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Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. First of all, I want to thank the gentlelady from the Virgin Islands for her leadership in convening and anchoring these sessions that we hold each week. I also want to commend and pay tribute to Representative Bobby Scott for the tremendous leadership and work that he provides each year in helping the Congressional Black Caucus analyze, synthesize, and look seriously at how we move forward as we prepare a budget.
As has already been indicated, budgets are indications of priorities--what is it that you're really hoping to do; what do you really hope to accomplish. And so this budget I view as a tremendously positive alternative to any of our budgets that I have seen at this time. So I rise in strong support of the Congressional Black Caucus' FY 2013 alternative budget.
February's job report reveals 3 months of strong jobs growth in America. And while there is a sigh of relief for millions of consumers and the unemployed moving from the sidelines in search of work with hopes that their prospects will improve, there is little change for the 5.4 million long-term unemployed, 8.1 million involuntary part-time workers, and marginally attached individuals no longer in the labor force who wanted and were available for work and who looked for a job at some point during the last 12 months.
And so it becomes obvious that any budget should have at its core job-creation opportunities so that people can experience this opportunity, or this commodity, that we call work.
Appearances of an economy poised for growth does little for underserved minorities residing in disinvested communities blighted with high rates of joblessness, poor-performing schools, poverty, and crime. Indeed, the promise of a new day and new hopes are few and far
between for poor and low-income workers, generally, and returning citizens with barriers to employment in particular.
Indeed, over the past decade, the poor in America have gotten poorer. And, of course, the wealthy have gotten wealthier. Those called ``middle class'' have been squeezed to the point where they're teetering and certainly could go in either direction, that is, up with the right kinds of opportunities and down with the wrong kinds of opportunities.
I don't believe that we can afford in good conscience to continue to turn a blind eye to census figures and monthly data reports of the economic injustices and suffering being imposed upon a growing number of people. Moreover, we cannot continue to hold a great Nation hostage for the sake of a few while millions suffer. If we're truly going to address the crisis in America and put all Americans back to work and reduce poverty, we must create a mixture of universal and targeted programs capable of weathering political obstacles.
The Congressional Black Caucus alternative budget is a means to this end. Indeed, the CBC budget safeguards investment in public education, Pell Grants, and transportation vital to equipping minority youth and adults with skill sets so that they can obtain and maintain access to gainful sustainable employment in our ever-changing global economy; and also by renovating and building new schools and investing an additional $50 billion in transportation and infrastructure in 2013 and $155 billion above the President's budget over the next decade, repairing and building bridges across lakes, rivers, and streams, but also bridges to opportunity.
The Congressional Black Caucus budget protects the health care safety net programs that have been developed. It also protects Second Chance funding while restoring funding to Department of Justice programs for citizens who are returning home from jail and prison with serious barriers to employment.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that if America is to become the America that it has never been but the America that all of us hope for and know that it can be, then we would take the principles encased in the Congressional Black Caucus budget and comply those to whatever budgets are ultimately passed.
So, again, I want to commend Mr. Scott, and I want to thank Delegate Christensen.
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