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The Federal Government, an Umbrella on a Rainy Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman who preceded me for that very powerful message; and it reminds us generally of, really, the elements of our presence here in this House. When we represent the people of this country, it is important that we are lawmakers and that we have the compassion that was evidenced by the movement that Dr. King led and by the movement that he was leading at the time of the tragedy of his death and that was, of course, the Poor People's March in 1968.

I rise today to discuss that capacity and to say that I know that our friends, Republicans and Democrats, can come together around important service elements that this Nation engages in. The Federal Government is an umbrella on a rainy day. It is the engine of the economy. It is the answer to issues such as transportation and housing. It really provides housing to working families. It boosts the middle class and poor families, and it gives jobs to builders and contractors. So that is why, I think, it was quite appropriate for this, unfortunately, poorly driven and constructed Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill to go to its timely death.

How can you with any compassion cut so much money that you cut even the amount of money under the present budget, and you cut 9 percent below the level now mandated by the across-the-board spending cuts by sequestration?

You went below that. This bill was $44.1 billion--shameful--cutting public housing, cutting housing vouchers, cutting opportunities for the homeless, and particularly for our young people. As the cochair of the Congressional Children's Caucus, every day, I note that children in America suffer for a variety of reasons. The Senate, of course, had a bill, which they are pushing through, that was at the $54 billion level--still very far short of the great needs of this community.

So I rise today to say that it landed with a thud, and I think, more importantly, my colleague from Texas--again, from Houston--spoke on the floor of the House about some untimely language on page 52--I remember it--that cut into the light rail system of Houston. It would impact my district. It would stop students at the University of Houston and at Texas Southern University from being able to have access to rail by cutting down on their travel costs because there was a provision in the bill that did not fund just a sector of that light rail.

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