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David J.
Republican FL 13

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  • Contrasting Views of Government

    by Representative David W. Jolly

    Posted on 2015-01-21

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    JOLLY. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address the House and to address the country this afternoon and to do so with colleagues of mine from Alabama (Mr. Byrne) and from Illinois (Mr. Davis) to draw a contrast between the view of government represented by our side of the aisle and of that which we heard last night from our President, a President who seemingly ignored the will of the people as expressed by the ballot box in November and who, instead, doubled down on an agenda that we believe on our side of the aisle is the wrong view of government and the wrong direction for our Nation. So I rise with my colleagues today to talk about just a few of the very substantive points and to do so very constructively and to present why we have a different view of government and why we think that is important.

    I would start by suggesting this. If we think about what the President said last night, in his words, the President declared from the rostrum that no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. Now, I understand the sympathetic position on climate change. I am from a coastal State, and, frankly, I am a member of the Republican Party who believes that, indeed, the climate is changing, but I do not believe that the greatest challenge facing our future generations is that of climate change.

    In fact, you can harken back to the words of Thomas Jefferson. He had a very different opinion than our President had last night. He said that public debt is the greatest of dangers for our Nation to fear. I would suggest that Jefferson was right, that the greatest threat to our future generations is actually economic security and domestic security. I would like to speak for just a couple of moments about that and allow my colleagues to talk about other portions of the President's remarks.

    Let's first talk about the long-term threat to our economic security--our national debt--a topic that was completely ignored in the President's address to the Nation last night.

    Understand the significance of where we sit historically when it comes to the national debt. When this President took office, our national debt was just over $10 trillion, meaning it had taken 220 years for our Republic--220 years--to accumulate just over $10 trillion in debt, a number already far too high. In the 8 years of this administration, an additional $10 trillion will be added under this President's watch. When he leaves his office, our debt will be over $20 trillion.

    Mr. Speaker, that is a threat to our national security. The greatest threat, perhaps, to our national security, arguably, could be unwatched, out-of-control spending and debt that ultimately collapses our economic system and ensures that we are no longer the world's greatest superpower. In fact, George Washington, himself, admonished that we have a moral obligation to pay off our debts during the life of the majority, during our lifetimes.

    Rather than hearing from a President who doubled down on a very progressive agenda and who suggested with the rare audacity, as he did, that our Nation is fine in that conflicts and wars are over, in that our economy has returned, in that we have faster job growth than European nations--and yet the President suggested last night that he wants to grow our government in the very same manner that these European nations have today--and rather than tell us how to grow a government we already can't afford, I would ask the President to present a plan to pay for the government we already have.

    The greatest threat to future generations is not climate change. It is our economic security, and it is also our homeland security. Many on this side of the aisle have grave reservations about the President's current plan to combat the war against ISIS, or ISIL--against radical extremists-terrorists who intend to bring harm to the United States. That is a threat. That is a real threat.

    The President called for something last night that I strongly agree with. I think this body should have a robust debate about an authorization to use military force. We owe it to the American people, who sent us here, to represent them on this very critical issue [[Page H468]] of what is our national policy to protect our homeland, to protect American lives.

    In fact, what is the current plan to arm Syrian rebels, and what is the likelihood that that will actually be successful when we have seen a lack of success in areas like Iraq? Despite the declarations of last night, I would challenge that we are not as safe as, perhaps, the President suggested. From the Middle East, to Africa, to Paris, to Yemen, to our very own border, what is that plan? House Republicans passed a border security bill that reflected the will of the people last July, yet we heard nothing last night--not a single comment--about how to secure our border. It is a sharp contrast. We heard about negotiating with Iran. We heard about releasing prisoners from GTMO. We heard nothing about securing our borders and securing our homeland, so we have taken this time today to present a constructive contrast between the President's view of government and our view of government and what we believe are the right priorities of our government.

    I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues today, and I would yield now to my colleague from Illinois (Mr. Rodney Davis).

    Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Thank you to my good friend and colleague from Florida, and thank you to my good friend and colleague from Alabama for joining us, Mr. Byrne.

    Mr. Speaker, this is a great opportunity to talk about what we heard in this Chamber, just slightly less than 24 hours ago, from this President, who is from my home State of Illinois. We heard a lot of ideas and a lot of talk and a lot of promises, but if it is anything like the State of the Union Addresses that I have had an opportunity to sit on in this Chamber over the last 2 years, we are not going to see a lot of action.

    There was a lot of talk about the economy. The economy is getting better. Frankly, it can't have gotten much worse when you compare it to a few years ago. Of course, it is going to get better, but the reality is there are still 8.7 million Americans who are out of work, and 7 million Americans are in part-time jobs but are looking for full-time jobs.

    {time} 1700 The President's solution to many of the issues that were brought up was to tax more American families--to tax American families who have been saving for their children's college education to pay for a grandiose idea he has yet to give us the details on.

    The President also talked about helping our heroes: our veterans. This one is personal to me because just a few weeks ago, the day we got sworn in for the 114th Congress, Mr. Speaker, we were able to unanimously pass a bill called the Hire More Heroes Act, which I sponsored. This wasn't an idea that came from Washington. It was an idea that came from Illinois. Brad Lavite, the superintendent of the Madison County, Illinois, Veterans Assistance Commission, came to me during the last Congress and said, Why is it that veterans who are getting their health care through TRICARE and through the Department of Defense count towards the ObamaCare 50-employee limit in the employer mandate? I came here, took his idea, and garnered hundreds of cosponsors to put this on the floor of the House. It passed in the last Congress, but it got held up in the Senate. It passed unanimously in this Congress on day one, and that bill should go through the Senate and get to the President's desk. If he wants to help veterans get jobs, I hope the President signs that immediately when it hits his desk, hopefully, in no more than a few weeks.

    These are the types of solutions that are bipartisan solutions that the President told us he wanted to put forth, but he talked to us in a manner that I didn't think was bipartisan at all. Most of his speech talked about what he was going to do. I would have rather heard the President talk about what we are going to do together because, frankly, that is what my constituents in Illinois want us to do. They want us to come here and govern together.

    That is why I am so glad to be here and be a part of this Special Order with my good friend, Mr. Jolly. Hopefully, we can begin a good banter about discussing what our thoughts are on where America needs to go to move forward and work with this President but do it in a way that is a lot less confrontational than what we heard last night.

    Mr. JOLLY. With that, I yield to a real leader in this institution, a colleague of ours from the great State of Alabama, Mr. Bradley Byrne.

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