Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Steve Scalise
Date: June 8, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCALISE. The amendment that I bring forward zeroes out the Open World Leadership Center. This is a subset of the Library of Congress. This is an agency that's received millions of dollars over the years--in fact, $123 million over the past 10 years--to bring foreign government leaders from countries like Russia and others to the United States, something that might be a good idea but, frankly, when you consider the fact that we're running massive deficits, have a mountain of debt that keeps building up, we have to cut back programs that we just can't afford to do. And clearly, this is one of those programs.

I do applaud the chairman and the committee for reducing this account. Although it's been reduced, there's still a million dollars remaining in the account. Ultimately, what we do is completely eliminate that funding. The reason that we're doing this, if you go back--and we've looked at the Congressional Record over the years, going back to 2009--Congress has been very clear to this agency, the Open World Leadership Center, that it's time for them to stop receiving government money.

Just look at the comments from April 21 of 2010. At the time, Chairman Wasserman Schultz said:

Our subcommittee's stated goal has been that we would begin to wean you off your reliance on Legislative Branch funding, so it is somewhat difficult for me to understand why you have asked for $2 million more in funding.

This is an agency, Mr. Chairman, that has shown an unwillingness to work with Congress who for years now has said it's time for you to stop getting government money. This isn't some new development. This is something that Republicans and Democrats have agreed on for years, and it's finally time for that government funding to end. And if they want to continue doing the work they do, they can still go seek private funding, which, by the way, Congress encouraged them to do years ago, but they refused to do that because they still had the ability to get government money. As long as we leave a million in this account, we continue to allow this agency, the Open World Leadership Center, to function when we've now, as a policy decision, finally said it's time for them to go.

So with that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, I'm prepared to close, and I would first like to address some of the issues that were brought up during this discussion.

As it relates to the idea of having exchanges with people from foreign countries, that's why we have a State Department. And, in fact, the State Department has programs that do just that.

The Open World Leadership Center is a program run by the Library of Congress. If this program were so important to national security and relations with foreign countries, then the State Department would pick it up, but they haven't chosen to do that because they already do programs that are similar. But they probably do it a lot more effectively, and it's a lot more coordinated with the State Department because it's run out of the State Department.

So now you have a separate, duplicative program that Congress, both Republican and Democrat Members, for 3 years now has been saying, It's time for you to go.

And I go back again to the June 2009 committee hearing. The committee recommendation begins a phaseout of Legislative Branch financial support for the Open World program. That was the committee recommendation in 2009. Republicans weren't running the House back then. That was under Democratic leadership.

And of course in 2010, the chairman at the time, Ms. Wasserman Schultz from the opposing party said:

Our subcommittee's stated goal has been that we would begin to wean you off your reliance on Legislative Branch funding.

Yet that same year, they asked for $2 million more.

This is an agency that just doesn't get it, and this represents what's wrong with Washington when we're going broke. We are going broke right now. Every single day, every dollar spent here in Washington, 42 cents of that dollar is borrowed money, borrowed from countries like China, sending the bill to our kids and our grandkids. And here we've got a program that even Congress, Republican and Democrats, said it's time for the program to end, and yet they still have a million dollars sitting in their budget.

So what you would have is seven employees. They have a staff of seven people. So you've taken $10 million away, and I applaud, again, the chairman for doing that. So you've said there will be no more program. There will be no more exchange. That's been a decision already made by the committee, the subcommittee. But you're leaving seven people to be paid to do absolutely nothing with money we don't have.

Now, how many small businesses across the country that have been facing these tough economic times are given a million-dollar check by the Federal Government to close down? Unfortunately, so many businesses have closed down because times are tough, but they don't get a million dollars from the Federal Government to do it, especially with money borrowed from China.

And now I would go to address the CBO issue. We actually asked CBO about this amendment. We asked them on Monday. Here's a letter from CBO. On Monday they said:

At this point, we estimate that your amendment would have no score.

So there is no cost to doing this, but it is a million dollars less that we'll be borrowing from China. And at some point they say a million dollars here, a million dollars there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

We need to start making these tough decisions, and, frankly, this one isn't that tough. We ought to eliminate this program.

And I yield back the balance of my time.


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