House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) opened today’s hearing on the Democrats’ radical environmental agenda by criticizing Democrats for their failure to prioritize the needs of the American people and instead focusing on progressive pipedreams contained in the American Jobs Plan.

Ranking Member Comer highlighted areas severely in need of congressional oversight, including the border crisis, inflation, the 500,000 veterans’ records backlog at the National Personnel Records Center, out of control spending, and more. Republicans have repeatedly called these issues to the attention of Democrats but they have refused to conduct oversight.

Ranking Member Comer concluded his remarks by warning radical environmental policies will harm job creation and called for Americans to have access to affordable, reliable energy that enables economic growth and opportunity.

Below are the remarks as prepared.

Thank you, Chairwoman Maloney. I thank the witnesses for their willingness to appear before the committee.

We’re here today for a hearing on the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan that calls for billions of dollars in new spending on climate change. The premise of today’s hearing is to discuss the Justice40 Initiative, which directs 40% of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to economically disadvantaged communities.

Ironically, there is no witness from the Biden Administration here to answer our questions. It’s no wonder the Lugar Center recently gave Democrats on this committee an “F” in congressional oversight of the Biden Administration.

We have repeatedly asked Chairwoman Maloney to hold hearings on waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement but unfortunately she has refused. Most recently, we asked the chairwoman to hold a hearing on the backlog of veterans’ records at the National Archives and Records Administration. Some veterans are sadly waiting almost a year for records so they can receive benefits.

In fact, we just learned this week that the agency is still not returning to work at full capacity so records will continue to be delayed. This is unacceptable treatment for those that served our country and a worthy hearing topic for this committee.

Instead, we’ve had hearings on increasing work perks for federal workers and proposals to spend billions of dollars on radical environmental policies that will increase energy prices for Americans. Meanwhile, inflation and gas prices are surging. Americans all over the country are dealing with the realities of the Biden Administration’s policies.

According to a recently released report by AAA, the average price of gas nationwide has climbed to $3.13, a high for the year and up 40% since January 1st. The increase in gas prices alone is costing American consumers billions of dollars. This is not the American energy dominance that we had seen over the prior four years. And it’s just one of the many factors driving up consumer prices—also referred to as inflation—in this flailing Biden economy.

The Biden Administration’s out-of-control spending is causing inflation to skyrocket. Americans are now paying more for goods and services while taking home less money in their paychecks. Inflation has risen every single month President Biden has been in office.

The price of milk and fruit are up, rental car prices have increased 87%—if you can even get a rental car—and washing machines are up nearly 30%.

Instead of examining ways to strengthen our economy, stop the Biden border crisis, or fix the backlog effecting our veterans getting benefits, Democrats want to continue spending billions of dollars on government projects and progressive pipedreams, like the American Jobs Plan.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform used to question how the government spends money and now we are having hearings to try and find new ways to spend taxpayer money—often with no strings attached.

If Democrats want to address the needs of economically disadvantaged communities, they should be looking for solutions to encourage investment from the private sector instead of massive tax increases that only have negligible climate impacts.

Over the past year, the world’s economy was essentially shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even with this halt in activity, a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report from last month shows that it barely made an impact on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

If the most unparalleled shutdown in human activity that closed schools and businesses around the world barely impacted carbon dioxide levels, it raises serious questions about whether spending massive amounts of U.S. taxpayer money will actually affect the climate, especially while countries like China and India continue to pollute at record levels.

I fear that a premature move away from fossil fuels, particularly for poorer areas, means that they will continue to have little access to the type of affordable, reliable energy that enables economic growth and allows for the provision of clean water and sanitation, widespread vaccination, and preventative child health services.

As I have said before, coal mining is a way of life in many parts of America, including my district. Kentucky coal remains an important component of the Commonwealth’s economy and America’s energy portfolio. Until we have replacements for those jobs and that energy, we cannot in good conscience move forward with these radical policies.

I am eager to hear from Mr. Shay Hawkins today to learn more about the work he is doing to help promote Opportunity Fund investments in economically troubled rural and urban communities.

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and thank you to today’s witnesses.

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