Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson
Posted on 2013-12-12
JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in
support of extending Federal unemployment insurance (UI) as part of a
comprehensive and bipartisan budget agreement. Without Congressional
action, 1.3 million Americans will lose access to vital UI benefits on
December 28. Within the first half of next year, an additional 1.9
million Americans will lose access to Federal unemployment insurance.
As Congress heads home for the holidays, it is important that we do not leave millions of Americans without a social safety net to protect against long-term job loss. Long-term unemployment as a percentage of the unemployed still remains around 37 percent, meaning these individuals will be left without any support after their state unemployment insurance expires. Further, failure to extend the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program could cost the U.S. economy an additional 240,000 jobs.
My home State of Texas is not immune from these expiring benefits. Once the UI benefits expire, 68,900 unemployed workers in Texas will lose access to Federal unemployment insurance. Within the first six months of 2014, an additional 106,900 workers will also lose these benefits.
Mr. Speaker, as long as millions of unemployed workers struggle to find a job, Congress is doing a great disservice to this country by allowing Federal unemployment insurance to expire. Federal unemployment insurance serves as a vital lifeline for job seekers and their families. The very least we could do for these workers as we enter the holiday season is to provide them with the support they need to weather these challenging economic times.
Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. Speaker, I very reluctantly vote for H.J. Res 59, having been quoted accurately that it is a D+ piece of legislation.
It sadly represents what Congress has become. It is now a victory to avoid another government shutdown. It is a victory to temporarily prevent application of the Sustainable Growth Rate that would penalize medical providers and our senior citizens. It is the least we could do to find a tiny bit of budget breathing room so that it may be possible for the appropriations process to resume again.
It is frustrating that, at a time when there are still many unmet needs of our citizens and while our economy is sputtering, people are celebrating legislation that doesn't damage the economy more. It is sad that it has come to this.
I am hopeful, however, that this might serve as a point of departure over the next three months to be able to face the realities of what America needs.
I, for one, will continue working for the big picture, on the three bills that I have introduced to help rebuild and renew America and on arguing for a grander bargain, rather than the least that we can do. I will fight to build on the platform of healthcare reform so that we get medical providers off the SGR merry-go-round, instead moving towards the promise of healthcare reform. It is shameful that Congress is willing to cut food stamps yet give money to wealthy farmers, while ignoring the plight of the long term unemployed, illustrating the gap between what the American public expects and what we should do. I am hopeful that the new year will be more constructive.
In the meantime, we will celebrate avoiding another damaging government shutdown and we will celebrate not having a destructive resolution on the floor muddying diplomacy with Iran. I suppose in the holiday spirit we should be thankful for what we can get and then usher this least productive session in Congressional history out of town.
[[Page H8083]] Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.J. Res. 59.
While this legislation is far from perfect, I will reluctantly support it. It is a small step forward towards funding our government and giving the American people a degree of certainty. In addition, I believe that the bipartisan and bicameral fashion in which it was crafted is a path that we absolutely must pursue in order to move this country forward. I remind my colleagues that compromise is not a dirty word; rather it is the cornerstone of our democracy.
Again, this measure is not perfect. I have genuine and very serious concerns regarding certain aspects of the bill, namely a lack of extension of unemployment benefits, its changes to aspects of pension contributions of Federal employees, as well as its revision of cost-of- living calculations for military retirees.
But I cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, and I thus will support this compromise in order to move this measure forward and continue the much needed debate over what we must do to keep our government up and running and best serving the American people. The legislation also includes a three-month fix of the Sustainable Growth Rate, and it remains my hope that this will allow us enough time to work towards a permanent, bipartisan solution.
While House Republicans have already put the solvency of our Nation's finances in turmoil this year by putting politics ahead of people and shutting down our government for seventeen days in October, I believe we must not allow that to happen again, and Senator Murray and Representative Ryan have taken this small but productive step towards doing just that today. It is my hope that Majority Leader Reid will have the Senate take up this legislation--including an extension of emergency unemployment benefits--before December 28 in order to prevent some 1.3 million Americans from losing their benefits just one week after Christmas.
At its core, this compromise is a step in the right direction to averting the harmful effects of the sequester, restoring a degree of economic certainty, and beginning to return this Congress to a time where crossing the aisle was rightly seen as an admirable and necessary act to bring about compromise, tackle the great issues of the day, and best serve the proud people of this Nation.
Mr. BACHUS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2013. Allow me to thank Chairman Ryan for his hard work in producing this important agreement. It is my belief that we must begin to address our debt and deficit problem on a bipartisan basis.
To that end, I would like to briefly discuss Section 203 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. This section establishes a program under which the Secretary of Commerce restricts access to the information contained in the Death Master File for a three-year period beginning on the date of the individual's death, except to persons who are certified under a program to be established by the Secretary of Commerce.
The purpose of this provision of the law is to prevent misuse of the Death Master File that leads to waste, fraud and abuse committed against the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies. The law is designed to achieve this purpose by restricting access to information contained in the Death Master File for three years after the date of a person's death. In fact, my office has been contacted by a woman who has been struggling with basic functions of life such as opening a bank account or obtaining a driver's license because the Death Master File proclaims her dead when she is in fact alive. It is my firm belief that in addition to this step the Social Security Administration must improve its systems to ensure that death information is accurately updated on the Death Master File.
At the same time, the law also is designed to ensure that persons, companies, financial institutions, government agencies, and other types of entities continue to have access to the DMF in order to facilitate legitimate commerce and business purposes.
The law requires the Department of Commerce to set up a program to certify entities that are permitted access to the Death Master File. The intent is that the certification criteria contained in the law encompass the range of important functions that the DMF helps to facilitate.
The use of the Death Master File has important purposes such as preventing fraud, authenticating individuals, and preventing unauthorized transactions. Using the Death Master File for these important purposes helps to protect consumers from fraud and identity theft. Businesses and government agencies need access to the Death Master File to carry out these and other legitimate responsibilities.