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Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief

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Location: Washington, DC


EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR DEFENSE, THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR, AND TSUNAMI RELIEF, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 15, 2005)

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AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. GARRETT OF NEW JERSEY

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey (during the reading). Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read and printed in the RECORD.

The Acting CHAIRMAN (Mr. Shimkus). Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

There was no objection.

Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order on the gentleman's amendment.

The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman reserves a point of order.

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, the question before us today, I believe, is how now shall we live within the confines of the budget that we have to deal with? Shall we live within the boundaries that we have set for ourselves and set an example for our generation today and the future, or should we ignore those boundaries that we have imposed upon ourselves and spend in excess?

Right now we are in the process, as we know, of doing the budget for next year, the 2006 budget. We are setting up the framework of what we will be spending for next year. And so I think it is fitting and appropriate that we look at the supplemental today and the amendment that I have presented to see whether or not we will fit within that budget confines, whether or not we will fit within that area or, instead, will we exceed it and say that a budget really is nothing more than a charade and not explain exactly what we will be spending for any point in time.

Let me just say that I applaud the chairman, and I applaud the members of the committee for doing what they said they would do as has been reported in the paper. To use the chairman's own words, they have taken the President's proposal and scrubbed it thoroughly for many points that they thought appropriate to remove from that spending proposal. My question, though, is, can we do a little bit better? Can we go a little bit further? Can we do exactly what we ask families to do back at home?

Think for a moment. What would a family do today if they faced emergency expenditures like we are looking at in the supplemental right now, families who maybe have to see extra car payments or medical expenses? What would a family do? A family would probably have to do what we should be doing right here, and that is limit our spending elsewhere, reduce some other unnecessary spending so that we have that money for the emergency spending.

If we look in the supplemental, there are a number of points in there that have already been raised by others. I will just point to one of them, the aid for tsunami victims. That started at $35 million, went up to $150 million, then $350 million, and now we are looking at $950 million. Some would question whether we can even spend all that before the end of this fiscal year. As a matter of fact, I spoke with people from the World Bank and they said that they are not even sure where the money would all be going to. They do not have an exact figure as to what we should be spending on long-term needs, so we can question whether or not we should be spending that money.

But given that we can argue that back and forth, let us take that as a given that we should spend the entire $950 million for tsunami relief. I would ask this, as we stand here before the world as a body saying that we are going to do the charitable thing and give money to the tsunami victims, are we really exercising any charity there when we, in fact, say, we're not going to be paying for it, we're asking our kids and our grandkids to pay for it in excessive spending and deficit spending in future generations?

Again, I applaud the chairman for the good start that they have done in this committee by scrubbing the budget and trying to find some offsets. I would simply say, can we not do a little bit better and find completely all offsets for all of the spending that we are doing, aside from the military defense spending, for all the excessive spending in the bill? It is around $4 billion. How much would it really come out to be? If you are looking at the budget that we have right now that we are living under, $2.5 trillion, and you are trying to find savings or offsets of around $4 billion, that is only two- tenths of 1 percent. I would ask, can we not find two-tenths of 1 percent of waste, fraud and abuse in the entire fiscal budget that we are operating under right now? I think we can.

We ask families to do it for their budgets, we ask businesses to do it for their budgets, I think we can find that entire amount of approximately $4 billion of waste, fraud, and abuse in the entire budget, offset it, and then we can truly stand before the world and say that when we are making charitable contributions to the tsunami relief victims, that it is truly coming from this generation and not being passed on to future generations.

I shall end where I began. How now shall we live? We shall live within the means, by the parameters that we have set down upon ourselves. We shall live within the budget that we have set for ourselves and not outside that budget.

POINT OF ORDER

Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, while I am very empathetic to the gentleman's concern, for I have many a grandchild myself, I make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriation bill and therefore violates clause 2 of rule XXI.

The rule states in pertinent part: "An amendment to a general appropriation bill shall not be in order if changing existing law." In this case, the amendment addresses funds in other acts, and so I have to reluctantly ask the Chair to rule.

The Acting CHAIRMAN. Does any other Member wish to be heard on the point of order?

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry, I should have stepped in before the gentleman stood up to say, in light of knowing the rules of the House, that I was about to withdraw the amendment.

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