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Public Statements

Issues Facing America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I listened to many of my good friends and to colleagues. We are, in fact, good friends and colleagues hoping to do what is right on behalf of the American people. I always appreciate and respect those individuals who have chosen to serve the Nation, so I take issue very briefly with my good friend and colleague about the criminal acts of one of the most honest and forthright Attorney Generals of the United States of America.

Attorney General Holder has not been charged with criminal activity, except for the aggressive and desperate actions of our Republican friends. He has been noted for his great leadership on civil rights and criminal justice issues. He's been a leader on the prohibiting and fighting against human trafficking. And certainly he has been one who has stood up for our children in this Nation, and also the many law enforcement officers who are on the front lines protecting us here in America. I hope that we can respect those who offer themselves to the service of this Nation for as long as Attorney General Eric Holder has done.

I have listened to friends as well speak about the devastation of the sequester. I again suggest to my colleagues that, through H.R. 900, a simple bill that eliminates the sequester and goes back to the budget reconciliation of 2011 and, as well, to force or to push this Republican majority to move to conference, would be the better approach.

I, too, have gone and delivered meals for Meals on Wheels, and I've seen the faces of seniors who will now face serious cuts in this effort. I see the loss of 750,000 jobs. I see the impact on the economy, where the unemployment has stayed somewhat static. But when you go into the business community and the hesitation, even though Wall Street is thriving, it all points to the fact of the sequester. It has become a dirty word. It has become one that has victimized the American pubic: it has victimized young families; it has victimized college students; it has victimized seniors; it has victimized those who are ill. And yet we continue to, piece by piece, fix the FAA problem but do not address the 70,000 children that are suffering and losing seats in Head Starts.

I remember, as the Head Start seats were being lost, fathers crying when they were told by their Head Start facility that their child would no longer have a seat. It seems sad that we would cut Head Start or disaster aid by $1 billion because we have Head Start, or the Department of Transportation, $1.9 billion, when many of us know that those are the basic reasons for job creation is building America's infrastructure.

As we plod along with sequester and we see good public workers not being able to work--and might I just say, let me thank our own staff, which gets condemned all the time. You work for a U.S. Member of Congress, and every day our staff fights to help some constituent keep their house from being foreclosed on or keep a Medicare recipient continuing to get their benefits or veterans, and yet we are furloughing them. We are cutting people that are mere workers, that are working for us. They can't make ends meet. They're getting second jobs. It's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace. I am not going to condemn our staff--committee staff, government staff. They are working for the American people.

Then I want to offer a disagreement, Mr. Speaker. I know the Senate is going to vote on a student loan program. They say it's a compromise. Well, I've got to tell my students, because I've held campus meetings, we've met, I've got to tell them and I've got to tell the parents, yes, they're going to get a low interest rate today, but watch out for tomorrow because it's a trigger. Before you know it, they may be paying 10 percent.

They say it's a cap, but I don't know what the cap is going to be as it relates to whether a student can pay 6 percent or 7 percent, when they can stay at 3.4 percent. As someone said, why should the Federal Government be making money on the backs of students? I'm concerned about that.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, let me say there has been a lot of discussion this week about issues of race, issues of the tragedy of Trayvon Martin. I intend to introduce the Justice Exists for All Act, a review, as Senator McCain has suggested, of the Stand Your Ground legislation across America. It will increase public safety. It will reduce the incidence of gun violence, among other things, by providing incentives for any State with the Stand Your Ground law to amend it to require a duty to retreat. For States that do not require a duty to retreat, we will question their Federal funding and assess their Justice Department funding and reduce it by 20 percent.

We will also decrease the incidence of gun violence resulting from vigilantes by reducing by 20 percent the funds that would otherwise be allocated for that fiscal year to any State that does not require local neighborhood watch programs be registered with a local enforcement agency, and require the Attorney General, Mr. Speaker, to study Stand Your Ground laws.

Let's speak to the pain of the American people. Let's look at ways of fixing the law.

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