When I was elected to Congress last year, I pledged to be a fiscal conservative for the residents of the Second Congressional District. Taking a fiscally disciplined approach to government has always been one of my top priorities as an elected official. I am committed to seeking out and supporting common-sense measures that promote fiscal responsibility and curb government spending.
That sounds like the type of philosophy constituents of the Second District want from their representative. But when given an opportunity recently to vote against specific pork in the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007, Ms. Schmidt failed to walk the walk of her fiscal conservative talk.
Specifically, Congresswoman Schmidt voted against Congressman Jeff Flake's Amendment to eliminate $500,000 in funding for a swimming pool in Banning, California:
Congress Votes Overwhelmingly to Fund California Swimming Pool: Banning, CA Gets Swimming Pool, Taxpayers Take a BathHere's Congressman Flake's statement from the Congressional Record (H3924, H3925) on offering up his amendment to strike the pork that had no influence on Ms. Schmidt before she cast her vote (emphasis added):
Washington, D.C., Jun 14 - Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today expressed disappointment that Congress voted overwhelmingly to retain a $500,000 earmark for renovations for a swimming pool in Banning, California.
The City of Banning, California has received an additional $500,000 in earmarks over the last two years for the swimming pool - $250,000 for construction in fiscal year 2005 and $250,000 for improvements in fiscal year 2006.
“The citizens of Banning, California may be getting a swimming pool, but taxpayers are taking a bath,” said Flake.
Congressman Flake’s amendment to block funding for the earmark was defeated 61 to 365.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona.Ms. Schmidt missed yet another opportunity to put action behind her words. Keep in mind that she actively voted against an individual amendment. She can't use the excuse that the spending was part of a complete bill with the earmark tucked in a 'take-it-or-leave-it' format.
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, this earmark limitation amendment would prevent $500,000 from being spent on renovations to the Banning, California, city-owned pool.
This $500,000 is part of nearly $12 million provided to the State of California in HUD earmarks. Now, I live in the Southwest. I know the desert can get awful hot, and there is nothing better than taking a swim. But I do not know why we ought to give the Federal taxpayer a bath every time somebody wants a swimming pool.
That being said, again here, I wonder what criteria we use when these earmarks come forward. If we can say that swimming pools, city-owned swimming pools are eligible for Federal funding, then what is not eligible for Federal funding? Do the criteria mean anything in that regard? Is anything open? Why not earmark the entire bill.
If we accept the premise, which we seem to accept in this House, that we know better than the Federal bureaucrats on how to spend this money, why not earmark the whole thing? I might hear agreement there.
That is what we seem to be doing. We keep going more and more and more. In 1994, I think there were a total of fewer than 2,000 earmarks on all appropriation bills. Last year there were over 10,000. The dollar value keeps increasing.
So we simply have to go the other way. In 2006 the transportation appropriation bill included $250,000 for the city of Banning, California for city pool improvements. Similarly, the 2005 transportation bill included $250,000 for the city of Banning, California for construction and renovation of the city pool.
So this is $500,000 tacked onto $250,000, tacked onto $250,000 for a pool, that to my understanding, has not even been built yet.
They are waiting for more funds to come from the Federal Government apparently before they even build this pool. How does this happen? How does the community pool receive a revenue stream out of the Federal Treasury?
I think this is simply the wrong way to do business. We have got to stop. What better place to stop than right here on this amendment and say we are going to send a signal to the taxpayers that we are going to do business differently?
Admittedly, $500,000 is not even a rounding error in our government's budget. But Congresswoman Schmidt showed that she's not even prepared to take a $500,000 step on the
journey to reducing our near $9 trillion debt.
Related: Jean Schmidt is off to a fiscally irresponsible start as the Congresswoman for Ohio's 2nd District
Labels: Congresswoman Jean Schmidt