House Approves Major Spending Increases and Policy Changes in Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House today passed the Fiscal Year 2010 Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The legislation contains a total of $730.5 billion, including $163.4 billion in discretionary spending which is $11.15 billion or 7% over last year’s level.
This large spending increase is in addition to the approximately $126 billion in spending provided for these programs in the recently enacted “stimulus” bill. Since 2007, when emergency and “stimulus” spending is included, funding under the Labor/HHS bill has increased a whopping 93%.
House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis objected to these large increases in federal spending.
“While there are some good programs in this bill, providing a 7% increase while making little or no tough decisions to prioritize spending is not a sustainable or responsible way to budget,” House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis said.
“Already this year, Democrat proposals have put our country into more that a trillion dollars worth of debt – not including interest. Our economy is struggling through the worst recession in decades, unemployment is at 9.5% and growing, and foreclosures are at an all time high. There is no justifiable reason for an $11 billion increase in the Labor/HHS bill while American families are struggling to pay their mortgages and put food on the table,” Lewis continued.
In addition to the large spending increases, Republicans objected to several policy changes within the bill including the lifting of long-established restrictions on federal funds being used for abortions and needle exchange programs, the elimination of “conscience” protections for health care workers, and the removal of funding for abstinence education programs.
Lewis and his Republicans colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee also objected to bill’s failure to address several shortcomings in the House Democrat’s proposed health care plan. Republican members had attempted to address these problems through several amendments in Committee, including: an amendment to prohibit federal funds for any new government operated health insurance plan or program; an amendment to prohibit funds to enforce any new federal health insurance coverage mandate on small businesses; and an amendment to prohibit subsidies for the private health insurance plans held by the President, Vice President and Members of Congress who vote in favor of a new, government-run health insurance plan. All of these amendments were defeated by Committee Democrats.
The Labor/HHS Appropriations bill was considered under a “closed rule” – which meant that Members of Congress were unable to offer amendments to the legislation such as these on the floor. This objectionable practice goes against decades of precedent and traditional practices for Appropriations bills. Democrat leaders claim the expedited process is necessary to complete the House’s work before the August recess – an arbitrary and self-imposed deadline.
Republicans attempted to offer 12 total amendments to the LHHS bill, but while the time to debate these 12 amendments on the floor would have been minor, only four were allowed to be heard - proving that the this closed rule process was not about expediency, but merely a political game to shut out the voices of the American people and avoid tough votes on controversial issues.