Lowey statement at full committee markup of revised FY 2019 302(b) subcommittee allocations
Mr. Chairman, I must again express my strong objection to the spending priorities put forward by the Majority. These revised allocations continue to dramatically shortchange middle class families and people struggling to get into the middle class. There is still no increase for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, no new resources to protect our environment, and no new investment in diplomacy to keep our country safe and strong.
The only purpose of this revision is to patch a hole by moving the VA Choice program from mandatory to discretionary spending without adjusting the budget caps accordingly. In the coming years, this shift will cannibalize tens of billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent upholding our commitments to our veterans and making other investments that keep our country safe, strong, and moving forward.
When the House considered the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill, I offered an amendment to fix this problem by ensuring that the VA Choice program wouldn’t count against the caps set by the Budget Control Act. Unfortunately, Republicans on the Rules Committee blocked consideration of my amendment. We must do better, and I hope that we can follow the Senate’s example of seeking a bipartisan solution to avoid a fiscal crunch in coming years.
Aside from providing just a temporary and imperfect solution to the serious problem of how to fund VA Choice, these allocations continue to prioritize President Trump's cruel immigration policies. In recent days, we have witnessed heartbreaking images of children separated from their families as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy.
It is obvious that President Trump is using distraught children and anguished parents as bargaining chips to fund his border wall boondoggle. Unfortunately, it appears that the Majority is acquiescing to this strategy by dramatically increasing funding for Homeland Security.
Even with this revision, Homeland Security would still receive a $3.7 billion increase over last year – presumably to fund the border wall and attacks on immigrant communities. This Committee should not be complicit in President Trump’s cruel and immoral approach to migrant children and families.
That is why it is so disappointing that the Majority appears to be siding with the Family Separator-in-Chief. Ironically, that means they are going to waste money building a border wall instead of making investments that strengthen families and communities across our country.
These allocations fail the American people and encourage the President’s disgraceful family separation policy. I urge my colleagues to vote no.