Chairwoman DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education Funding Bill

2019-05-08 09:18

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Appropriations Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2020 Labor-HHS-Education bill:

Let me thank the chair of the full committee, Chairwoman Lowey, for making the Labor-HHS-Education bill a high priority. In the recent past, the decision was made to move forward without a roadmap and without releasing the full slate of allocation numbers. But, thanks to Chairwoman Lowey’s leadership we are moving ahead in a transparent way to conduct the essential business of the Committee.

For fiscal year 2020, the Subcommittee is recommending a total of $189.9 billion in discretionary funding. It is an increase of nearly $12 billion over last year’s enacted levels.

This markup is the culmination of a lot of hard work, from members and staff, on both sides of the aisle. 

We hosted twelve hearings in Labor-H on the budget and on topics including predatory for-profit colleges, federal student loan servicing, the unaccompanied children program, wage theft and the administration’s cost-increasing changes to the Affordable Care Act. I want to thank the members on both sides who participated in these efforts.

We have also been working hard to collect requests from members. The Subcommittee received nearly 15,000. We were able to fulfill – either in total or in part – more than 90 percent of them. That includes those from both sides of the aisle.

We have seen what we can do together. For 2018, Democrats and Republicans came together to secure a $13 billion increase in the conference agreement for the programs in this bill. We continued to make progress in 2019.  We can and should repeat these successes.

Let me recognize the ranking member, Tom Cole, for his work on this bill. We have our differences: different backgrounds, different parts of the country, different political philosophies. But, we have come together. Underlying all of that is there is a mutual respect.

And, I believe there is a mutual understanding of the importance of the Labor-HHS-Education bill. From Early Head Start to Social Security, these programs touch individuals and families throughout their lifespan.

That is why the president’s budget is not carrying the day. We have done some things with his proposal. But in large part, his proposal reflects values that we do not subscribe to.

That said, as we all know, we will need a budget agreement to avoid across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense programs. I will note how this compares with past practice from my Republican colleagues. At this point two years ago, there was no budget agreement. Four years ago, no budget agreement. And yet we moved forward. Moreover, the committee did not provide the full slate of 302B allocations and instead chose to keep the entire process shrouded in mystery by withholding that information. We are being much more transparent.

And unfortunately, the White House has made it clear that they do not want to make a deal at this time. But, we cannot afford to wait. We are moving forward, as my colleagues did when they were in the Majority.

Our mission has been to advance a positive agenda; to look at issues where programs have been starved; and, to reflect the oversight we have been conducting. I believe we have done so.

We recommend a historic $4 billion increase over last year for early childhood programs—including increases of $2.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, $1.5 billion for Head Start, and $100 million for Preschool Development Grants.

We also increase funding for K-12 and postsecondary education by $4.4 billion over last year (for a total of $75.9 billion).

Earlier this week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos tried to villainize our teachers, some of whom would be on food stamps if they did not work a second job. She tried to set up a false choice between those teachers and their students. But, we know the answer. It is not a question of supporting the teachers striving for a fair, living wage OR supporting the students, whose dreams our teachers are fighting for everyday with early mornings, long nights, hours on the weekends, extra work over holidays, text messages to parents to check-in and trips to the store to buy supplies because pencils for the kids were not in the budget this year. No, Madame Secretary, the choice is not our students or our teachers. The choice is to invest in our schools like our future depends on it OR not.

It is not the strikes that are hurting our kids. It is your policies, Madame Secretary.

  • $1 billion increase for Title I grants (total $16.9 billion);
  • $500 million increase for Title II state grants for teacher professional development and class size reduction (to a total of $2.6 billion);
  • $1 billion increase for IDEA State grants (to a total to $13.4 billion).

I will also note that we rejected the administration’s proposal to eliminate education funding of the Special Olympics. Instead, we provide a $3.5 million increase (for a total of $21.2 million).

          Finally, with regards to postsecondary education, we recommend more than $5 billion to help students access, afford and complete the post-secondary education they will need to compete in the modern economy. As part of that, we include…

  • $150 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award from $6,195 to $6,345.
  • $35 million increase for GEAR UP (to a total of $395 million);
  • $100 million increase for TRIO programs (to a total of $1.2 billion).
  • $251 million increase for programs that aid colleges and universities that primarily serve students of color (to a total of $917 million).

Then, with regards to health. We made a net increase of $2 billion in the National Institutes of Health. It will allow almost a 5% increase for all institutes and centers. We are also increasing the CDC’s budget by $921 million over current levels.

We know the power of public research dollars. We are directing it towards reducing deaths from gun violence, which killed 40,000 Americans last year, including 24,000 by suicide. We held the first appropriations hearing on gun violence prevention research. Experts told us: it is a public health emergency; we need public health research; and, the CDC and the NIH have the authority to conduct this research. So, we are providing $50 million.

And we are investing in women’s health, which I am proud to do. We are…

  • Increasing our focus on reducing maternal mortality—by maintaining last year’s investment of $50 million and adding an additional $10 million;
  • Increasing funding for teen pregnancy prevention by $9 million (to a total of $110 million);
  • And, increasing Title X family planning by $113 million (to a total of $400 million). Title X providers provide more than four million low-income women and men every year with contraception counseling services and health screenings.

Together, these investments will transform women’s lives for the better.

To this end, we are blocking the Trump administration’s domestic gag rule. We should trust women and their doctors. We should protect their right to have private conversations. The domestic gag rule would make it illegal for health care providers and counselors who receive Title X funding to even talk about abortion or abortion-related services with their patients, even if those providers do not perform abortions.

Americans widely oppose this appalling rule, as do doctors, including the American Medical Association. Women know what is best for them and their families, far better than this administration. So, we are returning to pre-existing law.

Unfortunately, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle focus on abortion as if it were the lone aspect of women’s health. They would block women across the country from accessing the health care they need, demonstrated by relentless policy and funding attacks on key programs that enable women and families to access the care that they need and deserve. These extreme ideological attacks interfere with women's personal health care decisions, weaken the provider-patient relationship, and undermine a woman’s right to control her health care choices. We know this president is highly invested in continuing these attacks on women. And, we also know the power of the White House and that this president will reject a repeal of the Hyde amendment. That is why this bill maintains current law with regards to the Hyde Amendment.

Make no mistake, the Hyde Amendment is a discriminatory policy that makes access to basic reproductive health care based on your income. That is simply wrong, and I oppose it. We will continue the long fight and we will win that fight in the near term to ensure that women of color, low income women and all women are on equal footing, with regards to their reproductive rights.

So, we firmly oppose the administration’s policies with regards to women’s health.

However, we do support the administration’s plan to reduce HIV transmission 90 percent in 10 years. So, we include the administration’s request for $120 million for programs through Health Resources and Services Administration to increase access to the ground-breaking HIV drugs and $140 million for CDC’s work in HIV outreach and disease monitoring. But, we go even further. We provide an additional $46 million for the Ryan White program. We provide additional funds for the Minority AIDs initiative. And, we provide an additional $150 million for NIH’s HIV research to secure a vaccine or a cure.

          Finally, we are investing in workers. The single biggest economic challenge of our time is that Americans are in jobs that do not pay them enough to live on. To help, we provide $5.8 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs and $1.8 billion for worker protection agencies. That includes…

  • $150 million increase for Jobs Corps (to $1.9 billion);
  • $69 million increase (to $298 million) for the Wage and Hour Division;
  • $67 million increase (to $342 million) for the National Labor Relations Board;
  • $103 million increase for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (to $661 million).

I am so proud of what we are doing in this bill, to bolster existing programs as well as to advance what is new and innovative. For example, we provide…

  • $150 million for new investments in community colleges and other four-year institutions to train workers for in-demand industries;
  • $260 million to support “whole child” approaches to education through a social-emotional learning initiative;
  • And, $100 million for the first year of a new initiative to modernize public health data systems at the federal, state, and local levels—which will greatly improve disease surveillance and public health response at all levels.

For too long, working people and middle-class families of this country have been shortchanged. This Committee is moving ambitiously to make sure that we provide every individual with a better chance at a better life.

This is our obligation in the Congress. So, too is oversight.

Some of my colleagues are ready to bemoan the actions we are taking, with regards to oversight. They dismiss it as micromanaging this administration.

But, considering what happened last year, with regards to the family separation crisis, children kept in cages, mothers weeping under floodlights fearful for their sons and daughters and all the public outrage, I will say that including legal conditions on the unaccompanied children program is not micromanaging. It is our constitutional duty, which I will uphold.

Moreover, CMS cut outreach and enrollment activities for the ACA Exchange by 90 percent, so we direct them to resume those activities. When the Administration abdicates its legal responsibility, it is this committee’s responsibility to step forward and ensure the agencies are implementing the law as written by the Congress.

Our job as the Appropriations Committee is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. And, to be guardians of carrying out the law. It is our duty. And, we will uphold it.

I am proud of this bill. I am proud of these historic investments. I am proud of what we are doing for the working people and middle-class families of this country. And, I am proud of how much we have been able to include together, Republicans and Democrats.

So, let me take a moment to thank the staff, who have worked so hard to get this done.

For the majority: Brad Allen, Jared Bass, Jennifer Cama, Robin Juliano, Jackie Kilroy, Laurie Mignone, Stephen Steigleder and Philip Tizzani.

And, for the minority: Susan Ross and Kathryn Salmon.

Thank you all. And, thank you again to the chair.

116th Congress