Providing for Consideration of H.R. 933, Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013by Representative Michael C. Burgess
Posted on 2013-03-06
BURGESS. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
This is an important bill that we are considering today. It's not a perfect bill. It's not the bill that I would write if I had the power to write the bill. But it's an important bill. And as a conservative, I'm going to support the rule and I'm going to support the bill.
Mr. Cole already referenced that the most important thing that's happening this morning is the savings that began last Friday are locked in in the continuing resolution. These are savings that have been anticipated for years, delayed for months, and finally arrived last Friday. The market responded yesterday with an all-time high. It's time to let those savings work their magic on the American economy.
It does allow the Department of Defense the flexibility that they asked for to be able to manage their business with the reduced level of funding. And I think protecting our soldiers and protecting the pay of our soldiers is one of the highest constitutional functions of this body and one that we should take seriously. I believe this bill does that.
This bill also protects funding for our veterans, which is also important.
I know a lot of people on my side are concerned because the President's Affordable Care Act, the President's government takeover of health care, is not damaged in this exchange. In truth, some of the funding for implementation is reduced because it's kept at last year's levels and it is affected by the savings in the sequester. But to those on my side who would say it doesn't go far enough in restricting the Affordable Care Act, I would say that we are going [[Page H990]] to get opportunities to fight that fight--multiple opportunities--in the few short weeks ahead. Where will they come? They will come in our budget. They will come in the appropriations bill. The appropriations bills, in the House, at least, will be run in an open fashion. There will be open appropriations bills. And in Labor-HHS there will be ample opportunity to demand of the Federal agencies involved with implementation that they share with us the data about how this thing is supposed to start October 1, when they have really been very reticent to share anything.
Speaking of reticent to share anything, how about the administration, which hid the ball before election day on all these rules that have now come forward since November 6? No wonder the Governors were reluctant to accept the exchanges. No wonder the Governors have held off in some States from accepting the Medicaid expansion. Because they weren't told what the deal would be until after the President's election was reassured. That's pretty disingenuous of the administration to run things that way, and I believe they should be held to account. And more importantly, in the 6 months between now and October 1, when every American who wants to buy in the exchange is supposed to be able to go to their computer and buy on the exchange, I don't believe they can actually build that system in the time required, regardless of how much money we give them.
It is important to hold those agencies accountable. Our committee work will do that. As an oversight committee on the authorization side, we will continue to do that. And I think that's important work.
So I ask conservatives to join me in that fight as we go forward. Let's fight this on the budget, let's fight it on our open rules in the appropriations process. Today, it's an important bill. Not a perfect bill, but it's an important bill. It protects our soldiers. It protects our veterans. And it locks in those savings for the long-suffering American taxpayer that they have waited for for so long.
I urge support of the rule and support of the underlying bill.