Republicans Called 'Emperors of Earmarks' (Rep. Gene Green)

A lot of Members sat in the House Chamber last night until 2:00 in the morning and watched the Republican minority file motion after motion for us to rise so we wouldn't take up a Homeland Security bill that has no earmarks.

What they did was try to keep us from passing a bill by October 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. If we don't, the government will run out of money. The Republicans had trouble meeting that deadline during their 12 years in the majority, which is why we had to live under continuing resolutions during their tenure. We live under one now because of their governance last year.

The Homeland Security bill provides 3000 new Border Patrol agents. It would be nice on October 1 if this bill were signed into law so we could have those agents on the border, in our airports and in our ports. The bill includes $400 million for port security, including the Port of Houston, the number one foreign-tonnage port.

But the Republicans don't want to talk about those issues. They want to talk about shining the light of day on earmarks. Well, for 12 years they didn't want the light of day on their earmarks. They were kings. They were the emperors of earmarks.

I think what they are concerned about is that we may do to them what they did to Democrats for 12 years, but that is not our intent. All we want is to let the public see what is happening.

I have requested earmarks, and I am proud to say I have received them for our district and I don't mind publicizing them. But I follow the rules for requesting them. I won't airdrop them in like the Republicans did in the appropriations bills while they were in charge.

The conversion we've seen in the minority party is almost as amazing as the biblical conversion of Saul, persecutor of Christians, into Paul on the road to Damascus. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but I don't think it's so mysterious. I think that after 12 years of being dictators in the House of Representatives the Republicans are afraid the same rules are going to be used against them.

I'm not ashamed to say that for three years I have requested $250,000 in an earmark to pay for a prenatal machine to treat poor mothers. But Health and Human Services has stripped out that earmark and other Democratic earmarks for a number of years. I'm not an appropriator, but I hope our Appropriations Committee doesn't do the same to the minority party.

I have asked for $250,000 for a diabetes program in Harris County, Texas. I have asked for $250,000 for immunizations. The reason we have earmarks is to make sure the money goes to the people who need it. It is the job of elected officials, not the bureaucracy, to decide where the money goes. I don't want to give all that money to Health and Human Services and say, By the way, I sure would like you to help prevent and treat diabetes and provide immunizations in Harris County.

We all have to obey the rules, whether Republican or Democrat, and we need to pass the appropriations bills before October 1. The Republicans couldn't do that during their 12 years in the majority. They inserted earmarks all over the appropriations process, but stripped out the Democrats'. Now that we are in the majority we shouldn't do the same, but I do want to retain our Constitutional duty to direct funding and care for the citizens from our districts who elected us.

The minority doesn't want us to pass these appropriations bills. They are endangering border security, endangering first responder funding, endangering explosives detection systems for our airports, and endangering our railways and our passenger aircraft. We need to pass these bills for the security of our homeland and to enact the will of the American people.