INSULAR AREAS AND FREELY ASSOCIATED STATES ENERGY DEVELOPMENT; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 156
(Extensions of Remarks - January 02, 2015)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1856-E1857]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




     INSULAR AREAS AND FREELY ASSOCIATED STATES ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

                                 ______
                                 

                               speech of

                         HON. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN

                              of maryland

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, December 11, 2014

  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose this omnibus. It 
is critical to avoid another unnecessary and wasteful government 
shutdown, and I strongly believe that we must do that without 
extraneous and harmful policy riders.
  The bill before us holds government operations hostage to a number of 
highly partisan, noxious policy riders. By proposing to repeal the so-
called ``swaps push out rule'' enacted under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street 
Reform law, it caters to the demands of big banks and puts taxpayers on 
the hook for their risky decisions. It allows special interests to 
funnel more money into Congressional political party committees, 
dramatically increasing the limit from $129,600 to $777,600 per year, 
or over $1.5 million per election cycle. Putting these provisions 
together will simply breed additional public cynicism about Congress 
granting special favors to powerful special interests in exchange for 
increased political contributions.
  I also continue to oppose riders related to Guantanamo and those that 
meddle in the local business of the District of Columbia.
  The fact that this bill only funds the Department of Homeland 
Security through February

[[Page E1857]]

is nothing more than a political stunt by my colleagues across the 
aisle. Instead of working to fix our broken immigration system, House 
Republicans have signaled that they are willing to shut down the 
Department of Homeland Security even though this will do nothing to 
prevent President Obama from expanding the deferred action program.
  This bill also provides $5 billion in funding for the deployment of 
an additional 1,500 American troops to Iraq and up to $500 million to 
train and equip the so-called ``moderate'' Syrian rebels. As I outlined 
in my statement on the NDAA, Congress should have had the opportunity 
to amend those provision. I do not want us to be dragged into Iraq War 
2.0 or more deeply into the Syrian civil war.
  Without the inclusion of these measures, I would have been pleased to 
support a number of provisions in this bill. As a representative of 
many federal employees, I appreciate the one percent COLA for our 
dedicated federal workforce and pay adjustments for wage grade 
employees.
  I support the additional funding for the National Institutes of 
Health, although we must do much more to support medical research. The 
bill also increases funding the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention and provides emergency funding to address the ongoing Ebola 
crisis. It includes important funding for scientific research at NIST 
and the National Science Foundation, and rejects the House-passed rider 
that would have defunded climate change research. I support the 
investments in education, including Title I and IDEA, although more 
funding for these programs is necessary to support our nation's 
students.
  The bill also includes critical funding for infrastructure, including 
$2.1 billion to build new transit lines, $500 million for TIGER grants 
for projects of national significance, and $150 million to allow the 
Washington area Metro system to make recommended safety and performance 
improvements.
  This legislation also builds on efforts made in last year's MilCon-VA 
bill to end the claims backlog that continues to plague our VA regional 
offices, including the VA's Baltimore Regional Office. It includes $2.5 
billion for the costs of processing disability claims--an increase of 
$40 million over the President's request and $69 million over last 
year's level.
  I am pleased that this bill provides $73 million in funding for the 
National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This will help 
provide Maryland with the necessary resources to implement the 
technology to automate criminal history and mental health records in 
our background check system. This legislation also fully funds many 
other important Department of Justice Programs, including $376 million 
for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants and $430 million for Violence 
Against Women programs.
  Mr. Speaker, I recognize that no bill of this magnitude is perfect. 
However, I cannot in good conscience vote to roll back critical 
taxpayer protections and allow monied special interests to buy more 
influence in Congress. We should strip these damaging provisions from 
the bill and pass an omnibus that works on behalf of taxpayers and 
strengthens the middle class.