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Moment of Silence in Remembrance of Members of Armed Forces and Their Families

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BIGGERT. Mr. Chairman, this is an issue that has grown and grown and grown. But let me say that I would agree with the gentleman from Michigan, that we do not want the Asian carp to be able to get into the Great Lakes and into Lake Michigan first.

We have been working on this issue for 12 years and it really makes me upset to think that they seem to say, well, nothing has happened, and now it's an emergency, that the Asian carp are going to get into Lake Michigan. Let me tell you that we have set up two electronic dispersal barriers that are in my district to stop the Asian carp from getting through. This is the only path from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes and these two barriers are there.

The Asian carp are 42 miles from the city of Chicago, and this is an emergency and they have 42 miles to go. They have moved very slowly. Most of the population of the Asian carp are in the Illinois River around Channahon and right now, Channahon, they have contract with China to send the Asian carp over to be used as food in China.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been doing everything, and this is for the last 12 years, and the Congress has funded this, to make sure that those Asian carp never reach the Great Lakes. And if they do, it would be devastating. So things that have happened, the two dispersal barriers, the bubble barriers, electro-fishing, oxygenation, rotenone used to kill the fish, the bypass screening barriers to combat the Asian carp.

The problem is, and it's not just that the carp will get in there--and the gentleman from Michigan raised the question of whether this was the only way that the Army Corps has said to stop the carp. It is not. And, in fact, the Army Corps has said that even if the locks are closed, the Asian carp will be able to get through those locks. So this is not the answer. The answer is to find all of these ways to combat that.

Invasive species are legally hard to deal with, but I think what Army Corps and all of the other agencies have been doing is something that we will be able to contain them and eventually--I've been on fish kills before. There were 22,000 fish that were killed to make sure that these Asian carp had not gotten beyond the barriers. Not one of these fish was an Asian carp.

But the problems that we're really facing are economic, devastating to the State of Illinois, devastating to the States below Illinois, down to the Gulf of Mexico, devastating to anyone that is using the locks to send goods back and forth.

And, in fact, we are facing 800,000 jobs lost with the barge traffic. People don't realize how much this is used because of the barge. You're not stopped by a barge when the gates go down. You're not stopped having a barge on the streets.

What has been determined is that if we were to shut down the barge traffic, it would take--oh, well, we just put them on the rail and we put them on trucks. If we were to put these on trucks, if you were to take and line up the trucks from the east coast to the west coast, line them all up across the country and then put them all back going back to the east coast, that's how many trucks would be to be able to move the asphalt, the salt, the coal, all of these big, big items that are used and used in the economic thing of things. As well as the food and everything else that goes up and down.

So I think that the Corps has testified that all the things are working. There is another study out that is going to be finished by 2015. We have got to get this right and they worked. But having worked for 12 years on this, it really upsets me when the gentleman states a study from Wayne State saying that it would only cost $4.5 million in damages for economic. Oh, no. The barge people, all the people estimate it's at least $29 billion.

This bill was to make sure that we can get the economy back, that we can create the jobs. This will destroy jobs.

And I'm also talking about flooding. It will flood the city of Chicago, and it will flood 124 suburbs. I urge a negative vote on this.


Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Kline amendment. It is imperative that Congress put the brakes on what has become this administration's culture of runaway regulation.

Specifically, the amendment under consideration will prohibit the use of funds in the underlying bill for the implementation of a misguided regulation commonly referred to as the gainful employment rule, which has already led to job loss and uncertainty in the proprietary college sector. Moving forward, I'm concerned that that rule will jeopardize access to many educational and training programs that provide students with skills to meet the demands of an ever-changing labor market.

In function, this rule would prohibit college programs from receiving Federal student loans unless new complicated loan repayment criteria are met. As such, the rule incentivizes institutions to pursue only those repayment plans which satisfy arbitrary government goals rather than the plans that best fit students' needs. This may be loan repayment; also ignoring measures of seemingly equal importance such as on-time graduation rates and clear placement.

Equally troubling, under the rule, proprietary institutions would, sadly, be forced to navigate an additional restrictive layer of Federal bureaucracy, requiring Federal approval in order to offer any new programs. Unfortunately, this provision fails to realize what is the agile nature of these proprietary institutions that uniquely position them to help unite a properly equipped workforce with employers in today's uncertain job market. By unlawfully restricting the flexibility, we risk failure to capitalize on emergency economic opportunities.

Moreover the gainful employment rule applies almost exclusively to one sector of higher education, the proprietary schools which tend to teach job-specific skills, often to at-risk populations such as low-income, minorities, single parents, high school dropouts with GEDs, and first-generation college students who do not have financial help from parents. Somehow there is the notion that the bad actors of the Federal higher education loans world is exclusively within the proprietary college sector. This is preposterous, but the fact is that the administration has chosen to discriminate against these schools. The fact remains, a student can graduate from any institution of higher education with inadequate income to repay their debts, and students should not suffer simply because the school that best suits their needs operates under a for-profit model.

I have repeatedly asked the Department of Education to refrain from implementing this rule until we have clear data on the state of our Nation's overall higher education system. If the administration were serious about addressing unscrupulous recruiting practices at the college level, this data would be compiled and made available, and particularly to Members of Congress. As it stands, we have little more than this singular, last-minute vote to slow down the administration's race to squeeze the for-profit college sector out of existence.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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