DeLauro on Extreme Republican Labor-HHS-Education Funding Bill: “We are witnessing a widespread attack on public education that should shock every American family.”

2023-11-14 11:57

House Appropriations Committee and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 5894, the 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill:

Mr. Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to congratulate Chairman Aderholt on his first bill as Chairman of this Subcommittee. Also, I would like to thank the minority staff, particularly Stephen Steigleder, Philip Tizzani, Laurie Mignone and Jackie Kilroy for all of your hard work, as well as the majority staff, Susan Ross, Kathryn Salmon, James Redstone, Emily Goff, and Laura Stagno.

I have never seen an Appropriations bill quite like this one. I have never seen a bill that was this inhumane, and which defies all of the values and ideals of a society which promises to address the needs and the challenges of its people.

In Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Pip observes the Pocket family children as, quote, “not growing up or being brought up, but tumbling up.” End quote. This bill leaves America’s children tumbling up.

This bill is the largest domestic appropriation bill, and for good reason. The programs funded in Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education ensure that our workforce is strong, our families are healthy and safe, and our children’s future is secure. Indeed, last Congress, we passed a Labor-HHS bill that supported middle class and working families, lifted up vulnerable Americans, and prepared our nation for future crises.

Which makes it even more disappointing to see where we have ended up in this year’s process. The majority’s 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill – and its 28 percent cut of $64 billion, brings us back to a level unseen since 2008. It heralds their intent to end public education in the United States. This bill eliminates present and future job opportunities for young adults, for seniors, and for working families. And it jeopardizes maternal, pediatric, and public health.

This bill is shameful – which is presumably the reason why it was never marked up or voted on by the full Appropriations Committee. As disappointed as I am to see the authority of the Appropriations Committee surrendered, sadly, based on where the majority has taken this entire process, it is not surprising.

154 days ago, the House Appropriations Committee held its first full committee markup of a 2024 bill. Nine more followed. This bill was not one of them. Nonetheless, the House majority circumvented the committee process – they air-dropped five new poison pill riders into the Labor-HHS bill – without any bipartisan consultation or a vote by the committee. We are left to assume that the majority knew this bill had no path forward in committee – and they know it has no path forward, period.

Horace Mann called Education “the great equalizer.” Perhaps then it is the majority’s aversion to equality that explains why they cut 28 percent from the Department of Education. They will take at least 224,000 teachers out of low-income classrooms and eviscerate the programs that help at risk youth build a bright future.

This cut would entail a loss of 3,700 teachers in Alabama; 800 teachers in Idaho; 4,400 teachers in Maryland; 4,300 teachers in Tennessee; 6,500 teachers in Michigan; 5,000 teachers in Louisiana; 8,300 teachers in Georgia; 1,500 teachers in Kansas; 22,300 teachers in Texas; and 4,400 teachers in Arizona. Explain that to your constituents. I am deeply concerned about the impact such a colossal retraction from public education funding would have on children across our country.

This bill tells the story of where the majority seeks to take this country. Republicans have made it clear they are opposed to public education and they seek to destroy it. Quality education will no longer be accessible to working families – but it will be the purview of the rich. I must underscore that point – this is no messaging bill. This is their “Commitment with America.” I am taking Republicans at their word, as should all of the American people – this is what they want to do.

When 161 House Republicans voted earlier this year to eliminate all K-12 funding at the Department of Education in the Massie Amendment to H.R. 5, I was horrified, but that was only the beginning.

House Republicans are in lockstep behind the most extreme ideologues in their party: just this summer, former Secretary Betsy DeVos penned an op-ed calling to eliminate the Department of Education; the Heritage Foundation’s Budget Blueprint includes a proposal to eliminate the Department of Education; and former OMB Director Russ Vought wants massive funding reductions to “thwart” a public education system he sees as an “existential threat to the American Republic.”

We are witnessing a widespread attack on public education that should shock every American family. If left to their own devices, Republicans would gleefully take public education to the graveyard.

So, how will this bill move us closer towards those ends?

English language acquisition funding to help 5 million English learners nationwide is eliminated, disadvantaging and discriminating against students who primarily speak another language, restraining their future ability to compete and succeed in the economy.

Supporting Effective Instruction State grants – which provide professional development opportunities for educators – are completely gone.

The Federal Work Study is no more for the 660,000 students who need it to help finance their post-secondary education – limiting their potential earnings and future success in the job market.

Nearly $1 billion cut from Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants would eliminate need-based financial aid for 1.7 million students nationwide.

Promise Neighborhoods, Social and Emotional Learning grants, Magnet schools are all completely erased as well.

And the programs that are not completely abolished in this bill are so poorly funded as to be completely nonfunctional. A $14.7 billion cut from Title I – the very foundation of public education in America – is patently unthinkable and would remove hundreds of thousands of teachers from classrooms, directly harming children in every single one of our districts.

Students nationwide are struggling with rising college costs, and this bill provides no relief by freezing the maximum Pell Grant for the first time in twelve years.

I believe we all agree we have a crisis in our nation’s classrooms. But rather than address the teacher shortage and fully fund our children’s future – our nation’s future – the majority’s solution is to abolish the public classroom altogether. If you cannot afford a private education for your children – well, too bad. This is the Every Child Left Behind Act.

Regardless of your age or stage in life, this bill means you cannot count on your country for assistance getting back on your feet. Youth Job Training, Adult Job Training, Job Corps, Senior Community Service Employment Programs are all eliminated. If you want to work and just need help finding the right job or finding a better job, this bill has nothing to offer you.

They are putting workers who do find jobs at risk by cutting $313 million from worker protection agencies, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And a 30 percent cut to the Wage and Hour Division, the agency that is tasked with enforcing wage law and ensuring our children working illegally, will send the rights of workers in this country back to the time before World War II.

The bill hangs working families out to dry. Healthy Start, diaper distribution, teen pregnancy prevention, Title X family planning – all abolished. And with riders that block access to abortions and reproductive health care services and force providers to withhold critical information about healthcare options, it is clear that the majority does not trust women to make their own decisions and want to move us to a nationwide abortion ban. These provisions amount to the majority simultaneously ensuring that anyone who may get pregnant, will get pregnant, teenagers included – and that there are no resources or lifelines available to help those children and families.

People can only hope they do not get cancer – you will not find support from House Republicans. From the National Institutes of Health, over $2 billion dollars is cut from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute for Mental Health, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are as outrageous as they are dangerous. Firearm Injury Prevention, Tobacco Prevention, and Ending the HIV Epidemic – which, by the way, was an initiative of President Donald Trump – Republicans have decided addressing these problems is not worth a single dollar to the American people.

What should we be doing if not combatting the leading causes of death in this country? What should we fund if not the health and future of America’s families?

Supporting our children and working families is the bare minimum of what the “greatest country in the world” should do for its people. But this bill goes well below the bare minimum.

This bill steals from our children’s future, from our families’ health, and from Americans’ livelihoods. It abandons young adults, it stifles biomedical innovation, it surrenders to current and future public health crises, and it hurts women with poison pill riders on abortion. For these reasons, I vehemently oppose this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

Thank you, and I reserve the balance of my time.


118th Congress