DeLauro statement at subcommittee markup of 2018 Labor-HHS-Eduation Appropriations bill
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased we are here today and I appreciate your efforts to bring the Labor-HHS bill to markup for the third consecutive year—we are on a roll. I am looking forward to full committee markup next week.
Many members of this Subcommittee have heard me say that I believe the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bill is called “The People’s Bill.” I say it for a reason.
The biggest economic challenge of our time is that too many people are in jobs that do not pay them enough to live on. The programs in this bill provide opportunities for hardworking Americans to improve themselves and for our economy to grow—it provides for our children to thrive through education, for job seekers to get the skills they need through job training, for workers to be protected from unjust labor practices. And in times of hardship, illness, or public health emergency, it is this bill that equips our nation to respond quickly and effectively.
But programs cannot provide increased opportunities if the Labor-HHS bill is starved of funding. I am troubled, Mr. Chairman, to see the Labor-HHS bill once again bearing the brunt of Republican budget cuts. The overall cut to non-defense discretionary spending is $8 billion, and the Labor-HHS bill is cut by more than $5 billion. And this cut is completely unnecessary. The allocations approved earlier today are approximately $5 billion below the non-defense level allowed under the Budget Control Act. We have the resources available, yet the majority refuses to allocate them to the essential programs funded through our bill. I will also note—that when adjusting for inflation, this bill is approximately $30 billion below the 2010 level.
There are bright spots in this bill. I strongly support increases for NIH research, emergency preparedness, Special Education, and TRIO and GEAR UP. But even those increases show the fundamental insufficiency of the Labor-HHS allocation: the NIH increase is about half the size of the increase for each of the past two years, and Special Education funding continues to fall short of our commitment to students with disabilities.
Unfortunately, the modest increases in this bill are far outweighed by decimating cuts to programs that ought to be seeing increases.
I am deeply disappointed that the bill fails to make additional investments in Title I, which reaches 25 million students in more than 80 percent of our school districts. In addition, level funding for Preschool Development Grants and nominal increases for Head Start and Child Care means we will continue to fall behind in providing children and families with high-quality early education opportunities and care.
The bill threatens the very future of the Pell Grant program by slashing $3.3 billion. The bill does nothing to make college more affordable and sets Pell on a dangerous path at a time when 44 million student borrowers have more than $1.3 trillion in student debt.
This bill is fundamentally anti-teacher. It eliminates more than $2 billion for Supporting Effective Instruction grants—or teacher training—which helps reduce class sizes and give teachers evidence-based professional development. When we rob our teachers of resources they need, we are also robbing our children. We know that teachers and principals are the most important school-based factors in our kids’ academic success; yet, this bill ignores the evidence and recklessly cuts off critical support.
This proposal eliminates nearly a dozen education programs, including the largest reading program for low-income children and youth, Special Olympics and funding to expand access to the arts in our most under-resourced communities. It imposes harmful cuts to proven education programs like afterschool and Promise Neighborhoods. If we do not invest in our children, we are denying them the tools for success.
This bill’s approach to women’s health pushes a dangerous and harmful ideological agenda. It eliminates funding for Title X Family Planning and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program, while simultaneously adding three new abortion related riders. These include new ideological riders to block funding for Planned Parenthood, which would reduce access to health care services for millions of low-income women, and to effectively block life-saving research using cells from fetal tissue.
The bill cuts access to the Mental Health Block Grant (141 million) and Substance Abuse Prevention (57 million). We speak often about the opioid crisis, but when the opportunity arises to take strong action, we fail to fund these priorities in a meaningful way. The bill also cuts nurse training, tobacco prevention, and completely eliminates the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative. And it fails to fund a Public Health Emergency Fund.
The bill breaks our promise to seniors by cutting the operating budget for Medicare by $524 million, cutting senior community service employment (SCSEP) by $100 million, cutting prevention and detection of elder abuse by 14 percent and eliminating the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP).
This bill hurts unemployed workers by eliminating the Employment Service, which helped nearly six million unemployed workers, including veterans, find jobs in 2015. This funding goes to our One-Stops to help people looking for jobs get relevant skills—this is a betrayal of job seekers in our economy. The report makes reference to the skills gap—why would we cut off such a useful avenue that helps meet businesses’ needs and close that gap?
The bill also eliminates grants expanding the highly-effective Registered Apprenticeship model that connects job seekers with good paying jobs employers are desperate to fill. The bill includes cuts to programs that make our country more competitive, like Job Corps, slashes job training for dislocated workers and eliminates a tool that helps us evaluate if workforce and education programs are effective. And it cuts the one program we have to safeguard against child and forced labor abroad, which exacerbates the offshoring of American jobs as companies exploit forced labor. Why would we eliminate programs that have for so long been about economic opportunity and a ladder to the middle class?
And of course, there are the riders. Yet again, this bill attempts to block funding for the Affordable Care Act. It also continues to prohibit funding for gun violence prevention, which has had a chilling effect on gun violence research. And finally, this bill prohibits the Department of Labor from ensuring that financial advisers act in the best interests of their clients.
In short, the funding in this bill fails to meet our country’s needs, and breaks our promises to women, seniors, students, and our workforce. Over the next week, we will offer a set of amendments to restore those promises. I hope some of our colleagues in the majority will join us in this effort. Thank you.