Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, the House Republican Majority has done nothing to create jobs during the first session of the 112th Congress and now they're adding further injustice by hurting the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The Republican unemployment insurance proposal would cut in half the total number of weeks of benefits provided, harm those States with the highest rates of prolonged unemployment, and allow unemployment funds to be used for other purposes.
If Congress does not act on an extension of unemployment benefits, more than one million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits next year. This is compounded by the Economic Policy Institute's findings that the drop in consumer demand resulting from expired unemployment benefits would cost the U.S. economy more than half a million jobs. This is unacceptable. According to the Congressional Budget Office providing federal unemployment benefits is one of the most effective ways to help boost the economy--in fact, for every dollar of benefits, nearly $2 in economic growth goes into the surrounding community. We should be working to support American families instead of causing more damage.
This bill should be about extending tax incentives and not pushing through the Majority's anti-environment agenda. This legislation includes a provision that bypasses the Keystone XL pipeline environmental review process by requiring the President to make a decision whether to approve the project within 60 days, even though a final route has not yet been proposed. It is responsible and critical that the Administration complete a proper assessment of the health risks and potential toxic contamination to the surrounding communities posed by the pipeline. Any effort to rush this process and compel a decision before a thorough review should not stand.
The Majority also is attempting to block air quality standards that have been thoroughly reviewed. The EPA is more than a decade late on issuing emissions standards requiring incinerators and boilers to reduce toxic air pollutants. While this would impact less than 1 percent of all boilers in the U.S., the Republican Majority is again attempting to nullify and delay the discharge limits. The pollutants from these emissions are linked to asthma, cancer, and heart disease, with the EPA estimating that the pollution reductions required by the rules would prevent up to 8,100 premature deaths, 52,000 asthma attacks, and 5,100 heart attacks each year and yield $12 to $30 in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards. Such controversial provisions as the pipeline and the emissions standards have no place in tax legislation.
The issue of spectrum allocation should not be pushed through at the end of this session. While H.R. 3630 grants the Federal Communications Commission the authority to conduct incentive auctions, it does not ensure proper oversight of the process. This is especially concerning as it relates to the public safety network. In the immediate aftermath of September 11th the importance of a strong and consistent public safety network was clear--first responders and emergency workers must be able to communicate in emergency and disaster situations. There is an insufficient amount of funds to research, build, and develop the public safety communications network as well as no requirement that the network providing for effective governance and national operability.
Finally, while I wholeheartedly believe that we must fix the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate Physician payment formula (or ``doc fix''), we cannot do it on the backs of the hospitals. This bill would cut Medicare hospital outpatient reimbursement rates to equalize them with rates for services provided in physician offices. The proposal is misguided because it ignores the significant differences in cost structures between hospitals and physician offices, including the added costs hospitals incur for caring for the uninsured. All of these cuts are on top of $155 billion in hospitals cuts from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and more than $40 billion in cuts just created by sequestration. Hospitals simply cannot sustain these cuts and patient care will suffer if they are forced to do so.