Chairman Rehberg Opening Statement on FY 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for Subcommittee Markup

Jul 18, 2012

Good morning, welcome to the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee for consideration of legislation making appropriations for fiscal year 2013.

This legislation appropriates $150 billion in discretionary funds, which is a little more than $6 billion less, or 4% below, fiscal year 2012 levels.

The American people are well aware that runaway government spending is slowing economic recovery and costing jobs.  For the first time in U.S. history, our credit rating has been downgraded.  If we do not act now, we, our children, and grandchildren will pay a heavy price for our lack of discipline.

Real leaders make difficult choices.  The Senate, which has not passed a budget in three years, has shown no leadership.  This legislation represents a clear step toward returning to fiscal responsibility, while still ensuring that funding for critical and high-priority programs are maintained.

The bill promotes a pro-job growth fiscal environment by eliminating duplicative and ineffective programs.  Making strategic funding priority choices and continuing to rein in irresponsible spending and regulatory burdens imposed by this Administration on small and large businesses alike.

The President’s misguided health care law is one example of how this Administration is making things worse for all Americans.  It is driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire workers.  The only way to change this is by repealing the President’s health care law in its entirety. 

This committee cannot repeal Obamacare directly.  But we can prevent it from being further implemented with taxpayer dollars we have jurisdiction over.  The legislation therefore prevents the Secretary of Health and Human Services from using any funding in this bill to continue to implement Obamacare. It also rescinds unspent funds that have already been made available in the health care law itself. These dollars are directed to other, higher priority programs.

In determining how to allocate hard-earned taxpayer money entrusted to us, the Committee scrutinized all existing programs and activities to determine which ones could be decreased or eliminated in order to reduce unnecessary spending and duplication. 

The bill terminates 38 programs and activities, producing savings totaling over $3.9 billion in one year. This is a thoughtful approach to setting priorities. High-priority programs, such as assisting states and local governments in educating America’s disabled children, have received special emphasis in this bill. The maximum Pell grant award is increased in the bill to a total of $5,635.

We also fully fund the President’s requested level of $30.6 billion for biomedical research conducted through the National Institutes of Health.  And, by focusing a greater percentage of these resources on basic NIH research activities rather than allowing them to be diverted by the Secretary for other, less-pressing purposes, the bill actually provides an increase of $675 million for NIH to use compared with last year.

Also, resources to the Centers for Diseases Control, which help local officials combat infectious diseases and provide resources for cancer screenings and other chronic diseases, are increased by $126 million over last year through restricting the Secretary’s ability to use these funds for other purposes.

The legislation also places an emphasis on programs that help to protect the most vulnerable populations.  For example, we maintain funding for the Community Services Block Grant program and Head Start.

Finally, the bill contains a number of funding limitations designed to rein in the out-of-control, anti-business agenda this Administration continues to foist upon small businesses, the engine of our country’s economy.  It removes many new, burdensome regulations that are preventing Americans from getting back to work. 

As I said before, this bill makes the tough choices that need to be made to get our spending under control, while carefully prioritizing the most essential programs.  President Obama and the Senate need to do the same – frankly do your job - agree to a budget. 

We have endured 41 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent.  Our national debt has almost doubled since you, Mr. President took office.  Instead of cynical attacks on proposals to responsibly reign in spending, we need leadership from our colleagues on the other side of the dome, and in the White House.  America deserve no less.

I urge my colleagues to support the legislation and to remember our current and looming fiscal crisis as we listen to the debate today.