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Public Statements

Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008

Location: Washington, DC

SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - June 19, 2008)


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Chairman Obey, Leader Boehner, and Mr. Lewis for bringing a bill to the floor that provides funding for our troops without restrictions on our commanders.

My hometown is under water, and I am glad this bill provides funding to address flooding and to help the victims whose lives have been turned upside down by this flood.

Likewise I am glad that this bill provides assistance to those facing unemployment since one of the largest employers in my district--GM--recently announced it is closing a production facility.

However, this bill is part of a very disturbing trend in how we budget and legislate--Omnibus appropriation bills. We are now resorting to two omnibus appropriations bills a year. We need to find a way to budget for emergencies, but my problem with this bill is not with the unemployment extension funding or the flood funding. These are temporary costs that have been included in emergency supplementals in the past.

My concern is with the permanent expansion in an entitlement program that we are adding to an emergency supplemental appropriations bill. Mandatory spending doesn't belong on an appropriations bill because mandatory spending is forever.

An expansion in GI benefits is a good idea. However, we have an increasingly bad habit of just adding spending on top of the $3 trillion we are currently spending annually. I congratulate the Blue Dogs for initially objecting to the fact that the GI benefits in this bill were not offset. I don't support their remedy--which is to raise taxes--but if we are going to expand entitlements, we need to find offsets. In fact, we cannot afford the entitlements we have, much less an expansion in them.

We are going to spend over $30 trillion in the next ten years; surely we could have found $63 billion in offsets. But we didn't even try. In fact, the cost of the GI benefits has grown in this final bill.

We just kick the can down the road. The problem is that our children and grandchildren will live at the end of the road and all we are doing is leaving them with a mountain of debt.

PAYGO does not exist. It is waived every time we have to make a choice. We are sent here to make decisions--to make choices--to govern. Like the floods, this bill takes the path of least resistance; it passes the buck--and the debt to future generations.

We shouldn't budget or legislate this way, but I'm going to vote for this bill because it funds the troops and provides one-time emergency funding for unemployment assistance and floods.


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