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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. I have an amendment at the desk.

The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

Sec. __. Each amount made available by this Act (other than an amount required to be made available by a provision of law) is hereby reduced by 5 percent.

The CHAIR. The gentlewoman from Tennessee is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you, Madam Chairman.

As you can see, this is a very simple bill. My amendment would require every single agency covered in this Ag appropriations bill to be accountable to the taxpayers by reducing one nickel out of a dollar for what they have been given to spend. It requires all accounts to absorb that equally, that 5 percent reduction, and it will keep the bureaucracy from picking winners and losers or choosing to fund their pet programs. Certainly the amendment will save the taxpayers money, but this is also a stand for good government. It's about taking responsibility, not torturing the American taxpayer with excuses for ineffective and inefficient bureaucracies.

There are a lot of people that say the Appropriations Committee deserves a pat on the back for decreasing discretionary spending by 4.7 percent below the 2008 levels, and I agree with that. I think they are to be commended. Certainly off the President's request, the 13 percent reduction that they have made. I'm part of that effort that has pushed to return our spending to the pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, but there is more that must be done. We have to make our government leaner. We have to make it more effective. Every day, Americans are tightening their belts. They're asking government to do the very same thing. Tennesseans keep saying, why is it that government keeps asking us to sacrifice for it when government should be sacrificing for us? Every Federal program needs to be held accountable, and this is a way to do it. Our States have done across-the-board cuts. Our city governments have done across-the-board cuts. Even history will show you that twice before, our Presidents have pushed for across-the-board cuts: World War II, Korean Conflict, there were 28 percent and 30 percent across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending. The reason they did this, Madam Chairman, is because there was a crisis, there was a war, there was a need to restructure, to reorder and to address the priorities of the day.

One of my constituents came up to me recently--this is someone who is active in the ag community in our State--and she said, ``It is time that the bureaucracies get their house in order. It is time that you all in Congress stop spending money you don't have on programs we don't want.''

So as we do our due diligence on the spending process, as we act responsibly to our constituents and to the taxpayer, it is time for us to turn to the bureaucracies, the rank-and-file Federal employees who put the pen to the paper on how this money gets spent, and say to them, ``Find another nickel on a dollar.'' We're doing it for the children, we are doing it for our grandchildren, we're doing it to make certain that we stop borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that is spent.

This amendment would reduce the budget authority by $951 million. It would reduce the current outlays by $675 million. That would be spread equally at a 5 percent rate across every single agency. It can be done, and, Madam Chairman, in these times of crisis, it should be done as we seek to return this Nation to fiscal stability and to responsibility.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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