Chairwoman DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY 2021 Labor-HHS-Education Funding Bill

2020-07-13 14:40

WASHINGTON — 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 2021 Labor-HHS-Education bill:

Today’s markup of the 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill is the culmination of hard work, from members and staff, on both sides of the aisle. I want to thank my colleagues for being here, including my partner, the ranking member Congressman Tom Cole. We have collaborated the last 6 years and have produced bills that have allowed the Congress to advance America’s needs.

Let me also recognize the full committee ranking member, Congresswoman Kay Granger, for her work on behalf of the nation in this perilous time.

And of course, my dear friend and committee Chair, Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

I am both honored and saddened that this is the last time I can markup this bill under the auspicious leadership of a pathbreaker and changemaker, Congresswoman Nita Lowey. When I think about what you have achieved during your time in the Congress, what we have achieved together, it gives me hope and heart for this nation and institution.

Nita has made the nation, and the world, a far better place because of her commitment to this committee and to the Labor-HHS-Education bill. I will miss seeing her in the halls of Congress and on the Appropriations Committee, but our friendship carries on.

For 2021, the chair’s mark includes $196.5 billion in overall funding. That includes an increase of $2.4 billion above the 2020 enacted level and $20.8 billion above the President’s 2021 budget request.

Labor-H and its programs are at the center of the country’s health crisis and the economic crisis, both of which have exposed serious disparities. The virus continues to spike. More than 3.2 million cases. Tens of thousands of new cases are reported each day. More than 135,000 people in the U.S. have died.

In the absence of leadership from the White House, the Congress has stepped in. Since March 6, the Congress has passed four emergency supplemental appropriations packages. The Labor-H subcommittee is at the center of responding to COVID-19, we have appropriated on a bipartisan basis $280 billion dollars for education, for health, and for working people.

With the chair’s mark, we build on those bipartisan emergency and supplemental packages. We are working together to defeat this virus, not surrender to it, and to deliver the people in this country to the dawn of recovery, not to abandon them to an economic collapse.

This bill supports some of our nation’s most critical programs. From Early Head Start to Social Security, they touch individuals and families throughout their lives.

Our members recognize that. The Subcommittee received more than 15,000 requests for today’s bill. We were able to fulfill – either in total or in part – most of them, from both sides of the aisle. Each office should have already received, electronically, a document that outlines your priorities included in the bill before us.

So, working together and building on the efforts we have made together thus far, we advance today’s bill, making investments for the nation: for health, for education, and for good-paying, safe and secure jobs, and to address the disparities in these areas that have been exposed by this virus. That is the mission of this bill. Now, let me overview.

For health, we provide approximately $96 billion for programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an increase of $1.5 billion above the enacted level for 2020.

We seek to do more to help our constituents to access new cures, new treatments, new research, and new protections, to help them and their families live healthier lives. To fight Alzheimer’s, cancer, opioid addiction, antibiotic resistant infections, and gun violence, to support food safety, address maternal health and eliminate HIV/AIDS.

Our nation faces health disparities, and we seek to address them.

For early childhood programs in today’s bill, we include an increase of $150 million for Head Start; an increase of $100 million for child care; and an increase of $25 million for Preschool Development Grants. The first few years are essential to long-term outcomes for kids. But for our children to thrive, we have to support them at this vulnerable time of crucial development, especially when the twin health and economic crises we are facing have either disrupted their lives or have possibly exposed them to hardship, to poverty, to hunger, or to trauma.

On the topic of caring for vulnerable children, I want to mention the UAC, the program for unaccompanied children, as it, of course, falls under this bill and our jurisdiction. This bill includes 10 General Provisions related to the Unaccompanied Children program to ensure it operates as a human services program, not an immigration enforcement program. And so, this bill designates funding for legal services and post-placement services. And, this bill includes the provisions that we enacted last year, plus additional conditions: related to the Department’s Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Homeland Security; and related to prohibiting all funding for influx facilities; and related to prohibiting the sharing of notes from counseling sessions with the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice.

We also cannot neglect public health infrastructure, which has collapsed and failed. That is why we provide $24.4 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. To the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. These monies support State and local public health departments, public health laboratories, and global public health activities, as well as further resources to accelerate the development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, which will be necessary to end this pandemic and allow the country to return to economic and social activities. This also includes funding the Public Health Emergency Fund that would allow the Secretary of HHS to draw down from those dollars immediately. And not have to wait for Congress to pass a supplemental.

And, in this emergency funding, we are going to be ensuring with oversight and accountability. So, that scientists and public health officials are in charge, not politicians or talk show hosts.

Then, education, is approaching its own emergency if we do not act swiftly, fully, and intelligently.

We are witnessing the discussion on reopening schools. We all want our schools to open. We need a safe space for our children, with trauma-informed practices and resources to make up for the lost learning time, especially for the youngsters who are the most vulnerable to slipping through the cracks. And, we want teachers and students to be face-to-face, as much as safely possible. In some states around the nation with a virus that is out of control, we cannot simply open schools based on the statements of the secretary of education.

Secretary DeVos has no national plan and is unwilling to answer the question of whether schools should follow CDC guidelines.

The CDC has released very thoughtful guidelines on this issue that must be taken seriously and acted on. Reopening schools in person for five days is the highest risk scenario.

We need to provide the resources to support the evidence-based recommendations of our medical experts and educators.

In the bill before us, we include a $716 million increase from 2020 to $73.5 billion dollars, that’s $6.9 billion above the President’s budget request.

In K-12, that includes an increase for Title I grants of $254 million above 2020 to $16.6 billion. The President’s budget proposes to eliminate this program. This is the cornerstone of all federal K-12 programs to help address disparities in resources across school districts.

In special education, we provide an increase of $208 million to $14.1 billion total, $108 million above the President’s budget request. We only wish we could have done more, considering the unbelievable challenges that children with disabilities are facing in this pandemic, their families as well, with the disruptions to their education. It is our duty to be lifting them up.

And we eliminate a 46-year old provision preventing federal funds to be used to overcome racial imbalance in our public schools.

In higher education, we provide a $45 million increase over the 2020 enacted levels for Federal student aid programs to $24.6 billion, $1.6 billion above the President’s budget request. And, we provide an $81 million increase over 2020 to support institutions of higher education, $2.6 billion total including $1.1 billion for Federal TRIO programs and $370 million for GEAR UP. These programs are lifelines to low-income students who are often the first in their families to go to college. I know there is deep support on both sides of the aisle for these initiatives.

We also include language allowing incarcerated individuals to be eligible for Pell grants and pursue higher education. A prohibition has been on the books since 1994, but this bill takes steps to reduce recidivism and provide opportunity.

In Career, Technical, and Adult Education, we provide a $25 million increase above the 2020 level.

And, we must meet our obligations to working Americans. Unemployment remains higher than any previous period since World War II. So, this bill provides an increase for the Department of Labor $254 million above 2020 to $12.7 billion total in discretionary appropriations.

These investments help working people find good-paying jobs. With a $187 million increase for the Employment Training Administration, $10.2 billion total and $1.5 billion above the President’s budget request, including $50 million increase for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants and $10 million increase for Registered Apprenticeships, And, we block the administration from rigging these funds to support low-quality programs with no evidence base, also known as industry-recognized apprenticeships.

And, our investments help keep working people safe on the job. These are the forgotten Americans: the migrant workers on farms, the workers at meat processing plants, the men and women of this country at factories, in retail, at restaurants, clocking in and clocking out to feed their family and support this nation.

In today’s bill, we add to that, investing $1.7 billion for Worker Protection Agencies, including a $12 million increase to $594 million total for OSHA for enforcement efforts, more inspectors and to expand the Susan Harwood worker safety training grants. And, we provide funding to help States meet the unprecedented demand for Unemployment Insurance. We include $925 million in emergency contingency funding to help States deal with the massive spike in claims.

The Hyde amendment is a discriminatory policy. This is a long-standing issue of racial injustice and one that is routinely considered - every year as a legislative rider — but we are in a moment to reckon with the norm, with tradition, and view it through the lens of racial justice. So, although the bill includes the Hyde amendment this year, let me be clear, we will win the fight to remove it, to ensure that women of color and all women have access to the reproductive health they deserve.

I am proud to be a member of this institution because of what we do in moments like these. In moments of crisis, where federal leadership is vital yet missing, the government must act. We do so now. With this funding bill for 2021, we are building on our emergency response to provide emergency investment and long-term investment. We can and must defeat the virus, and the racial disparities exposed in health, education, and the economy. Let us do that together by advancing this bill.

I would like to thank the staff for their hard work to get this done. Majority Staff: Brad Allen, Jared Bass, Jennifer Cama, Robin Juliano, Jackie Kilroy, Laurie Mignone, Stephen Steigleder, and Philip Tizzani. Then, the minority staff: Susan Ross and Kathryn Salmon.


116th Congress