|1:43 PM EDT||
Steve Womack, R-AR 3rd
Mr. WOMACK. Madam Chairwoman, I think we are going to have to extend the space shuttle for an extra day to retrieve the thought process, it got so far out there in orbit. Let me just be very clear, to kind of bring this back to the subject matter at hand.
We're talking about taking funds that have been designated for a project in the future, near term or long term, but in the future, to satisfy an emerging issue that is in the present. Future versus present.
In my district of Arkansas, the cresting of the Illinois River has ripped apart roads, washed out bridges. Floods have taken the lives of constituents of mine, young people who will grow up without a mother or father. We have people living in tents. We have an urgent issue that is facing us today. The flooding has done damage across our entire State, leaving hundreds of Arkansans without homes, and crop losses estimated at over $500 million. It has even been asserted by the other side that it
is ``just farmland.'' Just farmland.
Well, let me say to the people who make that argument, don't make that argument with your mouth full.
It has also caused about $100 million in damage to dams, parks, roads, and waterways under the control of the Army Corps of Engineers, and if left unrepaired, will only result in additional devastation in the next season.
But it isn't just about what happened in Arkansas; the entire Mississippi River and its tributary system has been imperiled by these tragedies. They are the lifeblood of our Nation's commerce, and bordering farmlands are rich with fertile soil able to provide food for so many of the American people. Allowing these lands to be so vulnerable to future flooding will only imperil our Nation's food supply.
Offset or not to offset; it is an emerging issue. And on offsets, as you have already heard from my colleague from Louisiana, my colleague from Missouri, that supplemental appropriations, if fully offset over the last three decades, would have reduced by at least $1.3 trillion the debt and reduced the public interest payments on this debt of $57 billion a year. Now, my friends, $57 billion in interest payments would build a lot of high-speed rail.
I congratulate the chairman for his work on this Energy and Water bill. I support it. It is prudent. It is wise. It is necessary. And I commend it to the leadership and to this entire House to pass it and restore the fiscal integrity of our country and give relief to the people who need it so desperately.
I yield back the balance of my time.