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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2006

Location: Washington, DC

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 -- (House of Representatives - March 17, 2005)


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise with great respect for the distinguished ranking member of the Committee on Appropriations and in agreement, frankly, with his final comments about this, his alternative to our budget, laying out a different approach, a different set of priorities for this Nation, and that is the beauty of this deliberative body. Frankly, it was the beauty of the fairness of the rule I believe that was crafted that allowed four separate approaches, four separate sets of priorities in budgeting to be debated and considered on this House floor.

But I must strongly oppose the Obey amendment. It authorizes higher, uncontrolled spending, while at the same time cutting national defense in a time when our soldiers and sailors and Marines and airmen and Guardsmen and Reservists are engaged all around the world, an unacceptable notion.

In addition to cutting our spending on national defense, it raises taxes by an estimated $18 billion for the next fiscal year. It does increase education spending by $8 billion. It increases veterans spending and health care spending as well, but I would add that in a time when we are engaged in an unprecedented war on terror and waging a separate effort against growing budget deficits, that the level of growth laid out by the House Committee on the Budget's spending plan meets our national priorities, continues our commitment to veterans and education.

The Department of Education under the House budgets for the last 10 years, the Department of Education's spending has gone up 146 percent over the last decade. It is hard to argue that is an inadequate rate of growth. Veterans spending continues to grow. Investments in IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act have gone up dramatically higher than in the previous 10 years under a different management of this House.

This budget resolution that comes out of the House committee sets these priorities moving our Nation forward and protecting our homeland, investing in homeland security, investing in national defense and in our personnel who are in harm's way, and it maintains those policies of pro-growth that allows our economy to expand, that allows small businesses, medium businesses, and even large businesses to operate in a climate where they want to grow and hire employees and continue to open up new markets around the world, giving Americans new opportunities to move products and giving Americans the opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Congress has addressed extraordinary spending demands in the last several years. They bring us face to face with the reality that it is an unsustainable rate of spending growth, one that must be slowed. Last year's projected deficit was $521 billion, but we ended the year with a deficit of $412 billion, reducing that deficit by 20 percent. Although that number is staggeringly high, admittedly, this House-passed budget, the committee-passed budget, puts us on track to cut that deficit in half in 5 years. In doing so it makes some tough decisions, which is what we are paid to do around here.

It requires us to prioritize and make tradeoffs while ensuring that those highest priorities are fully funded and met, and in the House budget we identify that highest priority as being national security and homeland security. This amendment, the amendment we are debating today, cuts defense spending and we find that to be unacceptable in today's climate.

The budget slows the growth of mandatory spending by 0.1 percent over 5 years, from its current rate of 6.4 percent to 6.3 percent. I think that is an important fact. While we spend an awful lot of time in this Chamber talking about cuts, what we are doing is slowing the rate of growth. If someone were to offer workers a 6.3 percent pay raise, it would be a pretty good deal. The fact that these programs continue to grow at 6.3 rather than 6.4 percent is not throwing starving children into the streets. It is not taking food out of seniors' mouths. It is not wrecking our ability to be a compassionate and decent society, it is simply recognizing the simple fact that we cannot maintain the dramatic rates of growth we have been engaged in for the past decade and solve the deficit problem.

This budget resolution continues to make homeland and national security major priorities. Since September 11, Congress has spent nearly $1.9 trillion to provide for defense and homeland security, not including supplementals. Like last year's budget, this plan takes into account funding for the ongoing war in Iraq. The resolution budgets $50 billion to provide for the ongoing war against terrorism. The national defense budget continues the multiyear plan to enable our Armed Services both to fight the war against terrorism now and to transform itself to counter unconventional threats in the future. It fully accommodates the President's request for defense.

Mr. Chairman, the last time we made any real effort to rein in spending, that piece of spending in our budget that makes up 55 percent of the budget, was in 1997. That 55 percent is what we call mandatory spending. I know that the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey) is very familiar with this. As an appropriator, he has seen his share of the budget in discretionary shrink over time, and it will continue to without us making important reforms on the mandatory side of the ledger.

This budget, again for the first time since 1997, instructs the authorizing committees, those committees with the greatest expertise in their areas of jurisdiction, through the reconciliation process to find $7.8 billion in savings for next year and $68.6 billion in savings over the next 5 years. What that means is we are putting the people who understand these policy areas best, we are putting them on the trail to find out the ways to help make those programs be the most effective and the most efficient. They know best the successes and failures in the myriad of government programs that are now on autopilot through the mandatory spending process.

It is estimated that if mandatory spending grows at its current pace, by 2015 it will consume 62 percent of the Federal government. I think it is an important piece of our budget that we begin the process of mandatory spending reform. That reform happens through the reconciliation process.

A number of the President's key initiatives supported in this budget include $40 billion for homeland security outside the Department of Defense; an additional $2.5 billion for Project BioShield to secure new vaccines against smallpox, anthrax and other deadly bioterrorist threats. These funds follow on the heels of massive increases over the past several years to make sure our Nation is prepared to deal with the terrorist threats we know are out there.

I support our budget. It is an important, thoughtful, prioritized budget that makes some tough decisions. I appreciate the gentleman's right to offer an alternative vision. That is what this is. This is a clash of visions, a clash of priorities that our Nation faces. Do we grow our way out of the deficit by fostering a climate that encourages people to find work and start businesses and grow existing businesses, or do we take the approach that we should tax our way out of the deficits? Do we fund our priorities? And what are our highest priorities? Our approach is our highest priority in a time of war is national defense, and our high priority in a time of increased threats from terrorism is homeland security.

We believe that it is important to follow the lead of other Presidents, other administrations, other Congresses that have found themselves budgeting in a time of war to make necessary trade-offs. The New Deal agencies when World War II came about did not continue to receive the same level of funding. In fact, it was President Roosevelt himself who curtailed and even eliminated a number of the agencies he created.

We recognize in our budget that we cannot continue to spend on the domestic side as aggressively as we had at a time of peace when we are at war, and to that end we call for a 0.8 percent reduction in nonsecurity domestic discretionary spending. While it is an important first step and it has not been done since the Reagan administration, it will hardly cause starvation and pandemonium in the streets at a 0.8 percent reduction. Nor will the directed reconciliation process to the authorizing committees do the same.

We make some tough choices. We admit that. We lay out our priorities, and we proudly defend them. And those priorities include investing in defense, caring for those most in need and creating an economic climate that allows people to succeed without raising the burden of taxation on them.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The gentleman is right. It is simple. His amendment is not a complete substitute for our budget. It is simply reducing the amount of growth in defense, as he clarified for us, and increasing taxes.

He points out the eight-tenths of 1 percent reduction in nonsecurity domestic discretionary spending. Does the gentleman believe that in amongst the stacks of GAO reports that come across his desk as the ranking member of the Committee on Appropriations, our desk in the Committee on the Budget, that there is not eight-tenths of 1 percent? Eight-tenths of 1 percent in one's personal budget they lose on diet Cokes on the way to work every morning. Eight-tenths of 1 percent cannot be found in negotiating a better deal on computer equipment, office supplies, travel, increased financial accounting?

Spending for education, one that he pointed out specifically, has gone up 146 percent over the last 10 years, and now we are talking about shaving eight-tenths of 1 percent off. Pell grants, the President calls for them to go up. Our budget would allow for that. Fees for veterans are not even budgeted for in this. While the gentleman rightly pointed out the President's budget, the President's budget is not up for debate today, and this budget that the House will vote on later does not call for fees on our veterans.

I urge a ``no'' vote on the Obey amendment and support for the underlying House budget.


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