Ranking Member Cartwright Statement at the Subcommittee Markup of the 2024 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2023-07-14 08:59

Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08), Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of the fiscal year 2024 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies funding bill:

– As Prepared for Delivery –

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to begin by thanking Chairman Hal Rogers for his friendship and for all his hard work this year as chair of the subcommittee, including on the many hearings the subcommittee held. Regretfully, I must oppose this appropriations bill that is before us today.

The simple fact is that this bill defunds law enforcement and takes funding away from programs that create good jobs, all while making it easier for billionaires and corporations to cheat on their taxes -- failing to ensure the safety and economic prosperity of the American people. 

It cuts Federal law enforcement and would greatly reduce the number of FBI special agents and analysts—outstanding public servants who help to keep all of us safe by preventing and investigating everything from human and narcotics trafficking, to public corruption, kidnappings, other violent crime, cybercrimes, domestic and international terrorism, civil rights violations, weapons of mass destruction, and a lot more. The FBI’s work to catch criminals would be damaged, and the safety of American families compromised as a result of this bill if it goes through. 

In addition, the bill cuts funding for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and it sharply reduces the number of ATF agents working to fight the scourge of gun violence and firearms trafficking, while adding several policy riders that will make it easier for dangerous firearms to end up in the wrong hands. The bill would also significantly reduce the number of U.S. marshals and federal prosecutors, which would greatly impair the country’s ability to prosecute dangerous criminals. We don't just have to catch that bad guys, we need to put them away, too.

Furthermore, we have heard from local law enforcement that Byrne Justice Assistance Grants provide a critical source of funding for their agencies, yet the bill reduces funds for this resource. It also cuts or eliminates numerous other Justice grant programs aimed at protecting children, serving victims of crime, and improving public safety.

All of this is the wrong direction.

On top of all that, the bill would further empower high-income tax cheaters by removing $22 billion in funding from IRS enforcement and operations support. I would also point out that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that this cut will result in at least $44 billion in lost tax revenue legally owed to this country.

Simply put, this bill makes lawbreaking much easier, in so many different ways, and it makes Americans less safe.

But that’s not all. The bill slashes funding for numerous other programs aimed at empowering distressed communities and individuals. Economic Development Administration grants, which help create jobs and revitalize local economies through investments that largely serve rural areas and communities facing high unemployment are gutted by more than 50 percent. 

The Legal Services Corporation, which provides critical basic civil legal aid to the poorest American families, seniors, and veterans, is cut by $71 million. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which protects Americans from job discrimination, is cut by $35 million. And last but not least, the operating budget of the National Weather Service is cut by 15 percent below the current level, which will degrade the Nation’s ability to accurately and quickly forecast severe weather.

For all of these reasons and more, I urge my colleagues to reject this bill. This process does not end with the Subcommittee’s action today, and we must do better. Thank you very much.

118th Congress