Chairman Rogers Floor Statement in Opposition to the Mulvaney Amendment to H.R. 152

Jan 15, 2013

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman’s amendment.

While here on the floor we often debate and discuss ways to cut spending – including the dozens of amendments the gentleman from South Carolina has previously offered – it is important to keep in mind one thing: At times, the spending of federal dollars is indeed necessary.

Our people in the Northeast are facing a struggle of historic proportions. Many have seen their homes, livelihoods, and communities decimated. It is the federal responsibility – and in fact our responsibility as human beings – to help those victims of this unexpected disaster.

In doing so, we must expend some federal dollars. Now, I do not take this spending lightly. Our country faces a deficit crisis of huge proportions, with an economy that is fighting to recover, and any expenditure must be weighed against all other needs facing our nation.

In this case, however, the needs are clear. We must provide this emergency funding, as we are allowed by law, without the devastating slash-and-burn cuts elsewhere that this amendment would cause.

The amendment before us would slash nearly $20 billion from discretionary spending this year alone. This cut is totally indiscriminate and unspecific – cutting the good with the bad, and completely abdicating the responsibility of Congress to determine where spending should or should not occur.

To put this in perspective, this amendment contains a cut to regular discretionary spending that is about the size of the ENTIRE Agriculture discretionary budget for the year. It is approximately the equivalent of eliminating ALL discretionary funding for the Department of Transportation, or the FULL annual budgets of the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Patrol combined.

As written, this amendment is an across-the-board cut that holds no program safe from harm. Defense spending – which is already facing potentially devastating sequestration cuts – is cut by over $10 BILLION. It would cut war funding by $1.6 billion, directly affecting our troops who are putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan and other areas of conflict.

This amendment also cuts funding for our Veterans by $200 million, potentially endangering the quality of their care and making the statement that Congress is willing to go back on commitments to our vets. And the list of other unwise cuts and side effects of this amendment could go on and on…

Finally, this amendment goes against the precedent of previous emergency supplementals, which did not contain these extreme offsets. Natural disasters hit unexpectedly, and sometimes require a response that we cannot foresee.  Although I believe that we can and should attempt to budget for disasters – as we did under the BCA – there are times when a disaster simply goes beyond our ability to offset immediately. Hurricane Sandy, with its enormous size and scope of damage, is one of these times.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment is damaging, unwise, and will make devastating cuts to critical programs and services including our national defense and veterans. I urge its defeat, and I yield back.