Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2015by Representative Mike Thompson
Posted on 2015-02-12
THOMPSON of California. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the Democratic lead on the conservation easement bill and to very regrettably say that I rise in opposition to this bill that I think so highly of.
I don't disagree with the policy. I don't disagree with the need for certainty, something that has been referred to many times today. And I don't disagree that the way the Republicans did it last year--in the last 2 weeks and doing it retroactively--I don't disagree that that was the wrong way to do it.
I have worked for permanency on conservation easements ever since Chairman Camp and I passed the big expansion in 2006. I have been the Democratic lead in every Congress to make conservation easements permanent.
Conservation easements are good public policy. They protect open space. They protect important ag lands. They protect important wildlife habitat. They are essential for clean air and clean water. They are essential for locally sourced good, healthy food. They are important to hunters, to fishermen, to conservationists.
They are important to people who live in rural areas and they are important to people who live in urban areas. Nowhere is that more apparent than what happened in New York. We were able to save New York City from having to spend $8 billion in building a water filtration system because we were able to protect their watershed area, in large part through conservation easements.
We all know that these are important. Every one of us knows it is important. That is why every Congress, when we introduce this bill, we get upward of and sometimes over 300 bipartisan coauthors on the bill, but the problem is this bill isn't paid for, as you have heard a number of times.
Sadly, I offered an amendment that would have totally offset the cost of the conservation easement portion of the bills that we are taking up today. It was an offset with no tax increases. It didn't increase anybody's taxes, didn't put the taxes on the back of somebody else, didn't shift the cost to anyone else. As a matter of fact, it focused on scofflaws who have been able to avoid paying their taxes because of a short statute of limitations. We offered to extend that statute of limitations. We could have paid for this whole thing. Unfortunately, my friends on the Republican side of the House rejected that amendment.
So instead, we are here with this bill, not paid for. Instead, today, we are going to vote on $93 billion worth of unpaid-for tax bills that will add $93 billion to our deficit.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.