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Mr. BERA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against the closed rule. Yesterday I introduced an amendment that would have separated the pay raise for Members of Congress from the remainder of Federal employees. If that amendment had passed, only Members of Congress would be affected by this bill.
Unfortunately, the Rules Committee reported a closed rule and will not allow an up-or-down vote on any amendments. They would not allow us to vote up or down on this. Failure to allow an up-or-down vote does not allow Congress to take a clean vote on a cost-of-living adjustment for Federal employees.
Congress needs to start working together in a bipartisan manner and start addressing issues like sequestration and the budget. We need to start making strategic budget decisions, not across-the-board cuts. That is not how you make decisions. We need to eliminate and reduce those programs that are no longer effective and begin to bring our budget under control. And if we cannot act responsibly and find a way to achieve this balance, then we don't deserve a pay raise as Members of Congress.
This amendment, the amendment I proposed, would have reiterated that.
Not allowing a clean vote is just wrong. We should not balance the Federal budget on the backs of our Federal employees. My amendment would have allowed us to take that vote.
Sacramento County, my home county, has over 26,000 Federal employees. These are hardworking citizens in the Defense Department. Many of them are veterans who have served our country admirably, and there are other dedicated public servants keeping our country safe. We should not ask them to make the sacrifice without asking ourselves to make that sacrifice first.
Now is the time we've got to set aside this partisanship and start working together to serve our country. However, achieving fiscal balance on the backs of our hardworking Federal employees is not a solution.
I urge my colleagues to vote against this rule. Protect our hardworking and responsible Federal employees, and work in a bipartisan manner to pass a responsible budget.
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