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Public Statements

Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. SLAUGHTER. I thank my colleague for yielding me the customary 30 minutes, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, my speech today will be very much like my speech yesterday, but then so is the bill. Yesterday the House on both sides of the aisle defeated the majority's first attempt to pass a continuing resolution. And here we are 24 hours later with the very same bill. Let me repeat, the bill we're debating today is barely changed from the one that was defeated yesterday. The bill still contains unacceptable cuts to an essential manufacturing jobs program to pay for equally essential disaster relief.

Homes have been destroyed. Roads have collapsed, and local economies have been disrupted by a seemingly endless stream of hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, and extreme weather that has crisscrossed our land. Our moral compass makes it very clear. We know what we need to do. We
must come to the aid of our fellow Americans who need our help. The problems they are facing are monumental, and quite simply, no one can recover from such natural disasters on their own. They need our help.

Yet the majority's efforts to hold disaster relief hostage to unacceptable cuts is as unwise today as it was 24 hours ago.

As I said yesterday, when it comes to spending billions of dollars on two wars that are bankrupting us, the majority's concern for spending is nowhere to be found. Since 2004, American taxpayers have spent over $3.4 billion as emergency spending on infrastructure in Afghanistan, and even more in Iraq. Not a single one of these $3.4 billion was offset, but were paid for by the same taxpayers that are being denied taxpayer money now. While we send billions of dollars to Iraq, the Iraqi government has begun building. They announced today a high-speed rail system to connect Basra to Baghdad. That's the same week that the majority in this House took all of the high-speed rail away from the United States. And so we will be paying for 280 miles in Iraq, but we can't pay for it from Buffalo to Albany.

When it comes to Americans in need, when it comes to helping women, children, and families whose homes have been washed away, the majority has decided they just can't help unless they get to take the money from a program that has created 39,000 jobs and is poised to create 60,000 more.

The bill was wrong yesterday, and it's wrong today.

Let me just give you some information from, I believe, The New York Times. The headline says, ``Republicans Sought Clean-Energy Money for Home States.'' Senator McConnell asked for $235 million for an electric vehicle plant in Kentucky; Representative Lamar Smith asked for stimulus money for a solar plant in Texas; Congressman Fred Upton wanted five clean energy projects in Michigan; Representative Cliff Stearns asked for a lithium ion battery manufacturing plant in Florida. These requests for funding came from the very same program that has been discussed being cut these last 2 days.

I urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand by your beliefs. If you thought the bill was wrong yesterday, there is no reason to think the bill is better today; virtually nothing has changed.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this rule and this flawed bill.
[From the New York Times, Sept. 19, 2011]

Republicans Sought Clean-Energy Money for Home States
(By Eric Lipton)

WASHINGTON.--On the Senate floor and the television airwaves, Senator Mitch McConnell has lambasted the Obama administration over what he has described as its failed efforts to stimulate new jobs through clean-energy projects backed with billions of dollars in federal loans or other assistance.

But Mr. McConnell, of Kentucky, is one of several prominent Republicans who have worked to steer federal money to clean-energy projects in their home states, Energy Department documents show.

Mr. McConnell made two personal appeals in 2009, asking Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve as much as $235 million in federal loans for a plant to build electric vehicles in Franklin, Ky.

``I hope you will realize the importance of such job creation to Kentucky,'' Mr. McConnell said in a July 2009 memo supporting an application from Zap Motor Manufacturing.

Federal lobbying disclosure records show that Mr. McConnell's support for the project came after Zap Motor hired a Kentucky-based lobbyist, Robert Babbage, who has been a frequent contributor to Mr. McConnell's campaigns and boasts on his own Internet site about his close ties to Mr. McConnell.

Mr. Babbage declined to comment on the project. Gary Dodd, chief executive of Zap Motor, said the intervention by Mr. McConnell came after the company asked him to push the Energy Department to approve the loan.

Mr. McConnell's office, in a statement, defended his actions, saying, ``There was no effort to push the administration to short-circuit its due diligence simply to plan a ribbon-cutting.''

Mr. McConnell's high-level advocacy took place despite early struggles for the project, including the financial collapse in 2008 of its first Kentucky business partner, Integrity Manufacturing. Mr. McConnell made no mention of these stumbles as he pushed for federal money, simply saying Zap Motor might create as many as 4,000 jobs in his state.

Recently, he has joined with other Republicans in criticizing a March 2009 decision by the Obama administration to provide a $535 million government-backed loan to a California solar-panel manufacturer, Solyndra, which recently filed for bankruptcy and is now the subject of inquiries by the F.B.I. and Congress.

``The White House fast-tracked a half-billion-dollar loan to a politically connected energy firm,'' Mr. McConnell said Thursday in remarks on the Senate floor. ``This place was supposed to be the poster child of how the original stimulus would create jobs.''

Another Republican, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, recently asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint an outside investigator to determine how the Department of Energy distributes clean-energy money. But in 2009, Mr. Smith wrote to Mr. Chu asking him to approve loan guarantees from stimulus money for a Texas project proposed by Tessera Solar, documents show.

Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan and another critic of the Energy Department program, signed letters along with other members of the Michigan delegation in 2009 and 2010, pushing at least five clean-energy projects in his state, including a $207 million loan request from EcoMotors International. And Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, praised the opening last year of a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in his state, which relied upon an Energy Department grant.

Mr. Smith, along with the others, defended their actions, saying lawmakers can be critical of the Energy Department programs while still seeking money.

``I wanted to support Texas companies in their applications for grants,'' Mr. Smith said in a statement. ``It is the responsibility of the Obama administration to carry out the necessary financial reviews of these proposals.''

I reserve the balance of my time.

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