Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of FY 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill
Thank you, Chairman Culberson, Chairman Frelinghuysen, and Ranking Member Serrano, for your work on this bill.
The bill before us would increase vital investments in research at the National Science Foundation, which also bolsters our economy; prepare us for the 2020 Census; and increase resources for law enforcement at the FBI and ATF. However, these increases come at the expense of other worthy investments which are essentially flat funded, harming our ability to meet growing needs for critical programs such as the Legal Services Corporation, Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, and the Economic Development Administration.
There are also unacceptable deficiencies in the bill such as the elimination of the Regional Coastal Resiliency Fund. This NOAA program enhances our coastal resilience through competitively-awarded grants that help communities withstand extreme weather and related hazards. Particularly in the wake of major natural disasters that rocked our shores this past fall, like Harvey and Maria, this program should be bolstered, not eliminated.
Additionally, while it appears that overall the COPS Hiring Program is flat funded, the core program is actually reduced by $36.5 million. This is an unacceptable budget gimmick for a program that is more important now than ever for our state and local law enforcement.
Once again, riders stand in the way of the possibility of a bipartisan product. The Majority has included controversial riders, including language blocking a reporting requirement on multiple purchases of rifles or shotguns within five days, which would prevent law enforcement from sensibly addressing gun crimes at the border.
Democrats are willing to work together to put forward reasonable bills that make sound investments in our law enforcement, our research capabilities, and our safety. However, to be reasonable those bills must be free from poison pill riders and must adequately fund vital programs. I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve this bill as the process moves forward.