further? That is simply by allowing competitive bidding on wages.

Currently, there is no competitive bidding on wages. My amendment would allow for this. I urge my colleagues to stand with taxpayers--to stand with taxpayers against special interests, against political and partisan purposes--and for the sake of an emergency to say: We are going to be frugal with the dollars spent. We are not going to be extravagant. We are not going to reward certain special interests that are very involved in the political process.

We are going to say we are going to use the money wisely, we are going to allow competitive bidding on wages. So I urge my colleagues to support this temporary and specific suspension of Davis-Bacon for emergency funds.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I rise in support of amendment No. 3410, which would take the spending for Sandy relief and spend only 1 year at a time and would offset that spending with spending cuts. Now, you ask, why would we want to do that? Well, if you have been watching Congress in recent years, you might understand that we are not very good with money up here. Each year we are spending $1 trillion that we do not have. To me, there is absolutely no objective evidence that we are very good with money up here, so you do not want to give Congress 3 years' worth of spending authority on Hurricane Sandy. Why don't we do it 1 year at a time and make sure there is correct oversight and make sure the money is not being wasted, make sure the money is not being abused.

I will give a couple of examples of what is in the current bill. We have money for Alaskan fisheries in the Hurricane Sandy bill. They tried earlier today to stuff money in here for a country by the name of Palau in the western part of the Pacific. Now, I thought this was about emergency relief for Hurricane Sandy, which hit the northeast coast. What does that have to do with sending money to the far reaches of the Earth, including sending money to work on Alaskan fisheries? If you want to give money to Alaskan fisheries, have a bill on the floor about Alaskan fisheries, but do not pretend that we are going to stuff it in some emergency bill for the Northeast.

So what I have asked is, let's just spend what you are going to spend next year. CBO says there is going to be $9 billion spent next year. That is what I allocate. I take the $9 billion from places where we are wasting it. I think we are wasting it by sending it overseas. I am not particularly happy about sending money to countries that are burning our flag and chanting ``death to America.'' I think it is an outrage.

The President has said: Well, we need to quit doing nation building overseas and start doing it at home. But where are the actions that support his words? I agree completely--we need to quit doing nation building overseas when we are running a trillion-dollar deficit here, but we can't just say we are going to continue to print the money or borrow the money or simply raise taxes. There is not enough for all of this spending. What you need to do so is say: Some of the spending is wasteful, and we should not do it.

I personally think we should not be sending billions of dollars to dictators who oppress their people, who burn our flag, who will not protect our embassies. I think it is an absolute mistake. You can go through a list of 30 or 40 years of foreign aid and see dictators who have personally profited and stolen our money. We have bridges and roads crumbling in our country. We have infrastructure that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. They simply want to print more money and borrow it.

People will stand and say: Oh, we have never offset emergency funding. Well, maybe that is why we have a $16 trillion deficit--because no one wants to cut any spending around here. If you want to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, do it, but do it by taking the money from someplace where we are wasting it.

What my bill says is that we will spend next year's $9 billion, which is what they have asked for for the next year, and we will offset it by taking $9 billion out of the foreign aid fund.

Now, usually when we bring this up here, someone will trod on down and say: Oh, but this will affect Israel. This has nothing to do with Israel, will not affect any money given to Israel. There will be money left in the foreign aid fund. It has always been my purpose that we start by taking the money from countries that hate us, countries that are burning our flag. I have not seen anyone in Israel burning the American flag, but I have seen it happening in about 10 other countries that receive money, that actually receive more than Israel. So what I would say is let's not trot out canards about Israel; let's make it about what it is. The Mubarak family in Egypt got $60 billion. The country got $60 billion while the Mubarak family themselves stole probably half of it. They are one of the richest families in the world. The kids are some of the richest people in the world because they stole your money. This has happened repeatedly. It has happened throughout the African Continent. It has happened around the world, that your money is sent overseas. Just in Iraq and Afghanistan during the wars, we built $6 billion worth of roads. Meanwhile, we have problems here. I have two bridges in my State that I do not have the money to repair because we are too busy repairing some other country's roads.

There are people in this body--the majority of them here--who think: Oh, let's keep spending this money. And the majority of the American people do not think it is a good idea. I hope they will wake up and call their Senators and their Congressmen and say: This is absurd. It must end.

So this is a very simple amendment. Spend 1 year on the emergency fund, $9 billion, and offset it by cutting foreign aid overseas. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

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