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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 527, Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank the gentleman for the time.

I so agree with what the gentleman has been discussing, which is the difference between recess and district work period. It is so important for Members of Congress to maintain close attention and close ties with the constituents we so proudly represent. If we don't go back home, if we don't meet with constituents, if we don't talk to the Lions Clubs and the Rotary Clubs and Chambers of Commerce and everyday people who come to our congressional offices every day seeking help and remedy from the bureaucracy of the Federal Government, we would really not know what is going on in our congressional districts.

Many people prefer to move up to D.C., and they get the Beltway fever and they rarely go back home. I think that's the wrong approach. I value the time that we get to be in our district so we can be in touch with our constituents. I'm lucky enough that Miami is not too far from D.C. We have many flights every day, and so I'm able to go home every weekend to be with my constituents. But it's difficult to really plan very much without knowing for sure that you're going to be home for an extended period of time, so I value the district work period.

This Saturday, for example, what is my day like? Well, we have a student award ceremony where we're giving awards to every student who has gotten good grades, who's had good attendance, who's been most improved throughout the year. Then we'll also be having an art competition at another local school. I'll be meeting with human rights activists who have come from Cuba to talk about the deteriorating human rights condition. We'll be having a get-together with the Dade County Farm Bureau. It's a very extended day that can only be possible when we have these district work periods.

On the issue of sequestration itself, as the gentleman, my colleague on the Rules Committee, has pointed out time and time again, the House has dealt with the sequestration problem not once, but twice. We have passed bills and given them to the Senate. And I agree with the gentleman from Utah when he says it's time for the Senate to do its job. We have sent them the legislation. It's time for them to debate it, send it back to us, and let's have a conference and see on what points we can or cannot agree.

But if we keep passing bill after bill and the Senate just sits on its hands--as it likes to do--and doesn't pass meaningful legislation, doesn't even care to debate it, it's very difficult for us to get ourselves out of this sequestration jam.

We are willing to work with the Senate, and we've made that point very clear. And the way that we deliver that message very clearly is by sending not one, but two bills over to the other body. We would like those bills to be debated, and we would like them to settle on legislation that we can both agree on that will not be a perfect bill, but will address some of the major holes that we have with sequestration, whether it's airport delays--whether they're real or manufactured--whether they're problems of people accessing the social service safety net that we want to provide for the most needy of our constituency.

So I thank the gentleman for the time so that I can highlight that this is not recess, that this is district work period. I don't know how others handle their week at home, but I can tell you I've got a full calendar, and it means working hard for the people in this job that I really hold in such high esteem. I never forget that the people I work for are the people with whom I'm going to meet next week, and those are my constituents, the residents of the 27th District of Florida.

So we can't be successful Members of Congress unless we're in touch with the people we represent. I enjoy that opportunity. Of course, I get to go back to a lovely district like Miami, Florida. But whatever district you represent, it's important to be in touch with our constituents so they can tell us their needs, and then we can come back here and fight so their needs are addressed in legislation like the legislation we sent to the Senate not once, but twice, dealing with these sequestration cuts and the devastating impacts it has on our community.

So I thank the gentleman from Utah for his time. I hope that people understand, especially our constituents understand, the value of district work periods and that it will keep us more attuned to our constituency and better able to address the needs that they are facing each and every day.

We know that those needs are great. There is no way that we're saying, There is no problem with sequestration; this is fine. Nobody is saying that. These are real problems. We need to solve them. We have a plan to do it, and we've done it twice.

So I thank the gentleman for the time, and I will continue to try to work in a bipartisan manner in our Rules Committee, as well as in our Foreign Affairs Committee, to see what we can do to make our Nation safer, to secure our future for the next generation.

I'm proud to have with me here, Madison, a young lady who is from St. Louis, Missouri. Today is Take Our Children to Work Day. Madison is not my child, but she belongs to all of us; and I want to make sure that the future for Madison is a bright future where she doesn't graduate from college with terrible debt, where she has a lot of opportunities available to her, where she knows that every path is available and open to her, that there will be no problem for her, whether she's male or female, what nationality, what religion, what ethnic background. This is the land of opportunity and this is the land of equality. I want that for all of the children of the United States of America. And I think having Madison here with me today is a very important point to say to my colleagues: We want a bright future for Madison. We don't want to have her be shouldering this massive debt that we're piling onto the next generation.

If we continue to be not careful stewards of the taxpayer dollars, that's what we'll be passing off to Madison--insurmountable debt and a huge problem for her as she advances in her career.

So I thank the gentleman from Utah for the opportunity so we can highlight the next generation of Americans, the Madisons, who are going to inherit, we hope, a better society. And if we do our job right, they will be able to inherit that better society.

I thank the gentleman for the time.

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