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Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PENCE. Madam Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Hensarling amendment. I love a good debate. It is a great privilege for me to be able to come to the floor at a time when Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Jackson are here. I find them to be two of the most forceful and effective advocates of their view in the Congress in the majority, and so I welcome this opportunity to join in the debate. And I thank the gentleman from Texas who is consistently the strongest advocate for fiscal discipline and reform in the House of Representatives.

I will leave aside for the moment the whole question of which party forced the requirement of MTBE to be added to gasoline and created the regulatory challenges that the gentleman refers to, and just get to the larger question here.

Madam Chairman, we have an $8 trillion national debt. This is an amendment to cut $8 million. And it is being forcefully opposed. I think for anyone who would be looking on the people's House today, that is a rather dramatic comparison. Let me repeat that again. The Hensarling amendment, facing the stark reality of $8 trillion in national debt, comes to the floor with an idea to ask the Federal Government to do without spending $8 million.

The new majority, and I congratulate them again on securing the majority in the Congress, the American people spoke. But I do remember the new majority pledged no new deficit spending. I remember promises by this new majority in last year's campaign season that we would pay as we go in the Federal budget. If there was to be spending increases, they would be offset by cuts in other areas.

Yet this legislation, the bill is $7 billion over the 2007 request, $10.2 billion over the President's request, and it follows seven other pieces of legislation all of which have increased spending. And some of which, Madam Chairman, I have supported, but not all.

And it does seem to me as I walked here to this floor, I passed one sign after another in front of the offices of some of my most distinguished Democrat colleagues that bear the number $8 trillion writ large. If we are to be concerned about $8 trillion, will we not support an effort to cut $8 million?

[Time: 11:15]

That's the choice here today and whether the gentleman from Illinois, who I deeply respect, considers that this $8 million to be an enormous benefit, might there not be States and local governments that could make up for that, with the recognition that we are creating a burden for future generations of Americans that we ought not to create?

So I support the Hensarling amendment. It is the least we can do to take a step backwards.

I want to associate myself with the distinguished chairman of this committee who rose earlier to say, and I'm quoting now, that he was tired of defending administrative accounts with amendments by people who were coming to ask for more spending in other areas.

It is greatly to the credit of the gentleman from Texas that he is coming to this floor simply asking that we not spend this money. There's no other amendment or no other spending request that he's making in this regard, and it's what the American people ask us to do.

In fact, I would close, Madam Chairman, simply by saying I think the American people are tired of the national debt. I think they're tired of the sea of red ink. I think they were tired of it when my party had control of the place, and as the gentlewoman knows, I was one of the strongest opponents of wasteful government spending when my own party was in charge.

And so I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle know the gentleman from Texas and myself and other colleagues, we come to this floor with sincerity of purpose and with consistency that we think government ought to live within its means and pay its bills, and we think we ought to balance budgets. And the Hensarling amendment simply asks that we might cut $8 million as a modest response to $8 trillion in national debt.

And I challenge my colleagues, in the spirit of goodwill, let's make this statement, let's start in the direction of fiscal discipline and reform or, for heaven's sake, Madam Chairman, and I say with a smile, let's take the signs down from the hallways. Let's stop pretending that we worry about the national debt if we cannot come together as a Congress and as a nation and accept an $8 million cut to deal with an $8 trillion national debt.


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