Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Marsha Blackburn
Date: June 5, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Chairman, since 2009, the Department of Energy has used title 17, and specifically 1705--section 1705--to create a government-run venture capital firm using taxpayers' hard-earned funds. Unfortunately, in this zero-sum game being played and led by this administration, American taxpayers have continually ended up on the short end of the stick as we have watched companies like Solyndra, Beacon Power, and others lose hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Through section 1705, DOE has closed transactions that guarantee approximately $16.15 billion of loans for renewable-energy projects through a policy of acceleration implemented by Secretary Chu.

With 82 percent of all funding within section 1705 going to solar projects, it appears that even in the field of renewable energy this administration has a very aggressive policy of picking winners and losers.

Throughout the program, there have been countless red flags raised by career DOE staff about the financial viability of firms looking for taxpayer funding, as was the case with Solyndra. Many of us have been around solar power for years. We have watched it go through many stages of development; And while many of these companies have great ideas, they are just not ready for prime time.

The high level of frustration with the loan guarantee program is not only being felt by taxpayers, but by companies who have also tried to go through the loan guarantee process. This amendment should send a clear signal to the Senate, to DOE, and to the administration that we have truly grown ill and fatigued with the mismanagement of the loan guarantee program and that we do not want any funding put into section 1705 in fiscal year 2013 through the appropriations or through any other vehicle.

I ask my colleagues for their support as we close the door on the Solyndra debacle.


Mrs. BLACKBURN. I want to thank the committee for its hard work in identifying ways to cut spending in this appropriations. The fiscal year 2013 proposed funding level is $32.1 billion. Now, that is $965 million below the President's budget request. But, Mr. Chairman, there is a lot more that can be done; and thereby I again am making the request that we make an additional 1 percent across-the-board spending reduction which will save taxpayers an additional $321 million.

Now, I am fully aware that as I come with these amendments for each of our appropriations bills, I hear about how these cuts are too deep, they are going to have too far of a reach, they are damaging our national security, they are going to cut things that are important to our life and our property. And imagine that--we are asking the bureaucracy to go in and shave one penny out of a dollar--one additional penny out of a dollar--in order to help put our Nation back on a track to fiscal sanity.

As I've said before, across-the-board spending cuts effectively control the growth and the cost of the Federal Government. They not only give agencies flexibility to determine which expenses are necessary; but, more importantly, they do not pick winners and losers. Not only do I support the use of across-the-board spending cuts, but so does former Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Chris Christie, Governor Rick Perry, Governor Mitch Daniels, Governor Brian Schweitzer, and Governor Christine Gregoire, just to name a few of the Nation's chief executives of their States.

In the chairman's own State of New Jersey, I would like to point out Governor Christie's statement. Now, this was November 7, 2010 on ``Meet the Press.'' Governor Christie said:

In New Jersey what we did was we cut spending in every department, a 9 percent cut in real spending, not projected spending, real spending year over year.

That is because these work. And Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels took the State's 2-year budget. He enacted that budget in June, and he cut most agency spending by 10 percent from the previous budget.

And we hear about Indiana being on the road to fiscal health.

Then former Governor Mitt Romney has said, as President, Mitt Romney will send Congress a bill on day one that cuts nonsecurity discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board.

Governor Rick Perry, starting in January 2010, we asked them to identify 5 percent savings in the 2010 11 biennium, and 10 percent for the '12 and '13 biennium. The point, Mr. Chairman, it works. Across-the-board cuts work. We know that. The Governors know it.

The American people have really grown so tired of this wasteful Washington out-of-control spending. They want to see cuts made. Let's do this for our children and grandchildren. Let's cut one penny out of every dollar and have the bureaucracy do exactly what our small businesses are doing every single day--sitting down, making cuts, figuring out how they're going to handle very difficult economic times.

I ask for the support.


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