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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 4, 2009 5:00pm-5:30pm EDT

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a year 2000 labor department survey showed that 70% of employees chose not to take unpaid leave because they just couldn't afford it. they certainly cannot do so in the trying economic times we face today when hardworking families are struggling just to get by. no parent should be placed in a position of having to choose between the bond and bonding with their child and foregoing these formative moment -- and forgoing these formative moments in their child's life to keep a roof over their head or to keep food on their table, especially when the fate of the child is ultimately at stake. s that moral and societal situation that as legislators and parents and protectors of god's children we must get right. the federal government, i believe, has a moral obligation to set the stage for making changes across the table.
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we need to do more than just help in the care and development of a child. we must take the reins and lead by example. we should be setting the standard in family-friendly workplace policies across the nation, not lagging behind. . h.r. 626 is quite simple. if they wish to be paid, they must use any unused accrued sick time or vacation time. this bill helps families by providing four weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child and allowing employees to use that accrued vacation or sick time for that parental leave. this is a small change in law that i will entice other employers to follow suit and will have impact on the parents
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and well-being of their children. i can speak to this from my own experience. my dear wife kathy and i have three beautiful children, one biologic and two that we adopted out of the foster care system. these children we love as much as if they were our biological daughter. i will tell you from our own experience, by adopting a child, especially out of one out of foster care, it requires care, attention and additional time for bonding. this is not an option in their case. it is an absolute necessity. our children, in fact, all foster children, have faced and will continue to face significant challenges in their lives from the abuse they incurred when they were in foster care. they will forever carry those unspeakable scars that every parent fears and no child should ever bear.
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yet, the only hope and chance that you have to save these children is to give them time to bond with those very new parents that are the ones that will be trying to save their lives. and rub aware those scars. there is no choice -- there is no other choice than to immediately give them all the love they can take and more than they have ever known. food, nutrition they need and the health care they have never had. they need the unflagging support and nurturing that they get from the new adoptive parents in order to establish a pattern of survival in their lives. i also know that without the time to forge this bond immediately after adoption, they have no hope of overcoming the enormous obstacles that they face. madam speaker, you can put a price tag on a piece of legislation, but you cannot put a price on the importance of not
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having to worry about a paycheck and having the full and undivided attention of both parents lavishing endless love on a disadvantaged child. i can think of no gaiter gift that we give as parents. without it, far too many children will slip through the cracks. and for many more, all hope will be lost. as legislators, it is our imperative that we do what is morally right, not to let hope be lost, but rather to let hope spring eternal and to give these children, who have already have so many things working against them as i mentioned in the case of adoption and foster care the chance at life they deserve. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas. mr. sessions: thank you, madam speaker. i want to thank my friend from california for yielding this time to me to discuss the
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proposed rule consideration for the federal employees paid parental leave act of 2009. and i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. sessions: thank you, madam speaker. i have heard a lot of arguments here on the floor of house of representatives and i'm not a psychologist, but i would tend to bet that probably more than the first 12 weeks of a child's life is very important to their development. and i'm kind of surprised that we don't have evidence today that says the first 14, 13, 16 years of a child's life is really the most important point. and maybe we just ought to let employees take 16 years off, since that's the defining moment. there is no reality with this about the first 12 weeks of a child's life. it's about probably the first 14 or 15 years. and as a parent, i can tell you,
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i remember the first 12 weeks. i remember them very vividly for both of my boys. and i'm sure that there is some bit about what my children understood about the bonding with me. let's go straight to this. it's expensive. going to cost a lot of money and it's for federal employees at a time when this federal government needs to be more efficient and the people of this country cannot afford it. we have done it without these number of years. and i'm surprised that we're doing it today in the economic times that we have. today, i will discuss my opposition to the structured rule, which limits debate and does not provide for the open and honest congress my democrat colleagues have always called for for the past 3 1/2 years. i rise in opposition in putting taxpayers further in debt, those
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people that don't work for the government, to pay for this new extension of benefits by expanding an already generous government paid leave. the economy is in a recession. hello. hello. wake up, washington. we're in a recession and somebody else is going to have to pay for this. i know it's about the kids. i know it's about this bonding for the first 12 weeks. unemployment is at a 25-year high. government spending is out of control. and individuals and retirees that have lost trillions in their savings and retirement are now going to have to pay another $1 billion for this plan. the government should be ensuring the future of the economy before taking on additional government benefits to those who have some of the greatest job security at the expense of the people who are
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paying for it, called the taxpayer. i rise in opposition to the so-called structured rule and to this legislation, which would provide more government benefits to bureaucrats with benefits in excess of what most hard-working americans in the private sector have. i guess we're supposed to sacrifice a little bit more to make our government employees get more benefits. madam speaker, as a father of two children, when i return home to my home every weekend. i have never spent a weekend in washington, d.c. i go home and i, like every member of this body loves their family and we understand the importance of family and how strong families are to this country. additionally, i know how hard federal employees work. i honor them for their work and
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their devotion to the people of this country and the devotion to their job. and they do deserve competitive compensation and a good benefits package. at the same time, i believe at this time, this bill sends a wrong message at the wrong time to working americans, their taxpayers and families that they themselves are struggling to sacrifice to give a select few in this government additional new benefits. in february of this year, my democrat colleagues passed a $1.2 trillion economic stimulus package with absolutely no, zero republican support. this was their failed attempt to provide jobs to the struggling economy. the u.s. has eliminated 663,000 in march alone and an additional
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536,000 in april. over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed has risen by six million people to 13.7 million and the unemployment rate has grown from 3.9%. we should be thinking about how we're going to struggle to get people employed in this country, not giving additional benefits to government workers. one would think that this massive amount of spending that was done this year by my friends on the other side would ensure job growth, investment and economic output. instead, the failed policies of the democratic party and of this administration have led to a budget deficit that already has been announced. it's not just $1 trillion. it has now grown to $1.8 trillion. and about $89 billion more than was predicted in the president's budget, nearly four times the record set -- that's right the
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record that was set last year by my democrat colleagues of this house. this has ledeen to the president's chief economic advisor, while speaking on cnn to acknowledge that, and i quote, it's pretty reality stick that there will be no -- realistic there will be no job growth until 2010 and the u.s. will hit 5.9% unemployment this year. let's be honest about it. the democratic plans are there would be 9% unemployment next year. that was the democrats' blueprint, their plan that was in the budget, 9%. that's their best estimate, their guess. we're going to rise to 9%. well, the question is not whether congress should support families, but whether it makes
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sense when so many americans are already struggling with unemployment rates, increased taxes, thanks to our good friends, the democrat majority, and to an economic recession with three years that the house and the senate have been run by democrat leadership, to increase their tax burden to pay for this increased paid time off from work, especially in light of the fact that government workers, in my opinion, have not even asked for it. madam speaker, my friends on the other side often argue that federal employees need greater benefits to be more competitive with private industry. there could be truth to that. even the office of personnel management have determined that federal and private sector benefits compare favorably and additional benefits would not help with retirement and retention. additionally, this bill does not exist -- assist the older work
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force facing retirement since it deals specifically with paid leave for having a child, adopting a child or taking care of a foster child. the congressional budget office estimates that this new benefit in search of a problem will cost taxpayers $938 million over the next five years. madam speaker, at a time when the average, hard-working american families are already struggling and working many, many, many more hours and trying to find additional income through a job that they cannot find to pay their bills, i don't believe it's appropriate for congress to increase the paid leave of federal bureaucrats beyond their already generous levels and using taxpayer dollars to do it. since june of last year, the federal government work force has grown by 37,000 employees, while the private sector has sed
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more than 4.4 million jobs at the same time. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have spent trillions of the taxpayers' dollars over the past six months. americans are faced with a $1.8 trillion deficit this year alone from the democrat majority and this administration. their plan. taxpayers are reaching a breaking point when it comes to subsidizing higher federal spending at their expense. it is costing the free enterprise system jobs and the opportunity to get a job tomorrow because the massive spending that's taking place by this democrat majority. responsible american families are cutting back their costs. they're dealing with the job loss. they're doing the things to help their families and their friends. and they're looking at the
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destruction of their savings and retirement accounts. i think it's simply wrong. it's wrong for the democratic party to move this bill rather than trying to create jobs, they're trying to get new benefits for federal employees. madam speaker, i will be honest. darn right this is going to be a tough vote for members of congress. are we going to pay attention to what's happening back home or are we going to come up here and spend another $1 billion. i urge my colleagues to vote no on this legislation. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california. mr. cardoza: thank you, madam speaker. i would just respond to the gentleman that this is less than $100 million a year for the entire country. while every dollar that the taxpayers pays is significant and important, i'd say that this particular bill is much more important in some ways than many
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expenditures this federal government makes. and it is also something that i believe is fundamentally important in many sectors, especially in the area that i talked about with adopting new children. the gentleman says that federal employees is some of the most stable work force we have in this country. well, that is the kind of people you want adopting children, stable homes that have jobs they aren'toing to lose and take the time to do. while lead policies in the government generally may compare favorably with some private sector employment, the federal government's paid parental leave policy simply does not. 75% of the fortune 100 companies offer at least six weeks of parental paid leave and make them much more attractive to
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young working families who cannot afford to go without pay for that length of time. madam speaker, i would like to yield two minutes to the the gentlewoman from new york, mrs. maloney. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. . mrs. maloney: i rise in strong 130r9 of the bill that would provide for four weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. it's identical to the version of the bill that passed the house last congress with strong bipartisan support. the vote count was 278 to 146, with 50 republicans voting for the bill in the 110th congress my good friend on the other side of the aisle said federal employees are not asking for this. that is not the truth. i would like permission to place in the record various letters written in support, they actively have been meeting with us and supporting it for
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the past 15 years that majority leader steny hoyer and myself and others have been championing this bill. i'd like to put their letters of support in the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mrs. maloney: i also would like to point out that this bill is pay-go neutral and would not affect, and i quote, direct spending or reseats. -- or receipts. to be clear, there are no pay-go implications for h.r. 626 because it does not create new expenditures. whether or not an employee takes paid leave, the paid for -- pay for that employee has been included in the salary budget for that agency. the only cost associated with the bill is the amounthat agencies currently save when employees who have a new child take their 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and the $140 million for four weeks of paid leave in the congressional budget office score is what federal agencies
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currently save when employees take unpaid leave. paid leave can also offset costs by boosting employee morale and productivity while reducing turnover. turnover is costly. it costs 20% of an employee's salary to hire and train a new worker, compared to just 8% to provide skilled, experienced employee with four weeks of paid parental leave. the military already provides paid leave. new mothers are provided not with four week, but six weeks of paid leave and fathers are given 10 days. this puts the civilian branch -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. mrs. maloney: this bill puts the civilian branch on par with the military. it's already been pointed out that a large portion of the private sector voluntarily provides paid leave, and in a study by harvard and by the g.a.o., we found that we are ranked 168th in the world, 168
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countries provide some form of paid leave. we are tied wit papua, new gun nee, swaziland, and lesotho, as countries that do not provide paid leave. this is an opportunity for this body that constantly talks about family values to show they truly do value families and provide paid leave, four week, building on the 12 weeks of unpaid leave, that families can have support in this critical time of the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. i believe my time has expired. i urge a yes vote on the rule and i urge a yes vote on the underlying bill. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from texas. mr. sessions: thank you, madam speaker. madam speaker we had two wonderful speakers on the majority said tell us, i think they were contradicting each
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other, one said, it only costs $100 million a year. another speaker said, there's no cost. as a matter of fact, pay-go says there's nothing to it. well, maybe the pay-go rules of this house say that, but let me tell you what the congressional budget office says. their cost estimate. congressional budget office says five years, $938 million. $938 million. almost $1 billion over five years. that's real money. oh, no. no, no, no. you've got it wrong. we are already going to give them the money anyway, so it doesn't cost anymore. that's not reality. that's not the way it works. c.b.o. is right, $938 billion over five years. we had our president just maybe three weeks ago, four weeks ago, say, after spending this -- all these trillions of
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dollars, the president said, i'm going to ask my budget to cut a whopping $100 million from all their budgets across government. $100 million. that is this bill, just for one year. as the gentleman says, just one year. with the bottom line is, it's $938 billion over five years. you just can't have it both ways. you can't try and explain to the american people that you're really trying to do something good for them, but turn around and make it more difficult. i think our friends that are on the majority party don't understand that you just can't sneak up here to washington and do this and get away with it back home. people are going to pay attention to this madam speaker, at this time, i'd like to yield two minutes to the gentleman from kilovis,
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california, mr. nunes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. new necessary: i rise in opposition to -- mr. nunes: i rise in opposition to the rule. when our government can't ensure water to the people that live in this country, the government has failed. i want my colleagues to know that this government is previding over a man-made drought in california, thanks to this, my district's at 20% unemployment. some communities are at 50% unemployment. and despite this crisis, today, the obama administration announced a new biological opinion that will end water deliveries in california. laying waste to billions of dollars worth of infrastructure and starving the state of water. we must not allow this to happen and this body must act. i'd like to conclude by addressing my friends in the democratic leadership in this country. i want to express my
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congratulations for dealing with this crisis. you've managed to make the crisis worse. madam speaker we need to stop the spending, stop the bailouts, and get back to the basic responsibilities that this government has, like providing water to people. with that, madam speaker, i urge a no vote on this rule and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california. mr. cardoza: thank you, madam speaker. i respond to my colleague from california and my colleague from texas in this way. that they -- my colleague from california knows i support him in his efforts to try and solve the california water crisis, and in fact, i've been a leader in trying to do that. i don't always agree, i've come to this house floor and argued with my own leadership with regard to the issues that have dealt with the causes of the
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california regulatory drought. i'd also like to remind the gentleman who loves to blame the democrats for everything that goes wrong, that it was a republican bill and a republican judge that put both of those concerns that are causing much of our water problems on the map. with regard to my friend from texas. his claim that this is all about the cost. i can tell you, as an adoptive parent, that if i hadn't take then actions i did by adopting two children, they would not have fulfilled the place they hold in my heart, but they would have also cost the federal government much, much more. when we allow -- when we take kids out of foster care, and put -- out of a home, abusive home, and put them into foster care we do so in order to try and recapture their lives. my children came out of a home
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where they were being neglected and abused from a drug addicted mother. and the scars that they will carry from that time in their lives are profound. had i not had the ability to spend time with them, the challenges that we face with those emotional difficulties work those young people, they love so much, would be in fact much worse than they are even today. the gentleman can talk about how this is a cost issue, but let me tell you, people can't get the time to do what's right about adopting young kids, they won't do that. and it will cost the federal government much more. we argued this in a bill last year where we gave the opportunity for our troops to adopt young people and take that leave. it was the right thing to do then and it passed. last year, this bill was on the
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floor and 50 of the gentleman's colleagues from texas voted in support of this. this is the right thing to do for our country. it's the right thing to do for our kids. i believe in it profoundly. and yes, this government wastes a lot of money in many different ways, but i can tell you that money spent in this area, on these particular set of young people i've talked about so much today, is money well spent and will pay dividends many times over in the future. i have no question about that. at this time, madam speaker, i'd like to inquire of the gentleman from texas if he has any remaining speakers. mr. sessions: i thank the gentleman for the inquiry, i do have at least one more speaker. i would anticipate that if you do not have any more speakers, i would then offer my close and then we could allow you to do the same and move on through this rule. mr. cardoza: i would reserve
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and allow the gentleman to close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas. mr. sessions: thank you, madam speaker, i appreciate the opportunity to move forward on this important bill. madam speaker, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to insert into the record the cost estimate for h.r. 626 from the congressional budget office. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. sessions: madam speaker, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to have information provided the national -- from the national federation of independent businesses known as nfib, their information about opposing, strongly opposing this bill. into the record. spro the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. sessions: at this time, i yield two minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. lake. mr. lake: i thank the gentleman from texas for yielding and i rise to oppose the rule and legislation in consideration of h.r. 626. having run a business, i understand how important it is
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to look out for workers and be supportive, especially in these difficult economic times when families are making tough choices with regards to how they spend their money and their time. i believe this debate should be focused on whether we should be granting additional benefits when workers in areas like where i come from are struggling to hang on to their job. that's why i offered an amendment that says this would not take effect until the national employment rate is down to 4% and no state has an employment rate greater than 7%. i regret the house will not have the opportunity to consider this amendment because i think it provides a common sense way to address the timing of this measure. take an area in my district take an area in my district like niagara county, where tens

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