Ranking Member Espaillat Floor Remarks in Opposition to the 2024 Legislative Branch Funding Bill

2023-11-01 16:42

Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Ranking Member of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 4364, the fiscal year 2024 Legislative Branch bill:

I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Today, I rise in opposition to H. R. 4364, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act of 2024.

But first let me thank our Democratic staffers, Faye Cobb, Monica Garay, and Raquel Spencer as well as our Republican staffers, Michelle Reinshuttle and Jacqueline Ripke for their tireless contributions to this Subcommittee.

As the Chairman indicated, the bill before us today includes $5.3 billion in discretionary appropriations to fund the offices of the House of Representatives and joint legislative branch items, a decrease of 4.7 percent from the FY23 enacted House level and a 2.4 percent decrease in total allocation including the Senate items.

This bill merely keeps the lights on BUT it could and should provide so much more.

Unfortunately, extreme MAGA culture war provisions have haunted all 12 of the House Appropriations Bills. This bill too contains provisions that harm DEI programs and the LGBTQ plus community. 

This bill does not allow Legislative Branch agencies to employ individuals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

This bill eliminates funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion training or program implementation including our own House Office of Diversity and Inclusion -- which Republicans have benefited from using.

This House and the many Agencies that make up the entire Legislative Branch of government should make every effort to be reflective and considerate of ALL the people that exist in this great nation we serve, and the many districts’ Members represent. 

This bill does nothing to facilitate the use of funds for collective bargaining rights to Congressional staffers.

This bill removes a provision to eliminate or reduce plastic waste across the Legislative Branch of Government, further contributing to the impacts of climate change. 

After the attack on January 6th, the attack on two Congressional staffers in their Virginia district office, and numerous threats to our cybersecurity, I feel strongly that our staff deserves to have a safe place to work, and our visitors deserve an even safer place to visit and receive services.

However, in my opinion, this bill misses opportunities to further invest in and enhance our physical and cyber security posture.

Our men and women who work hard each day to secure this campus, deserve to have the best equipment, tools, and resources at the ready.  Securing this campus both physically and virtually has always been a priority of this Subcommittee.

Various requests from the Capitol Police and Leg Branch cybersecurity offices have not been met.

We must work to protect the campus that supports the governance of our democracy.   

The Legislative Branch bill should never be a place for divisive politics. THIS bill should be used to ensure Congress has the tools it needs to legislate and support the constituents we serve. It should be used to ensure we have a successful democracy through effective and responsible governance. 

The Republicans are obsessed with cutting federal funds and eliminating programs that help to grow and diversify our country, as well as, welcome ALL to the table.

When I took the role as Ranking Member of this subcommittee, I was looking forward to working with my colleagues on creating a bipartisan bill.

Instead, this bill does not represent a collaboration between two parties.

Instead, it includes provisions that have no place within the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill and are hurtful to many Americans, including many of the staff that support this great institution.

Extreme right-wing politics that were so focused on silencing the voices of many in this country, turned around and silenced themselves. They created a situation where no one had a voice, rendering this body inoperable for many weeks.

I don’t agree with these divisive ideas and tactics. For these reasons, I cannot support this bill.

And with that, I reserve the balance of my time.


118th Congress