Ranking Member DeLauro Statement at the Subcommittee Markup of the 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2023-07-14 09:24

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of the fiscal year 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill:

– As Prepared for Delivery –

Thank you, Chairman Aderholt for your cordiality as this bill was drafted, and congratulations on your first markup as Chairman of this Subcommittee. I would also like to thank the minority staff, particularly Stephen Steigleder, Philip Tizzani, Laurie Mignone and Jackie Kilroy for all of your hard work. And the majority staff, led by Susan Ross, Kathryn Salmon, James Redstone, Emily Goff, and Laura Stagno.

This subcommittee’s bill is the largest domestic appropriations bill, and for good reason. The programs funded in Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education ensure our workforce is strong, our families are healthy and safe, and our children’s future is secure. Indeed, by working together through this process last Congress, we proudly supported middle class and working families, helped lift up vulnerable Americans, and prepared our nation for future crises.

Which makes it all the 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, which brings us back to a level unseen since 2008 – portends their intent to end public education in America. It eliminates present and future job opportunities for young adults, seniors, and working families. It jeopardizes maternal, pediatric, and public health. This bill is shameful – but based on where the majority has taken this entire process, sadly, it is not surprising.

Horace Mann called Education “the great equalizer.” Perhaps it is the majority’s aversion to all-things-equality that explains why they cut 28 percent from the Department of Education – taking at least 220,000 teachers out of low-income classrooms and eviscerating the programs that help at‑risk youth build a brighter future. I am deeply concerned about the impact such retreat from public education funding would mean for children across the country. 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.

While I am horrified by this bill, it tells the story of where the majority seeks to take education in this country. Republicans have made it clear they are opposed to public education and seek to destroy it. Quality education will no longer be accessible to tomorrow's middle classs – but only the purview of the rich. I must underscore that point – this is no messaging bill. This is their view of America. I am taking Republicans at their word, as should all of the American people – that this is your agenda; this is what you want to do. When 161 House Republicans voted earlier this year to eliminate all elementary and secondary education funding at the Department of Education in the Massie Amendment to HR 5, I was horrified, but that was just the beginning.

Some appropriators in the majority have demonstrated they seek to eliminate the Department of Education in its entirety, and they wear that badge as demonstrateded in our hearing with Secretary Cardona. And they all take their marching orders from the most extreme ideologues in their party: Last month 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 views as an “existential threat to the American Republic.” It is my understanding that Mr. Vought has been omnipresent with the majority in providing them with assistance putting this budget together. His influence is rife through the appropriations process. 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.

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

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

Federal Work Study is no more for the 660,000 students who need it to help finance a 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 funded so poorly as to make them 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.yee

Last year, as Chair, I held a hearing on the nation’s teacher shortage in this subcommittee. We listened to teachers, experts, and the American people, and we responded with investments in programs like teacher quality partnerships and Hawkins Centers of Excellence. The majority wants to reverse all of this progress – and renege on the promises made to the American people.

I think 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 – too bad. This is the Every Child Left Behind Act. In the words of Taylor Swift – You’re on your own, kid.

Regardless of age or stage in life, this bill means you cannot count on government for any help. 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, the majority has nothing to offer you. And 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.

The bill hangs families completely 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 health care options, it is clear that the majority does not trust women to make their own decisions. 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 available to help those children and families.

People can only hope they do not get cancer – you will not find support from House Republicans. Dreadful cuts to the National Institutes of Health – over $2 billion dollars is cut from the National Cancer Institute, National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 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, which we funded – 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 government of the “greatest country in the world” should do for its people. But this bill goes below the bare minimum. This bill steals from our children’s future, from our families’ health, and from Americans’ livelihoods. It abandons young adults, stifles biomedical innovation, surrenders to current and future public health crises, and hurts women with poison pill riders on abortion. For these reasons, I must vote against this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

Thank you, and I yield back.

118th Congress