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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1363, Department of Defense and Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011; and Waiving Requirement of Clause 6(a) of Rule XIII with Respect to Consideration of Certain Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DREIER. I thank my friend from Grandfather Community, North Carolina, for her superb management of this rule.

Mr. Speaker, we are here with a couple of very important priorities:

Number one, we want to ensure that the government doesn't shut down, and that's why we have come forward with this continuing resolution that will provide funding to keep the government open for another week and, first and foremost, to ensure that our men and women in uniform have what they need and their families are not going to be victimized by what has taken place over the past several months.

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to my friend from New Jersey talk about this, I don't like to engage in finger-pointing. I really don't. But I think it's very key--and the reason I don't like to engage in finger-pointing, as my friend from Worcester laughs at that, is the moment you point your finger at someone, I was always taught that there are three pointing right back at you. And I think it's important for us to not point fingers, but I think it's instructive for us to look at what it is that got us here.

I suspect that my friend from Grandfather Community probably explained the fact that for the first time in our Nation's history since the Budget Act has existed, we went through a Congress without a budget having been passed. That's what happened last year. And for the first time ever, we had no appropriations bills passed. Now, I'm not pointing fingers, but I will say that there was not a Republican in the White House, there was not a Republican Senate, and there certainly was not a Republican United States House of Representatives.

So this was dumped onto the laps of the new majority here in the House of Representatives, which, as we all know, if we look at the challenges that are ahead of us, we still have a Democrat in the White House and we still have a Democrat-controlled United States Senate. So of the three levers of power legislatively, we have control of only one-third of those. And in light of that, we're trying to do the best that we can under somewhat challenging circumstances.

Now, last November 2, the American people sent a very strong and powerful message to Washington, D.C. My party happened to see the largest gain in nearly three-quarters of a century; 1938 was the last time we saw the kind of change in favor of the Republican Party that we did last November 2.

So in light of that, there is a powerful message, and I'm happy to say that that message has been heard by both Democrats and Republicans. Why? Because with the 82 percent increase in non-defense discretionary spending that we saw under Speaker Pelosi, the American people said we need to bring an end to that nonsense. And guess what? We have Democrats and Republicans alike talking about the need for spending. Since we've passed H.R. 1, we have had $2 billion in spending cuts every single week. But it is a drop in the bucket. It is a drop in the bucket.

Over the last 2 days, I have had the chance to meet with a very bright, dynamic, new member of the British Parliament, a man called Matthew Hancock. I've just had a chance to meet with ``Facebook girl,'' who was one of the leaders of the tremendous, tremendous change and revolution that has taken place in Egypt. I'm going to be meeting in just a few minutes with leaders from Mongolia. And, Mr. Speaker, I have to say the world is looking at us as we deal with this terrible situation today, and it's critical for us to step up to the plate and provide strong leadership.

Now, what has happened is we have, as my friend from New Jersey underscored, come forward with a budget. It was just unveiled this week. Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the Budget Committee, is going to be bringing it to the Rules Committee, and we will consider it next week. And it is absolutely horrifying to hear the characterizations that have been provided.

Mr. Speaker, obviously encouraged by fear tactics, my constituents in California have been saying, Please, please, please don't support the Republican budget, which will abolish Medicare. That message over and over again has been coming: Don't support the Republican budget, which will abolish Medicare.

And, Mr. Speaker, the thing that's so disturbing is that there are senior citizens, elderly Americans, who are out there and they are very emotionally distraught over the fact that people are telling them from the other side of the aisle, and it's very close to the remarks that my friend from New Jersey just offered, that we are going to abolish Medicare.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important for the American people to understand that we are seeking to save Medicare. Saving Medicare is what this is all about.

We all know, if you look at the history of Medicare, it was established in 1965. In 1970, Mr. Speaker, the cost of Medicare was $7 billion. In 1970 it was $7 billion. Four decades later, last year, 2010, the cost of Medicare was $528 billion.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in light of that, there is realization that since we've seen Medicare expand to address the needs of the disabled and so many other areas, there needs to be reform so that future generations will be able, since they're compelled to pay their FICA tax, to receive the benefits they deserve from Medicare.

But, Mr. Speaker, the idea of frightening senior citizens today by leading them to believe that our budget is going to abolish Medicare is outrageous. And I believe that the American people are smart enough, smart enough, to understand that these fear tactics can't stand. We have a responsibility, I believe now, an obligation, to counter the lies that are being put out there claiming that we're trying to abolish Medicare.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that's important for us to note is that the American people are hurting all the way across the board. We have an unemployment rate, which we're all encouraged by the fact that it has dropped by a full percentage point, down to 8.8 percent, but it is still unacceptably high. And that's why we need to focus on job creation and economic growth. Mr. Speaker, if we had 2 percent more GDP growth in this country, we would be in a position where we would, in fact, not be having to anguish over the kind of spending that we see right now.

Obviously, it's important for us to recognize that the role of government has become way too big and needs to be dramatically reduced, not only because of spending but because of the encroachment on individual liberty that exists. But we need to realize that government does have things that it needs to do, and we need to generate an increase in the net flow of revenues. A $1.6 trillion national deficit, which is in the President's budget, coupled with $14 trillion in accumulated debt is unacceptable. That's why our goal is to focus on job creation, economic growth.

Our colleague Dave Camp of the Ways and Means Committee is focusing on reducing that rate on job creators in this country, the highest of any nation on the face of the Earth, now that Japan has reduced their rate, and that top rate on individuals.

Doing that, coupled with reducing the regulatory constraints that it has imposed, will address the needs of the poor.

Now, my friend from Worcester last night in the Rules Committee was talking about the fact that no one is focused on the plight of the poor in this country. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is our priority, to make sure that we have opportunity so that people who are truly in need have their needs met, but also to ensure that we have opportunity. Creating jobs for individuals is what we need to do.

And so, Mr. Speaker, we are committed to keeping the government open, supporting our troops, and bringing about, with this continuing resolution, a $12 billion reduction in spending. It's something that, if we can pass it here, the Senate should pass it. Everyone is saying they know the Senate isn't going to pass it. The fact of the matter is the Senate should pass it. But we hope that it's not necessary. We hope that Speaker Boehner, Leader Reid, and President Obama are able to come up with an agreement that will ensure that we don't go through what would be a very difficult thing, that is, shutting down the government.

So I urge my colleagues to support the rule, and I thank my friend for yielding.

Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to thank the gentleman from California, the chairman of the Rules Committee, for giving us his itinerary for the day. I'm glad he's meeting with the leaders of Mongolia, because this is a budget only the people of Mongolia would love because it is a tough budget on the people of the United States of America.

He talks about their commitment to helping the poor in this country. I don't know how you do that when you cut WIC, when you go after Pell Grants, when you go after LIHEAP.

Mr. DREIER. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. McGOVERN. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. DREIER. I thank my friend for yielding.

Let me just say, I mentioned the 82 percent increase in non-defense discretionary spending. If we look at the increases that have taken place in WIC, LIHEAP, and a wide range of other areas, the notion of slightly paring that back will in no way jeopardize the needs that need to be addressed.

Mr. McGOVERN. Reclaiming my time, I will just remind my friend, as I did last night, right now there are 30,000 people in this country that are fasting in protest of the cuts that adversely impact the poor. A former colleague, Tony Hall from Ohio, Jim Wallis from Sojourners, David Beckmann from Bread for the World are highlighting the fact that the cuts in this budget are going to be devastating to the most vulnerable people in this country.

What I said in the Rules Committee last night is that sometimes we forget to understand that there are real people behind these cuts, and people are going to be hurt. And, unfortunately, the people who are sacrificing are the people who can least afford to sacrifice. You're not asking Donald Trump to sacrifice. You're not asking big oil companies to sacrifice or those big agri-businesses that receive corn ethanol subsidies. No. It's all focused on working people and poor people.

I don't know when, in the minds of the Republicans, that average working people and people who are vulnerable became the bad guys. It was reckless Wall Street behavior that created this financial crisis, and they get everything, and everyday people get nothing except the bill. That's wrong.

At this point, Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Andrews).


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