Chair Wasserman Schultz Floor Remarks on Six-Bill Appropriations Minibus

2022-07-19 14:27

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Chair Wasserman Schultz​ (D-FL-23) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of H.R. 8294, a minibus of six fiscal year 2023 appropriations bills:

I rise in strong support of H.R. 8294, the appropriations minibus for Fiscal Year 2023.

By now, we all know President Biden’s wise words: “Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”

This minibus truly reflects our values – the values of promoting progress, opportunity and protecting those who most need it.

That is why I take tremendous pride in this bill as the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Chair of this bill which is a statement of principled values, especially with its strong support for veterans, servicemembers and their families.

We steer $15.1 billion to critical military infrastructure, such as new barracks and child development centers, and focus on ensuring that family housing is clear of mold, lead, and contaminants.

We invest in climate and energy resilience projects, and devote $200 million to PFAS contamination cleanup at old installations.

We provide more to NATO Security and support the infrastructure necessary for both wartime, peace and deterrence operations, by bolstering training requirements to confront Russian aggression and protect our European allies.

This bill improves the quality of life on military installations, and honors servicemembers and their families once they leave these facilities, by ensuring veterans receive the care and support they earned.

We do it by providing the Department of Veterans Affairs $135 billion to boost medical research and fully fund medical care.

We make major investments in women’s health, mental health, suicide prevention, and homelessness programs, and we tackle the disability claims backlog.

The bill also tackles two issues close to mine and many Member’s hearts:

It includes a prohibition on the painful scientific testing on dogs and cats, and it also makes permanent, VA’s authority to offer a full range of fertility treatment.

That means expanding eligibility to include partners in addition to spouses – removing the discrimination against same-sex couples, and allowing the use of donated sperm and eggs.

Outside of MilCon VA, the Energy and Water bill appropriates a record $407 million for Everglades restoration.

The River of Grass is the lifeblood of South Florida, and the change to make this level of historic progress is hugely significant towards our restoration efforts.

I’m proud that this bill makes it a priority to reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with pools and spas. We will save lives by increasing funding for pool safety grants to $2.5 million. Drowning poses a significant public health risk to our nation’s children, remaining the number one cause of unintentional death for children younger than 5.

Additionally, the Interior bill reflects the importance of protecting our coastlines from greedy oil companies, by prohibiting the Department of Interior from conducting offshore oil and gas leasing activities along Florida’s coasts.

It also funds valuable community projects, and in my district that means critical infrastructure, clean transit, and improved water quality in Hollywood, Southwest Ranches and Sunrise.

Finally, our values are reflected by how Congress confronts the dramatic rise in highway fatalities.

New data shows we lost ground in our fight to end drunk driving – the leading cause of highway deaths.

But this bill directs the DOT to take immediate steps to save lives, by requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a rule requiring all new passenger vehicles be equipped with Advanced Alcohol Monitoring Technology.

This technology will save an estimated 9,400 lives a year. For reference, air bags save 3,000 lives annually.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, this may be the most significant motor vehicle safety rulemaking ever undertaken in terms of the lives it can save.

We have a chance to enhance, improve and save millions of lives by passing this minibus, and I respectfully urge my colleagues to support these cherished American values.

Thank you, and I yield back.

117th Congress