Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Jack Kingston
Date: June 16, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Chair, I want to, first of all, thank my good friend from Pennsylvania for talking to me about this amendment. Earlier this week, I expressed my concerns at that time, which I still have with it, and want to make a number of points.

Number one, we're not 100 percent sure what this scores out in terms of budget authority. So there is that question over it. Number two, I want to say that while conservation funding is down, farmers still have access to $5.8 billion in conservation funding. And that's for private landowners. Actually, it's $5.868 billion, to be exact.

I also want to make sure that my friends know that even though there are CHIMPs in this, changes in mandatory programs, that no conservation contracts will have to be canceled because of these limitations. The Federal Government cannot and does not break farm commodity or conservation contracts without significant consequences. We are aware of that. So we have made sure that none of the conservation contracts would be abrogated.

And then finally I want to say to my friend the ranking member, just to underscore some of the sensitivities that we've been through in the last couple of days, that this actually does cut the WIC program, cuts the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and it cuts the Conservation Reserve Program and a lot of the other programs which there has been so much passion about on this floor in the last couple of days.

So with that, I do oppose the amendment, and I urge everyone to vote ``no'' on it.


Mr. KINGSTON. First of all, I want to thank my good friend from Tennessee for offering this amendment and her tireless work to try to reduce spending in our country, and I absolutely agree with all the statements that she has made.

I do want to point out, though, that the only budget that has passed either body is the Ryan budget. I supported, as I know she did, the RSC budget, which is actually more conservative, but it did not pass. At least we did get a budget passed on the House floor. The Senate was unable to do that. Even though the Democrats are the majority party over there, the Senate rejected the President's budget 97-0, and apparently now they've given up and they're not going to try to pass a budget. The only bill that we have an opportunity to move is under the Ryan budget, which is what this bill reflects. It is a 13.4--actually it's higher than that because we cut it last night a little bit more, or we did some across-the-boards, but it's about a 13.4 percent cut already.

Where the big money is--and I know my friend from Tennessee is as frustrated about this as I am--is in the mandatory spending. In fact, I have a chart over there. We don't have any pages or I'd bring it up here on the floor; but 86 percent of this budget is mandatory spending, and I use the word ``mandatory'' loosely because it's really on automatic spending. That's where the big money is. Unfortunately, we can't get to it. This portion that we do have control over used to be $23 billion; and right now, under our budget, it's $17.2 billion.

Let me show my friend this because I think it's very important. The blue line is the mandatory spending of the Agriculture budget, and the red line is the discretionary spending. The point is that this committee has jurisdiction over the red line. We do not on this committee have jurisdiction over the blue line. Yet you can see the blue line is the one that's going up and that the red line is the one that's actually going down.

So that's one of my frustrations about the entire process and about the rules which we're governed by; but I want to make sure that my friend knows, under the portion we do control, that we did cut it 13.4 percent.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. I oppose the amendment, and do so out of caution.

What I want to say to my friend, who knows a lot about this and I know is a very careful steward of tax dollars and very deliberative in his legislation in general, I am not that familiar with the issue. I am not certain why location is that important, and I am very reluctant to tie the hands of the USDA in seeking the best contract. I want them to do what a business would do and be free from micromanagement by the U.S. Congress. If the location is outside of the United States or the location is in Illinois or in Georgia or in California, I want them to do what is best for the USDA and the best for the taxpayers. As I understand this amendment, it would limit that sort of flexibility.

So I oppose the amendment; but I want to say to the gentleman from Illinois, I certainly will continue a dialogue with you on this, because I do realize I need to learn more about it. But on that basis, I do not want to tie their hands based on location.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding, and also to bring up the fact that the cormorants are a problem all over the country. And certainly, as one from Georgia, I know exactly that you in Alabama are having the problems that they have in the Northeast and in Mississippi and all the other places. I will absolutely work with the gentlewoman from Alabama to make sure that the USDA is addressing your cormorant problems. And I will work with the ranking member from California to make sure that it does not get forgotten.

I also appreciate your diligence on the cormorant issue. Realizing that the report is a little bit misleading as we have written it, I think you have underscored something that we all are behind you on. So we will work with you on it.


Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by saying, if this was a serious amendment, if this was a serious proposal--we have had 25 hours of debate--it would have been out on the House floor, and we could have taken a look at it. But let me say this: Very importantly, there is absolutely nothing in this bill that prohibits the CFTC from looking at oil speculation as it respects the supply or the cost of oil.

This amendment is not needed because of that alone. But let me also quote the Democrat Commissioner on the CFTC, Michael Dunn, a Democrat member of the CFTC. There has been a suggestion by some that once we set position limits, that's speculative limits, on physical derivatives, that the price we pay will inevitably drop. I believe this is a fallacy.

To date, the CFTC staff has been unable to find any reliable economic analysis to support the contention that excessive speculation is affecting the markets we regulate, or that position limits will prevent excessive speculation. The price volatility exists in our markets because of global supply and demand for physical commodities.

Now, why are the Democrats trying to get us bogged down in that the price of oil is going up because of speculation? Well, I can tell you. Go back to January 2009, and ask your constituents if they remember paying a 1.83 per gallon. And in that same month, who became President of the United States but President Obama, the Democrat.

The change you were asking for, the change we were promised was that gas went from $1.83 per gallon to now $3.80, a 90 percent increase. And the Democrats want us to believe it's because of speculators. You know why it's gone up? Because of more regulation, less permitting, more delays and more lawsuits.

Think about this. The President recently went down to Brazil and he told them, hey, we understand you're going to drill offshore. We encourage you to do so. We want to lend you the money, and we want to become your best customers.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I've got news for the President. I've got news for the Democrats. American technology and American engineers do not need to hold second place to Brazil or any other country in the world. We are America.

We need to have an all-of-the-above energy policy. We do need to look at solar. We do need to look at ethanol. We do need to look at wind. We need to also look at nuclear and fossil fuels, and we need to do it here in the United States of America.

We are Americans. And if you want to bring down the price of gas at the pump, then let's increase our own domestic supply and quit playing games of blaming it on Wall Street.

I recommend a ``no'' vote on the motion to reconsider.


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