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Mr. ROSS. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your efforts and leadership on this particular issue.
Mr. Speaker, at a time when our country is more than $16 trillion in debt, I rise today in support of H.R. 273 and in support of my colleague from Florida's efforts to hold the Federal Government more accountable to taxpayers.
As a former chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, I held hearings about the discrepancies in compensation and benefits between Federal employees and private sector employees. And it's interesting to see what we found out. For example, the Congressional Budget Office found that the total compensation for Federal employees was 16 percent greater than that for the private sector employees. The CBO has also reported that Federal employee benefits were 48 percent more costly than the private sector employees' benefits.
As a former small business owner, I'm shocked to learn how serious these discrepancies truly are. In the private sector, I've had the responsibility to make a payroll, balance my budget, and reduce spending during difficult economic times. At a time when our children and our grandchildren are funding the Federal Government with a credit card, Members of Congress have a responsibility to make the tough choices and reduce spending. That is why, during my time as chairman, I oversaw 2 years of Federal pay freezes.
However, these Federal pay freezes were not my idea. In fact, it was a bipartisan idea. The President, in his Simpson-Bowles Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, recommended a 3-year pay freeze for Federal employees. As a proponent of the Simpson-Bowles plan, I am happy that the House will be following through today on this recommendation.
Our talented Federal workforce performs exceptional duties critical to the effective day-to-day operation and functioning of our government. However, the government must also examine every area of its budget during these difficult economic times in order to become more accountable to taxpayers.
Just so we're clear, this legislation also freezes pay for Members of Congress--that's right, Members of Congress, including my own--for the remainder of the year. If we are asking families of the Federal workforce to bear some of this burden and to live within their means, so should we, as Members of Congress, do the same.
With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this bipartisan Bowles-Simpson recommendation and vote ``yes'' on the bill.
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