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Public Statements

The Sequester and an Olive Branch

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. We had a historic occasion last evening, but I rise to comment on a number of issues. I first want to acknowledge and pay tribute to a Texan who was buried yesterday in a tragic incident, Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who had served this country, loved this country, and came back to his family and children and took as his cause to help serve troubled veterans. As he was doing so, along with his friend, Chad, one of those troubled veterans shot both him and his friend.

What a tragedy. I think it is important to note the thousands who mourned him and the procession that took him to his burial ground yesterday and to say thank you for not only serving this Nation, but coming home to care about those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

That leads me to bring up this whole question of sequester. In my own city of Houston, I was able to, some 4 years ago, establish the first post-traumatic stress disorder center in a hospital that was not a veterans hospital. The Riverside General Hospital for a period of years continued serving our post-traumatic stress disorder veterans in a small, attentive setting where they could sit with others who were troubled as well. I've become a champion of the needs and the purpose of post-traumatic stress disorder medical services and beg and cry to the Department of Veterans Affairs and to the Pentagon from where this grant came. We cannot abandon our soldiers who have served us well. And I would hope that the grant for this hospital will be continued because Texas has been known to have the largest number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan troops.

Mr. Speaker, that speaks loudly to the question of sequester. I'm delighted that the President last evening could not have offered more olive branches on economic reform and tax reform. His idea is that we can do this budget together, not a sequester and not a self-inflicted wound, which is what we did to ourselves, but, more importantly, to talk about innovation and growth. This is something that I've spoken about over and over again as a member formerly of the Science Committee and now Homeland Security.

Where is America's genius? Right outside the beltway. Why are we dividing ourselves along Democrats and Republicans, refusing to put revenue alongside of cuts? Mr. Speaker, we're at the bone, almost, and sequester that is across-the-board cuts will literally destroy us and put us in a recession. All the talking heads that are suggesting that the President was not bipartisan and how there was nothing that they heard, well, Mr. Speaker, may I ask them to take some cotton out of their ears. Because in actuality, the President extended his hand of friendship.

We want to get down to work. We can pass comprehensive immigration reform. We can pass in tribute and recognition of Sandy Hook, Hadiya, and Aurora and our Congresswoman, our former colleague, Congresswoman Giffords, and Virginia Tech and many places, and Lone Star College in my district and the tragedy at the University of Maryland that just occurred in the last 24 hours. People are mourning. We have to stop gun violence. So I don't want to hear the fact that the President is divisive. The President is leading, and he has led well.

The American people are listening. When are our friends on the other side of the aisle going to listen? And when are the American people going to raise up beyond the maze of television commentary and see that your voices can be heard? If you raise up literally in the houses of worship and civic clubs and say that Congress must do its job for our soldiers who are coming home and for those children who are the future and for the opportunity for growth, you bring down the debt by growing the economy and innovating.

Congratulations, Mr. President, for the research and manufacturing centers--15. Let's do more of them. I hope that we can get summer youth jobs, a program of private and public cooperation. When does a youth take up a gun? They take it up when they don't have a summer job and when they don't have an opportunity. So I want to challenge this body to be the kind of Lincolnesque attitude, as yesterday was the official birthday of President Lincoln, February 12. And although it was a tragic time in our history, I can assure you that it showed the greatest promise of America when people could come together and do something great. I stand here as a freed slave because this Congress came together. Are we going to be able to do it today to free America?


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