|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Wednesday, January 17, 2001||202-224-0894|
Sen. Phil Gramm made the following statement today at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on the nomination of Mel Martinez to be Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development:
"I want to thank Senator Sarbanes for holding this timely hearing. It is my intent to have a vote on this nomination early next week.
"I also want to thank Senator Sarbanes for his input in the committee's legislative activities in the last Congress. I think people got it down in the media coverage of events in the last Congress that we were somehow in partisan conflict, but the reality is we had a very active and successful legislative agenda in the last two years. We passed perhaps the most important banking bill in 60 years, and the final passage of that bill was virtually unanimous. Every major action we took was, in the end, a bipartisan action.
"I think the lesson of that is that we need to make an effort to be more bipartisan to begin with since we always end up there anyway. I want to pledge my commitment to that effort.
"I want to say to the new members of the committee that I look forward to working with you. As chairman, I will be looking for good ideas, and I don't care if they come from Democrats or Republicans.
"Mr. Martinez, I want to welcome you. I cannot think of an agency that would be more difficult to run than HUD. On the other hand, I do believe that there is a bipartisan consensus that we want to get the taxpayers' money's worth for the effort that we have undertaken to provide quality housing and to provide an environment in which the maximum number of people can go on to build and buy their own homes
"I would ask you to learn what the agency does, to make an effort to make every program within its jurisdiction work, whether you agree with them or not. Once you have tried to make them work and have learned whether they work, then I would urge you to come back to this committee and ask us for the legislative changes to maximize your ability to get your job done.
"We are open to changes at HUD. The department administers many different programs instituted at many different times under many different circumstances. Consolidating and rationalizing those programs could be a very productive thing to do.
"I'm excited about your appointment. I think you bring a practical experience at the local level, which is very much needed. Your compelling life story is a clear message to anyone that if you work hard, you can succeed in America.
"This is a country where routinely ordinary people do extraordinary things. Your life is a clear example of how America works.
"I want to pledge my support for your nomination. I look forward to working with you, and I hope you feel free to come and work with this committee in partnership to seek any changes you need to do your job."