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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC




Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, we are now in the fourth week of the new fiscal year, and Congress still hasn't sent a single 1 of the 12 appropriations bills to the President. Those who made a lot of noise about Republican spending habits before last year's elections are now making the same mistakes themselves.

There is a difference. This year, our Democratic friends are delaying the most essential business of Congress on a political gambit. They have stuffed this bill with so much extra spending it is guaranteed to draw a veto. Once again, they are setting up the kind of media circus that has become so common this year. Instead of having a debate about the issues, about spending, we will have a nondebate played out in front of cameras, complete with props and outrage. A story in Monday's ``Roll Call'' laid out the strategy. It said our Democratic friends think a Presidential veto of the Labor-HHS bill will allow them to paint the administration and Capitol Hill Republicans as ``out of touch'' with average Americans, just like the effort that is underway on SCHIP.

Well, it is time to stop painting and to start legislating. The fact is, the Labor-HHS bill is simply too expensive. It is $9 billion over the President's request, and we all know what that means. Next year, Democrats will use that figure as their baseline, and on and on in perpetuity. They expect taxpayers to forget how much they increase spending this year so they can say it isn't that much when they do it again next year.

Our friends on the other side of the aisle like to downplay the spending hikes, but let's stop for a second and look at what some of their proposed increases this year would actually look like down the line. The spending hike they are asking for in this bill, if allowed to continue at the same rate, will cost the American taxpayer $120 billion over the next 10 years. Let me say that again. This spending increase over what the President has requested, if allowed to stand year after year, which is the way this always works, will cost the American taxpayers $120 billion over the next 10 years. That is equivalent to the entire budget of the State of New York just in discretionary increases, just on this one appropriations bill. So this increase on this bill, compounded out, $120 billion over the next 10 years, is the equivalent of the entire budget of the State of New York.

So what we are telling taxpayers is this proposed $23 billion increase over
much. How many times have we heard that: this isn't all that much money? But let's look at the 10-year totals. The $23 billion this year, at the same rate of growth, will end up costing taxpayers $252 billion over 10 years.

What can we do with $252 billion? We could fund this year's discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, the Departments of Homeland Security, Interior, Energy, and still have more left over than the entire 2005 Massachusetts State budget.

So our friends are saying that is not a lot of money. Only in Washington, DC, could this kind of spending be not much. We need to get serious about how we spend other people's money, and if we don't start on this bill, which represents the largest increase among all the appropriations bills, we won't cut anywhere.

Senator Lott and I propose to send this bill back to committee and instruct them to prioritize spending in a way that is responsible and which will secure a Presidential signature. We cannot continue to use the Government charge card knowing our children and their children will have to pay the bill.

On behalf of Senator Lott and myself, I move to commit H.R. 3043 to the Committee on Appropriations with instructions to report back with total amounts not to exceed $140.92 billion, and I urge my colleagues to vote with us to get us out of the business of political theater and back to the business of governing in a responsible way.

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