Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY 2021 Commerce-Justice-Science Funding Bill
WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill:
I thank Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholt for their work on this bill as well as the staff crafting the product before us.
Before I begin, I want to say a few words about my good friend, Chairman Serrano. In 1993, we joined the Appropriations Committee together. He has been an invaluable leader of this committee, of this Congress, and most important, a dear friend.
As Chairman, he has worked diligently to ensure that our census is conducted accurately and fairly. He has also been a tireless advocate for the American citizens of Puerto Rico, particularly in fighting for the resources to recover and rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. From supporting climate change research and working to prevent gun violence, to ensuring New York receives its fair share of federal funding, Joe Serrano has been a tremendously effective legislator. With more than 40 years of public service to New York and as the longest-serving Hispanic member of Congress, Joe has ensured that this Committee is more responsive to the needs of all Americans, which is embodied in his final CJS bill which we will consider today.
This committee, and the American people, will miss his presence greatly when he retires at the end of this Congress. I will miss his smile, his sense of humor, and his good heart. My friend, it has been an honor to serve with you.
To the bill before us, as we confront the twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism, the American people are demanding action to build safer and stronger communities for all people. The fiscal year 2021 CJS appropriations bill recognizes and acts on the urgent need for meaningful police reform, racial justice, and the defense of civil rights for every American. Strong funding in this bill would support law enforcement reform at the state and local level while catalyzing economic development in disadvantaged communities that is fundamental to a more just and equitable society.
At a time when we must restore Americans’ faith in law enforcement, the Commerce, Justice, Science bill provides strong funding increases to promote civil rights and improve police practices throughout the country, including more than $500 million in federal grants for states and localities to carry out police reform initiatives. These investments would bring about real change.
Beyond this urgent responsibility, we are tasked in this bill with investing in programs that promote economic development, keep our communities safe, reduce gun violence, and advance evidence-based scientific research.
This bill would do so by providing:
An increase of $23 million for the Economic Development Administration to spur the economic growth of hard-hit regions;
- Increased funding for multiple programs at the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to protect the most vulnerable as our nation faces a troubling new wave of gender and domestic violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- An increase of $9.7 million for the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) grants to help prevent guns from entering the wrong hands; and
- An increase of $270 million for the National Science Foundation to foster innovation and American competitiveness.
I congratulate Chairman Serrano and urge support.