Aderholt Remarks During Floor Consideration of H.R. 5894, The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act
Mr. Chair, I rise in support of HR 5894, the Fiscal Year 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill.
This is my first year as chair of this important Subcommittee and I’m proud to be able to support programs that touch the lives of every American.
Our nation remains mired in high inflation, which has only been worsened by the massive infusion of government spending, both during and immediately after the COVID pandemic.
I have said numerous times – inflation is a tax on every single American. Moreover, it is a tax borne disproportionately by low-income Americans. We cannot continue to make our constituents pay for our reckless DC beltway spending. At some point, we must stop the out-of-control spending spree we’ve seen over the past two years.
This bill represents a clear first step toward returning to fiscal responsibility, while ensuring that funding for critical and high-priority functions are maintained.
Yes, the bill before us today reflects the challenges in achieving deficit reduction solely through reductions in discretionary spending. A 60 billion dollar cut to social spending programs in this bill requires scrutiny and priority-setting.
Over 50 programs are proposed for reductions and another 60 programs are eliminated - most of them are unauthorized or have expired authorizations.
Title I grants to states are cut by nearly 80 percent, or more than 14 billion dollars.
While Title I grants do support school districts everywhere, including rural schools in districts like my own, these funds disproportionately support big city public schools: the same public schools that failed to educate the most-vulnerable children entrusted to them, by closing their doors for almost two years.
It is estimated that over 20 billion dollars in unspent funding still remains available from funds provided during the pandemic to these schools. Until this funding is drawn down and it is used responsibly, the federal government should not continue to make further investments in these failing schools.
At the same time, this bill prioritizes biodefense, programs that support rural America, targeted education programs including those for children with special needs, and Congressional oversight responsibilities.
The bill also maintains support for Pell Grants and language to ensure borrowers can quickly resume payments of their student loans following the recent Supreme Court decision.
Other programs for certain vulnerable populations, such as Americans with disabilities, older Americans, and foster children are maintained at current levels.
Child care block grants, which provide vouchers for families to choose the child care setting of their choice, are maintained at 8 billion dollars.
In response to the executive branch overreach of this Administration, this bill prohibits funding for programs focused solely on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood and other controversial grantees.
It also protects religious freedom and values by stopping this Administration’s regulation that would require schools to allow biological boys to compete against girls in women’s sports programs, and prohibiting any federal funding from going toward enforcing gender identity politics or social, hormonal, and surgical interventions to look like the opposite sex.
The bill prohibits funding for controversial ideologies like critical race theory. These radical views do not belong in public schools. Schools should be teaching our children how to think – not what to think.
The bill maintains the longstanding Hyde amendment to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used for abortion-on-demand, and that no one is forced to participate in an abortion or refer for one under federal programs.
The bill also makes sure that taxpayer funds are not used to circumvent state laws restricting access to abortion and ensures that federal research funds are not used on human fetal tissue obtained from an elective abortion.
The bill also includes provisions preventing this Administration from moving forward with job-killing regulations relating to independent contractors, joint employer status and federally forced wage rates for agricultural workers.
The Administration’s regulatory agenda is stifling small businesses, which should be incubators for innovation.
To protect against future man-made pandemics, the bill prohibits any funding from going to Ecohealth Alliance, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or any lab located in Russia or China.
The bill also prohibits funding from being used for any “gain-of-function” research, as was being done on bat coronaviruses prior to the COVID pandemic, and it prohibits enforcement of the CMS COVID vaccine mandate on healthcare workers.
In closing, of course, in addition to thanking Chairwoman Granger, I also want to thank my fellow subcommittee members and their staff for their hard work and input. I look forward to the debate today and I reserve the balance of my time.