|1:32 PM EDT||
Steve Scalise, R-LA 1st
Mr. SCALISE. Madam Chair, I first want to congratulate and thank the chairman of the Energy and Water subcommittee for setting as a priority making sure that our waterways, especially the Mississippi River, are restored after the devastating floods that we experienced throughout our country. It wasn't just in a few States; it was throughout many parts of the Midwest, South, and other parts of our country that experienced tornado damage and experienced unprecedented flooding going back to 1927.
But now if you look at where we are and you look at what is being done here, this is not money that is adding to the deficit. We are at a point right now as we face this debt ceiling--and there is a divide in Congress; there is a divide in Washington. And the question is: Are we going to start living within our means and truly setting priorities in this country or just continue going down this spending binge acting as if nobody is going to pay the tab?
And, of course, I think what the chairman, the full chairman of Appropriations and so many other members of this new majority have said is that game is over. The game of spending money we don't have is over, and we've got to make the tough choices of setting priorities in this country.
So if you look at some of the money that was moved over from high-speed rail--and there were billions of dollars set aside in the stimulus bill that was such a failed disaster, over $787 billion of money that we don't have with the promise that unemployment wouldn't go over 8 percent. It's very clear that that failed. But what we're saying is let's take some of that money and move it over into something that's much more important right now, and that is getting our economy back on track, getting
people back on track and getting their families back together.
Look at what happened on the Mississippi River. Just a few weeks ago, I flew over the Morganza Spillway and looked at the Atchafalaya Basin where some of that flooding happened where you literally had people who were in harm's way and their areas were flooded to keep other people from flooding. And it was one of those terrible choices no one wants to have to make, but those families were put in that situation and their communities were flooded so other communities wouldn't.
The extra silt that came down the Mississippi River now threatens to impede the ability for us to move commerce through 30-plus States of this country so that we can get those exports, so that we can create more jobs and be able to be competitive with foreign countries. If you're a farmer in Iowa, if you're trying to move commerce in Missouri down the Mississippi River, if you don't have the ability now because we're not able to dredge the river, all of a sudden now Brazil is going to get that
contract for that product because you can't be competitive anymore.
Not only are we talking about tens of thousands of jobs, but we're talking about priorities. If you look at the high-speed rail projects, many States have turned the money down. Why? Because they realize it's a money loser. They lose money on the deal because it just doesn't pay for itself. Of course, States have balanced budgets. Most of those States have to balance their budget every year, so they can't just take what looks like free money to go and engage in a process that's ultimately going
to cost them money every year that they don't have. But because they have to balance their budget, many of them have turned that money away.
And so you look here in Washington, there is no balanced budget requirement, and it shows you, frankly, one of the reasons why we need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution so that we are forced to live within our means, too, so we can't just keep spending money as if there is no consequence, because there is consequence. Our children and our grandchildren are counting on us to make those responsible decisions and to set the priorities. We cannot just tell everybody that comes in the
door, You've got an idea, here's some money; you've got an idea, here's some money. Nobody has the money. We'll just go print it, raise the debt ceiling and just keep giving it as if it's not going to have an effect. At some point, it has a real effect; it has a real impact. And so we've got to make the tough choices and set the priorities.
So there was devastating flooding throughout our country. You had so many States that saw tornado damage and flooding damage, and they're trying to get back on their feet. And then there is this high-speed rail money. And so much of the money in the stimulus bill went to waste and was squandered. We have nothing to show for it. The promise of no more than 8 percent unemployment didn't work. It was a failure, and everybody recognizes it. And so we're saying we're going to make those tough choices.
None of these choices are easy, but we didn't come up here to make easy choices. We came up here because we've got to set the priorities of this country, and that means balancing our budget and not just saying everything can get all the funding it wants. If something is a priority, then that means we've got to find the money somewhere else. And so that's what's being done here. And that's why I commend the chairman for making that tough decision. And, yes, we're going to have to have a fight
over this. We're going to have to have a discussion over this, as we should. This is the people's House.
That's what this discussion is about. It's about setting our priorities and shifting from the old way of doing business of just spending more money we don't have on every idea that sounded good. We can't keep doing that. So that's why I support what the chairman is doing.
I yield back the balance of my time.