Mr. BILBRAY. Madam Speaker, we are really at a threshold of making decisions of: Are we willing to do what it takes to prove to the American people that this Republican form of government actually can function and address the long-term needs of America?
We're at a point to where we have to be able to show not just the American people, but to people around the world, that our Republican experiment, the Republic that we call the United States of America, can function not just for 200 years but for hundreds of years on top of that because we can make the tough decisions not just to go to war, not just to respond to disasters, but to take care of our financial well-being and that the elected representatives cannot use tax money to buy votes and cannot be bullied by scare tactics away from doing what is essential for the future of this country. That is a real test.
And remember, when we talk about Washington taking money, and I think this is one thing Republicans and Democrats don't talk enough about. I used to be a mayor. I was a mayor in my twenties. We forget that this is not government--and I say this to my Republican colleagues. We say that too much. This is not government we're talking about, but this is Federal Government. This is totally different than your city council. This is totally different than your county commissioners or supervisors. This is not going to your school board. There, if they tax you, you can go to their meetings and you can stand up at a podium and you can tell that mayor what you think about his spending habits. You can tell the county chairman what you think. The school board member is required, by law, to hear your opinion about that.
But when your money is taken to Washington, you don't have the right to even stand up and speak to the Congress. You try to stand up without getting permission, they've got security to drag you off. There is a big difference between sending your money to city hall and sending your money to Washington, D.C. One, you are vested with rights to participate in how that money is spent. Here in Washington, you are disenfranchised except for one person, your Congressman. And that person darn well is diluted and cannot speak for you personally but has to represent you as part of a group.
So when we talk about Washington taking money, remember you've got school boards, you've got counties, you've got cities. But Washington is not just taking it away from the business community; it's taking it away from the local government agencies that provide the baseline services that are essential to all of us.
We keep talking about Washington is the great safety net. Excuse me. Your city and your counties are the great safety net of civilized services that we get into. The Federal Government, anybody that's lived in Washington, D.C., understands that, that the local government is where the essential services have gone. And when we take money out of a community and bring it here to Washington, we're depriving those same mayors and school board members and county commissioners the essential services that make every day possible for our citizens. And when we do that, even more importantly, we deprive the individual the ability to participate in how their hard-earned money is spent.
So we should take as little as humanly possible to execute the responsibilities and the mandates of the United States Constitution. And maybe if we looked around a little more and focused on the responsibilities that the Constitution gives us, Washington, D.C., as opposed to mayors, council members and State legislators, maybe if we didn't try to be everything to everyone, maybe we wouldn't be so greedy at taking so much from the citizens of the United States. So I think that that is one of those items we've got to constantly try to remember.
And I say this to my Democratic colleagues and my Republican colleagues. When we're talking about the Federal budget, we're not talking about government. We're talking about Federal Government taking these funds. And I think those are the central issues.