Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2021 HHS Budget Request

2020-02-26 09:45

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services:

I thank Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole for holding this hearing.  Secretary Azar, thank you for joining us.

As you know, Chair DeLauro and I sent you a letter on February 4th requesting information on additional resources for the coronavirus.  Despite urgent warnings from Congress and the public health community, it has taken weeks for the Trump Administration to request these emergency funds, while tens of thousands have become ill around the world.  Worst still, the overall request is inadequate to effectively combat this threat.  And it is alarming that the Administration is proposing to take money from one emergency to pay for another, which would leave us more at risk for emerging diseases, and is an irresponsible approach to combating what the WHO has said is a potential pandemic.  House Democrats will move quickly to enact a robust package that will fully address this threat without jeopardizing other necessary programs.

Now, to the budget.  Mr. Secretary, you and I have been able to work together on important public health issues, and I value our relationship.  And that’s why it’s so disappointing when you come before us with a budget that is devoid from reality and would seriously harm the American people.

President Trump’s disastrous budget is filled with program cuts opposed by the public and bipartisan majorities in both chambers.  It is unfortunate that instead of using the budget to build on the historic investments secured in last year’s appropriations bills, the President doubled down on partisan talking points.  To propose investing $2 billion for the wall, or steal it outright from our veterans and servicemembers, while proposing to cut initiatives that improve the well-being of Americans exposes the Trump Administration priorities for what they are – campaign promises over public health.

Among many reckless proposals, your budget would:

  • Cut CDC by nearly $700 million, just as CDC is combating epidemics on opioids, surging rates of youth vaping, one of the worst flu seasons in decades, and the coronavirus;
  • Cut NIH by $3.3 billion, jeopardizing lifesaving medical research; and
  • Eliminate Preschool Development Grants, which would stall the important progress states have made to build strong early education systems.

In addition, the irresponsible proposal to eliminate teen pregnancy prevention while assaulting Medicaid and attacking the foundation of Title X family planning with a domestic gag rule is a dangerous combination that will leave many women without access to quality care and result in more unplanned pregnancies.  This is an assault on women’s health – and the rights of women and their doctors.

And I was dismayed by the elimination of the federal funding we included in the Fiscal Year 2020 spending bill, for the first time in two decades, for gun violence prevention research.  While you have supported this research in the past, the budget makes clear that the President does not intend to do anything to combat the gun violence epidemic in this country. 

In addition, Rather than invest in the ability of state and local governments to combat the vaping epidemic – which has led to at least 64 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations - this budget would consolidate CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and cut its funding at the very moment we need the CDC’s expertise and resources.

If a budget is a statement of values, then it’s clear President Trump has no intention of protecting our young people or improving the health of Americans.

116th Congress