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

2021-07-12 11:33

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), 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 Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2022 bill:

First of all, I just want to start by saying how much of a pleasure it is to be working with Ranking Member Cole not just this year but over the past six years—and just say that the mutual concerns, the mutual understandings of what this subcommittee can do, but even more importantly what the Congress can do in helping families in this country have a better chance at a better life. And I think that has been the foundation of a partnership and we have been a partner on the Labor-HHS Subcommittee. So, I’m so appreciative of my colleague’s friendship and working forward.

I also want to just say what an honor it is to work with all of my colleagues on the Subcommittee on both sides of the aisle. Your devotion and commitment to this nation is clear. This year the subcommittee received 15,000 funding requests from Democrats and Republicans, and we were able to meet the vast majority of them, either fully or partially. Together I believe we have done great work and so I very much appreciate your dedication and the tireless efforts of our front office and personal office staff.

Over the past five months, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee has held a total of 14 hearings as well as a public roundtable with the Director and Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We discussed vital issues and challenges, many of which have plagued our nation for many years, but which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We learned how our public health infrastructure was not up to meeting the demands that the COVID-19 pandemic required and how much work is needed to rebuild it. We heard how many health departments and labs still use fax machines to communicate. How local and state health departments have lost more than 20% of their workforce since 2008, and how many labs are not sufficiently supplied with the equipment they need.

We learned how important it is to provide increased funding for basic biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As you all know, this very research was integral in setting the stage for the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines, which would not have been possible without the years of sustained investments made by Congress.

In addition to the many issues we discussed related to our public health infrastructure, we also examined the devastating impact of the child care crisis and how families across our nation are still struggling to obtain the safe, affordable support they need.

We heard about our nation’s most urgent behavioral health crisis and how the pre-existing mental health and opioid use crises have worsened dramatically over the past year. We learned how many Americans, including children, are reporting increased rates of suicidal ideation and substance use. We discussed better ways to help those experiencing mental health crises by sending mental health professionals rather than law enforcement to their aid. And we saw the terrible effects that the maternal health crisis has and continues to have on our nation’s mothers especially those within communities of color.

From ensuring the safety of our nation’s agricultural workers and those with mental health conditions, to the strengthening of our nation’s education, labor, and public health institutions, the work we do on this Subcommittee touches on so many aspects of the American people’s lives, giving them the critical tools they need for their families to be healthy and safe.

With this bill’s $253.8 billion in funding, a historic increase of 28 percent above last year, we are bringing hope to the individuals, communities, and regions that need it most and providing crucial funding to build a better tomorrow and expand our capacity to meet any future challenges.

We are beginning to fulfill our debt to generations, families, and communities that require this scale of investment. And we are beginning to tip 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.

We make a historic investment in public K-12 education by meeting President Biden’s commitment to more than double funding for Title I grants, to a new level of $36 billion, an increase of nearly $20 billion to strengthen Federal support for high-poverty schools and high-quality education for all students.

We all know how education can serve as a great equalizer that opens doors and opportunities for jobs, higher wages, and a better life. But we know that it can only serve as this great equalizer if, and only if, it is affordable, accessible, and achievable for all. Which is why I am also proud of the serious investments made in this bill to make post-secondary education more affordable for students with low incomes. With a $400 increase made to the maximum Pell Grant, the foundation of our student aid system, we give students a fighting chance at the American Dream and a brighter future. I am also proud of the $1.13 billion this bill provides for programs serving Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), community colleges, and under-resourced institutions of higher education.

As young adults move into the workforce, the increase of $1.6 billion provided 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 expand access to good jobs.

In addition, this bill provides $2.1 billion, an increase of $305 million, for worker protection agencies such as OSHA and the Wage and Hour Division. These investments will go a long way in protecting workers’ paychecks and benefits and ensuring the safety and the health of our workplaces.

These investments across the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill will sustain good-paying American jobs and give more people a better shot at the American Dream.

But even as we work to foster greater opportunity for more Americans, we must also learn from the lessons of the pandemic and work to rebuild our public health infrastructure while preparing to address the public health crises of the future.

The bill makes historic investments to rebuild our public health system after the worst pandemic in a century, including $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.

We provide increases of $50 million for Public Health Workforce and Career Development to invest in essential public health workers who protect our communities and are empowered by science. And we provide $100 million for Public Health Data Modernization to advance the transformation of the collection and utilization of public health data from retrospective reporting to driving action in real time.

I am also pleased that this bill continues to build on the investments this Committee has made over the past six years in biomedical research by increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $6.5 billion, including an increase of $3.5 billion for basic biomedical research at existing NIH institutes and centers. It also includes sufficient funding to provide an across-the-board increase of no less than five percent for each Institute and Center.

In this bill we also provide $3 billion to support the President’s request to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA–H, to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs that have the potential to transform health care and address our most complex health challenges. It is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). ARPA–H will invest in large high-risk, high-reward research projects that have the potential to achieve breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

To help address the rising mental health crisis in this country, which has been profoundly exacerbated by the COVID19 pandemic, this bill provides $100 million to help communities create a new Mental Health Crisis Response Partnership Pilot Program. This program would divert calls from those experiencing mental health crises from law enforcement to behavioral health teams and ensure these individuals get the care they need. 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.  

Additionally, the bill provides a total of $50 million for gun violence prevention research at CDC and NIH, which will build on the important investment we have made over the past two years.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare a slew of disparities and failures that left vulnerable populations in the lurch. And it has underscored the need to work not only for equality but also for equity in health-care access and treatment.

That is why I am especially proud that this bill advances equal treatment for women not only by increasing funding for the range of health services, including family planning, covered by Title X, but also by repealing the discriminatory Hyde Amendment. I know that this is an issue on which many of us disagree. But regardless of the original intent of Hyde, it has disproportionately impacted women of color and it has ultimately led to more unintended pregnancies and later, riskier, and more costly abortions.

Quite frankly, allowing the Hyde Amendment to remain on the books is a disservice not only to our constituents but also to the values that we espouse as a nation. We are finally doing what is right for our mothers, our families, and our communities by striking this discriminatory amendment once and for all.

I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished in this bill.

Through the funding provided here we are building the architecture for the future and using this moment to lift up our nation’s most vulnerable so that every person, no matter their background or where they live, has the opportunity to contribute and succeed.

With that, I want to again thank Ranking Member Cole and the staff on both sides of the aisle for their hard work. Specifically, I want to thank 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 staff, including Liz Albertine, Christian Lovell, Caitlin Peruccio, and Marie Gualtieri.

With that I would like to recognize the Ranking Member for any opening remarks he wishes to make.


117th Congress