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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HARRIS. No, I will not yield.

The unemployment rate in the First Congressional District of Maryland--lower shore of Maryland--is higher than the national average, and we don't have union workers. So if some bureaucrat in Washington, because of a Presidential Executive order, says we have to have a project labor agreement on a project under this bill, under this appropriation, unemployed workers in my district aren't going to work on that project, and the hardworking taxpayers in my district, as the gentleman from Michigan has said, will be paying 12 percent to 18 percent more of their hard-earned tax dollars to pay for a project labor agreement in a district that they don't want that some bureaucrat in Washington decided they needed.

Mr. Chairman, we can't afford that. This country can't afford it. We have a $1.3 trillion deficit. We have a debt that approaches $50,000 per person in this United States. And we're debating tonight about whether just to be neutral about language regarding project labor agreements.

The gentleman from Arizona is absolutely right. This is plain English reading. It just says that the bureaucrat, for curing that contract, can't require a project labor agreement. If someone wants to know bid on it, they can bid union labor. They can bid all the union labor they want. It just says you can't require it as a condition of the contract.

Mr. Chairman, we got sent here to do the right thing for our hardworking taxpayers back at home, those who want to have a job, who want to be involved in some of these Federal contracts. Without this provision, if this amendment passes, and this provision is struck from the underlying appropriations bill, people in the First Congressional District, those unemployed workers are not going to have the opportunity to work on those projects for the simple reason that they don't belong to a labor union.

That's what will disqualify them. Not that they're unemployed, not that they don't want to work, not that they don't know all the safety rules, not that they can't do the job, not that they don't have a plumbing license or an electrician's license, because they all have to have that license to hold a job. And the proponents of this amendment know that full well.

It's only because they don't belong to a labor union. That's what this fight is all about.

Mr. Chairman, I hesitate to rise to oppose the amendment of the gentleman from New York, but in the First Congressional District of Maryland this hurts our unemployment situation. This hurts our hardworking taxpayers. I rise to oppose the amendment because in districts around America, just like the First Congressional District of Maryland, this amendment doesn't do justice to those unemployed workers.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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