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Providing for Consider of Southeast Arizona Land Exchange Act, Restoring Health Forests for Health Communities Act, Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the time.

Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor, and I am getting ready to speak on an issue that is very close on this rule. I support all of the rules combined here, and I support the underlying legislation, but I have to stop for just a moment and discuss some things that I've heard.

I agree with my gentlemen friends across the aisle in that it is about political choices, that it is about political decisions that we make on where we're going to spend money and how we're going to do that and what we believe in with regard to jobs and how jobs are being created. The Republican majority has been doing that. The Republican majority is focused on jobs. The Republican majority is focused on getting regulatory burdens off of businesses.

I just spent the last month and a half in my district, and the word that I could use to describe everything was ``uncertainty.'' There is uncertainty by the business owners--the ones who write on the front of the checks--when they're saying, I want to be able to employ other people and I want to be able to help others, but, right now, I do not know if I can because I don't know. With the expanding regulation and the upcoming health care law, I don't know if I can do that.

It is about political choices, and the Republican majority is making it in favor of the working class, in favor of the middle class and of those who are hurting in our country. We have the ear because we want to grow jobs, and we want to get out of the way so those jobs can be created.

Mr. Speaker, today, I rise in support of this rule for these reasons. Because you know something? I have noticed something as a freshman in here in Washington. There is one thing I've noticed that I don't see in Georgia. I see a lot of condos going up up here in D.C. I see a lot of new government buildings, and I see a lot of new government jobs. But do you know what I say? That's great for inside the beltway. I'm happy for those up here, but that doesn't translate in Georgia Nine. In Georgia Nine, we're still recovering, and we're still needing help, and we're still needing an economy that gets its budget balanced and that gets its tax priorities in order so that we can have job creation. That's where we need to have it all across the country, not here in the wonderful land of government.

In this Chamber, we often hear talk about more fully developing renewable resources. In fact, I hear it almost every night on this floor. I believe that timber is the original renewable resource and that we need to do a better job of managing it. While much of the conversations today are related to western forests, I want to speak a little bit about what the bill means for the eastern portion of the country, specifically north Georgia.

The Chattahoochee National Forest covers almost 500,000 acres of land in the Ninth District of Georgia, timber that was used for cabins long before the national forest system existed. Much of the privately owned forest nearby is actively managed and provides high-quality timber for many uses. In fact, forestry is a $25 billion industry in Georgia.

Unfortunately, like the Western States, bureaucracy and red tape have made it nearly impossible to harvest timber in the national forest. In a country that is blessed with abundant natural resources and healthy forests, we owe it to our ancestors and our descendants to be responsible stewards of this valuable commodity. While we have not had the catastrophic forest fires in Georgia that many of the Western States have suffered through, we have dealt with cycles of extreme drought, which put the forests in a dangerous position. Understanding that many wildfires are caused by poor management is a good first step, but we need to take a bigger step. By returning these forests to active management, we will not only grow our forests, but we can grow our economy as well.


Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. H.R. 1526 also includes a reform to the supporting rural schools program. This is a program that clearly needs to be reformed but in a thoughtful way that recognizes the unique position that our rural schools are in. We can't continue to send Federal dollars towards local schools through a system that can't pay for itself. This bill provides funding sources for local schools that have missed out on the revenue through federally owned forests. This bill gives schools that have grown dependent on these funds a chance to transition into a new system, one that is sustainable and one that promotes investment in our natural resources and our forest resources.

As I said earlier, this bill is good for the economy, and I will stop where I started: the Republican majority is about jobs. The Republican majority is about having an upward lift for all in our economy, not just for the ones we want to focus on through political choice.


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