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

2020-07-13 15:10

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 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies​ bill:

I’d like to thank Chair DeLauro, Ranking Member Cole, and the subcommittee staff for their hard work sculpting the product before us.

Rosa and I, as well as Joe Serrano, joined this subcommittee in 1993. As Rosa has mentioned, it was in hearings, when we would have two a day, several times a week, with me sitting between Nancy Pelosi and Rosa, that we became so close – so close, in fact, that for some time, we were known collectively as DeLosi.

The Labor-HHS bill does more to improve the quality of life of Americans than any of the thousands of bills that are introduced every Congress would. In my 28 years on the subcommittee, some of the most impressive legislators have led it – Dave Obey, John Porter, Ralph Regula, Tom Cole, and of course, Rosa DeLauro. 

And we accomplished a lot.  From saving funding for public broadcasting - with a little help from Bert and Ernie in Committee, to mandating gender equity in medical research by ensuring that NIH used both male and female patients in clinical trials, and even male and female lab rats for preclinical trials, to finally, after a twenty year break, restoring federal research into gun violence prevention, many of my proudest memories in Congress are of the work on this subcommittee.

When we work together, we can solve problems and improve the lives of each American.  Today’s bill follows that tradition, touching on so many critical facets of life.

The FY 2021 Labor-HHS bill rejects President Trump’s proposed budget cuts and instead increases investments in important priorities that support working families, improve health security, and build a stronger future for all Americans.  Critically, the bill would strengthen our response to coronavirus and the accompanying economic crisis through robust funding for state and local public health departments and public laboratories, and for the accelerated development and production of vaccines and therapeutics. With this bill, we empower families and communities by making investments to keep up with America’s health care, education, and workforce needs, so every person has a better chance at a better life.

One of those critical areas for our recovery and the health and financial security of working families is access to child care. Quality child care makes all the difference. It means children step into kindergarten ready to learn, working families have better job security knowing their children are healthy and safe, and communities thrive because quality child care promotes strong economic development. What’s good for our babies is good for our budget. This bill continues our longstanding efforts to support access to affordable, quality child care by providing significant investments in Head Start, Preschool Development Grants, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

Before COVID-19, afterschool programs provided a safe and reliable place for students to continue learning outside of regular school hours. In the face of a pandemic, afterschool programs have risen to the moment, bringing meals to families, remaining open for children of essential workers, and transitioning to virtual programming. I am proud to have established the first-ever federal funding source for afterschool programs years ago and to expand that commitment again today with an increase of $13 million.

In addition, this bill would provide:

  • an increase of $500 million for NIH, as well as $5 billion in emergency spending for research, including for projects that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • an increase of $232 million to support the public health professionals and important work of the CDC, including an increase of $10 million for the Office on Smoking and Health to combat the e-cigarette epidemic;
  • $9 billion in emergency spending to support CDC’s public health and emergency response activities;
  • $50 million for CDC and NIH to fund lifesaving research on gun violence prevention;
  • increases for public broadcasting; and
  • vital funding for education including Title I and IDEA as well as an increase in the maximum Pell award so more students can have access to an affordable higher education.

The bill would also reverse the domestic gag rule, ensure that Title X grantees are selected on the merits –not political ideology – and prevent providers from discriminating against patients.  It is a shame, my friends, that support for family planning and teen pregnancy prevention has become a partisan issue over the years.  It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans would join in support of these important causes.

In closing, I thank my good friends, Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole, and the excellent subcommittee staff led by Stephen Steigleder and Robin Juliano, as well as Dana Acton and Fae Rabin of my personal office for their hard work and contributions. I urge support of the bill.


116th Congress