Lipinski Votes Against House Republicans' Spending Plan, Citing its Negative Impact on Jobs, the Economy, and Middle-Class Families (February 22, 2011)

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) voted against the House Republicans’ spending bill because it threatens to derail the economic recovery, would cost hundreds of thousands of private-sector jobs, and slashes support for working families, public safety, health care, transportation, the environment, Wall Street oversight, and America’s long-term competitiveness.

“There is no doubt that we must cut spending, reduce the national debt, and restore fiscal discipline,” Congressman Lipinski said. “That is one reason why I did not vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, the $1 trillion health care bill, or the $862 billion stimulus bill. Three weeks ago, I parted ways with most Democrats and voted for a resolution calling for a reduction in spending for the rest of this fiscal year to 2008 levels. But this bill goes far beyond that, and in the final analysis it cuts from the wrong places. We cannot cut spending without considering what programs work and the consequences for the American people. This bill would cost American jobs, hurt middle-class families, and put our fragile economic recovery at risk. What we need and what I strongly support is a disciplined approach to addressing the national debt.”

“It is clear that this bill has no chance of passing the Senate in its current form. To reach agreement on a spending bill for the rest of the year to keep the government running will require compromise by both those who want drastic, ultimately harmful reductions and those who reflexively oppose cutting any spending. In recent days, there has been much talk about the possibility of an impasse that leads to a government shutdown. I believe that we should not allow this to happen, especially not when our economy is still struggling to create jobs and emerge from recession. As I have many times before, I will be working to find a common sense solution for the American people. A stubborn refusal to budge by those on both sides will only end in gridlock that hurts our nation.”

H.R. 1 cuts $8.5 billion for vital transportation and infrastructure projects, costing 284,000 primarily private-sector jobs. Those cuts include $133 million to build the Englewood Flyover in Chicago, which would create 1,450 jobs and help eliminate delays on Metra’s Rock Island and Southwest Service lines as well as for Amtrak and freight rail. With a surface transportation bill already long overdue and the Chicago region’s traffic congestion now ranked the worst in America, such cuts are bad for the Third District. At the same time, the legislation eliminates $234 million for new air traffic control technology that is critical to enabling Midway and O’Hare airports to keep up with future growth and remain economic engines for the region.

The bill drastically reduces funding for employment and training programs, hurting tens of thousands of the unemployed from manufacturing and other sectors who need to acquire new skills so they can reenter the workforce and provide for their families. To prevent another financial crisis, Congressman Lipinski has supported stronger regulation and oversight of Wall Street. Unfortunately, the bill cuts funding for the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, making it easier for Wall Street to continue the reckless behavior that helped cause the recession.

Despite continued illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and the risk that a porous border poses to national security in an age of terrorism, the bill cuts border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology by $350 million. Support for local police would also take a hit, with a nearly 40 percent reduction in grants for state and local law enforcement.

The measure makes deep cuts to both job-creating high-tech research and medical research. Funding would be slashed for the kind of advanced research that has led to innovations that have created entire industries and countless jobs. Alternative energy research aimed at reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil would be cut by more than a third. Locally, Argonne National Laboratory reportedly would have to lay off 1,000 employees, and Fermilab would have to lay off 400 employees. Plus, thousands of jobs for contractors and subcontractors would be lost. This would be a significant setback for the Chicagoland economy. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health would lose $1.6 billion, a blow to America’s most important source of life-saving research into cancer and other diseases. 

Living on the shores of Lake Michigan, where sewage dumping and beach closures are all too common, Chicagoland residents know the importance of improving water quality. Yet this legislation cuts $1.4 billion from the EPA program that helps modernize sewage treatment plants to stop pollution.

While resisting unwise cuts, Congressman Lipinski supported getting rid of wasteful spending included in this legislation. He voted for an amendment to eliminate funding for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the Surface-Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, which would save a total of $24 billion. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has recommended cancelling both the missile system, which suffered from delays and cost overruns, and the EFV, which has been plagued by delays and poor performance and is far over budget, with the expected cost per vehicle having nearly tripled over the last decade. Secretary Gates has proposed more affordable options for ensuring that America maintains a strong amphibious assault capability. Congressman Lipinski also voted for a bipartisan amendment to limit farm subsidy payments to $250,000 per entity to prevent unnecessary payments to big agribusinesses, saving $100 million. Unfortunately, both of these money-saving amendments were defeated.

“We need to cut spending to assure America remains strong and prosperous for our children and grandchildren,” Congressman Lipinski said. “I also expect that the final spending bill will involve tough decisions and difficult tradeoffs, but this bill cut too much from needed investments and failed to make other more reasonable cuts. That is why I will continue to oppose unnecessary spending and work with my colleagues to pass a budget that takes common-sense steps to restore fiscal discipline.”

Prior to the final vote, Congressman Lipinski voted for amendments to restore funding for police hiring under the COPS program and for grants to local fire departments. The Congressman has obtained millions of dollars in critical funding for local police officers and firefighters under these programs.

(February 22, 2011)