Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I yield myself 2 1/2 minutes.
Mr. Chairman, I believe the level of spending in this bill is irresponsible in light of our deficits, but I also know my view is in the minority. This is about priorities and it is about morals.
This year, we are going to pass $1.8 trillion in new debt on to our children's generation. I would argue that passing this level of debt on to our next generation is immoral. So far, there has been not one iota of interest in setting priorities from the majority. Instead, they've chosen to fund everything generously and call that priority setting. That's their prerogative. They won the election, and they are entitled to run our Nation's credit card well past its limit to never-before-seen levels.
When it comes to spending in budgets, it is clear from debates that there is no interest in adopting Republican ideas by my friends on the other side of the aisle, so I went to a source you might not think a Republican would look at: President Obama's budget.
The President has requested nearly $6 billion for the Federal prison system. The Democratic Congress has increased that by $97.4 million.
We are trying to support the President and show a little bit of fiscal restraint by adopting the President's budgeted level. In percentage terms, this means we are growing at 6.8 percent instead of 8.6 percent. If it passes, the amendment's impact will not be huge, but it sends a message, however small, that this Congress is not completely tone deaf to the concerns about the deficit of runaway spending.
It is important to note this is not a vote on whether to cut the program. It is a vote on whether to provide the program the President's proposed increase or to provide it the Democratic leadership's proposed increase.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. MOLLOHAN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment.
Indeed, this would be a huge impact on the Bureau of Prisons. There is not an agency in this bill that is in greater need of additional salaries and expenses money. This amendment would eliminate $97.4 million, the increase for the Bureau of Prisons' salaries and expenses account that the committee provided above the budget request.
The amount of the increase was not pulled out of thin air. It was precisely calculated based on an in-depth analysis by the Appropriation Committee's surveys and investigations staff to be the minimum amount necessary to restore BOP's base budget, which has been progressively hollowed out in recent years by inadequate budget requests.
Without this $97.4 million, the Bureau of Prisons will be unable to hire additional correctional officers, which it desperately needs, and will likely be unable to activate two newly constructed prisons. The BOP simply cannot sustain another year without additional prison capacity and staffing. The Bureau of Prisons prisoner population is currently 37 percent above the rated capacity for BOP facilities, and the prisoner-to-staff ratio is an appalling [Page: H6927]
to 1. A ratio of 3.2 to 1 is the average for the States, which is far better than the average that the Bureau of Prisons used to approach.
Not only does inadequate investment in Federal prisons result in unsafe working conditions for prison staff, as we have seen from attacks and even fatalities in our prison system, it also makes it impossible to do the kind of reentry programming necessary to reduce recidivism. The result is more crime in our communities and a higher long-term cost to the taxpayer of future incarceration.
I am really not exaggerating, Mr. Chairman, when I say that there is no other agency in the bill for which I am more confident about the need for additional resources. I urge our Members in as strong as possible terms to reject this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. ROE of Tennessee. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute.
I certainly understand the budget constraints. I've been a mayor, had a jail system under my supervision, and I also know that around this Nation there are cities and States that are dealing with budget deficits never before seen, and here is the only place in the world I have ever seen where we raise it almost 9 percent and then give the President exactly what he wanted and call that a draconian cut. It is not.
We should show some fiscal restraint here in the House as an example to the people around this country, families and cities and municipalities and States, that are working hard to balance their budget. In my own hometown they're doing that by making real cuts, not making huge increases and reducing it somewhat. This is a very minimal cut, and not a cut actually but a reduction, and exactly what the President of the United States asked for.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentleman from Virginia for yielding time to me in this debate. And, Mr. Chairman, there's a lot more time that should be yielded for this debate, and it should have been yielded within the original agreement that came from the Rules Committee.
This appropriations bill didn't come to this floor under an open rule, which has been the deep and long-standing tradition of the House of Representatives. It came to the floor under a structured open rule and under the request that said print your amendments into the Record and then there will be 5 minutes debate on each side, and we'll go down through all of those.
Now, anybody would have known that all the amendments that were printed in the Record would not have been offered. But I will also submit this, and it hasn't been said here, I don't believe, Mr. Chairman, that these amendments that were printed into the Record laid out the entire amendment strategy of the minority party. And the majority party then took their leisure to thumb down through the amendments and decided that they didn't want to have debate on a good number of them,
which brings us to this point.
When the chairman of the Appropriations Committee earlier mentioned some 20 times that this Congress has deviated from an open rule on appropriations, it was unclear to me whether the chairman actually included unanimous consent agreements, which have been a fairly consistent component of the open rule process. Not a structured rule, not something that was rigid and devised in the beginning, at least not something that was unnegotiated, as this was, but a unanimous consent agreement that allows
any Member to object. That isn't the case that we are dealing with here.
So I am trying to track the logic of what amendments were approved and which ones weren't approved. And I will tell you there is no logic in this minority party except in the idea that we have to go up in that little room up there in the Rules Committee and sit down for 3 hours and wait for an opportunity to ask that stacked Rules Committee for an opportunity just to offer an amendment here on the floor of the House of Representatives. There's no way you can go home and say to your constituents,
I'd have liked to have done a good job representing you, but I didn't have an opportunity even to offer an amendment, let alone perfect something and get a legitimate debate or a vote.
So I analyzed these 124 remaining amendments after this fiasco last night that lasted into this morning and came up with some of these statistical data, which is interesting, I think, to this Congress: Out of these 124 amendments, 20 of 23 were about money approved by the Rules Committee. So that would tell me that Democrats don't mind voting for more spending. That's a clear conclusion that one can draw because of the 94 amendments that were rejected by the Rules Committee, none of them can
be characterized as spending amendments exclusively; they're policy amendments.
And in that includes amendments that would have blocked Federal funding for ACORN, an organization that has all the appearances of a criminal enterprise, that has admitted to producing over 400,000 fraudulent voter registrations, that has been involved in intimidating lenders, and now seem to be under the employment of the White House for the United States Census. And we can't get a debate on this and can't get a vote on an amendment like that? And we can't have a discussion in this Congress
about the intelligence impasse that has been created because of the allegations against the CIA made by the Speaker of the House? And we are supposed to operate a government with these huge policy issues that hang in front of us and do a specious debate on spending in which everything that's offered by the minority party that reduces the spending
is going to be voted down by the majority party. Because why? They said let's have a debate on that. They're eager to vote for more spending. And this bill, which increases funding under these titles from last year by $12 billion, an expansive growth of government, and now shutting down the debate here in the House of Representatives.
If we move on from this appropriations process without a rule that allows for debate, and we're going to accept the argument that comes from the chairman of the Appropriations Committee that this has happened before, I can guarantee you, Mr. Chairman, this is going to happen again and again and again and no Member can ask again. If they don't stand up and defend themselves now, it will be less reason the next time and less reason the next time, and we're settled into a mode where the committee
that would rule will be the one, I think, which is directed from above, with no cameras in the room, seldom even a reporter in the room, but Members of Congress sitting there in little chairs waiting for their chance to say, Oh, please, could I just offer my amendment here on the floor of the House of Representatives?
You can't run a government that way. It's not consistent with our constitutional Republic. It would cause indigestion with all of our Founding Fathers to see what's going on here in this Congress today. It's got to stop, and we have got to get back to a regular order that allows for open rules and legitimate debate. And we can face this debate, win or lose. Let's do it the right way, Mr. Chairman.
I again thank the gentleman from Virginia for yielding.
The CHAIR. The Clerk will read.