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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DICKS. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ranking Member Fattah for yielding to me and for his hard work on this important bill.

As we begin the floor consideration of the first of the 2013 appropriations bills, I would like to state as a preface that I regret the majority's decision to not abide by the bipartisan Budget Control Act. Reducing the overall allocation for fiscal year 2013 by an additional $19 billion I think is both unnecessary and economically unwise. I believe the reduced discretionary allocation in the Ryan budget threatens to stall economic growth and job creation, and in the near term it introduces uncertainty in our appropriations process that might imperil our ability to produce these bills in a timely manner.

That said, I remain committed to working collaboratively with the majority as we continue through the appropriations process this year because I remain cautiously optimistic that this reduced allocation is merely temporary. At the end of the process, I believe the House and Senate will come to an agreement that reflects the Budget Control Act level of $1.047 trillion rather than the level of $1.028 trillion that is based on the Ryan budget.

With regard to the bill before us, I want to thank Chairman Wolf, Ranking Member Fattah, Chairman Rogers, and their staffs for their hard work on this bill. The majority worked closely with our side to put this bill together, and there were many issues on which we were able to reach agreement.

While the level of funding in this bill may not be as low as a strict proportional reduction based on the Ryan budget, it is nevertheless not adequate to meet the needs in some areas. In comparison, the CJS bill in the other body has passed through committee with only one dissenting vote, and it is $731 million higher than the House allocation. Clearly, there is significant bipartisan support for this higher allocation.

The House bill contains several funding levels that will be difficult for Democrats to support. The COPS hiring program is cut by 76 percent, even as State and local budgets continue to recover from historic losses in revenue. The Legal Services Corporation is also cut when it should be getting an increase, as has been proposed by the President and supported in the other body.

I'm also concerned that some important NOAA programs have been cut, in part to pay for necessary new satellites. While I support the development and deployment of new satellites, it is important that we find a way to pay for them without making such drastic reductions in other important NOAA programs.

Let me state that there were some very positive aspects of this bill. In particular, I want to thank the chairman and ranking member for funding the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund at this year's enacted level and for once again funding an increase to the Mitchell Act program. These are vitally important programs in the Pacific Northwest.

I'm also pleased that the subcommittee mark contains $6.4 million for research in ocean acidification. The measurable increase in acidity in the world's oceans is already having an economic effect on the shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest, interfering with the formation of the shells of oysters, mussels, clams, and other organisms, such as phytoplankton.

I also appreciate that this bill provides significant increases for our Federal law enforcement agencies, especially an additional $23 million for the FBI to investigate cyberintrusions. The bill also includes an important increase in funding for youth mentoring programs, which provide crucial support to at-risk youth in underserved communities and also to military kids, many of whom are struggling to adapt to the multiple deployments of one or both parents.

I want to echo the words of Ranking Member Fattah about the Boys and Girls Club of America. I find that the Boys and Girls Club have been one of the outstanding organizations and have done so much to help youth with their after-school programs.

I thank the gentleman, again, for yielding to me.


Mr. DICKS. First of all, I take umbrage at the use of the word ``earmark'' by my colleague. This is no earmark. This is a national program. This affects California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho. These States, after a whole series of endangered species listings that go coast-wide, are trying to save these salmon runs.

As someone who comes from Washington State, I have been in the midst of an effort to try to recover our salmon runs. We have marked our fish. We have gone to selective harvests. We're protecting our wild runs. We're trying to do everything we can to recover these salmon runs.

Today, on the Columbia River in Washington State, we will be very fortunate to get 600,000 salmon back. At a time in the thirties we would have 20 million fish coming back every year: wild chinook salmon, coho salmon, and others.

So I think this is a very good program. We have worked hard to make sure the money is used for strong habitat restoration work and that we have worked to improve our hatcheries. We've done hatchery reform. We've done everything we can to restore the habitat for these fish.

Again, this is a national program that was created during the Clinton administration. It is strongly supported in the Pacific Northwest by both Democrats and Republicans. I see my good friend from Alaska, Mr. Young, has arrived on the floor; and I just want you to know that Alaska, where we still have many wild fish, also participates in this program from time to time.

So I urge that we vote ``no'' on this amendment. This is a national program. It has been in existence for 12 years. It is doing a good job; but we're fighting a very difficult problem, and we still need to keep working on this because of the endangered species listing, and we still have work to be done. And to cut this back, I think, is a mistake. I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the amendment.


Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Washington is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. DICKS. I yield to the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Fattah).

Mr. FATTAH. I thank the ranking member.

We rise in opposition because the offsets we think are ill-advised in terms of its cuts, particularly to the Civil Rights Enforcement Office, and a number of others. We request a ``no'' vote on the amendment.

Mr. DICKS. And it's $22 million. This is a big-time cut, and this would affect sensitive civil rights cases. So I urge a ``no'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Runyan).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the ayes appeared to have it.

Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.


Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

Mr. DICKS. I have been here since the Magnuson-Stevens Act was enacted. Catch shares are done by local councils of fishermen. It doesn't come out of Washington, D.C. Every region of the country has a regional group, and they determine what these catch shares should be. This is not an implemented program from Washington, D.C.

I mean, the gentleman at least owes it, at 5 minutes to 11, to give an accurate description of this amendment and this program, which is a program that many people, especially on the West Coast, by the way, think is a good program that's helping us protect the fishery.

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. Reclaiming my time, in an attempt to answer your question, while you were here since Magnuson-Stevens, my family was continuing 200 years of living on the coast in the Gulf of Mexico. So though I respect your time here, we were there experiencing the crushing impacts of what catch shares do.

Mr. DICKS. Isn't the local group down there in your area making the decision?

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. Reclaiming my time, I want to make it very clear that this amendment does not affect the West Coast.

Mr. DICKS. Oh, I know that. First the East Coast and then the West Coast.


Mr. DICKS. Will the gentlelady yield?

Ms. PINGREE of Maine. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

Mr. DICKS. I have a letter here from the Atlantic Trawlers Fishing, Inc, the Associated Fisheries of Maine, and a whole bunch of other groups, and they say:

Dear Member of Congress:

Please don't micromanage our fisheries from Washington, D.C.

We represent thousands of hardworking fishing men and women from all over the country who want local fishermen to write the rules governing their fisheries instead of having Congress dictate them through an appropriations rider.

Through the Nation's primary fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Congress has given regional fishery management councils made up of fishing industry representatives and others the power to write the rules governing fishing in their area.

But in a move that would tie the hands of local fishermen, Representative Steve Southerland recently sent a letter to the appropriators seeking a rider to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriation bill that would prohibit the ``future development and implementation of new `catch share' programs for any fishery under the jurisdiction of the Fishery Management Councils'' in certain regions.

Such a rider would prevent councils from eliminating command-and-control regulations that burden our small businesses, imperil our jobs, drive up our fuel costs, even put our lives at greater risk--

Shame on you. That was an edit, by the way.

--and often don't successfully conserve fish populations.

Although catch shares have proven successful in commercial fisheries around the world and in the United States (today, fully half the fish caught in U.S. Federal waters are under catch share management), they may not be right for every fishery. But that is a determination best made by the councils, which have local representation, not legislators in Washington, D.C. Congress micromanaging Federal fisheries through appropriations riders is big government at its worst.


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