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Veterans Benefits Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the Continuing Resolutions to re-open our National Parks. Today, 368 national park sites were closed and we now see that the majority has noticed.

Mr. Speaker, Texas is graced with 20 Federal Parks that include Big Bend National Park, Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Amistad National Recreation Area, Big Thicket National Preserve; Chamizal National Memorial; Fort Davis National Historic Site; Guadalupe Mountains National Park; Lake Meredith National Recreation Area; Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park; Padre Island National Seashore; Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site; Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River; and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park are all closed during the shutdown.

Texas also has national Forests and grasslands: Angelina National Forest; Davy Crockett National Forest; Sabine National Forest; Sam Houston National Forest; Caddo and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) National Grasslands; Black Kettle and McClellan Creek Grasslands; Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands.

All of them are closed today because of the reckless behavior of the majority in the House of Representatives.

Perhaps this is the day that members of the majority of the House of Representatives received their first education directly from constituents about our nation's national parks and how much our parks are love and appreciated.

Federal parks also contribute to the local economies where they are found and create tens of thousands of tourist related jobs. Because they are closed today those jobs are at risk as well as the incomes of the Park Rangers who are stewards of our nation's most precious treasures.

The House should take up the clean Senate Continuing Resolution to fund the entire government.

If we only fund what the House majority wants then they will have no need to worry about funding the parts of the government that they do not like, which includes the Departments of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, the Internal Review Service, the Department of Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency just to name a few.

Mr. Speaker, negotiations are a part of life. We negotiate agreements everyday--with our spouses, children, and friends. We negotiate for commercial exchanges, and for most people they negotiate over matters related to work.

From what we have learned from the majority is if they get what they want then they will leave everyone else behind. They do not see the nation at large, but as a small place with small minded people.

They are wrong. The United States is a very large place with great minded people with big hearts, who do not believe in leaving others behind.

We have seen the majority's attacks against the poor in the form of legislation that would undermine programs to feed the poor--the most recent was a bill to cut $40 billion from the nation's food safety net programs under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs.

SNAP benefits the working poor which include those who earn 130% of the federal but the majority of households have income well below the maximum: 83% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 100% of the poverty guideline this translates into incomes of $19,530 for a family of 3 in 2013. These households receive about 91% of all benefits.

These are the people who we know the majority will leave behind if we allow a piece meal approach to managing the CR process.

The clean CR passed by the Senate ensures that all the employees of the federal government are paid and that important things like our parks are open and our children are feed.

Mr. Speaker, instead of exempting certain groups and persons from the harm caused by a government shutdown, we should instead be focused on reopening the government as soon as possible.

Texas will soon begin experiencing the impact of cutbacks in the $64.7 billion in federal spending that it receives annually, including the loss of:

$518 million in federal highway funds;

$411 million for interstate highway maintenance;

$130 million in home energy assistance for the poor;

$71 million, in Homeland Security grants;

$55 million in coordinated border infrastructtire and $97 million in federal doption assistance;

For these reasons, we cannot wait for the majority to discover all of the reasons why we have a federal government or the importance and purpose of each agency.

We have to pass a clean CR as soon as possible.


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