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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 4, 2009 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT

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to the auto industry. the unemployment rate there is nearly 11%. a figure that was recorded before general motors and chrysler began the restructure chg we already know will lead to more job losses. we also know that these workers who are able to hang on will have to accept significantly reduced compensation packages in order to stay employed. these are tough times regardless of what industry you're in, but think ability these auto workers, the farmers, the retail workers, who are being forced to do more with less just to keep their job and to keep their head above water. think about them when washington turns around and proposes more generous fringe benefits for public sector pros. . it sends the wrong message at the wrong time and washington
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continues to find ways to spend money it doesn't have. i'm disappointed the house will not have the opportunity to consider my amendment. and with that, i yield back to the the gentleman from texas. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from texas. mr. sessions: thank you so much. and i appreciate the gentleman from new york. madam speaker, i did engage in an agreement with the the gentleman from california. the gentleman has given concurrence. we had another speaker from the republican party who would choose to speak. going back on my word, but with agreement, the gentleman has allowed me to extend three minutes to the the gentleman from virginia, mr. wolf. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. wolf: i think this will be better and i thank the chairman for allowing me to do this. i rise in support of the bill. and i just want to give you some reasons. one i supported the bill in the last session. two, our military, our military today currently gets six weeks
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of parental paid leave. and the first person killed in afghanistan was from my district, a civilian alongside of the military. and so for the f.b.i., the c.i.a., the d.i.a., d.e.a., a.t.f., they deserve basically the same thing. secondly, i was the ranking member on children, youth and families years eeg. the leading child pediatrician came in and said at the initial moment of birth, and i have five children and 13 grandchildren and soon to have two more, at the initial moment of birth when the mother breathes on the baby, the bonding process begins. it begins, those early days, weeks are absolutely, positively critical. and so for me on a family issue and a family value issue, i think that's really important.
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the last thing is, i just want to remind my colleagues that one of the leading people in this congress, one of my heroes, two of the people i looked up to more than anybody, one congressman henry hyde and former congressman dan coates both supported parental leave. the words of henry hyde during the debate on family leave and it was not paid family leave. he reminded us that, quote, the family supplies the moral glue that holds society together and it is an essential institution that stands between us and social disintegration. and so, one the military gets six weeks. two, that bonding process is when that baby comes out, you want the mother to be there. it is critically important. and thirdly, one of the giants from the beginning in this hall
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that ever served, congressman henry hyde who led the most passionate case on why the family leave should have been passed years ago. i rise in support of the bill and i thank the gentleman for yielding me time. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas to close. mr. sessions: i appreciate the gentleman from virginia not only for coming to the floor and the gentleman from california for allowing me an additional speaker. madam speaker, i we should have a different title for this bill. this bill should be, the bill what congress needs to do to expend federal benefits to federal employees, while knowing in april, there were 611,000 private sector jobs that were lost. that is what should be the name of the bill. this is what congress is going
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to do some some three million jobs that have been lost while this administration has been in power. this is the answer to three million job losses in the private sector. we're going to extend benefits, further benefits to the federal government. i understand that, because federal government employment has risen about 100,000. and with car companies and banks and everything else, no telling how many federal employees we'll end up with at the end of this year. maybe i was wrong. maybe there is a strong demand for federal government employees who want additional benefits. but we should remember that back home where i'm from and where a lot of people are from, 611,000 jobs disappeared in the month of april. and this is the response from our democrat majority and our president. let's go spend more money. new benefits for federal government employees. i get it.
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i think you will, too, madam speaker, when we hear from people back home. in closing, i would like to reiterate the horrible precedent that this legislation sets. those americans who today that i just talked about, some 611,000 in april alone in the private sector who lost their jobs. millions of americans are jobless and due to the out of control spending of this democrat congress, no analyst or white house official believes jobs will bounce back this year. nobody. matter of fact, the democratic party is on record that it's going to get worse next year and we're planning on it already. we already understand that. we ought to be saying that instead of extending benefits that's going to cost another $1 billion. why are my friends on the other side afraid of risking more taxpayer dollars to federal employees who have the most job security and excellent benefits? why are they afraid to back away
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and wait on this? why are they pushing this? i wonder. i wonder really who is more important and who they're hearing from, because evidently it's not people back home. maybe it is the government workers that they're listening to. maybe government workers are more important to this party than people back home. maybe that's why this is happening. the republicans are providing quality solutions. we think we understand what the american people are going through. we understand what's happening with the taxing, borrowing and spending. huge deficits and unemployment rates continue on and on and on. i oppo this bill. and i hope that the american people understand that the
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taxpayer was heard today on the floor of the house of representatives. they were heard by the speakers of the republican party, which says we should not be extending benefits right now and increase the spending to the cost of $1 billion the next five years. we should understand what real people are going through. i'm going to vote against this bill. i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. mr. cardoza: thank you, mr. speaker. i have sat here and listened this evening to the gentleman from texas talk about how this is a terrible waste of dollars and how the republicans are saying that this is a terrible waste of money. but i wish to correct the gentleman. today, this isn't a partisan issue. in fact, i would predict that there are a number of his colleagues, the gentleman from
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texas on the republican side of the aisle like mr. wolf, who understand what this is about. this is about america's children, about children coming into this world and bonding with a mother and a father and having the opportunity to do that in this hectic world that we live in today. it's about foster parents that come in and do the right thing, taking care of abused and victimized children. and needing that time to do it right. it's about adoptive parents, who when they reach out and bring into their home permanently children who have been victimized by society's ills, having the opportunity to do it right so we can start healing those children. there are a number of republicans on that side of the aisle that are going to do the right thing tonight. they're going to vote for this
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rule and vote for this bill because it's the right thing for america and building families. they call themselves the family value party. tonight they can prove it by coming in here and voting to do the right thing. mr. speaker, tonight i would like to submit for the record statement of administration policy. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. cardoza: i provide that to the speaker. you know, the gentleman from texas talks about how much money this government has wasted. he's right. there's a lot of money that gets wasted. but over the last eight years, as our country was being absolutely raped by those defense contractors in the middle east, with no accountability, where was the gentleman to stand up against that? no, ladies and gentlemen, he's not willing to stand up against that or wasn't the last eight
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years, but tonight he will criticize us spending a few dollars to get it right for our families in america. mr. speaker, the fact of the matter is that while most parents wish to stay home with their new child, they just can't afford to take unpaid leave, which directly affects that child's well-being. we can start with having a federal government lead by example, to set the stage for making changes across the table. to para phrase gandhi, we must be the change we wish to see in this world. i believe that couldn't be more true. i ask the members of both sides of the aisle to support the parents of america, to support the children of america and be the change that we wish for our world.
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i urge a yes vote on this rule and on the previous question. i yield back the balance of my time. and i move the previous question on the resolution. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields. without objection, the previous question is ordered. the question is on adoption of the resolution. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the resolution is agreed to and the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
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the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to house resolution 501 and rule 18, the chair declares the house and the committee of the whole for consideration of h.r. 626. the chair apoints the gentlewoman from colorado, ms. deget to preside over the committee of the whole. the chair: the house is in the committee of the whole house of the state of the union for consideration of h.r. 626, which
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the clerk will report by title. the clerk: h.r. 626, a bill to provide that four of the 12 weeks of parental leave made available to a federal employee shall be paid leave and for other purposes. the chair: pursuant to the rule, the bill is considered read the first time. the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch and the gentleman from california, mr. issa, each will control 30 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. lynch: i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks. the chair: without objection, so ordered. mr. lynch: i now yield myself as much time as i may consume. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. lynch: today i rise in strong support of h.r. 626, federal employees paid parental leave act of 2009, which was introduced by our colleague, congresswoman carolyn maloney on
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january 22, 2009. as chairman of the subcommittee on the federal work force, postal service and district of columbia, i'm proud to serve as an original co-sponsor of this bill, along with 55 other members of congress. h.r. 626 takes an important step toward improving the federal government's ability to recruit and retain highly qualified work force by providing paid parental leave to federal and congressional employees for birth, adoption or placement of a child from foster care which is a benefit extended to employees in the private sector as well as government employees in other industrialized countries. the subcommittee on the federal work force, postal service and the district of columbia marked up the bill on march 25, 2009 and favorably recommended the measure to the full committee on oversight and government reform.
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the full committee then held a markup on h.r. 626 on may 6, 2009 and ordered the bill to be reported to the floor by a voice vote. the bilk considered today will allow all federal and congressional employees to receive four weeks of paid leave taken under the family medical leave act, also called the fmlia for the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child. the current statute provides workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child with an employee, adam chairman. the bill before us does nothing more than permit those federal employees first to receive paid leave for four weeks. out of the 12 weeks to which they're already entitled, and if the leave is connect todd the
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birth, adoption or placement of a foster child and secondly, provides employees the employee to use accrued sick or vacation time for the remaining eight weeks. . the bill does not provide workers any additional time or expand beyond the 12 weeks already given under current law. the bill before us has also been strengthened by granting the director of the office of personnel management the authority to increase paid parental leave from four weeks to eight weeks after considering a thorough cost and benefit analysis. parental leave is a pertinent concern around the world and unfortunately, america is lagging behind in offering paid leave for parents. the governments of 168 countries offer guaranteed paid leave to female employees in connection with childbirth. 98 of these countries offer 14
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or more weeks of paid leave. currently, the federal government as an employer guarantees zero paid leave for parents in any segment of the workforce, however, h.r. 626, once enacted, will in fact change that. while the 12 weeks of inpaid leave as authorized by the family and medical leave act of 1993 as helped millions of families during some of the most precious moments or in some cases the most challenging times of their lives, most federal employees cannot afford to take unpaid leave. this often forces these employees to choose between spend manager time with their newborn child or maintaining an income to support their families which is a difficult decision that federal workers will hopefully not have to make after the passage of this federal employees paid parental leave act. the united states of america and in particular the government is supposed to be leaders in this area, yet we
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have been followers. i'm sure you'll agree it's high time for us to catch up with the rest of the world and prvide our dedicated employees with paid parental leave for this limited time. providing employees with paid parental leave will improve worker ma role and improvide a more family-friendly environment for federal employees. furthermore, this should not be described as an over-generous or excessive fringe benefit, but rather as a necessary ben kit to help -- benefice to help strengthen american families and promote the healthy development of our children. we need to recognize that the federal government is the largest employer in the united states and its policies in this area do set a tone for the country. no employee should have to choose between caring for a newborn child or their paycheck. this is especially true in an economic downturn. therefore, madam speaker, i'd like to once again reiterate my
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support for h.r. 626, the federal employee paid parental leave act of 2009, and i urge my colleagues to join me in voting in favor of this measure and i continue to reserve the balance of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserve -- the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. issa: h.r. 626 sends the wrong message at the wrong time to working american taxpayers and families struggling in difficult times. our economy is in crisis and deficits are already soaring. excess government spending created record deficits and we -- that will continue to rise for years in good times and bad, meaning government already spends too much of the taxpayers' money and has been running deficits before and now during the obama administration. but more than that, jobs are being lost.
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in the time since the last time this bill was considered, and not passed into law, 4.3 million americans have lost their jobs while 36,000 new federal -- net new federal jobs have been created. my voters, my taxpayers, my constituents are suffering. so are yours, madam speaker. so are the people on the other side. but in fact, there's no suffering in washington. we have some of the lowest unemployment. we have a growing quality of life. even home prices are not falling very much here. it's not a surprise why. salaries are not falling here. those of us who will speak here today are making nearly $170,000 a year and many of our staff, a great many of our staff make over $100,000 a year, as to a -- as do a great many of the federal workforce. this bill does not have one provision to say, if you make $170,000 a year, why do we have to give you this benefit? because you have to choose
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between feeding your children and being with your children? certainly not. there are no protections against, in fact, those who do not need this special benefit getting it. there are no safeguards at all. as a matter of fact, this bill envisions the $1 billion over five years, or more than $2 billion over 10 years swelling to $4 billion over 10 years or more because in fact it believes it should be eight weeks of special leave. now in the rules committee, i was told i just didn't understand, that germany gives a year when you have a child. you know, the amazing thing is germany and france and many of these countries are going the opposite direction because they recognize they were losing competitiveness and the generous benefits, though good to have, were unsustainable. they're particularly unsustainable when the only people who can afford it are those who live off the taxpayers -- i'd like to say
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generosity, but this money is taken involuntarily and spent at the whims of congress. madam speaker, federal employees enjoy one of the highest levels of job security without a doubt anywhere in the united states. i would venture to say many of them, the highest. more importantly in good times and bad they keep their jobs. even if you look at the protections against being arbitraryly let go or hired at will, that's not even the point. the point is, in a bad time, when tens of thousands of auto workers are being laid off, when 40,000 employees of chrysler dealerships have just goten from this administration a 26-day pink notice to go because their franchises have been taken arbitrarily, at that time we've grown the federal government by 36,000 and we're looking at a new benefit that could easily cost $4 billion over the next 10 years. now this bill was scored at
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nearly $1 billion over five years. but of course that's only if it remains at four weeks. let's talk about those four weeks. this bill is not four weeks. this is 12 weeks. most federal workers, when they retire have a significant amount of accrued, even when they leave in general, accrued sick leave you might ask why. well, because the typical sick leave for federal workers is 13 days a year. that's nearly three weeks a year you get to be sick, on top of 20, depending on your seniority, 20 to 26 days a year of vacation. so you're looking at five weeks of vacation, on top of that you're looking at nearly three weeks of sick leave. we're being told bhi the majority they can't make those tradeoffs to use some of that when a child is born. it's a joyous occasion when a child is born. it's an important occasion when a child is adopted. it's sometimes a critical time
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when a foster child, battered, beaten, or simply unloved, is brought into the home. the minority has no question at all but the importance of this. it's been a long time since 1993. this is well established to be something in which people make the sacrifices without sacrificing their jobs. we have no objection to the current practice which is common in the federal work force to allow federal employees to take some or all of their sick leave. as a matter of fact, an amendment which has been ruled in order and will be considered tonight calls for federal employees to be able to use not only their accrued sick leave but borrow against future sick leave, but if they want to take the whole 12 weeks and get a paycheck, we're willing to meet the majority more than halfway. we're willing to make the kind of compromise they'd like to make with the majority.
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there are safeguards not in this legislation we'd like to see. we'll work with the senate to see if we can get that. but we offer an amendment that would at least cause there to be no net new cost to the american people. and i know that the majority will say, this is pay-go neutral. pay-go is a wonderful term. but let's understand if you create additional days the federal workforce will be off, you can only have one of two choices, either their labor wasn't needed and as a result doesn't need to be replaced or their labor was needed and will be replaced. replacement costs money. that ultimately will lead to a higher cost. i believe c.b.o.'s scoring of approximately $1 billion over five years is in fact low. but i'm not going to argue with it. we accept theirs because they are in fact a neutral ar by traitor of these differences about what something costs or
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is worth. so here the republicans are going to offer to support a -- codifying what many agencies are already doing in the federal government, but not without the american people understanding that if we add a new additional off-time benefit of four or eight additional weeks on top of the five weeks and nearly three weeks that are already granted to most federal employees, i think the american people, rightfully so, will send us packing. they'll send us packing because we would be so out of touch, so inconsistent with what the small mom and pop, and the not so small companies in america are experiencing. earlier, madam speaker, i said that 4,353,000 have been lost between the last time this was considered. that's not the true story. the true story is reflected in
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state tax revenues and federal tax revenues. we realize it's not just those who lost their jobs but those who lost a great percentage of the earnings they were making on the job. overtime is gone. profit sharing and additional commissions are generally gone. as a result, people aren't just out of work, but people who were still technically fully employed may be making less than half of what they were making a year or two ago. so madam speaker, we on this side of the aisle will oppose the bill in its current form, but not without offering viable alternatives, reasonable amendments, some ruled, some not ruled in order so we can make this at least a bill that america can understand why we would consider doing it many at a time when so many americans are suffering. with that, i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. lynch: thank you, madam speaker. i want to address a couple of
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points that -- well a single point made by a number of speakers on the other side who i have great respect for, the gentleman from texas earlier and now the gentleman from california. there's a drum beat of justification that seems to be grounded in the fact that the economy is not in good shape right now. that's a fact. in my state, in my district as well as all across america. but before we accept the argument that this is why it's being opposed, this bill is being opposed at this time, i want to give a brief history. this bill has been presented for 15 years, this bill has been presented for 15 years. before this body. in 2008, when a majority of the republicans opposed this important benefit, the unemployment then was 5.6%. pretty good. during the 109th congress, when the republicans refused to bring this bill to the floor, the unemployment rate was never the unemployment rate was never higher than 5.4%.


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