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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FARR. Madam Chair, I rise in opposition to this amendment.

I rise in opposition because I know what it's like to live with and to travel with a disabled person--my brother-in-law, a very distinguished retired lawyer who actually was injured in a diving accident and is paralyzed from the waist down.

I never fully had an appreciation for ADA until I started living with him and realized, as he said, that the ADA was not a zoning ordinance about construction; the ADA is a civil right that this Congress enacted 22 years ago. It was remarkable legislation. And to govern that legislation, we have an access board who are not made up of, as someone said, bureaucrats, but they're made up of citizens who are appointed, I guess, all by the President.

And I watched, because my brother-in-law was appointed to that board under President Clinton. I've watched that board as they go through all kinds of issues dealing with people with disabilities very conscientiously, thorough hearings, lots of discussions about how to implement it, and I'm just shocked that Congress would think that we ought to take away an access.

I'm sure these same debates were given when people said, well, we shouldn't do curb cuts; they cost money, and there is nobody standing on that curb that needs it. Ladies and gentlemen, curb cuts make a big difference not just for people that are disabled, but just for elderly people who can't be that lift.

By the way, you and I are all, as my friends like to say, temporarily able-bodied persons, because you never know when you're going to be in the next accident.

So I think that the statements that were made are right on on this side. There is a lot of misinformation going on about these proposed regulations.

I represent the Tourism Caucus. I'm the chair of the bipartisan caucus on tourism. And, yes, a lot of my hoteliers have come in and said, You can't do this. But you know what? There's an exemption in there. For small hotels for whom the pool lift is too expensive to buy it, they're exempted. The regulation also allows hoteliers to do either a permanent or portable lift. There is a lot of discussion here that says, It's all portable. It's mandatory.

By the way, the disability community is a big traveling community. There is a lot of money in that community. And I will just give a kudo, because one of the hotels that is very conscientious about this and has a reputation for being extremely well-suited for disabilities is the Four Seasons Hotel. That is not a cheap hotel.

So there are conscientious hoteliers out there that want to reach this market. There are people that want to get access, and we should never, never take away something that is so essential to quality of life. Indeed, I think our role here is to protect the domestic tranquility of this country. And a lot of that domestic tranquility is people with disabilities, including many of our soldiers.

I want to make sure that we defeat this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I find this argument very interesting that people like to cast both blame and aspersions that we are sort of different from all our States, that the Federal Government is one thing and the States are different.

I have an amendment in a moment, and I hope all these people will support it, which would prohibit the Federal Government from enforcing laws on legal use of marijuana in those States for medical purposes. It's the exact same argument.

So if you're going to make this argument that, you know, we're only going to be selective, we're going to tell the Justice Department that in immigration laws we're going to prohibit you from enforcing Federal provisions, and turn around and yet allow you to enforce Federal provisions that give States that have legally enacted in their own rights, and law enforcement is supportive of them, to have medical marijuana, it seems very inconsistent.

It also seems very inconsistent to say, well, what about those States that have taken a different approach and allow undocumented folks to have a driver's license? Many States have allowed that. The Federal Government doesn't go in and say you can't do that.

What about those States that allow undocumented children graduating from high school with great grades and getting accepted to colleges to have access to scholarships, called the DREAM Act? States have DREAM Acts. The Federal Government does not.

It seems to me that this argument is just choose your blame and go after the Justice Department. I hope that the people who vote for this amendment, if that's what they want to do, will also vote for the amendment that restricts the Federal Government from enforcing State-enacted medical marijuana laws.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I rise as a Representative from a great fishing community, Monterey, California. Many of you may have heard about Monterey because it was the sardine port of the world, the largest sardine port in the world; and it certainly was written about in Steinbeck's famous ``Cannery Row.''

We don't catch sardines anymore. They're all gone. We fished them all out, destroyed an entire industry. No programs there to help people in the 1950s when that whole Cannery Row closed down.

It took about 50 years to rebuild it as a tourist industry, but the sensitivities of all the Italian and Portuguese fishermen that were in that community are still there today.

We have a catch share program on the west coast, and people endorse it wholeheartedly.

I've been listening to this debate. Unfortunately, the debate hasn't really gone to the amendment. Let me read what the amendment is:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to develop, approve or implement a new limited access privilege program.

It doesn't say anything about fishermen's votes or catch shares or anything like that. This is just taking a tool out of the toolbox and saying you can't even use it, that you cannot use it. There hasn't been a program developed, approved or implemented yet. So why are we trying to say you can't use any of these funds to go and do that? It's because the process is from the bottom up. That's the way it was worked out in all of these fisheries. So we're taking a meat ax to, really, a weak fish, a delicate fish. We're taking a meat ax to a delicate fish.

I think the process here of Congress is overreaching, and it is prohibiting a tool to be used to work out with local fishermen, which are all the things the gentlelady from Maine said. Fishermen want to be able to have certainty in that they can go out and fish within the quota. They don't want to have to go out, because the season is so short, when the storms are high--because that's the window--and risk their lives. They want to be able to have more. If all the fish are caught at the same time, the price for fish goes down. This way, you can spread it out. Then, as you've heard, revenue goes up for fishermen. They have a sustainability, and the fishery doesn't get pounded so hard. It can replenish itself.

There are all the good things in here that any farmer would tell you were absolutely logical in farming practices. So why wouldn't we want to apply that to farming the sea? You are using this amendment to say, before you even think about it, before you even discuss it, we're not going to allow you to even consider it. We're going to take the money away from the administration and prohibit it from doing it.

Don't leap before you look. It is not broken. It does not need to be fixed yet.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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