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Public Statements

Unfinished Business

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remind my colleagues in the House of two very important words for the American people: unfinished business. The American people, by their voices that we hear as we go back to our district, challenge us in unfinished business.

Two days ago, I stood with mothers that demand action in my district, to stand with their children, their babies in strollers--these mothers who love America, who are patriots--to stand alongside of the mourning families of Sandy Hook and to read the names of the 26 who died more than 6 months ago, to ask for the passage of universal background checks; and to ask the question why the Armed Citizens Project needed to arm citizens in Houston. We know that the area that they are arming is an area where they felt intimidated--not by their government to take over, but because of crime.

I look forward to meeting with those citizens to be able to address the issue of crime in their neighborhood. But we stood against the kind of arming citizens as a response to gun violence. I have no qualms of standing against that and working with my neighbors to ensure the safety of their neighborhoods, but to move forward on sensible gun legislation to prevent gun violence--unfinished business.

And then the question of the National Security Agency and the phone calls and numbers of our American citizens.

We in Congress must be challenged to rein that in and balance it with the need for national security, which I promote and support as a member of the Homeland Security Committee.

I will be introducing legislation to assess the use of outside contractors--70 percent of Federal dollars going to that in the intelligence community--and reduce those numbers by 2014; establish more openness on the FISA court, but making sure that we don't interfere with operations and operatives that are making our country secure. And to be able to say to Mr. Snowden, I won't call you a name, but I know what you did in certain instances is wrong, and you must stand up under the laws of this Nation.

Then to be able to say that, today, as we go forward on the farm bill, to be able to ask the question: Why are we taking $20 billion away from the supplemental nutrition program, from seniors, from young children, from babies, when this is a lifeline for those in the United States military who are on food stamps?

I also want to say to my community that we need to get ready to enroll in health care, which is going to be a major step in making America healthy.

To the small business community, this is going to help you provide your employees--your one employee, your two employees--health care. That is unfinished business.

Then I want to thank the U.S. Postal Service--the letter carriers, the people who put our mail through--who help small businesses. We've got to fix this problem with the U.S. Postal Service, make sure that they're stable, financially able. The rural post offices, let's not close any more. This is the infrastructure of America. It's a job creator.

And then to our students, many of them who have graduated, we have got to fix the problem of the increasing, or the major increase, in student loan interest rates that are going to burden our parents and students, 6.8 percent by July 1. Congress can do better. We need to be able to join in the legislation that I've signed on to, to be able to keep that interest rate at 3.4 percent. Unfinished business, Mr. Speaker.

The American people want jobs. They don't want sequestration. They want the right kind of comprehensive immigration reform that has reasoned border security but not to criminalize those students who wanted to do nothing else but to go into the United States military, called ``DREAM children,'' who wanted to be able to serve the Nation, who wanted to work and give back to this country. Let us not go down that pathway. Let's have the kind of value-based comprehensive immigration reform and border security legislation that was passed out of the Homeland Security Committee, of which I was proud to be an original cosponsor, coming out of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. Unfinished business.

Guns. Preventing gun violence.

Reining in the issue of intelligence, balancing it with civil liberties, putting back in the supplemental nutrition some $20 billion, making sure that Americans are enrolled in health care under the Affordable Care Act, supporting the Postal Service. And, Mr. Speaker, finally, supporting our students. Unfinished business. It's time to get to work creating jobs in America.

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