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Miners Protection Act

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Miners Protection Act

Senator Mike Enzi
Senator James Inhofe
Congressional Record, 114th Congress
14 September 2016


The following is an excerpt from the Senate floor discussion on the Miners Protection Act regarding the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Program.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.

Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I am going to return the discussion to the legislation that is actually on the floor at the moment, and that is the Water Resources Development Act. It is a necessary update for Corps projects and for water quality systems, and I applaud the chairman and the ranking member for working in a bipartisan manner to ensure its passage. However, the amendment's inclusion of direct spending for Flint and other public drinking water supply systems doesn't comply with the Budget Committee's rules of enforcement. It would provide $100 million in drinking water State revolving funds, it would provide $70 million in water infrastructure loans, and it would provide an additional $100 million for lead exposure programs. The Flint provisions will also result in $53 million in revenue loss from increased utilization of tax-exempt bonds to finance water infrastructure projects.

The sponsors have sought to offset this new spending by prohibiting new loans after 2020 under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing--ATVM--Program. This program was originally created in 2008 and was designated as an emergency. When Congress determines that an expenditure is an emergency, we make a conscious decision to spend above the limits of the budget. We tell the American taxpayer that these dollars are necessary to respond to sudden and unforeseen circumstances. In the case of the ATVM, Senators argued that the emergency designation was necessary to respond to the precipitous drop in auto sales caused by the 2008 credit crisis and subsequent recession.

Because advanced technology vehicles manufacturing dollars were originally provided under an emergency designation, budget rules will not allow the cancellation of future ATVM funds to be used as an offset. Phrased simply, if ATVM money didn't count going out, it cannot count coming in.

What we are talking about is dollars that might go out after 2020. In our budget process, we are going to have to refrain from trying to spend future money in the present. It just won't work.

The Government Accountability Office has recommended that Congress rescind all or part of the remaining credit subsidy due to the lack of demand for new ATVM loans, and Congress ought to do that. The remaining dollars in the ATVM Program should not be spent. That was a 2008 crisis, not a 2016 crisis and definitely not a 2020 crisis. But to use the emergency ATVM money 8 years later to increase unrelated spending represents a failure of Congress to act as good stewards of taxpayer money and is not compliant with our budget rules.

Congress must use restraint when designating expenditures as emergencies. If we don't, future lawmakers will simply designate everything as an emergency to escape the budget limits and then, years down the road, reprogram the funds for an entirely different nonemergency purpose. The Senate must be judicious with its use of emergency-designated funds or risk diluting the meaningfulness of the designation altogether.

The CBO has estimated that under Senate scoring rules, the substitute amendment increases the on-budget deficit by $299 million over the 2016-2026 period. As such, it exceeds the 2017 enforceable Senate pay- as-you-go levels.

I do have a motion that I will be making at the appropriate time, but in order for other discussion to happen, I reserve the remainder of my time and I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, first, let me say that I agree with my friend from Wyoming that we must not allow bills to move forward that are not fully paid for, but this is not the case for the substitute. What we are talking about right now is the Inhofe-Boxer substitute, which would become S. 2848. But let me be clear. The substitute, S. 2848, does not add to the debt or the deficit, which CBO has verified.

The issue with this point of order involves a disagreement between the Senate Budget Committee rules and the CBO as it relates to the ATVM spending offset used. While CBO gives us credit for rescinding it, the Budget Committee does not.

The fact is that when we reported this bill out of committee in April, CBO verified that the rescission of spending authority for the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program generates $300 million in real savings to the U.S. Treasury. In this substitute, we are taking those funds from a program that many believe is wasteful and unnecessary and we redirect the funds toward a crisis across the Nation that involves failing and outdated critical infrastructure, which we address in this bill.

Another issue is that the Budget Committee is concerned that the substitute is not budget neutral over 5 years based on how ATVM loan authority is rescinded. However, over a 10-year budget window, CBO says we actually reduce the deficit.

The Budget Committee does not want to count the rescission of an unnecessary ATVM program as real money because of how it was authorized, but the fact remains that it is real money and will be used to offset other spending if not used now--or at some other time--for this urgent and real need.

After the 90-to-1 cloture vote yesterday to end debate on this bill and a voice vote to adopt this fully paid for substitute, I urge Members to waive this budget point of order, which I will make at the appropriate time.

I yield the floor.

Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, parliamentary request: Is this the proper time for me to make the motion? Has everyone finished with debating?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.

Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I would mention that the Congressional Budget Office has prepared a revised cost estimate for the committee- reported S. 2848, and I have a copy of the letter here, which says that CBO estimates that the net changes in outlays and revenues that are subject to pay-as-you-go procedures would increase budget deficits by $294 million over the 2016-2026 period. As such, the pending measure, substitute amendment No. 4979, would violate the Senate pay-go rule and increase the on-budget deficit over the period of fiscal years 2016- 2026. Therefore, I raise a point of order against this measure pursuant to section 201(a) of S. Con. Res. 21, the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2008.

I yield the floor.

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