(Extensions of Remarks - November 19, 1999)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2500-E2501]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                             HON. RON KIND

                              of wisconsin

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, November 18, 1999

  Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, when I returned to Congress for my second term 
last January, I came with the hope that I could believe the House 
leadership when it said things would be different in the 106th Congress 
from the experience of my first term in the 105th. We were told that 
the appropriations process would follow the rules; 13 separate spending 

[[Page E2501]]

brought to the floor for consideration with reasonable time and access 
for debate. We were told that the bills would be straight-forward, 
without tricks or gimmicks. We were mislead. The House leadership has 
continued to play tricks with the budget process. This fall, it did so 
at the expense of the men and women in our armed forces.
  I have the utmost respect and admiration for the American men and 
women who serve in uniform. My brother is currently serving a tour with 
his Reserve unit in Europe, and I have made two trips to the Balkans to 
visit our troops there. The young soldiers with whom I spoke were 
bursting with pride and confidence, and universally voiced their 
commitment to peace, freedom and their duty.
  With those men and women in mind, I was pleased to see my colleagues 
on the defense authorization and appropriations committees provide 
funding our military personnel with long overdue raises and improved 
benefits. I was also glad to see readiness issues appropriately 
addressed. Accordingly, I voted in favor of the Department of Defense 
Appropriations bill when considered by the House, even though I had 
some reservations concerning other provisions of legislation. It was my 
hope that, during the conference committee process, the bill would be 
strengthened and framed in an honest and responsible manner.
  Sadly though, I could not vote for the Department of Defense 
Appropriations Conference Report. Instead of making a sincere 
commitment to our troops and an honest accounting to the taxpayers, the 
Congressional leadership in both houses resorted to budget tricks and 
gimmicks to hide the fact that it had failed to make the needed 
difficult decisions during the entire budget process in order to stick 
to the 1997 balanced budget agreement. The defense report designated 
$7.2 billion of routine operation and maintenance appropriations as 
``emergency funding'' and exempts an additional $10.5 billion from the 
federal budget caps. Through that bill, the Congressional leadership 
tried to convince the public that a $267 billion budget only costs $249 
billion. I simply could not support that tactic.
  The budget caps were set by Congress to keep federal spending in 
check and to help reach the goal of a balanced federal budget. House 
Republican leaders, in an attempt to circumvent the budget caps, have 
repeatedly designated traditional budget items as emergency funding. 
Any spending in excess of the budget caps threatens our ability to 
insure the long term solvency of Social Security and Medicare and to 
pay down the national debt.
  To call routine operations and maintenance an emergency item is an 
insult to every American. It is the same kind of budget trick the House 
leadership used when they say the upcoming 2000 Census is an emergency. 
The taxpayers should not, and will not, be fooled by this accounting 
  Furthermore, pork-barrel projects permeated the bill, including $1.5 
billion for a ship to be built in Mississippi that the Navy did not 
request, and $275 million for F-15 aircraft not requested. As Senator 
John McCain said on the floor of the Senate: ``I would have liked to 
have been able to . . . support the defense appropriations bill. 
Unfortunately, the smoke and mirrors budgeting at the core of this bill 
is too pervasive, the level of wasteful spending . . . is too 
irresponsible for me to acquiesce in its passage.''
  The House should find the cuts needed to keep spending within the 
budget caps, rather than using money that should be spent paying down 
our national debt and preserving Social Security and Medicare for 
future generations. These budget gimmicks only serve to erode public 
confidence in the process and threaten the future of Social Security 
and Medicare. It was fitting that the vote on the defense conference 
report came just before Halloween. Congressional leaders tried hard to 
trick the public into believing the government's budget is all treat.
  Ultimately, I am very glad our troops are getting their pay raises, 
and I am very glad needed investments were made in the infrastructure 
which maintains our military readiness. I only wish I could have voted 
in favor the defense appropriations conference report as a symbol of my 
support for our troops and our national security interests. But such a 
symbolic act, when in my heart I believed the American people were 
being deceived, would have flown in the face of the very ideals for 
which our men and women in uniform carry out their duty.