Lowey statement at full committee markup of FY 2019 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill
I’d like to thank Chairman Cole, Chairman Frelinghuysen, Ranking Member DeLauro, and the excellent staff for their work on this bill.
After working to secure a bipartisan spending agreement that provided $18 billion in additional non-defense funds for Fiscal Year 2019, House Republicans have prioritized unnecessary funds for President Trump’s border wall and cruel immigration policies rather than adequately address the education of our children, the burden of college debt, the health of Americans, and the training of our workforce.
Meanwhile the Senate is passing bipartisan bills and avoiding poison pill riders instead of wasting time on partisan bills with no chance of enactment.
Earlier this week, President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh could be a pivotal vote to destroy Roe v. Wade and dismantle healthcare coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
With the Supreme Court becoming a decidedly conservative court, Congress’s constitutional role in protecting healthcare and workplace rights is even more critical. That is why it is imperative the bill before us is rejected.
This bill undermines quality, affordable health care for American families by including extreme right-wing riders that block implementation of the Affordable Care Act and stall medical research.
And it continues Republicans’ war on women’s health by attacking Planned Parenthood and eliminating family planning and teen pregnancy prevention — two programs that used to have bipartisan support in the House — all while increasing funding for abstinence only programs, which studies show do not work.
Even former Secretary Price, when he testified before the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee last year, said that Title X is often “an individual’s only line of opportunity to gain access to the kind of care they need.” And yet this bill would eliminate funding, leaving women with fewer options, all while cutting Community Health Centers.
The bill before us is filled with misplaced priorities and missed opportunities.
While it contains an admirable $1.25 billion increase to the NIH and a $585 million increase for emergency preparedness, by not providing an increase to the allocation of the largest non-defense bill, it fails to keep up with America’s health care, education, and workforce needs.
It even includes riders that will strip away essential protections that keep Americans safe at work.
Perhaps worst of all, this bill also does not make any effort to address the ramifications of the President’s decision to tear as many as 3,000 children away from their families at the Southern Border.
My friends, I have dedicated nearly 30 years of my life to this institution. I am saddened beyond words by what is happening to these families and even more at Congress’ complete refusal to act to address this human tragedy.
The President of the United States instituted an unconscionable and reckless policy that is causing profound trauma and threatens to destroy lives. He has done this with callous disregard for the truth, making up his own version of the law and history to fit his false narrative.
As Americans and as Members of Congress, we have an obligation to speak up for our country’s values and stand together for basic human decency.
Some Republicans in this room have spoken out. But until we, and that means all of us, say enough is enough to the lies, to the bigotry, to using distraught children and anguished parents as political pawns, then the consequences of our inaction will be a stain on our nation forevermore.
This bill and this issue go to the very character of the United States and what kind of country we want to be. I look forward to a rigorous debate.