tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN May 31, 2012 6:26pm-8:00pm EDT
have p.l.a.'s, which i happen to think is a good thing in my part of the world. this is similar to the amendment that was in the defense authorization. to my belief, this was written by the associated builders and contractors and they aren't in favor of project labor agreements. mr. culberson is proud of the fact there are no unions in texas, but we have them in ohio. here's the difficult with this and why this is a wolf in sheep's clothing. what the problem is, if an agency determines that they want to proceed with a project labor agreement, this language prohibits them from doing it, because it prohibits any contractor or subcontractor who may bid or as a piece of that job, to be required to enter into a union contract. and that's the difficulty, because if the agency, independent, without any thumbs on the scale says, you know what? c.r.s. is wrong. great organization. they are flat out wrong. what this does says, if the agency -- let's take one that is in the news here in washington, d.c. the metro airport authority decides they want to do a
project labor agreement and the board votes that way to do it on the silver line that is going out to dulles airlines and they can't do it an agreement because this language says you can't have a project labor agreement because nobody subcontractors can't be required to the terms and conditions that would be in a project labor agreement. so make no mistake about it, c.r.s., this is the labor agreement. and if you can have that position, mr. culberson has that position. mr. culberson: i do. mr. latourette: i know he does. he can have that position, but what you can't do, what you can't do is bring an amendment to the floor that present tends to do one thing and doesn't do another. if you don't want project labor agreements to do one thing, vote against mr. grimm's amendment. if you think they should be in the mix, then vote for it.
mr. culberson: in right-to-work states where we have no labor unions, we don't want contractors to be required to adopt prevailing wages or adopt union guidelines in order to bid on the contract. in states like yours, ohio, new york, new jersey, you should be free to do so. and if i may, the way the amendment is written, we have a difference of opinion, but it is written very clearly that the government cannot require or prohibit contractors from adopting these p.l.a.'s. so it leaves it really up to the local v.a. to decide whether they're going to bid it out to a non-union shop or union shop, depending on the state. in your state, fine. in texas, you know, we are a non-union state. mr. latourette: let me take back my time and say i think it is unfortunate feel they don't have to pay prevailing wages for
construction jobs. but if the language said that, we wouldn't be having this discussion. but the language doesn't say that. let's say the v.a. down in texas makes a determination that they want to do a project in texas under the p.l.a. they can't do it under this language. they are deprived of doing it because to have a project labor agreement would require -- they would be forced to require the contractors and subcontractors to abide by the terms and conditions of that agreement. and i'm telling you that is what it is and better way to write this and this wasn't written by friends of p.l.a.'s. mr. culberson: would the gentleman yield? mr. latourette: hold on, i would ask for an additional two seconds so i can continue this discussion with mr. culberson. . .
mr. culberson: i think we're headed in the same place. you want to continue to use p.l.a.'s in new york, new jersey, and ohio. if that's what you want to do, god bless you. perhaps we should postpone this amendment and come up with language to amend this to make it even clearer, let new jersey run new jersey, let texans run texas. mr. chabot feather -- mr. shah into the: i don't want to run new york. mr. culberson: could you postpone consideration of this amendment briefly so you could amend the language to let texas run texas, arizona run arizona and ohio run ohio? mr. chabot: ypt to consider --
i don't want to consider putting it off. we're going to stand on the grimm agreement in case we can't come to some accommodation, which i hope we can. so i thank the chair. the chair: the gentleman from ohio yields back. the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> i've been a general foreman on large, complex construction projects such as those covered by this bill. mr. lynch: these projects are $500 million and over, it's not a house or something. i also worked in louisiana, we had a p.l.a., half the job was union, half of it was nonunion. there are situations where p.l.a.'s are extremely important and extremely helpful.
this bill would proiblet that from happening. the gentleman from ohio, mr. latourette, is absolutely correct in his interpretation of the language in the bill. for instance, if the v.a., which is right now considering building a spinal cord injury hospital in brocton, massachusetts, they would like to put an agreement on that project that says, we want 30% of the workers or 50% of the workers on this job to be veterans, united states veterans, they would not be able to put that language into effect because they would not be able to require a contractor to sign an agreement to hire veterans on a v.a. project. that's exactly what's wrong with the bill. mr. grimm has a very good amendment. it is on point. he is absolutely right. i know this from my own work on p.l.a. projects.
this amendment seeks to strike the provision from the underlying bill which would prevent any federal agency from requiring contractors to sign a project labor agreement. now p.l.a.'s have been highly efficient in coordinating many, many contractors on these complex construction projects and despite the arguments of some, perform l.a.'s are not a guarantee of union employment. under a p.l.a. agreement, construction contractors can hire people regardless of union or nonunion status. but what it does do, it requires that contractors abide by the law and there's great scrutiny on these projects. they are required to properly classify their workers as the gentleman from texas pointed out, on some jobs where there otherwise might be imgrant workers, illegal immigrant workers on those projects, that doesn't happen on a p.l.a. project because they've all got
to be citizens. it also -- we have a helmets to hard hat program run by the building trades, they actually make sure that especially our returning veterans from iraq and afghanistan get the first crack at those jobs. helmets to hard hats, from military right into aprntiesship programs so we train our young men and woman coming back from afghanistan and iraq a skilled trade. the p.l.a.'s are most commonly used on large, multiyear projects that are complex and that present considerable difficulty for contractors to bid those jobs. the key here is that under current law, federal agency the v.a., the spine cord injury hospital or the d.o.d. if they're building a defense project, they can use the p.l.a. when appropriate. they can put an agreement tailgate to make sure if you have a plum thorne job, he's properly licensed, if you've
got an electricianen the job, he's properly licensed. they abide by a drug-free workplace program. they can put a lot of good things to make sure that project comes in on budget and ahead of schedule. and what this would do would be to prevent the v.a. or the d.o.d. from requiring that on a job. and that is -- it's the worst contractors that are afraid of this agreement because they'd be required to comply with the law. they'd be required to have workers comp, they'd be required to meet with osha and safety regulations, the construction industry, i worked in it for 18 years, very dangerous industry. and sometimes it costs more to run a safe job. look, p.l.a.'s are a good idea. we should continue, when appropriate, to allow these federal agencies to use them on
these construction projects. they're a good idea. and they've been, up to now, they've been evenly administered although this bill would change that dynamic. it would basically ban the v.a. from requiring that veterans be used on those projects or the d.o.d. from saying, look, we want to have veterans on this project, we want to have 50% of the workers on this project we want to be veterans. it's entirely appropriate for the v.a. or the d.o.d. to do that. they would be prohibited from doing that under the language of this bill. i thank the gentleman and i yield back. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from michigan seek recognition? >> i strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. >> before i let a train of thought go from my good friend from arizona, i yield 30 second of time. mr. flake: i just want to say, the gentleman mentioned that he thought this bill was written by the associated builders and contractorers, that is not the case. as the issue was first brought to my attention after a meeting
my office had with the army corps of engineer. a government agency brought it to our attention. second, we're trying to bring back the same neutrality that existed during the bush administration, before this president put the finger on the scale. during the bush administration, during that eight years, where we had neutrality like this amendment of mine, returns to, there were contracts awarded to project labor agreements and there were contracts awarded with without them. that's what neutrality does. when it makes sense to use a p.l.a., it's used, when it doesn't make sense, it isn't. neutrality. that's what this amendment returns to. that's why this amendment should be rejected. >> i thank the gentleman from arizona and thank you for your amendment and i support that. i respectfully do not support the grimm amendment. i'm from michigan. michigan takes no back seat in this country to union labor.
it is the auto capital of the world. returning auto capital of the world. it's a proud union state. a lot of proud, solid union work force in michigan. just this past summer, the state ledge slay church, in majority with the governor concurring and signing, signed into law a prohibition against the mandatory requirement of p.l.a.'s in government contracts. mr. walberg: the state of michigan work their 10th amendment responsibilities, did that. now unlike what took place with the paths administration as the gentleman from arizona correctly pointed out, under the bush administration, the federal appellate court ruled in favor of doing away with the mandate and leaving neutrality there. that's all the provision of this section, 517, does is simply restore the neutrality. that's all we're asking.
that when p.l.a.'s make sense, and ultimately bring about a better project and outcome, fine. but when they don't, for whatever reason that is, there should be no mandate and there ought to be the opportunity within these contracts, within a state like michigan, to make a decision to not go with a p.l.a. if that's the best outcome result. again, this provision in the bill does not prohibit p.l.a.'s. it does not prohibit p.l.a.'s. it is neutrality. studies have found that p.l.a. mandates increase the cost of construction between 12% and 18% compared to nonp.l.a. projects subject to prevailing wage laws. that's a decision making process. that's a point that ought to be considered. it doesn't do away with p.l.a.'s but it says it ought
to be considered in the cost and shouldn't taxpayers have that consideration. shouldn't quality have that consideration? p.l.a. mandates typically restrict jobs to construction workers referred from union hiring halls effectively shutting out in michigan and other places 86% of the nation's construction work force. i don't think that's right. however, if it's necessary to have the union work force with a p.l.a. agreement and it work better and be more efficient, contrary to these studies, if that's the case, then this provision in the act does not do anything except allow neutrality. mr. speaker, that's what we're asking for. to continue what this congress put in place by a vote last week in saying we believe that p.l.a.'s are good sometimes, may not be as good other times and there ought to be neutrality and opportunity for decision making on the local level, at the state level, at the contract construction
level. that meets the best of the abilities. the federal agencies should not mandate that contractors enter into project labor agreements as a condition of winning federal contracts. again, we're looking at nearly $16 trillion in debts. and we're to -- and when our construction industry still suffers and i can tell you that's the case in my district, from a 14 1/2% unemployment rate, we in congress should not be tying the hands of taxpayers and construction workers by making requirements with a thumb on the scale of the president of the united states that really disregards the will and the opportunity of states like michigan to make their own decisions here. i thank the speaker for the opportunity and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentlelady from ohio seek recognition?
ms. kaptur: i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is -- gentlelady is reek nizzed for five minutes. ms. kaptur: i want to thank mr. grimm for offering this bipartisan amendment. last year, we saw the same effort to attack project labor agreements in the military appropriation construction bill and the house on a bipartisan basis made the right choice. we supported negotiated contract labor agreements. why? it's the american way. it's the american way to respect the dignity of the individual. yes, their lives, their liberty and indeed their pursuit of happiness. in northern ohio, we've seen how important project labor agreements are. we use them to save lives. as skilled laborers perform extremely dangerous work that i would dare to say almost no one in this house is capable of performing.
these workers are absolutely essential for these agreement -- these agreements are absolutely essential for workplace safety, for ensuring quality construction, and protecting the lives and rights of those men and women who perform extremely difficult on a regular basis. i'm reminded in toledo, ohio, we were replacing a major interstate bridge, the largest transportation project in ohio history, over $400 million. over several years. we knew we needed a project labor agreement to complete the job with as few accidents as possible. because we were replacing a lift bridge along one of the reason's most important interstate highway systems adjoining three states. we insisted, i work sod hard, that there be a project labor agreement for the construction of this complex skyway bridge over the largest river that go
into the great lakes. i didn't want it to be like mac gnaw with the name os of all the dead -- like mackinaw with the names of all the dead workers who were responsible for building that bridge. we hoped and worked so hard to try to limit the danger to those men and women and we knew we needed a project labor agreement to write the trials of road for that construction project. people were literally placing themselves, their lives, at great risk every single day and if you don't believe me, you should have seen the talented individuals lofted hundreds of feet in the air and then in bitterly freezing weather trying to put the pieces together in the river, above the river, to construct this giant -- the giant spires, physically created the modern
architectural wonder of the glass city schoolboyway named after the veterans of our country. despite all the safety precautions, we still lost lives. in two separate tragedies. that were avoidable. in the middle of february in 2004, one of the cranes collapsed, killing four workers. and injuring four others. why did they collapse? because the company decided to cut corners and did a contest between which part of the roadbed would be built faster. and all the inspectors missed what was happening. . four workers were killed. i went to every single funeral. i don't want to do that again. i don't want to have to comfort families of a tragedy. three years later, a man died while the platform he was working on collapsed. we would have lost more lives if there had not been a project labor agreement in place.
i don't believe in neutrality. some of my colleagues talked about neutrality. huh-uh. not when it comes to workers' lives. they were building our future for the benefit of us all. they deserve a safe work environment and deserve to have their lives represented in a contract agreement. it's worth more than concrete. worth more than the expires, worth more than the metal. they were crushed to death, crushed to death. thank god we had an agreement in place. it wasn't neutral. it defended them. it defended the workers whose lives were saved because we knew we were a nation of laws and that their lives were worth everything to us. it's the american way. when we as a nation invest in our physical infrastructure, those that are actually building up our country deserve to have their lives protected through
contract, not just the cost of the concrete, but the value of their lives. support project labor agreements. support this amendment. i ask my colleagues to vote for the grimm amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from maryland seek recognition? >> i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> this discussion is not about safety. it's not about making projects safe or making them more efficient, it's about politics. mr. harris: this is about an executive order that the president put in place that takes jobs out of the 1st district of maryland and other district where there may not be union work forces. mr. chairman, the unemployment rate is high enough in the 1st congressional district of maryland. no, i will not yield.
the unemployment rate in the 1st congressional district is higher than the national average and we don't have union workers. if some bureaucrat in washington because of a presidential executive order says we have to have a project labor agreement on a project under this bill, under this appropriation, unemployed workers in my district aren't going to work in that project. and the hard-working taxpayers in my district as the gentleman from michigan has said, will be paying 12% to 18% of their d tax dollars to pay for a project laement in a district that they don't want, that some bureaucrat in washington decided they needed. mr. chairman, we can't afford that. this country can't afford it. we have a $1.3 trillion deficit and we are debating tonight
about whether just to be neutral about language about project labor agreements. the gentleman from arizona is absolutely right. this is plain english reading. it just says that the bureaucrats for cure -- procuring that contract. if someone wants to bid on it, they can bid union labor. it just says you can't require it as a condition of the contract. mr. chairman, we got sent here to do the right thing for our hard-working taxpayers back home, those who want to have a job, who want to be involved in some of these federal contracts and without this provision, if this amendment passes and this provision is struck from the underlying appropriations bill, the people in the 1st congressional district, those
unemployed workers aren't going to have the opportunity to work on those projects for the simple reason that they don't belong to a labor union. that's what will disqualify them. not that they don't want to work or don't know the safety rules or can't do the jobs and not that they don't have a plumber's license or an electrician's license and the pro opponents of this know that -- proponents know that full well. it's just because they don't belong to a labor union. that's what this fight is all about. mr. chairman, i hesitate to rise to oppose the amendment from the the gentleman from new york, but from the 1st congressional district of maryland, this hurts our unemployment situation and hurts our hard-working taxpayers. and i rise to oppose the amendment, because in districts around america just like the 1st congressional district of maryland, this amendment doesn't
do justice to unemployed workers and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from washington seek recognition? mr. dicks: i move to strike the requisite number of words. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. dicks: let's get back to facts here. under the c.r.s. report, the national labor relations act gives more private sector workers the right to join or form a labor union and bargain collectively. a project labor agreement is a collective bargaining agreement that applies to a specific construction project and lasts only for the duration of that project. in february, 2009, president obama signed an executive order that encourages federal agencies to consider requiring the use of
project labor agreements on large-scale construction projects. the e.o. defines a large-scale project as one, when the total cost to the federal government is $25 million or more. the order states that agencies are not required to use project labor agreements. regulations implementing the executive order went into effect in may, 2010. now, if that isn't neutrality, what is neutrality? i think this is a big to-do about nothing. this amendment is not necessary. the president didn't mandate anybody to do anything. the agencies decide. is it in the interest of the government to do this in a particular case. and this administration has not done hardly any project labor agreements as far as my understanding of this is, at
least with the department of defense. so, again, i don't quite understand why all of this concern -- and emwhen non-union contractors can be part of the agreement. they can be part of the agreement and as long as they will abide by the law, prevailing wage agreements and things of that nature. i will yield to the gentleman from from arizona because he always yields to me. and i yield. mr. flake: i thank the gentleman for yielding. the reason it's needed is because some of the federal agencies have taken the president's language in the executive order to mean that they can require or require p.l.a.'s. mr. dicks: there is no evidence of that. who has done project labor agreements? mr. flake: there is. a project in st. louis, i'll mention one specifically, and under the stimulus funds,
frankly, a shovel-ready project and a non-union shop actually offered the low bid, but was requse fused the contract because the language that the executive order was that they should be encouraged to look for a p.l.a. mr. dicks: that's now what it says. mr. flake: that's how it has been interpreted and we should make it clear we can neither forbid nor deny. mr. dicks: i will take my time. i would point out that the department of defense thinks the gentleman from arizona's language is prohibitive, that it will -- it doesn't give them any leeway and must not do a project labor agreement. how much time do i have left?
the chair: 90 seconds. mr. dicks: i yield to the gentleman from new york, author of the amendment, if he would like to make any comments here. mr. grimm: we are making each other's point. you feel that the language of the president is somehow restricting non-union shops from bidding. and i firmly feel and strongly feel that the language in your amendment absolutely prohibits the use of p.l.a.'s. i think what we are both looking for is neutrality. but the language on either side is not working, so we need to come up with a way to make this neutral, so everyone can bid and no one is prohibited. but i think we are saying the same thing and we are working towards that and i will work with the chairman. but for now, my amendment is going to stand and we are going to work as quickly to see if we can come up with something we
all agree with. mr. dicks: the best and safest thing to do is to defeat the flake amendment. that's kind of a standard -- that's the surest way of protecting the executive order. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from missouri seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> i want to say thank you to the gentleman from new york for his efforts on this amendment and also that he has done this in a bipartisan way. mr. carnahan: i thank president obama for his executive order in doing this to encourage project labor agreements, not require them. i think they speak for themselves. my friends on both sides of the aisle have a responsibility to the american people to get both low costs and high quality in job creating military
construction projects. project labor agreements have a proven track record to ensure that. we should come together to support the grimm amendment. we can help create fewer cost overruns, faster project completion and fair day's wage for the american workers. i support the grimm amendment that strikes the anti--p.l.a. measures. p.l.a.'s are simply rules of the road for workers and management on construction projects. we know they cut taxpayer spending, they save time, they save head aches and create good, local jobs and better quality and value. why would we not want that? very simply, union prefer p.l.a.'s because they treat workers like people. some say that unions have helped
create america's create middle class and workers' rights enjoyed by all americans, whether a member of the union or not. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, if you want to help cut spending and improve efficiency, stand with american taxpayers and with american workers. vote for the grimm amendment. remove the anti--p.l.a. language to fix this bill. let's get it right and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from new york. for what purpose does the gentleman from illinois seek recognition? the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. davis: the longer i listen to this debate, the more confusing it becomes. i remember a wise man telling me once that you can't get blood out of a turnip but you can
slice it and dice and whip it and do everything, but it still ends up being turnip juice. i rise in strong support, strong support of mr. grimm's amendment. and i do so because there seems to be a tremendous lack of clarity. it's amazing how we can all read the same words, but arrive at a different meaning. and we can read them over and over and over again. but it would seem to me that the best way to have clarity is to make absolutely certain that these agencies understand that yes, they do, in fact, have the authority to say yes or no to
enter project labor agreements. i'm a strong supporter of organized labor. doesn't mean that i think labor unions are perfect. oftentimes many of the people in the community where i live feel that they cannot access labor unions, that they can't get in, that they can't get membership. yet, i think that project labor agreements are the best way to get the quality and the assurance, that we're getting the best bang for the buck. and so again, i reiterate my support for the grimm amendment and yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from new york.
those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas rise? mr. culberson: i ask for the yeas and nays. the chair: the gentleman asks for the yeas and nays. pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, futh proceed thonings motion by the gentleman from new york will be pose poned. -- further proceedings on the amendment by the gentleman from new york will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from massachusetts seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. lynch: while i support many of the provisions of the bill, it contains a number of proposals that i believe are detrimental.
first off, it includes language that will extend the pay freeze in effect for federal employees. specifically, it would freeze the pay for federal civilian employees across the departments of defense and veterans affairs through f.y. 2013 even though these employees, like all federal employees government wide have already sacrificed their share when it comes to reducing the federal budget deficit. in this congress alone, federal employees have given up over $75 billion toward deficit reduction efforts, god bless you, and to offset the costs of unemployment benefits for millions of other workers. let us remember that our federal employees are in the second year of a two-year federal pay freeze that will save the federal government $5 billion by the end of fiscal year 2012 and an estimated $60 billion over the next 10 years. for the average middle income federal employee, this will amount to a loss of approximately $47,000 in income
over a 20-year period. that could go to a child's education or a family's retirement security. our federal employees have already done more than their part to achieve government cost savings and in recognition of their dedication, president obama recently proposed a modest pay raise of .5%. a half a percent. in 2013 for federal workers this bill, however, rejects the president's funding request for .5% for civilian employees at d.o.d. and the v.a. and freezes their salaries for a third consecutive year, even though a .5% raise will still not adequately protect federal pay from being eroded by an inflation rate that's currently over 3%. they're still going to get the pay cut but it would have been a 2.5% paket instead of 3%.
we can't live with that. this is yet another in a series of legislative attacks to attack middle class workers in this congress. it will further erode employee morale and diminish the federal government's ability to attract the best and brightest to its work. i don't know if you read "roll call" today, they did a sur vave of -- survey of job satisfaction among federal employees. the v.a., the docs doing great work, the nurse well, say we're protective about our veterans. these are the people with take care of our veterans every single day. they clean the bedpan they do their therapy they do their surgery they watch out for them. and we were going to give them a .5% raise this year. and instead, what this bill does, it guts their pay. it cuts out that half a percent that they would have gotten. these are the people taking care of our veterans, god bless them. a lot of them are veterans themselves. and these are d.o.d. employees.
we all say we're pro-military. these are people that are supporting our fighting men and women in iraq and afghanistan on a daily basis in a direct way. we were going to give them a half a percent raise. but no, we're going to use this, we're going to cut their pay in order to have them help us balance the budget some more. they're already in a two-year pay phrase. our dedicated civil servants play a vital role in many critical areas especially in the work they co-every day to support our military and veterans. they should not continue to bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to addressing the
nation's budget problems. i also want to express strong sop sigs -- opposition to paragraph 517 which prohibits the use of project labor agreements. there are a lot of provisions in this bill -- i can't believe we're going after v.a. workers in this bill or against defense department workers in this bill. i think they do a lot for this country they do a lot for the most vulnerable, especially at the v.a. they do heroic work there. i have three v.a. hospitals in my district, i am blessed at the brockton hospital, they are doing tremendous work there with a lot of our world war ii veterans who for the first time in their lives have to rely on the v.a. these are the people doing that job. they're doing a tremendous job. they're already working atless wages than they could get at a private hospital but because they love our veterans and believe in it, they stay at the v.a. out of the goodness of their heart. now we've got them in a two-year pay freeze. the president was trying to give them a half percent raisin crease in cost of living and they're being -- percent raise
increase in cost of living and they're being denied even that. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentlelady from california seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk will raze the -- read the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by ms. speer of california, page 66, after line four, incest the following, a, section 10 of united states code is amended, one in subsection a, by striking not after army of the united states shall -- the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? without objection, so order. the gentleman from texas. mr. culberson: i reserve a point of order on the gentlewoman's amendment. the chair: the point of order is reserved. the gentlelady is recognized for five minutes. ms. speier: thank you, mr. speaker.
our nation is great because in times of trial, when we do the wrong thing, we will come back and do the right thing. what this amendment does is attempt to address a wrong that we did many years ago and right that wrong by restoring a promise that we made to filipinos that fought side-by-side with us in world war ii. we promised them in no uncertain terms that they would enjoy the same veterans' benefits that others reseaved for putting their lives at risk. more than 200,000 filipinos fought in defense of the united states in the pacific theater against the japanese in world war ii and more than half of them were killed. as citizens of a commonwealth of the united states and before -- before and during the war, filipinos were legally american nationals and they were promised the same benefits
afforded to those serving in the united states armed forces. but in 1946, congress passed the rescission act a law that stripped filipinos of the benefits promised to them by president franklin delano roosevelt. the rescission act created a wrong that will not be righted unless our nation restores the veteran's status it promised to filipino soldiers more than 65 years ago. the irony here, mr. speaker, is that there were other countries that provided us with men and women who served during rld war ii and they were also promised veterans benefits. in fact, there are 65 countries that provided service members to fight alongside of us. every one of those other soldiers were provided veterans' benefits from other countries and yet the filipinos, who were part of a commonwealth at the time, who were nationals of the country, who were promised veterans' benefits were denied them by
the rescission act passed in 1946. what this amendment does is make all filipino veterans fully eligible for veterans' benefits like those received by u.s. veterans. it eliminates the distinction between regular and old filipino scouts and the other divisions. veterans that have received lump sum payments would be eligible for these benefits. we tried to sort of cover this all up by giving them a $15,000 stipend. frankly, that's not good enough. and there are still about 85 -- there are about 15,000 living filipino veterans of world war ii right now. they're 85 years old. they're not going to live much longer. but they certainly deserve the benefits that we promed them. but that we then rescinded with the rescission act of 1946. for these veterans and their families, i believe the time
has come to right this horrific wrong. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlelady yields back. does the gentleman insist on his point of order? mr. cull behrson: yes, mr. chairman. i make a point of order because it proposes to change existing statutory law and constitutes legislation in an appropriations bill an violates clause 2 of rule 21 because that rule states in pertinent part that amendment to a general appropriations bill shall not be in order if -- if it changes existing law that the amendment directly and in this case the amendment directly amend existing law and i would ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: does any member can wish to be heard on the point of order? if not, the chair will rule. the chair finds that the amendment proposes directly to change existing law, to wit, title 38, section 107, as such, it does constitute a violation of clause 2c of rule 21 and the
point of order is sustained. the clerk will read. the clerk: page 66, line five, spend regular ducks account, the amount by which the applicable allocation of new budget authority made by the committee exceeds the amount of proposed new budget authority is zero dollars. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will read. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. fitzpatrick of pennsylvania, at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following, section, none of the funds made available in this act may be used to enter into a contract using procedures that do not give to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans as that term is
defined in second 3-q-3 of the small business act, section 1532-q-3 included in the database under section 1527-f and preference available with respect to such contract except for a preference given to small business concerns owned and controlled by service disabled veterans as the term is defined in section 3-q-2 of the small business act, 15-u.s.c.-1632 q-2. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> i rise this evening to propose an amendment that makes a level playing field. according to the most recent census, there are 22 million veterans living in the united states and 2.4348 of them reason their own companies. providing tuns for the small
businesses utilizes the talents and training of our nation's heroes and can help end epidemic unemployment among our veterans. mr. fitzpatrick: an up employment rate among veterans, including those returning from iraq and afghanistan, was at a staggering 21.9%. these numbers are unacceptable. these brave men and women who have served our country deserve every effort from this body to give them the tools they need to provide for themselves and their families. it should be the explicit policy of this congress and all government agencies to support our veterans and our veteran entrepreneurs. therefore, mr. chairman, the amendment -- i'm again offering to the military construction and veterans affairs appropriations act would give veteran-owned small businesses
the preference for contracts equal to that of any group eligible for a preferred consideration except for service disabled veteran owned small businesses. the practice of the federal government providing references is very well established. this amendment does not look to restrict or change the current preference process. it merely serves to level the playing field for our veterans. this amendment would also preserve the current policy of giving greater preference to service disabled veteran-owned small businesses. this exact same amendment was unanimously passed in the last year's veterans affairs military construction affairs act. it was signed into law as part of last year's budget process. as our nation continues to emerge from this great recession, we need not -- we need to create an economic climate that encourages innovation and also rewards hard work. by serving this nation, this great nation nobly, often in far off and dangerous locations, our
nation's veterans have displayed determination and leadership skills. character traits like these are paramount for long-term economic prosperity and for private sector success. i and many of my colleagues have made a commitment to our constituents and to the american people to do everything possible to create jobs and to do everything possible to help returning veterans. the self-discipline and innovation of our veterans could lead our economic recovery. ultimately this amendment would give our veterans a level playing field to help spur economic growth and help spur job creation. with many service men and women returning home from their combatnitions -- missions in iraq and afghanistan, -- combat missions in iraq and afghanistan and nearly 1/4 of veterans saying they're interested in starting or buying their own small businesses, we need to preserve accountability of these contract programs. in order to do so we define small businesses by using the current definition outlined by the small business administration and eligible businesses must be registered
with the department of veteran affairs, with the v.a. center for veteran enterprises maintains a database of certified and register veteran-owned businesses. in addition this amendment would apply to all federal contracts authorized by this act and would be applied to any portion of state or local projects receiving federal funds. in many cases this law will simply be reinforcing existing practices and ensuring that this will continue to be the policy. let this congress once again bring fairness to the government contracting system and ensure that our veterans who put their lives on the line and their lives on hold to defend our freedoms, make sure that they're receiving the same preferential contracting status that this congress has given to others. thank you, mr. chairman, and i urge my colleagues to support this important amendment and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek
recognition? >> move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, veteran-owned companies do two really important things. first they create jobs and provide positive impact on our economy and most importantly veteran-owned small businesses provide a great venue for unemployed veterans to find work. mr. bishop: the government has done poorly in reaching the 3% contracting goal for veterans. for example, agencies contracting wars from below 1% from 2003 to 2006. the most recent figures for 2009 show agencies awarded only 1.98% to service disabled veterans. agencies need to do better and i believe this amendment will help the department of defense and veterans affairs do a better job. i support this amendment and i urge its adoption. i'd be delited to yield. mr. dicks: i want to join in supporting this amendment.
commend the gentleman from pennsylvania for his hard work on this effort and i hope we can adopt this amendment unanimously. i appreciate the gentleman yielding. mr. bishop: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas -- mr. culberson: we're pleased to accept the gentleman's amendment, to help encourage the v.a. to look to better known businesses. -- veteran-owned businesses. the chair: the question is on the amendment. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it and the amendment is adopted. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. >> it's marked number 4. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. poe of texas.
before the short title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to prohibit a veteran service organization that is participating in the funeral or memorial service of a veteran from reciting any words as part of such service or memorial. mr. poe: mr. chairman, that's number 5. the chair: the clerk will designate the other amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. poe of texas. at the end of the bill, before the short title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to hire a director of a national cemetery who is not a veteran. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. poe: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, during the hot days of last summer, the veterans of foreign wars went to battle with the veterans administration in houston,
texas. the v.f.w. claimed the veterans administration was censoring free speech and preventing the free exercise of religion at the national cemetery in houston. i appreciate the chairman, mr. culberson's, work on this project after the veterans administration notified -- or the veterans of foreign wars notified not only me but notified him as well. the result is this. this cemetery, mr. chairman, is the second largest in the nation, it's a place where four al of honor recipients are buried. the v.f.w. said that the chapel at the cemetery would be closed and it was closed. the bible, the cross and the star of david were removed by the veterans administration and the chapel became a storage shed. v.f.w. members also said that the director of the cemetery censored the prayers and prohibited the religious ceremony during the burial of america's veterans. the v.f.w. had to sue the veterans administration and the
veterans administration naturally denied the whole thing. but recently a federal judge in texas approved and adepreed to an order requiring the chapel to be reopened, the bible, the cross, the star of david to be returned to their proper places and said that the veterans administration must not interfere with free speech or the free exercise of religion at burial of america's war veterans. mr. chairman, it's ironic that americans have gone to war all over the world, fought for the principles of the u.s. constitution, then they come home, they face a government hostility and the denial of the first amendment rights to the citizens when these veterans are buried in v.a. cemeteries. now the vet advance are won a battle -- veterans have won a battle against the government that wanted to deny them the american freedoms they fought for -- mr. dicks: will the gentleman yield? mr. poe: i will not. mr. dicks: i believe the gentleman offered one amendment and is reading another. we'd like to straight than out if we could.
mr. poe: i will reclaim my time. i'm discussing both amendments at the same time. mr. dicks: oh, ox ok. thank you. we did not understand that. mr. poe: in the function of saving time. mr. dicks: we're for that. mr. poe: reclaiming my time, mr. chairman. the chair: the gentleman from texas controls the time. mr. poe: a fundamental problem in the houston case was the director of the cemetery and not the veterans. she did not understand the needs of veterans because she was not a veteran herself and according to the veterans of foreign wars, she disrespected the veterans and their most fundamental rights. the amendment, number 4, is simple. it says that any new hires of cemetery directors must be veterans. 80% of current cemetery directors are veterans on the application when they applied to be a director, they must state whether they're a veteran or not. so clearly the veterans
administration agrees the cemetery director should be veterans themselves. this amendment would not force the remaining 20% that are not veterans to be fired, it would say that if the veterans administration is going to hire new directors they will be veterans. our veterans need to know the directors of the cemeteries understand what veterans and their families go through. they are the ones who best understand the needs of veterans and -- in their time of grief so they need to be veterans and i yield back the balance of my time. mr. dicks: mr. chairman. the chair: the gentleman yields back. mr. dicks: i raise a point of order. which amendment are we -- is before the house? the chair: without objection, the clerk will reread the amendment. mr. dicks: thank you. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. poe of texas. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to hire a director of a national cemetery who is not a veteran. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas rise? mr. culberson: mr. chairman, i agree to the amendment and accept. it i think it's important to have the funeral -- have the
cemetery director of houston be a veteran. this problem never would have arisen. i also thank the gentleman for bringing both of these amendments to the floor tonight. i personally witnessed the cemetery director interfering with the funeral services of veterans. it's outrageous. just absolutely unacceptable. and i thank the gentleman for his amendments and speaking on this amendment first, i have no objection and will accept this amendment. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? mr. bishop: i move to strike the last word and to speak in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. bishop: mr. chairman, i have great empathy for the concerns that the gentleman from texas has raised in his discussion about the amendment or hiring a national cemetery director, but i just want to address some of them because i don't think it's good policy and i don't think it will make for the best management and operation of a national cemetery.
employees of the national cemetery administration are proud to serve veterans and the to serve veterans' families at that time of need and to do it with dignity and compassion. while the national cemetery administration has one of the highest percentages of veterans employees of any federal agency, 79% of the employees and 80% of its cemetery directors are veterans, the desire and the passion to serve our nation's veterans is not limited to just veterans. v.a. national cemeteries are nationally recognized for their commitment to excellence, top-rated customer satisfaction. since 2001 the national cemetery
administration has earned the american customer satisfaction index's rating as the top performing public or private organization in the country. this continues to be achieved by dedicated national cemetery administration employees, both veterans and nonveterans. who says a nonveteran cannot be patriotic and support the united states of america? if such an amendment passes, who would it impact? most of our nonveteran cemetery directors have family ties with veterans. for example, one of our long serving national cemetery directors had a father who served in the u.s. army during world war ii and saw combat in the philippines, a brother who served as an army infantryman in vietnam, a husband who served in the marine corps during the vietnam war, and most recently a son-in-law in the marines who served two tures overseas in operation desert storm. this bill will result in a child, a sibling or a spouse of a veteran losing his or her job or being denied the opportunity for promotion. these individuals supported their family members as they put their lives on the line for our nation and now they wish to contribute -- to continue to honor and care for the graves of veterans in their final resting place. v.a. follows all federal laws and regulations regarding hiring preference to eligible ved
veterans. this legislation would make v.a. vulnerable to litigation by the displaced cemetery directors through the protection board. the n.c.a. requires all new national cemetery directors to have completed a one-year intensive internship program that provides comprehensive training in all aspects of cemetery operations and management. even if qualified veterans could be hired within 100 -- 180 days to fill these critical positions, they would be coming in without the specific knowledge and skills to effectively run a cemetery, to meet the needs of our veterans and their grieving families. i think this amendment is well intentioned, but i don't think that it would accomplish what is desired and i think ultimately it will end up with chaos and in our personnel system regarding our national cemeteries and i urge that this amendment be defeated. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields
back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from new jersey seek recognition? >> strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> i'd like to yealed to the gentleman from texas -- i'd like to yield to the gentleman from texas. mr. poe: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i want to clarify one comment the ranking member made. this bill -- this amendment would not require the firing of anybody. it's future hires of the veterans cemetery directors. so i'm just wanting to make that clear. that wouldn't put anybody out of work. and this specific problem that the houston cemetery was all centered around the director's insensitivity to veterans and one of the problems that came out during all of the litigation was she had no relationship to veterans. didn't understand veterans, she wasn't a veteran, and therefore that's why this legislation is important but it would not require the firing of anybody. it's about future directors. and i yield back to the gentleman. >> mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields
back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from washington -- mr. dicks: i move to strike the requisite number of words. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. dicks: the poe amendment states none of the funds maybe available by this act, may be used for a director of a national cemetery who after the date that is -- however he rephrased it, according to the v.a., compliance with this provision would be extremely disruptive to the ncaa operations by requiring 20% of v.a. national cemetery directors to lose their current jobs for no other reason than that they are not a veteran. that is unfair. and the gentleman -- they have a grievance about one funeral director but they can't take this out on the rest of these people who were doing a good job. i would hope that we would defeat this ill-considered amendment and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment
offered by -- recognition. yes, you can ask unanimous consent to amend your amendment. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? poe point i ask unanimous consent -- mr. poe: i ask unanimous consent to amend the amendment, to insert the word new. the chair: new hire. mr. poe: before the word hire. the chair: so then it's clear. mr. dicks: as i understand it -- would the gentleman yield? mr. poe: yes. mr. dicks: none of the funds made available by this act may be qused to hire a new director
to objectful the chair: the gentleman is recognized for his objection. mr. bishop: is it not true that if we adopt this amendment for new hires, it still restricts the option of getting the best possible manager for the cemetery? mr. poe: will the gentleman yield? mr. bishop: it will. mr. poe: it requires that a person be a veteran for all new hires of a cemetery, you are correct. mr. bishop thank that's what i thought, thank you. i withdraw my objection. the chair: the gentleman withdraws his reservation, any objection to the modification? without objection, so ordered. the amendment is modified. who seeks recognition. the question is on the amendment as modified offered by the gentleman from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair,
the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed. to the clerk will dez neigh -- designate the amendment. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. poe of texas. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to prohibit a veteran's service organization that is participating in the funeral or memorial service of a veteran from reciting any words as part of such service or memorial. the chair: the gentleman from texas is recognized for five minutes. mr. poe: thank you, mr. chairman. once again, i thank chairman culberson for his work on this situation that occurred at the veteran's cemetery in houston last year. that has been resolved on one specific case. this amendment does something
very simple. it ensures that the first amendment rights of veterans and their families will not be violated by anyone at burial services at our national cemeteries. it's a free speech issue and it would not allow what has occurred in the past, the speech police of the veterans administration to control the words of those that attend burials of our veterans. so i urge support of this amendment, which will ensure the constitutional rights that are in the first amendment to those that will be buried in the future at all of our national cemeteries and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? mr. bishop: we have no objection. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? mr. culberson: i strongly support the gentleman's amendment and urge support for it on the floor tonight. the chair: the question is on the amendment of the gentleman from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it, the amendment is agreed. to for what purpose does the
gentleman from new jersey rise? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will read the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. runyan of new jersey, page 66, after line 10, insert the following new section, section 519, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to modify, maintain, or manage a structure, building, or barak farce person, unit, or mission of the armed forces or department of defense outside the normal tour or duty restationing or authorized base closure and realignment process. chip the gentleman from new jersey is recognized for five minutes. mr. runyan: thank you, mr. chairman. i'll be brief. my amendment states that none of the funds made available by this act may be used to do an informal base realignment and closure. as you may be aware, the senate version of the national defense authorization act calls for an
independent commission that would help determine the air forces structure. i know that many members of this congress, of this chamber also want congress to have our say on this issue. my amendment will help ensure that we do. i thank the chairman and the members of the subcommittee for working with me on this important amendment and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. does any member seek recognition? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from new jersey. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. flores of texas. at the end of the bill, before the short title, add the following new section, section 519, none of the funds made available by this act shall be available to enforce section 526 of the energy independence
and security act of 2007, public law 110-14042 u.s.c. 171-42. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. rays re: i rise to offer an amendment which provides another restrictive and misguided federal regulation. it prevents federal agencies from entering into contracts for the procurement of a fuel unless its life cycle green house -- greenhouse gas emotions are less than or equal to the emissions from a conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum forces. my amendment would stop this ban on all those funded by the
milcon bill. the initial plan was to stifle the defense department's plans to develop tole-to-lick wades jet fuel. it was tpwhinesd opinion of some environmentalists that it might produce more greenhouse gas emotions than traditional petroleum. we must ensure that our military has adequate fuel resources and that it can efficiently rely on domestic and more stable sources of fuel. but unfortunately, section 526's ban on fuel choice now affects all federal agencies, not just the defense department. this is why i'm offering this amendment again today to the milcon v.a. appropriations bills. federal agencies should not be burdened with wasting their time studying fuel restrictions when there's a simple fix and that's not not restrict their fuel choices based on eblings dream environmental views, policies and misguided regulations like section 526. with increasing competition for energy and fuel resources and the continued volatility and instability in the middle east, it is now more important than ever for our country to become more energy independent and eto further develop and produce our
domestic energy resources, placing limits on federal agencies' fuel resources is an unacceptable precedent to set in regard to america's energy policy and our national security. mr. chairman, section 526 make ours nation more dependent on mideast oil, stopping the impact of section 526 will help us promote american energy and -- improve the american economy and create american jobs. let's remember the following facts about section 526. it increase ours reliance on middle eastern oil, it hurt ours military readiness, our national security, and our energy security. it also prevents the potential increased use of some sources of safe, clean, and efficient american oil and gas. it increases the cost of american food and energy. it hurts american jobs and the american economy. and last but certainly not least, it costs our taxpayers more of their hard-earned collars. in some -- dollars.
in some circles there's a misconception that my amendment prevents the american government from being a able to produce and use alferntive fuels but this is categorically false. all my amendment does is allow the purchasers of these fuels to acquire the fuels that best and most efficiently meet their needs. i offered a similar amendment to the c.g.s. appropriations bill and it passed with strong bipartisan support. my friend, mr. conaway, also had language added to the defense authorization bill to exempt the defense department from this burdensome regulation. i urge my colleagues to support passage of this common sense amendment. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? mr. bishop: strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. bishop: i rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment. section 526 of the energy independence and security act of 2011 is meant to ensure that
the emissions from fuels cruised are no worse than the fuels in use today. it requires the government to do no more harm than it does today through the use of unconventional fuels. it propre-cludes the use of fuels such as coal-to-lick wades and tar sands and oil shale unless advanced technologies such as carbon sequestration are used to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions. the domestic production could be achieved with carbon sequestration. it predicts that these alternative fuel mace take decades to develop and the additional fuel capacity of these is unlikely to exceed 10% of the fuel supply by 2030. a number of reports concluded that the potential adverse impacts of climate change, such as political unrest due to famines and droughts, may be
severe and these can outweigh the security benefits of domestic production of these fuels. the department of defense alone is the largest single energy consumer in the world. it consumes approximately as much energy as the nation of nigeria. its leadership in this area is critical to any credible approach to dealing with energy security issues in a way that will not result in dangerous global climate change this prohibition provides an opportunity for d.o.d. to play a substantial role in spurring innovation to produce alternative fuels which will not worsen the global climate change. i uverage members to vote no on this amendment. -- urge members to vote no on this amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? mr. culberson: i rise in support of the gentleman's amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. culberson: re-- this amendment passed the house last
year and i'm happy to yield to my friend from texas for any further comment he is would like to make. the chair: the -- mr. reyes -- >> this amendment restricts the fuel choices, it does not say they cannot develop alternative fuel sources. mr. flores: they re-- the navy made a purchase of biofuel for $27 which was five or six times more expensive than traditional fuels. we can debate if that's the appropriate use of taxpayer money, i think it's wrong. this amendment would not affect that whatsoever. all it says is the navy or the military -- the other branches of the military or any federal agency affected by milcon v.a. can buy whatever fuel it deems most appropriate for its needs. i yield back to to the gentleman from texas. mr. culberson: i urge adoption of the amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back. mr. culberson: and i yield back. the chair: the question is on
the amendment offered by the gentleman from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is afreed to. for what purpose does -- agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. west of florida. none of the funds made available by this act may be used for the salary or compensation of a director of construction and facilities management of the department of veterans affairs or any individual acting as such director who does not meet the qualifications for such position required under section 312-ab of title 38, united states code. the chair: the gentleman from florida voiced for five minutes. mr. west: thank you, mr. chairman. my amendment is simple. it requires the department of foreign -- of veteran affairs to allow and follow existing law.
and insists on having an experienced director of construction and facilities management. mr. webster: all requires the holder of this position have a degree in arkansas or engineering. and professional experience in construction project management. not many people have heard of this position, but it carries enormous responsibility. not only for the stewardship of our tax dollars, but also for the ensuring that our veterans have the facilities necessary for health care and medical treatment we promised them and they earned. the v.a. manages over 5,000 buildings nationwide and according to g.a.o. has nearly 70 ongoing major construction projects around the country. 33 of which are major medical facilities. of these 33, many have experienced considerable overruns in cost and scheduling delays. four of the largest projects under construction are full-service hospitals designed
to provide health care to the hundreds of thousands of american veterans. the v.a. will spend an estimated $3 billion on these four facilities. one of these sites is in orlando. the construction of the orlando vamc has been a classic example of government waste and inefficiency. the v.a. broke ground on the site in 2008 with a scheduled completion date of 2010. an estimated completion date now has been pushed back well into 2013. several g.a.o. reports and house veterans affairs committee hearings have sought to determine the root cau of these problems. however, it's increasingly clear that the lack of expertise on the part of the department of construction and facilities management within the v.a. bears responsibility. the v.a. has violated public law by ignoring the required qualifications to occupy a position that oversees these projects. the result is a cost to taxpayers of an additional $1.1 billion from the four largest
probablies alone and multiple-year delays in health care services to our veterans. the qualifications are shockingly simple. for a physician that oversees the construction of veterans health care facilities that cost billions of dollars an individual who holds the position of director of construction of facilities management under current law must meet two qualifications. number one, hold an undergraduate or master's degree in architectural design and engineering and, number two, have professional experience in the area of construction and probably management. my amendment simply requires that the funds used to hire this person would meet that criteria. the director of construction of facilities management will potentially oversee as much as $15 billion in construction and repairs over the next five years. we toe to our nation's heroes -- we owe it to our nation's heroes to have experienced people behind these projects. i urge my colleagues to vote yes on this webster amendment and
ensure that not only do valuable taxpayer dollars are appropriately managed but that our receipt advance are access to high quality health care facilities that they deserve. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. does anyone seek time? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from florida. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have. it the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona seek recognition? mr. franks: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 8 printed in the congressional record offered by mr. franks of arizona. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes.
mr. franks: mr. chairman, i rise today in support of this amendment to h.r. 58 a 4, the military construction veterans affairs and related agencies appropriations act of 2013. also i want to thank my colleagues, mr. gosar, mr. steve king, and mr. amash, for joining me in co-sponsoring this amendment. mr. chairman, my amendment would ensure that no funds made available by h.r. 5854 could be used to implement, administer or enforce the davis-bacon act requirements for government contracts. mr. chairman, the davis-bacon act is an -- is law that was enacted during the great depression to preventwayfairing contracters from low-balling local construction bids. the sponsors of the of this act were originally to discriminate against nonuniized black workers in favor of white workers belonging to white-only unions.
this remnant of the jim crow era has no place in our military construction contracts and should be abandoned. furthermore, the davis-bacon act results in billions of wasted taxpayer dollars every year. the act requires federal construction contractors to pay their workers higher government wages which would be as much as 1 1/2 times greater than their basic pay rate. this results in artificially high construction -- costs of construction, mr. chairman, which are ultimately shouldered by american taxpayers. contractors wishing to offer a lower bid would still be required by law to pay their employers the higher government mandated wage and file a weekly report of the wages paid to each worker. this has a particularly negative effect on small businesses as they are often unable to compete due to the davis-bacon wage and benefits requirements which reduces competition and further inflates contract rates. moreover, mr. chairman, davis-bacon was enacted by the
-- before the fair labor standards act and the national labor relations act and according to g.a.o., these acts have rendered davis-bacon obsolete and unnecessary. there are a number of laws passed by this body that protect construction workers without the discriminatory intent and effect of davis-bacon. during this time of fiscal austerity and responsibility, congress must do all it can to lower federal contract costs and decrease the burden on american taxpayers. this amendment is an attempt to stop the hemorrhage of spending and rein in our debt. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment would that -- that would ensure no funds are made available that could be used to implement, administer or enforce the wasteful davis-bacon act and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? mr. bishop: move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. bishop: mr. chairman, this is a very, very ill-conceived amendment and i must stand in opposition to it. the davis-bacon act requires that workers on federally funded
construction projects be paid no less than the wages paid in the community for similar work. it requires that every contract for construction which the federal government is a party in excess of $2,000 contain a provision defining the minimum wages paid to various classes of labors and mechanics. this is a pretty simple concept. and it's a fair one. what the davis-bacon act does is protect the government as well as the workers in carrying out the policy of paying decent wages on government contracts. i'd like to just mention quickly that davis-bacon has no effect on the total cost of construction. study after study reveals productivity makes up for any additional labor costs, essentially eliminating any cost savings if the law was repealed. but this amendment seeks to prevent federal agencies from administering these requirements in stature. let me give you a few examples of how this poorly thought-out proposal could actually play out
in the real world. if it's enacted into law. the amendment as is written could prevent federal agencies that use funds through this legislation from monitoring, investigating, transmitting conformsies and applying compliance assistance to existing davis-bacon-covered contracts that were rewarded prior to this funding legislation. contractors requesting visas could conceivably request non-u.s. workers receive permits for employment and wage rates not in concert with the davis-bacon wages rates of that locality. procurement agencies may not be able to proceed with the award of contracts that were solicited in the prior fiscal period but awarded under this funding legislation. during the period covered by this funding, bidders could use wages as a method of undercutting the locally
established wage rates for that community that might promote the use of workers from different geographic areas. the amendment could prevent federal agencies that use money from this appropriation from advising state, local and other grant recipients of the application to federally assisted programs that would otherwise be subject to the d.b.a. provisions. this is not responsible legislation, the not responsible government -- governing and i urge the defeat of this amendment and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas. mr. culberson: i rise in support of the gentleman's amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. culberson: and want to say again as i mentioned earlier and i think much of this has been said so we won't belabor it but the state of texas is a right to work state. there are very few if any labor unions in the state of texas and we have them in a few industry but not many. and we have to be good stewards of the taxpayers' precious
dollars and the gentleman from arizona's amendment makes good sense. we should pay the free market wage, we should not force taxpayers to pay an artificially high union wage when a free market wage is available and you can get a job done well at a far better price, that just makes common sense and i urge adoption of the gentleman's amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from washington seek recognition? mr. dicks: i to move strike the requisite number of words. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. dicks: let me just clear up a couple of things, especially what the gentleman from texas just had to say, the chairman. this may be somebody that will be hard for him to believe, but this is, as i understand it, from the labor department,
davis-bacon wake usually is not a union wage. the davis-bacon prevailing wage is based upon surveys of wages and benefits actually played -- paid to various job classifications of construction workers, example, iron workers, in the community with regard -- without regard to union membership. according to the department of labor, a whopping 72% of the prevailing wage rates issued in 2000 were based upon nonunion wage rates. a union wage prevails only if the d.o.l. survey determines that the local wages paid to more than 50% of the workers in the job classification. so, 72% of these prevailing wages are nonunion. i'm sure the gentleman from texas and the gentleman from arizona are thrilled to hear that. and sometimes the facts are revealing. so again we have defeated this amendment over and over and over again. i urge the house to defeat the
franks amendment this evening. and yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. mr. franks: mr. chairman. i request a -- yeas and nays. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. stearns of florida. at the end of the bill, before the short title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used by the secretary of veterans affairs to pay performance award under section 5384, title 5, united states code. the chair: the gentleman from florida voiced for five minutes. mr. stearns: thank you, mr. chairman. i'm not going to take the full