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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. KAPTUR. I thank Ranking Member Fattah for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I reluctantly rise today to oppose the fiscal year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill, but I want to commend Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah for their truly diligent work on this bill.

The bipartisanship shown during the markup of the bill was remarkable in today's political climate and a tribute to both Members' willingness to compromise in order to move legislation forward, doing the work we were sent here to do.

I would also like to thank the Appropriations staff for their hard work on the first fiscal year 2013 bill the House will consider. From my perspective, the Appropriations staff is the hardest working committee staff in Congress and deserves recognition for all their efforts.

Mr. Chairman, the legislation we are considering today fails to make the necessary investments to promote economic growth in jobs across this country. It also fails to provide significant resources for law enforcement officials, particularly local law enforcement, as they face difficulties from austerity cutbacks by State and local governments.

The total funding for this bill is the result of the Republican leadership breaking the agreement made in the Budget Control Act. The agreed-upon funding levels were an attempt to get our fiscal house in order in a fair and balanced way. It is unfortunate that the Republicans are going back on their word and slashing funding for programs that create jobs and support law enforcement.

Importantly, funding cutbacks for the Economic Development Administration fail to meet President Obama's request for that important initiative to strengthen America's manufacturing base.

In addition, the underlying bill fails to provide State and local law enforcement with the Federal support they deserve. Cutting nearly $400 million from State and local programs at the Department of Justice is not only unacceptable but dangerous, in my view.

A particular concern for me is the lack of resources provided to meet the President's request for additional funding to combat financial and mortgage fraud. The President requested additional resources for the FBI, the Criminal Division, Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorneys. Less than half of the funding requested for the FBI is provided in this bill. No other funding is provided to investigate and prosecute financial and mortgage fraud.


Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the gentleman.

Let me just state for the record that the average return on investment for one corporate fraud agent was approximately $54 million over the last 3 years in fines and restitution that they get back for our taxpayers because of their work. What a tremendous return on investment that is for every taxpayer dollar, recovering those funds from combating financial and mortgage fraud makes total common sense.

Finally, I oppose the provision in the bill that repeals existing prohibitions on reductions in force at NASA. There was an agreement we reached as a Congress on how to do that. This bill does not conform to that restructuring proposal.

For these reasons, I oppose the bill in its current form and, again, commend Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah for bringing us to this point.


Ms. KAPTUR. I rise in strong support of the Michaud amendment to keep level funding for the Economic Development Administration, and I want to thank Congressman Michaud for offering this important amendment. He is a true leader in protecting American manufacturing jobs and businesses from unfair free trade agreements and works tirelessly to promote jobs and economic development here at home.

I want to say to our dear colleague from Kansas, when you look across America--and I realize this may be just your first term--but, you know, the whole State of Kansas is held up by the Federal Government, all those agricultural subsidies, CRP, rural development, wetlands reserve, etc. When one takes a look at the whole Farm Credit Administration, for heaven's sake, not every community in America has those sorts of props under them. And agriculture is a success story. Agriculture is doing very well. We, in Ohio, understand that. But there are parts of Ohio that aren't covered by programs like your State benefits from. And that's where you need Agencies like the Economic Development Administration, in those corners of America that actually manufacture but may not grow things.

Mr. POMPEO. Will the gentlewoman yield?

Ms. KAPTUR. I'll be more than pleased to yield to the gentleman when I finish.

Madam Chairman, the Republican majority claims their priority is to create jobs and promote economic development. However, here we are today with an appropriations bill that drastically cuts resources for the only government agency whose sole mission is economic development.

EDA's diverse portfolio of construction, technical assistance, finance and investment planning programs are designed to help communities build upon their regional assets to foster job creation and business expansion. Particularly at a time when banks are hoarding capital and not lending, EDA's capacity becomes even more important and vital.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America's infrastructure a D grade and estimated that over the next 5 years, $2.2 trillion is needed to upgrade our Nation's infrastructure--ports, for example, to ship some of that Kansas grain. That's why I'm a strong supporter of EDA, and particularly of its Public Works program, which funds a variety of infrastructure projects that can help America address our aging infrastructure.

I don't understand why Republicans don't want to help fund investments in America's infrastructure, the greatest job creator we can possibly have in this year of 2012.

EDA's work is generating real returns. So the argument of being concerned with the deficit falls short when you consider EDA. Every dollar in EDA funding is expected to leverage nearly $7 worth of private investment. We've seen it in State after State after State. In fiscal year 2010, EDA created or retained about 48,500 jobs and generated nearly $6 billion in private investment. What a good story that is.

Mr. Chairman, I support Mr. Michaud's amendment to restore EDA funding to FY12 levels, and I'd be very pleased to yield to the gentleman from Kansas for any comments he might have.

Mr. POMPEO. Thank you very much for yielding.

You said that, because I'm in my first term, maybe I didn't understand. Perhaps it's because you've been here a couple of years that you don't appreciate how jobs are really created in the real world, not here in Washington, D.C.

You talked about Kansas. You may have forgotten that the air capital of the world, where 60, 70 percent of all aircraft are manufactured--indeed, the business I was in for a decade--was good manufacturing jobs. What we didn't need was more taxes and more government spending. What we needed was the government out of the way.

Ms. KAPTUR. I'm really glad the gentleman stated that because, as a member of the Defense Subcommittee, I know exactly where the R&D comes from for fighter aircraft, for all of our support craft, for all of our Air Guard, and I know how the commercial sector benefits and why we lead the world in terms of airline exports and so forth. But that doesn't abrogate the argument, that doesn't nullify the argument I offered that the whole State of Kansas is doing very well and has a very close relationship to the Federal Government.

Agriculture achieves a special place in this economy, but that's not true in many other sectors, and particularly where we're talking about aging infrastructure, which belongs to all of us. EDA is really vitally important. It's an important ingredient in helping us to modernize coast-to-coast.

So I just want to say to the gentleman from Maine, thank you so very much for keeping the program level. We're not talking about egregious spending here. We're talking about trying to help to rebuild this country. And we know the most important investment we can make in order to create jobs in this country--after assuring unemployment benefits for those out of work, which gets spent immediately in the economy--is investment in infrastructure.

It's too bad that the Republicans can't seem to move a highway bill, a transportation bill out of this Congress. That would be the best thing we could do to create more jobs in this country in the year of 2012. But in any case, passing the gentleman's amendment to fully fund EDA makes common sense and it certainly makes job sense.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. KAPTUR. I would like to engage in a colloquy with Chairman Wolf.

There has been a dramatic increase in financial and mortgage fraud as a result of the recent economic crisis, and additional resources are needed to protect the American people and exact justice for them. The FBI is tasked with upholding and enforcing the criminal laws of the United States, but it has limited resources in the areas of financial and mortgage fraud.

In fiscal year 2011, the FBI had approximately 3,000 pending mortgage fraud investigations compared with roughly just 700 investigations in fiscal year 2005. Also, in fiscal 2011, the FBI had more than 2,500 corporate and security fraud investigations, representing a 50 percent increase since fiscal year 2008. Nearly 70 percent of the pending investigations involve losses exceeding $1 million. And according to the Department of Justice, the average return on investment for one corporate fraud agent was approximately $54 million over the past 3 years. That's an incredible return on investment.

While I support hiring even more agents than the President does, the committee was only able to provide $6.61 million, less than half the request. During the Appropriations Committee markup, the chairman indicated he would be open to finding the necessary funds the President requested to protect the American people from financial and mortgage fraud, but the subcommittee's 302(b) allocation prevented him from doing so. The Senate version of this bill does fully fund the President's request.

I ask the chairman to further elaborate on what was said in committee and inquire if the chairman is open to adding additional support should this bill go to conference.


Ms. KAPTUR. Reclaiming my time, I want to thank the chairman very much for trying so hard and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to look at the return on investment in one agent exacting justice for the American people with a return of $54 million over 3 years per agent. That's an amazing figure. We owe so much to them.

I thank the chairman very much for his openness, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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