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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3581, Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to my friend from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.

House Resolution 539 provides a structured rule for the consideration of H.R. 3581, the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act. This is another bill in a series of 10 bills that the Budget Committee is sending forward, Mr. Speaker, to try to align the kind of accounting and budgeting that we do in Washington with the kind of accounting and budgeting that happens in the real world. We know transparency and sound accounting matter. We know that it matters on Wall Street; we know that it matters on Main Street; and it matters right here between Independence and Constitution Avenues, Mr. Speaker.

This bill has three primary provisions:

Number one, it provides transparency by bringing off-budget items on-budget. Now, for folks who don't follow this as closely as you and I do, Mr. Speaker, you know that when things are off-budget, their degree of scrutiny is changed. When things are off-budget, the impact they have on the American taxpayer is not always reflected. When we take those things from off-budget and bring them on-budget, we begin to show the American taxpayer the real cost of their risk and responsibility.

Number two, it reforms the accounting method that we use to calculate how at risk American taxpayers are under Federal credit programs, again, to bring us closer to private sector models. Mr. Speaker, as you well know, when a dollar goes out the door from this United States Capitol, when a dollar goes out the door from the United States Treasury, if it is a loan program, there is no guarantee that dollar comes back. Are most folks faithful payers? Yes, they are. But does every dollar come back? No, it doesn't. Do we need to look further than Fannie and Freddie to see that model? For the first time, we'll begin to account for that risk so that the American taxpayer understands when the their American government guarantees a loan what potential impact that has on their pocketbook at home.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, it requires all Federal agencies to post their budget justifications online in a timely manner. Now, you saw last week, Mr. Speaker, we were able to pass the Baseline Reform Act, which said no longer will we just assume every agency is going to spend more. For the first time, we say that every agency needs to justify any increases that they receive in their budget. What this provision does is go one step further to say, when you are producing that budget, post your justifications online. Let the American people in. Mr. Speaker, if we have nothing to hide in this institution, then continuing to publish more and more information so that the American people can come into this discussion process is only going to lead us in the right direction.

Taken together, these three reforms bring the kind of attention that we need to a budget process that has been long broken. We cannot make America's future brighter and more secure if we continue to escalate the debt that we pass on to our children and their grandchildren. Clearly, this body has struggled in years past to contain that debt on both sides of the aisle. Clearly, folks occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have struggled to contain that debt on both sides of the aisle.

Mr. Speaker, the folks who see these issues with clarity live back home in my Seventh District of Georgia. They understand what it means to do budgeting around the family dinner table. I know my colleague from Massachusetts has those same folks living in his district facing those same challenges in his district; and if we can bring those people into the discussion, Mr. Speaker, if we can just be honest with our constituents back home about the magnitude of the problem, we will have their support and their involvement to turn this page for America's financial future.

Mr. Speaker, we can't stick our heads in the sand. Next week, we're expecting the budget from the White House to arrive here on Capitol Hill. We were expecting it this week, and they've delayed it to next week. I'm excited about it. I say to my colleague from Massachusetts, Mr. Speaker, I believe we're going to have a serious budget discussion with the White House for the first time in the 3 years of this administration. We're going to have a serious budget dropped on our doorstep, and then the Budget Committee is going to be involved in a serious discussion about how to bring the White House's priorities and the House's priorities in line with the American people's priorities. That process does not happen in a vacuum. That process happens in the sunshine, the bright daylight that is this U.S. House Chamber, Mr. Speaker. And with this reform combined with the other nine reforms coming out of the Budget Committee, we are taking steps forward to change forever the way this town does its budgeting business.

I'm very proud to sit on both the Rules Committee and the Budget Committee, to have had a hand both in the underlying legislation and this resolution today. I urge all of my colleagues to support this resolution, Mr. Speaker, so that we can bring up the underlying bill.

Yesterday, the Rules Committee filed House Report 112-388, a report to accompany House Resolution 539, a resolution providing for consideration of H.R 3581, the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2011. The report inadvertently excluded an explanation of the waiver of all points of order contained in the resolution against the amendments printed in the report. The Committee on Rules is not aware of any points of order against any of the amendments printed in the Rules Committee report. The waiver of all points of order against the amendments printed in the report is prophylactic in nature.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


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