Chair DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2021-07-15 10:51

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill:

Before I get started, I just want to say: today is Child Tax Credit Day. Families with children under 6 today receive $300, children 6-17, $250. Life changing. Families are dealing with extraordinary expenses, food, childcare, diapers, healthcare, and clothing. And the reason why I am mentioning this today, people are wondering why.

It is this subcommittee that helped to move the needle to get to today. It was in 2015 that the full Committee accepted by voice vote an amendment introduced by our colleagues Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard and Barbara Lee to fund a comprehensive nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences study on child poverty in the United States. The evidence-based report was to ‘provide its assessment of the most effective means for reducing child poverty by half in the next ten years.’ The report found a fully refundable Child Tax Credit was the cornerstone to achieve this historical poverty reduction.

After working on the Child Tax Credit, myself and with others, for the last 18 years, and people ask how we did get here, I always say it was the National Academy of Sciences study that raised the profile and demonstrated the evidence of what the expanded and improved Child Tax Credit can do for children and their families. So our deepest gratitude to Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Thank you very, very much for your efforts.

Our first order of business today is consideration of the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022.

To start, let me first say what a pleasure it has been to work with the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Representative Cole, for the past six years. In everything he does, Representative Cole demonstrates profound integrity and a steadfast commitment to the American people. It has been such an honor to work with him on the Labor-HHS subcommittee and to work with him in building a better, brighter future for all Americans. I am also honored by the commitment of all of my colleagues on this Committee and for the great work that you have done in the past and the work you are currently doing in getting us to this point.

Ranking Member Cole told us earlier this week that the Lugar Center recently ranked the Appropriations Committee as the best performing Committee in Congress! That is testament to the hard work of all of you, your dedication to this nation and your dedication to the people that you represent.

This commitment is reflected in the 15,000 funding requests the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee received this year, the vast majority of which, I am pleased to say, we were able to meet. Together I believe we have done great work and I very much appreciate your efforts, as well as those of our front office and our personal office staffs.

Over the past five months, the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee has held 14 hearings and a public roundtable with the Director and Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We learned how our public health infrastructure, which is outdated, ill supplied, and losing workers, was not prepared to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We discussed how sustained funding by Congress for basic biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health led to the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccines and the need for even greater funding.  We heard about our nation’s behavioral health crises which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and how they are causing more Americans, including children, to experience suicidal ideation and substance abuse.

We considered how sending mental health professionals rather than law enforcement in response to mental health crisis calls keeps more Americans safe. And we examined the terrible effects of the maternal health crisis in our communities, especially communities of color.

In addition to the many health-related issues we discussed, we examined how many families are still struggling to obtain the safe, affordable child care they need. We heard how our agricultural workers are still facing dangerous conditions in their workplaces. And we reviewed the many astronomical barriers students still face to obtaining the high-quality education that they deserve.

Informed by these instructive hearings, I am proud that this bill provides $253.8 billion in funding, a historic increase of 28 percent. Through this funding we are fulfilling our debt to the generations, families, and communities we serve and tipping the scales for the hard-working middle class and the vulnerable.

With $7.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, $12.2 billion for Head Start, and $450 million for Preschool Development Grants, we are cultivating a nation that supports working families and nurtures our children.

With an increase of nearly $20 billion to strengthen Federal support for high-poverty schools, and a $400 increase for the maximum Pell Grant, we are making post-secondary education more affordable, accessible, and achievable for more students. And with $1.13 billion for programs serving Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), community colleges, and under-resourced institutions of higher education, we are making our education system more accessible and equitable. I also want to note that this bill provides $100 million for the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant program, which is a program some of us have championed through the Labor-HHS subcommittee in 2019.

The increase of $1.6 billion in this bill for the Employment and Training Administration—including a total of $285 million for Registered Apprenticeships and $3.1 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Grants—will enrich our nation’s workforce and create jobs especially as our young adults move into the workforce.

And to protect worker’s paychecks and benefits and ensure workplace safety, this bill provides $2.1 billion, an increase of $305 million for worker protection agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage and Hour Division.

I am proud that these investments will sustain good-paying American jobs and give more people a better shot at the American Dream.

But even as we foster greater opportunity for more Americans, we must learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild our public health infrastructure while preparing for the public health crises of the future.

To that end, the bill provides $1 billion for a new, flexible funding stream for public health infrastructure and capacity and an increase of $250 million for CDC’s global health efforts. It includes increases of $50 million to invest in our public health workers and provides $100 million to improve and update the way public health data is collected and utilized.

Building on the investments this Committee has made over the past six years in a bipartisan way in biomedical research, this bill increases funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $6.5 billion— including a $3.5 billion increase for biomedical research at existing NIH institutes and centers— and to provide an across-the-board five percent increase for each Institute and Center.

To accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs, this bill supports the President’s request to establish the Advance Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA–H, which will be indispensable in achieving breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases such as diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

To address our country’s mental health crisis, which has been profoundly aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this bill provides $100 million to help communities create a new Mental Health Crisis Response Partnership Pilot Program, which would respond to mental health crisis calls with behavioral health teams instead of law enforcement. Many of these programs are in partnership with our law enforcement agencies and come directly out of the suggestions made at one of the hearings where we discussed mental health and law enforcement. 

And to save lives and to help keep guns off our streets, this bill builds on the investments we have made in the past two years with $50 million for gun violence prevention research at the CDC and the NIH.

The COVID-19 pandemic uncovered a vast number of disparities and failures in our public health and human services systems that left far too many vulnerable Americans fending for themselves. That is why I am proud that this bill promotes equal treatment for women through increased funding for Title X and by repealing the discriminatory Hyde Amendment. I know that this is the source of much concern on the other side of the aisle. But I do believe repealing the Hyde Amendment is the best thing we can do to support our mothers and families and help prevent, rather than penalize unwanted pregnancies and later, riskier and more costly abortions. 

I am profoundly proud of what we have done here and am grateful for the collaboration and input of all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I want to again thank Ranking Member Cole and all of the staff, specifically our majority Clerk, Stephen Steigleder, and his team: Jared Bass, Philip Tizzani, Jennifer Cama, Jackie Kilroy, Laurie Mignone, Becky Salay, and Trisha Castañeda. Thank you as well to the minority staff Susan Ross and Kathryn Salmon. And last but not least I must thank my own personal staff, including Liz Albertine, Christian Lovell, Caitlin Peruccio, and Marie Gualtieri.”

117th Congress