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Public Statements

Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARRETT. Mr. Speaker, a number of questions come to my mind after just hearing the sponsor of the motion. They don't necessarily go in this order.

One is: Why does she want to hide from the American public the actual facts of what they are doing to the American public, as far as spending the taxpayers' money?

The second question that comes to mind is: Why, when the opportunity was given to the other side of the aisle to work with us, to amend the bill or change the bill on those areas that they disagree with on its merits, why did they instead come with this proposal, this motion on the floor totally extraneous to the underlying message and purpose of the bill?

Mr. Speaker, many times we come to the floor and people say that the bill before us is a commonsense piece of legislation. Well, I am going to say it again because this is a commonsense piece of legislation. The underlying bill, maybe we should have had a different name to it. Maybe if we simply called the bill what it is, the ``Knowing What You Are Spending Bill,'' then the other side of the aisle would have agreed with us, wrapped their arms around the bill and us and said let's move forward, because who can disagree with actually know what you are spending?

That is all this bill does. It doesn't eliminate any programs; it doesn't cut any programs; and it doesn't diminish any programs. All it does is allow Congress and the American public to understand what we are spending and what the costs are to the various programs that both sides of the aisle support.

The proponent just now of the motion didn't get into the weeds at all. But let me just, for those just coming to the floor, remind them of what the major provisions of the underlying bill do. There are a number of them. I will give you three highlights.

First and foremost, it brings Federal budgeting in line with what the private sector has already been doing for a long time. It requires the executive branch and Congress to use something called fair value accounting when estimating the cost of Federal credit programs. What does that mean? Again, it just means that, when we spend American taxpayers' dollars, we have to let the taxpayers know how much it is actually costing.

This is not just my idea. This is what the private sector has been doing. This is even what the nonpartisan CBO, Congressional Budget Office, says we should be doing as well.

The second point is it brings Fannie and Freddie on budget. Why do we do that? To recognize the enormous and potential budgetary impact that these housing-related enterprises can and have had on our government. I don't think I have to remind either side of the aisle that they have cost upwards to $187 billion in taxpayer dollars to get it done, and we want to make sure it is on the budget so we can see it clearly.

Thirdly and lastly, this bill would require agencies to make public the budgetary justification for the materials prepared in support of their programs. What is that saying? It just means that, if you have an agency out there that wants to spend your tax dollars, they have to have the justification for it.

I think those are three honest and fair proposals that the American public has a right to know. We can continue to help the poor; we can continue to have ag programs; we can continue to have energy programs; and we can continue to have programs that facilitate housing in this country. But as we do on those programs that we both agree on, let's make sure that we are being honest with the American public and telling them and knowing what it actually costs.

For that reason, I recommend a ``no'' on this motion to recommit that would
eliminate that possibility for transparency, accountability, and openness, and a ``yes'' on the final passage of the legislation.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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