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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise reluctantly to oppose the amendment because I know my colleague, my friend from Kentucky, has an incredible reputation of being the friend of animals and birds. Obviously, we are concerned about the issues he has raised.

Our bill already reduces the Wind Energy program from $59 million to $24 million, a cut of nearly 60 percent. His amendment goes a step further by eliminating the Wind Energy program entirely, which would result in the termination of the first offshore wind at-scale demonstration in the United States and would result in a dramatic drop-off in the U.S. deployment of wind energy systems. This setback would come at a time when wind is renewable energy's fastest growing sector.

I oppose my colleague's amendment. I am certainly aware of his heartfelt concern. We are listening to what he said, but I still oppose it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the gentleman from New Mexico's amendment.

The gentleman makes the case that there's a need for this infrastructure, and maybe there is; but the Corps of Engineers has no particular expertise or reason for being the funding source. Especially when we're looking at such tight budgets to begin with, we must focus the Corps' funding on activities which have the greatest impact on our economy and public safety, namely, navigation and flood control--our historic responsibility. So I must oppose the amendment and urge my colleagues to do so as well.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I rise to oppose the amendment. We've gone over this ground several times so I'll be brief.

All of us here strongly support investments in the Corps' work and their projects, particularly those projects with the greatest benefit to public safety and the economy, namely flood control and navigation. But this amendment proposes to pay for additional Corps construction by diverting funds needed for our nuclear weapons stockpile for national security. And that is the most critical priority in our bill.

And so I strongly oppose the amendment. His amendment is unacceptable because it is an issue of national security, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Himes of Connecticut makes a good point about the importance of making infrastructure investments before major disasters can occur. I share his concerns about the backlog of Army Corps of Engineers projects, particularly in the backdrop of communities throughout the New England and the Mid-Atlantic area that continue to rebuild after one of the worst storms in our Nation's history.

I want to assure the gentleman that the committee's position on New Starts is reconsidered each and every year. We take a look at the funding requirements of ongoing studies and projects, new studies and projects, and overall funding levels for certain accounts.

I commend the gentleman for his attention to this issue. I look forward to working with him to address these new needs at the earliest appropriate time, and I yield back to the gentleman.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I rise to oppose the amendment. This amendment would cut funding, which has already been cut today, for the Fossil Energy Research and Development program, on top of reductions that we also took of 16 percent in our bill before we brought our bill to the floor.

We all know that American families and businesses are struggling to pay high gas prices. This Fossil Energy Research and Development program holds the potential, once and for all, to prevent future high gas prices and substantially increase our energy security. To cut it further would be dangerous and counterproductive, so I strongly oppose the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I want to thank my colleague from West Virginia for his continued leadership on fossil fuel research. He knows it firsthand. He is a strong advocate. He is a strong supporter of NETL, of which he speaks, which is an important center for a critical, critical purpose.

As he knows well, fossil energy provides 82 percent of our Nation's energy needs, and research into tapping these resources as efficiently and as cleanly as possible is vital to our energy security.

I look forward to continuing to work with him and our other colleagues who have interest in fossil energy research through conference to ensure this vital program has adequate resources.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise to oppose the gentleman's amendment, but I appreciate his persistence in trying to find an offset.

I, of course, share the gentleman's support for smart investments in our Nation's water resources infrastructure. In fact, as I've said on a number of occasions, the Corps of Engineers was really one of our primary priorities in putting our bill together. The total program level is $50 million above the budget request and almost $150 million above the post-sequester level.

The Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies account specifically is at the President's request. These funds will go primarily to training and response activities. If repairs to projects are necessary due to storms, the Corps has previously-appropriated, unobligated Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies funds which could be used for these purposes.

On the other hand, the bill has already reduced funding for fossil energy by $84 million, which is a 16 percent reduction, and I believe we took another substantial reduction earlier this evening. Research conducted within this program ensures that we use our Nation's fossil fuel resources as well and as cleanly as possible. We simply can't take another reduction to this account.

For this reason and several others, I oppose the amendment, and I urge my colleagues to do so as well.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank my colleague for his interest and strong advocacy on behalf of the Jefferson Lab and for the nuclear physics program. Our allocation has made for some tough choices, and we worked hard to fund the Office of Science at $32 million above current levels, post-sequester. This level of funding is sufficient to support a $7.5 million increase for the Medium Energy Nuclear Physics program, which goes to the Jefferson Lab.

I want to thank my colleague for his advocacy and look forward to working with him to support this vital program through the appropriations process.

I also assure my colleague that the bill keeps CEBAF on track to begin operations in fiscal year 2014.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chairman, I don't have any objection to the amendment, although I do have a few concerns, which I'd like to cover.

First of all, I want to thank my colleague for bringing these issues to our attention. If, in fact, the Corps' actions are detrimental to flood control efforts in his region, those types of actions need to be stopped, and I would be happy to work with him to do that.

I do believe, of course, that some of these issues would be better dealt with by the authorizing committees that have jurisdiction over the Corps and the Endangered Species Act. So I think there are some concerns that we have that are legitimate here. We're going to do some more investigation and work with the gentleman to see if we can address his concerns.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, the amendment proposes a net increase in budget authority in the bill. The amendment is not in order under section 3(d)(3) of House Resolution 5, 113th Congress, which states:

It shall not be in order to consider an amendment to a general appropriation bill proposing a net increase in budget authority in the bill unless considered en bloc with another amendment or amendments proposing an equal or greater decrease in such budget authority pursuant to clause 2(f) of rule XXI.

The amendment proposes a net increase in budget authority in the bill in violation of such section. The Congressional Budget Office has stated that this amendment has costs associated with it. The Corps' current pricing policy is based upon ``updated cost of storage'' which reflects today's value (indexed to current price levels) rather than at the original construction cost price level. So reverting to construction cost levels will unavoidably have a cost, with the net effect of increasing the level of budget authority in the bill.

Under section 3(d)(3), an increase in budget authority must be accompanied by an equal or greater decrease. This amendment does not contain an equal or greater decrease, and so violates section 3(d)(3).

I ask for a ruling from the Chair.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee do now rise and report the bill back to the House with sundry amendments, with the recommendation that the amendments be agreed to and that the bill, as amended, do pass.

The motion was agreed to.

Accordingly, the Committee rose; and the Speaker pro tempore (Mrs. Capito) having assumed the chair, Mr. Chaffetz, Acting Chair of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, reported that that Committee, having had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2609) making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes, directed him to report the bill back to the House with sundry amendments adopted in the Committee of the Whole, with the recommendation that the amendments be agreed to and that the bill, as amended, do pass.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. The House has worked its will over the past 2 days, and dozens of amendments have been considered in a very open and amicable process. This bill strengthens national security, fosters a stronger economy, and maintains important infrastructure that keeps American open for business and promotes job opportunities.

And we do all of this while making some tough, but smart, funding decisions, saving taxpayers $2.9 billion over last year's enacted level. We have just 2 1/2 months left before the end of the year. This is the time to act. Now is the time to pass our government funding bills. I urge my colleagues to vote against the motion to recommit and to support the bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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