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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said despite repeated attempts by some senators to add amendments that would increase spending and ultimately raise taxes the Senate passed a budget late last night that plans for the future while taking care of today's priorities.

Enzi and Senate colleagues passed the 2005 Budget Resolution by a vote of 51-45. In addition to setting taxing and spending parameters for the next year, the resolution aims to cut the federal deficit in half in three years from $477 billion in 2004 to about $224 billion in 2007.

Enzi, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said the resolution would help bolster the economy through provisions to create and strengthen jobs in the U.S.

One provision, an amendment successfully offered by Enzi, would provide an additional $250 million to the nation's job training programs to address the growing skills gap that threatens the nation's ability to compete and succeed in a more complex, knowledge based economy.

"We've talked about the loss of American jobs because of increased globalization and productivity. It's time we talked about how to keep high paying jobs in America's factories and businesses and on America's shores," said Enzi. "America is being challenged to equip our workforce with the skills needed for jobs in the new, global economy. My amendment would increase the job training budget to help close the gap between the demand for highly-skilled workers and our supply."

Enzi said unlike other amendments that would have required a tax hike to pay for their cost, his amendment would be offset by other spending reductions.

"This investment in our nation's job training and employment system is an important investment in our future. However, like any investment of the taxpayers' money, the investment in federal job training programs must be fiscally responsible and generate results. While I support an increase in resources for job training, it cannot come at the expense of fiscal discipline," said Enzi.

The resolution would also extend the personal tax relief currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2004, namely for the $1,000-per-child tax credit, the 10 percent income tax bracket expansion, and the marriage penalty relief.

In addition, the resolution provides more funding for the No Child Left Behind Act, individuals with disabilities, and Pell grants to students who want to take their education one step further.

Enzi said some senators seemed to confuse the budget process with the authorization and appropriations processes.

"What the budget really does is set up spending targets or limits. After those are established the specific authorizing committees arrange the bull's eyes within that target for their priorities. Finally, the appropriations committees shoot the real bullets at the targets, or spend the real money," said Enzi.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles said of Enzi's efforts, "This is a challenging budget year. The deficits we face are unacceptable and we have to bring them down, while still providing for defense and security efforts and making sure families aren't hit with a tax increase during this economic recovery. I appreciate Senator Enzi's hard work on the Budget Committee to write a budget that achieved those objectives. His contributions and leadership were critical as we worked to restore fiscal discipline and meet important national priorities."

Once the House passes its version of the budget a conference committee will next meet to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions.

Enzi's statement, submitted for the record, follows.

Statement for the record
by Senator Mike Enzi
On the passage of S.Con.Res. 95
March 12, 2004

Today I rise in support of the budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 95. Let me begin by commending Chairman Nickles for his outstanding leadership as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. He has fairly and respectfully brought both sides of the aisle to the table on an issue that is inherently partisan. He has done so in a manner that encouraged cooperation, if not agreement. Last week, we completed a difficult markup in less than two days. We couldn't have done so without the leadership of both the Chairman and the Ranking Member and the hard work of all of the Republican and Democrat members on the Budget Committee.

After more than 20 years on the Senate Budget Committee, this will be Chairman Nickles' last floor debate on the Congressional Budget Resolution. We will miss him as both our Chairman and as one of the Senate's most responsible and trusted protectors of the taxpayer dollar. Chairman Nickles has built a reputation for being fiscally conservative not by saying he's a fiscal conservative, but by actually being one. I applaud him and his dedication to fair budgeting and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

I would also like to thank the Ranking Member for the technical knowledge he brings to the table during these debates. Last week, he explained very succinctly how the budget caps and assumptions work. I was pleased to hear my friend from North Dakota talk about the importance of the caps versus the assumptions. Both the Republicans and Democrats have stacks and stacks of assumptions that identify our funding priorities, but these assumptions don't set in stone the specific levels of funding. They just help us set targets. Sometimes those targets are higher, sometimes those targets are more to the left or more to the right, but they never shift downward – partly because we pass dozens of amendments every year that wrongly focus on the individual programs, not the overall limits.

Despite attempts by my colleagues to turn this into a debate on appropriations, I'd like to remind everybody that we're not taking shots at the targets yet. The appropriators are the first ones who actually get to do that. Today, we're talking about the targets set by the President and the Committee-reported budget resolution. Like last year, when the President released his budget in February, I read the entire thing. I read the summaries and studied the tables and analyzed the assumptions; and, I truly believe the President laid the foundation for a good budget. Some people disagree with the underlying assumptions of the President's proposal and the budget plan that it was built upon and some want to turn it upside down. But, these arguments are more political than substantial, and they hinder our progress toward appropriations.

I believe the Budget Committee rightly built upon the strong foundation laid by the President with respect to the Committee-reported resolution. We reported a resolution that will cut the deficit in half in three years and allow America to continue down the road to economic recovery. Yet, we did not have much luck passing this resolution in the committee in a bipartisan fashion. The vote was 12 in favor and 10 opposed.

Why the split? Because we, as Republicans, voted to hold the line on spending and live up to our promise to provide tax relief for all Americans. In contrast, we had more than 30 amendments from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle who wanted to increase spending and raise taxes to pay for it. Again, these amendments were more political than substantial, and they delayed our progress tremendously. The proponents of these amendments were trying to tell the Finance Committee how and when to raise taxes, but they cannot do that. Raising taxes is firmly under the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee, and they certainly do not need to take our advice on the subject.

In most cases, these proposed amendments would have increased discretionary spending and increased the deficit. During a time when deficit spending is higher in nominal terms than ever before, wouldn't it make more sense to decrease spending rather than increase it? We have a huge deficit and yet we still cannot control the spending of our colleagues. The debate on the floor this week is turning out to be similar.

Throughout the week, too many amendments have been introduced that would certainly have increased the size of the Federal government and blown the federal deficit out of the water. Many of these amendments have also proposed to simply shift funds from one program to another based on budget "assumptions." Let me again remind my colleagues that the Budget Resolution does not set spending levels for individual programs. Unfortunately, I don't think this message is getting through to some people. As such, I have no doubt that many more amendments like those we've seen so far will be offered before the final vote.

For example, an amendment that proposes to increase funding under Function 450 for Firefighter Assistance Grants by eliminating tax relief for working Americans does not guarantee that funding will actually find its way into those grant accounts. That decision will be made by the appropriators and the Senate during the debate on appropriations. That means much of the rhetoric we've heard throughout the debate is political, not practical. Right now, we can only decide the amount of money, not where it will end up.

We are not making the decisions this week as to which individual programs will be funded. We are setting the spending limits for our Appropriations Committees. We are setting the limits that will hold our colleagues in check when it comes to spending. The whole process reminds me of the cartoon that shows two bears in the woods – one has a target on his chest and the friend is saying "rotten birthmark." Thankfully, we're not shooting at the bear today. The Appropriations Committee will do the shooting.

Some of that shooting will be monitored down the road. My friend and colleague from Pennsylvania established a spend-o-meter last year that shows exactly how much our colleagues across the aisle want to increase spending on appropriations bills and under authorizing legislation. Most recently, the spend-o-meter proved useful during debate on the omnibus bill when the other side of the aisle proposed amendments that would have increased spending from $341 billion to almost half a trillion dollars in less than 24 hours. My friend and colleague has been using the spend-o-meter to keep track of how the proposed amendments on the budget resolution would impact the deficit, and let me tell you, the results are just as troubling. According to the charts presented by the Senator from North Dakota, he adds $5 billion and $6 billion and only gets $1 billion more spent. When I add $6 and $5 billion, I get $11 billion in budget requests.

If we were talking about a business, and we were the owners, we would be looking for areas of waste and unnecessary costs so we could trim costs and reinvest the money. The President did suggest the same kind of cuts based on GPRA in over 60 programs, resulting in $4.9 billion of savings. Not much you say? Show me your cuts. The economy grew while we constrained spending. We balanced it by growth of the economy not by cutting a dime.

Constraining spending and shifting the targets we've been talking about can happen at the same time. Although few in number, some of the amendments offered today, including one I intend to offer, would actually shift the targets to a better position that will help us grow the economy. But, I think it's safe to say that most of the amendments offered by the other side will be outrageous attempts to raise taxes under the guise of increasing appropriations for very popular programs. Again, let's be clear that we will not be passing an appropriations bill today.

We will continue working on the budget resolution, which I believe sets forth a good budget. This year we had to make tough choices about our priorities. This budget reflects those priorities. Of the 3.3% increase in discretionary funding, 92% of it goes to the soldiers and citizens protecting our men and women overseas and at home. This budget gives our men and women serving in the Armed Forces and our diplomatic corps the tools they need to fight for democracy and win the war on terror.

This budget, however, isn't just about defense and homeland security. This budget is also about creating a better and brighter future for our kids. The Committee-reported resolution supports the President's efforts to provide more funding for education than ever before in the history of the United States.

We have heard many arguments and we will continue to hear many arguments today and throughout the week, claiming that this budget resolution is an attempt to sell our education system short. That is simply not true. Under this budget, we assume that the Appropriations Committee will invest billions more in Title I grants under the No Child Left Behind Act, in Part B grants for individuals with disabilities, and Pell grants to students who want to take their education one step further.

Writing this budget resolution was not an easy process. It is never easy to cut or freeze spending. But we had to make tough choices this year. We had to freeze spending in most categories and limit percentage growth in all others. We had to clamp down on the tax relief we could provide to working Americans. We had to set spending caps at a responsible level that would allow our Appropriations Committees to pass 13 appropriations bills. To the credit of the Budget Committee, we made these tough choices. We produced a resolution that will allow Congress and America to move forward without overstepping the authority of the Budget Committee. We do not make the decisions on where to spend the money, just on how much is spent, although many amendments would give you the opposite impression.

I said this during the committee markup and I'll say it again today – this budget is about moving forward. We've faced some tough times in recent years. The huge spike in spending during the last year of the Clinton Administration set the stage for troubled times in 2001. With the technology bust of the late 1990s and the year 2000, many of our healthiest industries were struck down to the point of barely breathing. But, that was just the beginning.

The terrorist attacks of 2001 and the international war against terror have forced us to address the decisions by previous Administrations to gradually weaken our Armed Forces. Now, we are paying the price. We are playing a catch-up game – a catch up game that costs billions, not millions, of dollars.

That's why we need to pass a budget this week that will reign in spending while allowing our defense sector and our economy as a whole to continue to recover. The budget resolution before us today makes some general, but critical assumptions. One of the most important assumptions focuses on preventing attempts by our colleagues to raise taxes on our working families.

The Committee-reported resolution proposes to extend the personal tax relief currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2004. Contrary to the statements made by my colleagues, this tax relief helps middle- and lower-income taxpayers. The $1,000-per-child tax credit, the 10% income tax bracket expansion, and the marriage penalty relief are three of the most important tax provisions passed in decades. These provisions put more money back into the hands of our neighbors, families and friends.

This week, we have an opportunity to pass a budget that plans for the future, while taking care of our present-day needs. This budget aims to cut the budget deficit in half in just a few short years. I believe we can do it.

The tax relief put in place last year has already resulted in growth in almost every sector of our economy. Our gross domestic product increased by more than 4 percent last quarter and robust spending on technology, infrastructure and equipment points to strong continued growth through the next year. This growth will lead to more companies paying into the Federal pot and more money flowing from the private sector to the public sector and back again.

That's what this debate should be about – passing a budget that will help, not hurt, America's recovering business sector and job markets. We've heard the scare tactics on Social Security and unemployment and outsourcing, but what we haven't heard a lot about is how to help address the problems. This debate should focus on progress, not politics. I have been working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on an amendment that would propose a step in the right direction. My amendment would add $250 million to the Nation's job training programs.

For generations, the skills and ingenuity of the American workforce have fueled the greatest economy in the world. Today, America faces an emerging challenge that threatens the prosperity of generations to come. Our challenge is to equip our workforce with the skills needed for jobs in the new, global economy. Our prosperity rests with our ability to create and fill the high-skilled jobs that the 21st century economy demands.

We've talked about the loss of American jobs because of increasing globalization. We've talked about the loss of American jobs because of increasing productivity. I'm here to talk about how we can keep high-paying jobs in America's factories, in America's businesses, and on America's shores. As we consider job creation in this Country, we must address the growing skills gap that threatens our ability to compete – and succeed – in a more complex, knowledge-based economy.

As the Country continues its economic recovery, people are asking: "where are the jobs?" It may surprise you to learn that many high-skilled jobs in this Country remain unfilled because employers can't find qualified workers. According to a 2003 survey conducted by the Center for Workforce Preparation, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, half of the employers reported difficulty in finding qualified workers. The problem is greatest for small employers. Nearly 60 percent of employers with 11 to 50 workers report having a hard time finding qualified workers. Small employers - our greatest source of economic growth - can't create jobs if they don't have the skilled workers to fill the jobs.

The gap between the demand for high-skilled workers and the supply will only widen in the future. Looking ahead two years, only 30% of the employers surveyed believe that the skills of their workforce will keep pace with demand. According to the 2003 study by the Center for Workforce Preparation, the manufacturing industry – which has faced some of the most severe job loss – faces the greatest skills gap. Manufactures predict that by 2005 only 21 percent of their workforce will have the necessary skills. Almost 80 percent of American workers won't be qualified for American manufacturing jobs.

Without any action, technology and other advances will outpace the ability of American workers and business to update skills needed to compete in the new economy. But, there is good news. There is action we can take to retrain workers to fill the jobs needed in this Country, now and in the future. First, we can increase budgetary resources for job training programs under the Workforce Investment Act. Second, and more importantly, we can make sure the Nation's job training system created under the Workforce Investment Act effectively prepares our workforce for good jobs that the evolving economy demands. This amendment will do the first. To do the second, my Colleagues must agree to send legislation reauthorizing and improving the Workforce Investment Act into Conference.

I am offering this amendment to increase job-training budget authority because I agree with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan that: "what will ultimately determine the standard of living of this country is the skill of the people." Job training under the Workforce Investment Act will help our workers get back to work or find better jobs. It will improve the lives our workers and help them achieve the American Dream for themselves and their families.

This investment in our nation's job training and employment system is an important investment in our future. Like any investment of the taxpayers' money, the investment in federal job training programs must be fiscally responsible and generate results. While I support an increase in resources for job training, it cannot come at the expense of fiscal discipline. Therefore, my amendment is offset fully from account 920. My amendment will increase resources for Fiscal Year 2005 in the job training function. It will responsibly shift the target in this area. Beyond that, we must improve the workforce development system to better meet the needs of American workers and businesses before investing additional resources.

We cannot meet the challenges of the 21st century economy by simply throwing more money into the existing workforce development system. We have to improve the Workforce Investment Act to better prepare American workers for the good jobs of today and tomorrow. Again, there is good news. We have a bill that does this. It's a bipartisan bill that passed out the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously. We passed it on the Floor unanimously last November. That's as bipartisan as you can possibly get.

Where is the bill now? Here is the bad news. We can't appoint a Conference Committee, which is the Committee made up of Republicans and Democrats who would meet with the House to work out differences between what they passed and what we passed. The Workforce Investment Act can help more than 900,000 dislocated workers a year find the well-paying jobs in this Country that are available. That's 900,000 opportunities that can help fill the skills gap and make American workers and businesses more competitive. I've heard a lot of talk about losing American jobs. If we really want to take care of jobs in this Country and make sure jobs stay in this Country, we would appoint a Conference Committee for the Workforce Investment Act bill and enact this vital legislation.

Last week, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing that addressed the skills of the American workforce. Dr. Diana Oblinger, Executive Director of Higher Education for Microsoft, - an American company that symbolizes innovation and growth – presented some of the best testimony I've ever heard. She said that being able to "out think the rest of the world" may be the most important competitive advantage. In this knowledge-based, global economy, I agree with Dr. Oblinger that the brainpower of our workforce is our greatest resource.

This amendment recognizes that the first priority for workers who have lost their job is finding a new job. But this amendment is only a band-aid. It will not fix the Nation's job training programs. If we are going to continue to "out think the rest of the world", we must improve the job-skills and training of our greatest resource now and into the future.

With that, I believe this budget is a fiscally responsible measure and I urge my colleagues to work together to pass both my amendment and the resolution by the end of the week. Once again, I thank Chairman Nickles, Ranking Member Conrad, and all of the Committee members for their work so far and hope we can move to final adoption of the Congressional Budget Resolution before the April 15 deadline.