Mr. HENSARLING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This amendment would strike a $200,000 expenditure, another earmark, for the Maine Lobster Research and Inshore Trawl Survey.
I believe, if we've counted properly, there's roughly 1,100 different earmarks contained within this appropriation. Again, I want to make it very clear that all earmarks are not bad. But I'm not a fan of earmarks, be they congressional or administration. Too often in the earmark process, what we observe, what the American people observe is a triumph of special interest or local interest over the national interest or the public interest. Too often we see a triumph of seniority in political considerations
over merit. Too often we see the triumph of secrecy over transparency, and all too often for this body, Mr. Chairman, the American people believe they see money coming in on one end of Capitol Hill and earmarks coming out of the other. The system is broken. The system must be reformed.
Again, Mr. Chairman, relative to the Federal budget, it may be a small portion of the total spending. It is a huge portion of the culture of spending. We need a culture of saving. You cannot earmark, bail out, borrow and spend your way into prosperity, no matter what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle believe. It cannot be done. We have seen no example in history whatsoever.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I have no doubt that this Maine Lobster Research and Inshore Trawl Survey is very important to the State of Maine. I have no doubt about that. I wonder, though, how much Federal money is already going into lobster research. I wonder if it is truly a Federal priority. How about catfish? How about pecans? How about research for yams and sweet potatoes? Are those, indeed, national priorities? And if it's not a national priority, if it's important for the State of Maine, why didn't
the State of Maine pay for it? If it's important to these local communities, why don't the local communities pay for it? Why didn't the Chamber of Commerce pay for it? Why don't commercial companies pay for it? Why don't co-ops pay for it?
Somebody needs to explain to me why the Dublin family in Palestine, Texas, that needs money to pay their mortgage, why do they have to pay for it? Why does the Mauk family in Athens, Texas, when they need this money to put gas in their car, why do they have to pay for it? Why does the Lilly family in Kaufman, Texas, that need money to pay for their health care premiums on their insurance, why do they have to pay for it? I don't understand that, Mr. Chairman, and I don't think it's right. I don't
think it is right at a time of economic crisis.
You know, we're losing small businesses by the thousands. The average small business is capitalized by $25,000. This $200,000 expenditure right here, that could mean the difference of saving eight small businesses and the jobs they represent in this great Nation of ours. But instead, it's going to be spent on the Maine Lobster Research and Inshore Trawl Survey. No doubt it's important to Maine. No doubt they're doing good work. But Mr. Chairman, again, is it worth borrowing money from the Chinese,
sending the bill to our children and grandchildren, and maybe being the first generation in America's history to leave the next generation with a lower standard of living? It's not fair. It's not smart. It's not right. It needs to be rejected.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Thank you to the Chair of the committee for yielding me this time.
Now, you can imagine when I first saw this amendment I was quite angry, [Page: H6958]
and I don't want to be discouraged about the motives of the good Representative from Texas, so I thought, well, perhaps the good Representative from Texas doesn't understand the importance of this to Maine. And as he said, in many ways he doesn't. I know, because he has a farming district. I'm sure in his district, it's important to him to have dairy program subsidies, cotton subsidies,
wheat subsidies--millions of dollars of which come into his State every year.
This is $200,000, Mr. Speaker, to a very important industry in our State, the lobster fishing industry.
Now, if you're from Texas, fishing may seem like a distant thing, and I understand that may be complicated. But let me just say that fishing is a common resource. This $200,000 helps us to monitor these fisheries, a very tightly controlled and restricted fisheries, but very successful fisheries in our State because of it. And this is the subsidy that the Federal Government--as well as our State government--gives to help make sure that this stays a healthy resource.
Now, just to give you a sense of the size of this industry, there are 7,000 licensed fishermen in the lobster industry. They brought in 69 million pounds of lobster in the last year. Now, I know in Texas, $242 million may not sound like a substantial contribution to the economy, but that's big money in the State of Maine. And fishing is big business in our State and very important to our State. Eighty-five percent of all of the lobsters in this country come from the State of Maine.
Now, it may be that you think about lobsters as some sort of glamorous food, but the fact is we're talking about hardworking fishermen. And let me tell you a little bit about how this industry works. By law in the State of Maine, these are basically individual entrepreneurs. Each one of these fishermen is a small business, and it's a family business for most people who go lobster fishing in the State of Maine.
Unlike other States where you may have big corporate farms that get big corporate subsidies, these are individual fishermen. This is not a subsidy to them. This is making sure that there is a resource for them out there, and by law, they operate as individuals. They buy the gas, they pay for their boats, often their own children go to work with them on the boat every day. They get up early morning, work long, hard hours, and struggle with a resource that isn't always abundant and plentiful. That's
why we need to monitor this resource.
It's been a tough year for the fishermen in our State, partly because of the economic downturn. These fish are often processed in Canada and the Canadian banks had a problem because they were affiliated with Iceland last year. So these fishermen have been struggling. These hardworking fisherman just want to make sure that there is a resource available to them in the future.
Mr. Chairman, it is possible that the good Representative from Texas did not understand how vital this was to the State of Maine. It is possible that he thought this would be a way to use our subsidy of the fishing industry as an example. But I just want him and everyone else here in this body to know that this is one of the most regulated fisheries in the world. These are some of the most hardworking fishermen in our country.
This is an important resource to our State, and $200,000 isn't very much to ask to a lot of hardworking people who contribute to our economy in the State of Maine every day and are counting on our support.
I hope that the good Representative from Texas will withdraw his amendment. But if not, I urge everyone in this body to vote against this and to vote for the economy and the State of Maine.
Mr. MICHAUD. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
The Lobster Institute CORE initiative is a tremendous, worthwhile project that helps sustain a vital industry in the State of Maine. This resource is vital to maintaining the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of people. In order to maintain an important part of our economy, we must continue to monitor the resource, in part so that we do not overfish.
In Maine alone, more than 40,000 jobs depend on the health of this industry. In all, the industry contributes an indispensable $1 billion a year to the Maine economy--$1 billion a year. As other fisheries have declined, fishermen have increased their dependence on lobster.
Mid-coast and down-east Maine have the most fisheries-dependent communities in New England. Effective lobster management is a key element to the economic stability of this industry. These programs monitor the health and sustainability of the lobster resources and are the foundation of the industry management program. Their continuation is not only essential to the successful preservation of the lobster population, but the preservation of tens of thousands of jobs in the State of Maine.
So I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from West Virginia has expired.