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Public Statements

Small Business Lending Fund Act Of 2010 -- Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, very soon, we will be voting to move to consider the House-passed version of the 2010 supplemental appropriations bill.

I will vote against proceeding to the bill for one simple reason: It is not fully offset and now has a pricetag of $80 billion. When will the spending stop?

When the Senate considered the supplemental in May of this year, the bill totaled nearly $60 billion. Again, I opposed it because our version was not paid for, and it added to the ever-growing deficit for future generations. Those who say we oppose small business and all the motherhood and apple pie provisions of this bill, all we want to do is have it paid for.

Dr. Coburn and I had two reasonable amendments to fully offset the cost of the bill when it was $60 billion. I am sure we could find offsets for this $80 billion bill--if amendments were in order.

Our amendment would have saved taxpayers a combined total of nearly $120 billion by freezing raises, bonuses, and salary increases for Federal employees for a year; collecting unpaid taxes from Federal employees, which is $3 billion; reducing printing and publishing costs of government documents; eliminating nonessential government travel; eliminating bonuses for poor performance by government contractors, which is $8 billion. The list goes on and on. It also includes cutting budgets of Members of Congress, which would save $100 million; disposing of unneeded and unused government property, which would save $15 billion.

In other words, the size of government has doubled since 1990. Surely, it is time we started paying for these spending bills.

Our efforts failed. The majority, once again, succeeded in preventing the elimination of a single dime of wasteful and unnecessary and duplicative spending.

I remind my colleagues that in April of 2009, well over a year ago, the President wrote to Speaker Pelosi and said this:

As I noted when I first introduced my budget in February, this is the last planned war supplemental.

That was in April of 2009 when the President said last year, April, was the last planned war supplemental.

He went on to say:

Since September 2001, the Congress has passed 17 separate emergency funding bills totaling $822.1 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 7 years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.

I could not agree more. That is why I am disappointed to see yet another supplemental spending bill--designated as an emergency--and without offsets.

Now the majority leader wants us to take up the House-passed bill, which exceeds the cost of the Senate version by $22 billion--nearly $23 billion. The House added $10 billion for an education jobs program and $4.9 billion for Pell grants. Other items added by the House include $80 million for energy loans, $142 million for the gulf oilspill--the list goes on and on. Many of these are very worthy causes, very worthy items. But it should not be added to a must-pass bill to fund our troops, and it should be fully offset. That is what this debate has been all about for a long time--not whether these are worthy items, not whether we should have $10 billion for an education jobs program--although I seriously question that one--but the question is, Are we going to pay for it?

When are we going to stop mortgaging our children's and grandchildren's future and start balancing the budget and reducing and eliminating spending? Our soldiers and their families are making tremendous sacrifices. Why don't we make some sacrifices? Why don't we forego the earmarks and the special interests and the special deals that continue to characterize our behavior?

I don't need to remind my colleagues that we are fighting two wars. But the House has proposed reduced defense spending for this fiscal year and prior year funding by $3.2 billion to help pay for the $22.8 billion added by the House for domestic programs.

Subsequent to House action on the supplemental, the chairman of both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees further reduced the Defense Department's fiscal year 2011 discretionary base allocations below the President's request by $7 billion and $8 billion, respectively.

In other words, we are increasing domestic spending, larding it on this, by some $60 billion, and at the same time we are cutting defense.

One issue of concern is a provision contained in the Senate-passed bill to provide funding for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to exercise his authority to expand the number of service-related illnesses presumed to be connected to exposure to Agent Orange. The cost of that provision is $42 billion over 10 years and will most assuredly have a detrimental impact on the ability of the VA to process current and backlogged claims in a timely manner.

Perhaps the most controversial provision added by the House is the $10 billion for an education jobs fund. This money would be used to supplement State budgets to pay the salaries of teachers, administrators, janitors, and other school personnel.

I fully support the goal of saving teachers' jobs, but this certainly isn't the way to do it. In fact, the government should be incentivizing districts to make crucial reforms so that effective teachers are rewarded.

The proposed Education Jobs Fund would continue the archaic seniority system that many say rewards bad teachers instead of the most effective teachers.

Additionally, the House proposed $800 million in spending cuts to help offset the cost of this $10 billion fund--an act which quickly drew a veto threat from the President. The bill proposes to cut $500 million from the Race to the Top Fund. I don't know of a better educational incentive in recent years than the Race to the Top Fund. Yet they are going to cut $500 million from it.

The bill proposes to cut $200 million from the Teacher Incentive Fund that supports creation of pay-for-performance programs and $100 million from the Charter Schools Program. All these are proven ways to help education in America, so they are going to cut them.

They are going to cut the Charter Schools Program. In my State, charter schools have worked and have provided competition to the public school system. If the cuts to the Charter Schools Program in the House-passed bill are enacted, as many as 200 fewer charter schools could start next year and approximately 6,000 charter school employees could be in jeopardy of losing their jobs. There are 420,000 children on charter school waiting lists nationally. Now is not the time to stop supporting the growth of new charter schools.

I could go on and on about what this bill does. Of interest is the House decreased by $27 million the funding for the hiring of additional Border Patrol agents for the southwest border, decreased by $63 million the funding for the acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters, and decreased by $1 million the construction of forward operating bases for use by the Border Patrol. Every one of those programs that have been cut are effective in securing our border.

Even more egregious is that the House cut $100 million more than the President requested from the account that funds the construction of and repairs to the border fence. I support the President's request to rescind $100 million from the failed virtual fence project, but this money should go toward increased Border Patrol and Customs agents and technology. I do not support the House's effort to cut an additional $100 million in funding that is currently available and being used to complete construction of the border fence and repair the constant damage done to the fence by those trying to illegally cross into our country.

In summary, in the past 2 years, America has faced her greatest fiscal challenges since the Great Depression. When the financial market collapsed, it was the American taxpayer who came to the rescue of the banks and big Wall Street firms. But who has come to the rescue of the American taxpayer? Not Congress.

What has Congress done? We have saddled future generations with trillions of dollars of debt. Since January 2009, we have been on a spending binge, the likes of which this Nation has never seen. In that time, our debt has grown by over $2 trillion. We passed a $1.1 trillion stimulus bill. Has anybody seen any good things from that? We spent $83 billion to bail out the domestic auto industry. We passed a $2.5 trillion health care bill. We now have a deficit of over $1.4 trillion and a debt of $13 trillion. That amounts to more than $42,000 owed by every man, woman, and child in America.

This year, the government will spend more than $3.6 trillion and will borrow 41 cents for every $1 it spends. Unemployment remains around 9.7 percent. According to, a record 2.8 million American households were threatened with foreclosure last year, and that number is expected to rise to well over 3 million homes this year.

Now with this bill, the majority wants to tack on another $80 billion. When is it going to end? It may end next January. It may end next January because the American people will not stand for this continued crime we are inflicting on our children and our grandchildren.

The greatness of America is that every generation has passed on to the next generation a better one than that generation inherited. I cannot say that about the next generation with the debt with which we have saddled them. This kind of legislation has to be soundly rejected.

I yield the floor.


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