Ranking Member DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2024 Subcommittee Allocations

2023-06-14 18:12

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the Report on the Suballocation of Budget Allocations for Fiscal Year 2024, also known as “302(b)s”:

Thank you, Chairwoman Granger.

This Committee has been in limbo for the last two months while the Republican majority held the global economy hostage and placed us on the brink of default and economic catastrophe.

The price they demanded to avoid a Republican default?

Cuts by as much as 30 percent to critical programs that the people of this country rely on. Cuts that would have kicked hundreds of thousands of families out of their homes and robbed them of the child care that helps them keep their jobs. Cuts that would have pulled elementary school teachers out of the classroom and put college and job training out of reach. Cuts that would have made our communities less safe and kicked hundreds of local cops off the street.

The House Republican plan was always as untenable as it was cruel. And the bipartisan budget agreement—enacted less than two weeks ago—was supposed to be a compromise measure to take most of this cruelty off the table.

That agreement contained a lot that I disagree with. Too much, in fact, for me to support it in my position as Ranking Member of this important Committee, particularly since Congress’s experts on these issues—the four corners of the appropriations Committees—were locked out of the rooms this agreement was negotiated in.

But it is the law. Passed in the House. Passed in the Senate. Signed by the President. We all remember the little book, how a bill becomes a law? This is how a bill became law. And now that it is a law, we now have a duty to move forward and implement the agreement in a bipartisan manner.

And yet, we are currently convened for our third full committee markup of the year. I stress third because it is the middle of June and this Republican majority is still straining to get the basics right.

There is no 302(a) in the House despite a law setting the topline.

We have already marked up two bills in full committee without approving a single allocation.

I would hope that some of my Republican colleagues agree with me. When I was chair, and before me Nita Lowey, I made sure everyone knew all subcommittee allocations before we considered a single bill in full committee out of respect for my colleagues and this institution.

By contrast, this majority resorts to procedural machinations unprecedented for this Committee, just to keep their agenda hidden for as long as possible.

They hide their proposals because the Republican majority clearly wants nothing to do with bipartisan cooperation. Nothing to do with keeping their word. Nothing to do with the law that they just enacted. They clearly have no desire to govern in anything resembling a serious manner.

My friends, the bipartisan budget agreement was to get us back to regular order. To regular order. You all voted for it, except for a few. It is the law of the land, and now you walk away from it. And the ink is not even dry, and you’re walking away from it.

But these Republican allocations, secretly leaked to the press before they were shared with the Members of this Committee, are a complete affront—an abrogation of the deal their Speaker just reached with the President.

My colleagues, these allocations are either an attempt to appease the same reckless faction that would rather have us default than uphold our Constitutional duty, or they are evidence that the same Republican Members who voted for the debt deal no longer support it. Clearly the majority has no faith in their own Speaker’s ability to carry out all the aspects of his deal, the only legislative achievement of his tenure.

How do we know this? Because on their face, these cuts return—not just to the $142 billion in cuts that failed as part of the initial McCarthy caps bill—but to more drastic cuts. Republicans instead want bigger cuts—$159 billion to start, but as much as $189 billion if Republicans fully flout their Speaker’s commitments, and the law that they just voted to enact.

These allocations evince an agenda that will lead us back into gridlock. It appears that threatening a Republican default was insufficient and that the majority is now intent on driving a partisan Appropriations process that will steer us into a prolonged continuing resolution at best, but more likely a government shutdown.

That is why it is so puzzling that when the Chair released the allocations on Monday night, she stated “Republicans on the Committee intend to act quickly to get all appropriations bills signed into law.” I would like to ask anyone in the majority how these allocations serve any purpose other than to make it more difficult to reach agreement in the fall.

Look no further than the very first line in their allocations.

The proposed level for the agriculture appropriations bill is a cut of $8 billion. That’s more than 30 percent below last year’s level. Let me spell it out for you: House Republicans’ plan for the bill is to roll back 16 years of investment in rural America and our most vulnerable communities.

Let’s look further down the road, pretending for a moment that this majority will actually put pen to paper for the cruelty they envision for the Labor, HHS, and Education bill. Their allocations suggest a cut of more than $60 billion for Labor HHS.

My friends, this isn’t just about numbers on a page, this is about lives. That’s what we’re charged with here – people’s lives. That’s what this institution is about.

The cuts put on display by these allocations would imperil critical resources that Americans rely on.

These cuts would kick 300,000 children out of child care and Head Start; make health care more expensive and less accessible for two million vulnerable people who rely on community health centers, and deny access to care for opioid use disorder for 28,000 people. Republicans' cuts would make college more expensive by reducing the maximum Pell Grant award by nearly $1,000 for the 6.6 million recipients, as well as 80,000 who will no longer receive those grants.

College would become more expensive for students across our entire country. In my home state of Connecticut, that means college would be more expensive for 79,300 aspiring students. In Arizona—275,700 would find the cost of education will rise, and it would harm 12,500 kids from Montana pursuing higher education.

This is a real-life consequence for our children.

I would remind my colleagues once again. The ink is barely dry on the bipartisan budget agreement, yet we are here to consider the Republican majority’s spending agenda that completely reneges on the compromises struck less than two weeks ago.

Does the left hand even talk to the right?

Do my colleagues on the other side of the aisle realize what a wasteful exercise it is to move these partisan bills—which have no chance of becoming law—against their own votes, promises, and agreements? Why, one year after you refused to participate in conference discussions, do my Republican colleagues insist on catapulting this Committee into irrelevance?

Some of my colleagues fully recognize this absurdity and are more than happy to spell it all out on the record for the press. Why they insist on building these castles in the air is beyond me.

We must come together—Democrats and Republicans—to put forward credible proposals to advance our shared priorities into law, and I will tell you despite the imperfections of the bipartisan budget agreement, it is the law. As someone who stands here and voted against it, I’m willing to take it up to do what we need to do, to pass appropriations bills and to keep the government open. People in this country rely on this committee. Every single year we appropriate the resources that keep this government going and the people of this country going, and their economic future going.

The first step is rejecting this partisan slate of suballocations.

I yield back.

118th Congress