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Public Statements

Protecting America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to reflect again on yesterday's tragic and obviously painful events. I think it's important for our colleagues, and certainly for those we represent across America, to recognize that our attention on those issues are equal to the pain and the devastation that they represent. It is important to again offer sympathy to those who lost their loved ones, to those who still are under the care of the medical team in Boston, to the city of Boston, the State of Massachusetts, the mayor and Governor, my colleagues from the State of Massachusetts, and certainly the people there. You have our prayers and, again, our commitment to never cease until the perpetrator or perpetrators are brought to justice.

In saying that, I believe it is important that we proceed in a discussion that will also move this country forward, and that is to finally get to a point of passing a budget that eliminates, takes away, never to be seen again, this horrific sequester that the American people do not deserve.

Let me congratulate the President on having a humane budget, a budget that considers the needs of Americans. It is outstanding that he has offered a universal pre-K, having seen the tears of grown men when the sequester came through and their child was eliminated from Head Start, grown men, parents crying at the Head Start center. And everywhere I go in my district, people who are in charge of Head Start literally in pain about those that they have to eliminate from those positions because those families don't have the resources for private child care.

So I congratulate the President on his astuteness in recognizing the importance of that and recognizing to not stray away from the necessities of job creation and putting in place major transportation jobs and infrastructure jobs: passenger rail, which I am so passionate about; surface transportation; and a most important one, rebuilding your neighborhoods and communities and cities where jobs are in short demand and where the infrastructure and the city is crumbling.

I want to congratulate the President for his saving of Medicaid and ensuring that seniors who are in nursing homes will be protected. But, more importantly, that those without health insurance will have the ability under the Affordable Care Act to ensure that they will have that.

But I serve as well on the Homeland Security Committee, and I think it is important to say and be honest that the sequester is devastating to America's homeland security. It is good to have a budget that respects those needs, but it is important to tell the truth. We are desperate when it comes to recognizing the needs of our Border Patrol agents and the numbers, even at 21,000, that we may need to increase, that there are Border Patrol agents being removed from the front lines in order to process those individuals who have come across the border. When they do that, they remove the coverage from the front lines on the border dealing with those who are in those detention centers.

We have to recognize that transportation security, as much as one might say how many officers they have, in the sequester, we will be standing in long lines, and it is about to come. That is the front lines of securing this Nation, along with the Coast Guard and many, many other facets of the Department of Homeland Security.

We are asked a question about the securing of the homeland. We are feeling the pain along with our colleagues of the tragedies that have occurred, the attempted Times Square bombing, the successful bombing in Boston. We cannot take this anymore, and I believe it is time, with the President's budget, the Senate's budget, the House budget, that the Speaker of the House needs to immediately appoint budget conferees to move us forward to conference and to get rid of the sequester, which is not the fault of the American people.

Our deficit is going down. We need to determine what revenue we can increase in order to pay our bills and provide for the basic necessities of this Nation. Not only is the tragedy in Boston one of human life, but it is a disaster that requires Federal Emergency Management aid, just as our continued friends in the Southeast and Northeast are still suffering from Hurricane Sandy and the atrocity of this House not providing them with resources for 65 days.

So I believe it is time for the American people to know that we do care. In order to care, you need to have budget conferees go through the budget process and begin to pass elements of the President's budget that speaks to the heart and mind of the needs of the American people.

I conclude by offering my deepest sympathy and my promise to those who suffer that America and its Congress must stand up to respond to your needs. I'm ready to do so, as my colleagues are, and we should do it now.

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