Lowey floor statement on 8-bill Appropriations package
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this bill, which would turn back the clock on American excellence, following President Trump’s lead on divesting from education, health, foreign assistance, science, and infrastructure.
The process for this bill has been outrageous, and this debate is an utter waste of time. Just hours ago, Congressional leadership and the President agreed to pass a package including Hurricane Harvey assistance as well as a debt limit extension and a continuing resolution to keep government running until December 15th. We should be working to pass that measure now so that we can work toward a bipartisan budget agreement instead of wasting days on a bill that undercuts economic growth and priorities on which families rely and is so hyper-partisan it will never earn the Democratic support needed to be enacted.
Breaking from longstanding tradition that enables Members to advance amendments in an open process, the Rules Committee required amendments be submitted 12 days ago during the District work period and reported a restrictive, structured rule for relatively few of them thus far.
The Majority denied consideration of many amendments that would address timely, high-profile challenges, some of which cut to core of our democracy, and would have been allowed under an open rule. In one of the most egregious examples, the majority blocked an amendment to provide safeguards to ensure the integrity of government reports on violent domestic extremism, the likes of which erupted in Charlottesville in recent weeks, resulting in the death of a young woman exercising her right to freedom of speech.
Not only were amendments to address the President’s revocation of DACA deemed out of order, in an affront to the Appropriations Committee and to this institution, the majority removed a bipartisan amendment passed in committee that would have allowed Dreamers to work for the federal government. We have a responsibility to pass the DREAM Act now. It is absurd that after years of receiving bipartisan, majority support, Republican leadership has refused to allow a vote.
The Rules Committee should make in order amendments to protect the integrity of our elections and the independence of the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.
This bill also fails on the merits. The Non-Defense bills are below sequestration levels set in law, slashing funding for teacher training, apprenticeship grants to help young adults train for good jobs, law enforcement grants that help keep our communities safe, environmental protections that ensure we drink clean water and breathe clean air, highway and transit grants that improve the quality of life of our constituents, and a number of scientific and research programs that are important to global competitiveness.
This is bill is littered with riders with deep rooted opposition, like cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. If the majority is serious about governing, loading must-pass spending bills with these policy riders is a sure fire way to fail.
Turning to the State and Foreign Operations division of the bill, I thank Steve Marchese, Erin Kolodjeski, and Matt Washington with the subcommittee; Liz Leibowitz and Dean Fischer from my office; and Craig Higgins, Susan Adams, Clelia Alvarado, David Bortnik, Winnie Chang, Lacy Kilraine, Megan O’Donnel, and Alex Pinson with the majority.
Diplomacy and development efforts are critical to protecting our country’s national security and building stronger and more stable communities around the world. This is why cuts in this division are so deeply troubling. As demonstrated through both the President’s unworkable request and the subcommittee’s unsustainable allocation, the majority does not fully embrace the vital role diplomatic and development activities add to our national security and economic interests abroad.
On the positive side, the bill sustains our bipartisan and unwavering support for our close ally and partner Israel, as well as Jordan. And I appreciate Chairman Rogers protecting resources for basic education, water and sanitation, democracy, and some vital women’s programs, which provide communities the foundations for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.
While he rejected the most extreme proposals in the President’s budget, the allocation is insufficient to respond to global challenges. We must reverse dangerous and short-sighted cuts for programs such as multilateral cooperation, international family planning, and climate change, as well as the expansion of the Global Gag Rule to ALL global health programs and the prohibition on U.S. contributions to UNFPA.
The Rules Committee should have made in order amendments I submitted to strike the expansion of the Global Gag Rule and the ban on funding for the United Nations Population Fund, and to restore essential funding for international development and diplomacy.
Despite the Administration’s professed hope that other nations will fill the gaps created by cuts in this bill, we are at risk of that void being filled by those who oppose our values and interests, leaving the world far different from what we want for our children and grandchildren.
It is time for the majority to set aside its most extreme proposals, including the border wall and interior immigration enforcement, and work with Democrats to write bipartisan legislation that could actually be enacted.
I urge a NO vote, and reserve the balance of my time.