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Making Life Work for American Families

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. I'm glad you mentioned that because I too believe that we need to be about the business of the American people and helping them make life work, which means helping them in their day-to-day activities, not making it harder for folks to survive.

I'm from southwest Washington; and in our neck of the woods, we have a lot of working-class families who, like CORY mentioned, are struggling to make ends meet. We all know people who have been or are unemployed, where both parents, one or both parents are out of work, or one or both parents are trying to work.

People are working two jobs; and still they're working longer and harder, but not getting paid more for it. So folks are draining their 401(k)s to make their mortgage payments. This is the climate in which we find ourselves, and that's why it is so, so, so important, like the gentleman from Colorado said, that we employ an all-American energy strategy.

And the irony is we can do it here and now. There's no reason to wait, which is why I also have joined the gentleman. We are on the House Energy Action Team, or the HEAT Team, which is a group of like-minded Members who believe we need that all-American energy approach, and we need it now.

You spoke to some natural gas issues. I'll tell you, in my neck of the woods, in the great Northwest, we get a majority of our energy from clean, renewable hydropower. And the best thing about this clean, renewable hydropower is it's inexpensive compared with most other forms of energy, especially renewable energy. So not only is it carbonless and it's clean, but it's inexpensive, and it is constantly renewed in our backyard.

I wanted to point some of these things out because I don't believe hydropower always gets its due, especially among the renewables, but just as a base load energy source in the Nation.

Hydropower is America's largest source of renewable energy. It's American energy. It's produced in America. The jobs that go into producing it are American jobs, and it's utilized here in America. It makes up 65.9 percent of all renewable energy in the United States, and it provides more than 30 million homes in the U.S. with inexpensive power.

Hydro is clean. It avoids nearly 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year. This is a tremendous opportunity for us.

It's not only important for families. It does keep our energy bills low and affordable. But it's important for manufacturing. We have, in southwest Washington, in my area, in Camas, and in Vancouver, a growing tech sector. We've traditionally been known for our forests and our beautiful Doug fir stands, but we are also now becoming known for our silicon forest. We're manufacturing chips.

One of the reasons some of the large chip manufacturers have come to southwest Washington, as opposed to India or China, is because of the inexpensive energy, because of the hydropower. We need to not only protect it, but promote it as part of the all-of-the-above energy approach which, again, is all-American energy.

Another area when we're talking about--I mentioned clean types of renewables, biomass. Woody biomass is a by-product of the timber that we have in the Great Northwest. It's another area where we can produce carbonless or low-form energy. And it's in our backyard. We have an abundant source. It's an American energy source.

Another by-product of timber manufacturing is black liquor. And it's not liquor that you drink; it's liquor that can go into helping produce energy.

These are the types of ideas and solutions that are going to make energy affordable for the average American family. These are the types of solutions that cause us, rather than to put onerous rules and regulations on--oh, I could name a few that cause our energy to spike up and cause Americans to pay more--these are the types of solutions that actually meet the environmental standards, but also reduce the cost of the average power bill.

I don't know about you--you could probably speak to this, MARTHA--but, man, our energy bills have gone through the roof, and there's no reason when we've got American energy right here in our backyard.


Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. Absolutely. Here's the thing that's frustrating to me and frustrating to every American. They look at Congress and they think okay, we're sending, as we all were reminded recently, hundreds of thousands of dollars from each community, millions of dollars from each community, here to Washington, D.C., and they expect us to do something effective with that money or--here's a novel concept--send it back.

The gentlelady from Alabama mentioned the fact that for the first time this House Republican Congress voted on a budget that balances within a decade. It shouldn't be novel, but it is. Every family that's watching us right now is saying, You guys are patting yourselves on the back for that? We do that ever year. Every State legislature does it every year. But it was novel to do it here.

And here's the interesting thing. When members of our caucus got to sit down with the President a month or so ago and ask him about his budget that he released to the American people, his budget doesn't balance. Ever. And we know why this is important. It's because balancing the budget will help us grow jobs. Balancing the budget will help American families grow and thrive and prosper. It's going to help businesses in southwest Washington and throughout this country grow and hire more people.

We know that a bloated government that then keeps coming back to everybody's back pocket and says, I want a little bit more of this, you're my piggy bank--we know that that kills jobs, which is why it's pretty simple. We need to do what every family is doing, every kitchen table conversation: balance our budgets so more jobs can grow and America can thrive.


Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. Unfair. As Republicans, we do often look at posterity. We're talking about the next generation. And we should. But I will argue that it's actually unfair to today's generation, to the 67-year-old who just retired with the private-sector job and has a 401(k). The inflation that's coming from this debt is going to hit him and his wife, who were savers. It's unfair to the teacher in a public school classroom when the Federal Government makes promises it cannot keep. It overspends, overspends, and then it's going to cut her hours, add to her class sizes.

All we have to do is look at Greece or Cyprus. It can happen--and it will happen--if we don't get this under control now.


Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. And not making them feel like crooks and suckers, right? I mean, that's part of what we're here to talk about tonight. I think the gentlelady may have some comments on that.


Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. I think this is one of the challenges we're facing is all Americans are looking at Congress saying why is it that we're sending all this money to Washington, D.C. Why are we having to live within our means and the Federal Government doesn't. In fact, what they see is the Federal Government cutting direct services, whether it's to military families, whether it's services in airports, whether it's security at parks. They're not cutting fat.

See, this is what's frustrating to me; the IRS operates a 24/7 satellite TV studio in their building. Across the street from the IRS, the EPA operates its own 24/7 satellite studio to the tune of $4 million a year. Rather than maybe combine those two or share that one studio and save the taxpayer dollars, it seems like the administration is cutting those services that Americans expect and have already paid for. It's really time that the Federal Government learn to live within its means because it's going to help us grow jobs.


Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. We're starting to hear from some of the folks we serve in our districts and in our States that folks with serious preexisting conditions are being turned away from a high-risk pool that was promised.


Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. It was the promise. I mean, that was part of the big promotion of the health care bill that the President passed: that, if we do this, no one will ever be turned away with a preexisting condition. Yet today, right now, people with serious preexisting conditions are being told, basically, by the Obama administration, sorry, we didn't plan for you.


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