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Public Statements

The Sequestration Myth

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. Mr. Speaker, I'm joined by some of our colleagues tonight here to talk about the sequester. We've heard a lot about it in the last, I guess, 10 or 12 1-minute speeches about the sequester and how bad it is and how it's going to wreck our economy.

We know that it is going to affect some people's lives, and we hate that. We much preferred a different way to do the cuts. We actually have passed two bills to address the cuts in the sequester that better address the needs of this country and our spending habits and didn't affect the many thousands of people that will either have to go to part-time work or no work due to these cuts.

It's been over 300 days since we passed the first bill out of this House; yet the Senate did not take it up. And so 2 months later we passed another one that the Senate has not taken up.

The President, over the past 3 weeks or so, has traveled a little over 5,000 miles, going down to North Carolina, to Georgia, to West Palm Beach, to Ohio, to Virginia, talking about the problems. Yet even though he's traveled that many miles, it's only 1.7 miles from the White House over to the Senate. So he could have cut down on all those trips of the rhetoric and the campaign-type attitude that he's put towards governing just by traveling 1.7 miles down to the Senate Chamber and sitting down with the majority leader over there and the rest of his party and saying, look, we need to offer something back because we believe in regular order.

We think the best business that we can have and we think that our Founders and the way our Constitution is set up, that we work under regular orders. If the House passes a bill, we send it to the Senate. If the Senate doesn't agree with it, then they can either put their own bill, send it back over to us and we'll go to conference, or they can amend our bill and send it back. And then if we can't agree with that, we'll go to conference.

But that's not the way things have been operating over here.

It's been a failure, in my opinion, on the majority leader's part in the Senate that he just refuses to take them up. We're not going to do it. We're not going to debate it. It's either my way or the highway. I think the American people deserve better than that.

I'm going to give Mr. Gohmert a few minutes, if he would like to take the time, before he has to make one of his dignified appearances, so I'll yield to him.

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. I want to now introduce somebody from New York. I believe he was the executive for Monroe County for 4 years. He took a county that was going bankrupt, or fixing to go bankrupt, and turned it around, $125 million, I believe, in the rainy day, so to speak, fund. So he's got knowledge on how to do it. He's also been a very successful businessman. I think that all these agency and department heads that we have, if you can't manage to cut about 2.4 percent of your budget, you need to take a look if you're really capable of managing people and managing a department of that size.

So I would ask the gentleman from New York, one of our freshmen, a businessman, a great guy, Mr. Collins, to come up and try to enlighten us a little bit on what steps he took of running a government, actually turning it around and made it to where the citizens got something from the taxes that they were paying.

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. I want to thank the gentleman for participating.

Next I want to introduce another one of our bright young freshmen, the gentleman from California (Mr. Valadao) of the 21st District, a dairy farmer, the son of Portuguese immigrants that has come here. He is a veteran legislator that has been with the California Assembly. We're excited about having him. He also represents a district that has been really hurt by some of the regulations and the environmental requirements that this administration has pushed.

Where he lives and where he farms, his neighbors have lost a great number of jobs due to the fact that we can't provide them any water that we promised them probably 40 or 50 years ago that had been coming to them and they really had the basket of the fruit and vegetables that we eat every day.

I yield to the gentleman from California.

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. I want to thank the gentleman for being here.

Next I want to allow one of my fellow Georgians some time to speak, who is another veteran legislator that came out of Georgia, who I've served with in the Georgia House, somebody from south Georgia who understands what it's about when you have to work hard and farm. He's a private business owner, an insurance agent, and a good friend.

I yield to the gentleman from Tifton, Georgia (Mr. Scott).

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. I thank the gentleman.

Now I want to introduce another one of our freshmen, somebody that comes to us from Florida's Third Congressional District, a veterinarian. He is actually a small business guy. I think he's been in that business for about 30 years. He also understands the effect that this sequester will have on our military because his oldest daughter, Katie, is an active Member of the United States Coast Guard. So I hope that the gentleman will express some of those things that he feels about these cuts that are coming to our military.

With that, I yield to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Yoho).

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. I thank the gentleman for being here and giving us those great comments.

Now I want to introduce another friend, our policy chairman in our Republican Conference, somebody that comes from the great State of Oklahoma, somebody that has great experience in managing people. I think he ran a youth camp, the largest youth camp in the United States, if not the world. I'm afraid to even tell you how many people. I'll let him do that. But I would like to recognize the gentleman from Oklahoma, our policy chair, Mr. Lankford.

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. We borrow about $4 billion a day. We spend roughly $10 billion and borrow about $4 billion. So this energy tax would just keep us from borrowing for 1 day.

Mr. LANKFORD. Right. And it would drive up the cost of gasoline yet again for all Americans. It doesn't solve the problem; it continues to exacerbate the problem.

Our issue is we're facing a difficult moment. But this is not a moment that is manufactured by some sequestration event. This is a moment that has been created by overspending year after year after year. And now the acceleration of debt and deficit and interest payments each year is climbing so quickly that if we don't get on top of it soon, we will not be able to get on top of it in the days ahead.

This is not just a manufactured, short-term crisis. This is a serious economic crisis for the United States. And if it is a serious crisis for us, it is a serious crisis worldwide. We have the responsibility as the largest economy on the planet to be responsible with our finances and to get our economy back on track so that the entire world's economy can begin to get back on track.

Mr. WESTMORELAND. I thank the gentleman for bringing up that point because I think a lot of people may not realize that we're talking about $85 billion here. As the gentleman stated, you know, we spend $10 billion a day. So, I mean, this is 8 1/2 days that we're saving.

My son-in-law was a DA, assistant DA, and I remember a couple of years ago, he was furloughed for 14 days, which is almost twice as much as we're talking about here. He didn't have to put his children in an orphanage or go hungry or anything else. They managed their bills. That's all we're saying. While we've all heard the sky is falling, I think it is something that we can deal with, especially if we have competent heads of these agencies.

So, you know, just looking at some of the other money that we're spending, $268 million in executive branch conferences, whether it's for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, $268 million just for the conferences, I think we can cut those conferences out for a year. Or maybe cut them down, maybe not be quite as expensive or elaborate as they are.

You know, when I came to Congress, I came from a building, a construction background. I considered myself somebody capable of looking at a set of plans and giving an estimate of what it was going to cost and having a vision of what it was going to look like. I remember one time I had a customer come in who wanted a roof designed a certain way, and I tried to tell them it wasn't going to work. They had seen it somewhere else and had gotten somebody to draw it. The one thing I did learn in the building business is that somebody can draw something, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you can build what they draw. And so I tried to explain to them, I said, This isn't going to work; it's going to cause problems; it's going to look bad. But they still wanted to do it. Their house, I did it. The next thing I know, they come up complaining about it. And I said, Look, this was your idea; I did exactly what you said. And they didn't like it, but it was something that they had to live with or pay to get it changed.

The same thing has happened here with this administration. You know, this was their idea. This was something that they wanted to do. I think a lot of people said, No, this is a bad idea; we don't want to do this. But yet they were so desperate to come up with something to cut the spending of this country that they agreed to it. And now all of a sudden, the originator of the idea doesn't like it. And he says, Oh, no.

But rather than sitting down and talking to the people that could make a difference and make a change, he decided to go out and travel the country to talk to people who couldn't. And it's turned out it's going to be a bad outcome, but it is the only outcome that could come from the plan that was drawn.

Now, let me say this again about the spending. When you think about the fact that we spend $10 billion a day--think about that, $10 billion a day. And we borrow about half of it. About 42 percent of it we borrow from somebody else. And keep this in mind: the Federal Reserve buys, in combination with different things, they buy about $85 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities every month--$85 billion every month. They print the money to do that. So we've got bigger fish to fry.

As several people have said today, we've got to get serious about this. I'm accountable to 700,000 people--just like every Member of this body is--at home, but I'm also accountable to my children and my grandchildren and their children. And I want one day, when they sit in my lap or come up to me and say, Papa, couldn't you do something about this? I want to be able to tell them, I tried, baby. I tried to do it. We all tried to do it, but nobody wanted to cut. Nobody wanted to save. We just kept putting it on your charge card.

And so while this $85 billion is going to be tough, it's going to be hard, it's going to hurt some families, it's going to cause some people to go to part-time employment rather than regular employment, but you know what, it's $85 billion that's not going to go onto our children's credit cards. I think that's what we've got to remember. We keep kicking the can down the road. People my age and in my generation, we may not ever have to pay the tab for this, but my children, and for sure my grandchildren and my great grandchildren, are going to end up paying this tab. So we're not really doing that much other than shifting it from our responsibility and our burdens to the next generation and the next generation's burdens.

I see another one of our bright freshmen. Mr. Speaker, anybody out there who has been watching, they understand that we have a bright freshman class. This gentleman is from Illinois, Mr. Rodney Davis. And so, Mr. Davis, I'm glad to yield you time.

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Mr. WESTMORELAND. I thank the gentleman for those words.

I'll close by saying this. This job is not easy. It's not exactly what everybody might think it is, but it's something that we don't need to squander.

It's an opportunity that everybody in this House has been given that probably less than 12,000 people have ever had since this country has been founded. We don't need to squander this opportunity.

And we need to honor those that have come before us, that have fought and died, the men and women right now that are in Afghanistan and other parts of the world that are putting their lives on the line and in danger every day, not for us to be running up the debt on them.

We've got less than 1 percent of the people in this country that protect the rest of us. And so, you know, why are we trying to do them harm?

We're trying to fix that, and I want them to know that, that we are trying to fix that, and we're going to try to fix it in the CR.

And for the young voters out there, I want y'all to know that this is not something that we're purposely doing to hurt you or your family. This is something that we're doing for your children, or trying to do for your children.

All we're asking is that you might encourage others to join us in this fight, to try to save this country from going down the road of debt and bankruptcy that we're headed on, and instead turn it around to the bright future that we all want to have for this country and for a better Republic, and something that will bring us back to the forefront, to be held in the same esteem that we've always been held in by the other countries in this world, not somebody that's continuing to dig a hole of debt for our future.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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