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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to voice my concerns with the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill.

I do not take issue with the bill's specific spending provisions, and I believe my home State of Georgia needs a strong bill that recognizes the importance of ongoing infrastructure and housing and development projects. As some of my colleagues have already noted, this bill includes many taxpayer protection provisions, specifically that extravagant conferences will be curtailed, an issue many of our constituents as well as Members of Congress were shocked to learn about. But my concern is with the overall spending level and the decision of the majority to write this and other appropriations bills to levels that exceed the Budget Control Act.

In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act which placed caps on what the Federal Government could spend. I voted against that bill in August of 2011. Over the years I have served in both the House and the Senate and there have been too many times when I have seen both bodies come together to bust spending caps. For us to have no checks and balances on the ability of either the House or the Senate to bust the spending caps that were set in 2011, I thought, was wrong because they were going to get busted. Well, guess what. Here we are, and this is not the first time since 2011 we have had a vote in the Senate that will ultimately bust those spending caps.

The THUD appropriations bill the Senate is now debating completely disregards the 2011 Budget Control Act. THUD is the first of 12 appropriations bills the Senate will consider on the Senate floor. So my question to my colleagues is, What kind of precedent are we setting for the remaining spending bills?

While all Americans deserve for Congress to pass appropriations bills, we simply cannot afford to pass bills that spend more than our government can fund. This Senate bill alone costs $5 billion more than is allowed under the Budget Control Act. How can we demand a cure to our fiscal woes if we cannot take our own medicine of fiscal restraint? We should focus our efforts on legislation that can pass both Chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the President, not create another political nightmare that negatively affects the country as well as our constituencies.

Right now, the Senate can correct this mistake and allocate spending in a manner that is consistent with the law we passed. Shortly, my colleague from Pennsylvania, Senator Pat Toomey, will come to the floor and offer a motion that would require the Appropriations Committee to change the spending levels of this bill to comply with the Budget Control Act or, in other words, to comply with current law. I urge my colleagues to follow Senator Toomey's lead and vote to recommit.

We should work toward a bill that adheres to the budget guidelines set by the Budget Control Act and provides the needed appropriations for the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the independent agencies. While I would like to see the Senate pass a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, the bill before us now does more harm than it does good.

Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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