Cole Remarks at FY23 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Full Committee Markup
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I want to begin, Madam Chair, by reciprocating your very gracious personal remarks. It has been a pleasure to work with you and your staff and your team and frankly our colleagues on both sides of the aisle over these many years together. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do in partnership and look forward to us being able to work together as we go through this process.
Madam Chair, I want to congratulate you again on your hard work on this chairwoman’s mark.
As I said last week, I want to thank you for incorporating so many of our shared priorities into this bill. You and I agree on the need for continued investment in biomedical research, public health infrastructure, and preparing the nation for the next pandemic. We also agree on the importance of funding early education, special education, and programs like TRIO and GEARUP, which help first-generation students complete college and change the trajectory of their lives. Thank you for recognizing the importance of these shared priorities.
You have also been fair in including community project funding requested by Members on both sides of the aisle. For that, I thank you as well.
Despite these many areas of agreement, however, I will be opposing the bill presented today. Right now, Americans are experiencing the highest inflation rates and consumer prices seen in four decades. Even more concerning, a recent report published by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that this inflation is unfortunately here to stay well into 2023, despite Democrats' claims that it was only going to be temporary. Additionally, a severe worker shortage still exists. In fact, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey, small businesses are still looking to fill roughly 5.5 million job openings – nearly two job openings per one job seeker.
Americans are struggling to feed their families, fill up their gas tanks, and pay their rent or mortgages. Yet the Biden Administration and Democrats continue to ignore this crisis and fuel the inflation fire by proposing more wasteful and out-of-control spending. Unemployment was incentivized for too long by the Biden Administration, and the government spent too much on things unrelated to the coronavirus response.
Yet this bill continues to exacerbate our economic problems by pumping billions of dollars in additional spending into programs that cannot absorb it and creating new, controversial programs of dubious value that will do little beyond adding layers of bureaucracy at federal agencies. Our economy cannot sustain this.
Additionally, the bill once again removes long-standing bipartisan amendments that have protected taxpayer dollars from funding abortions or forcing healthcare professionals from participating in abortion.
As my colleagues know, these protections need to be reinstated in this bill for this bill to move forward. The majority of the American people support them, and my colleagues acknowledged this when this language was retained just a few months ago when we completed work on the omnibus package for fiscal year 2022.
It was the right thing to do then, and it is the right thing to do now. I hope my colleagues will adopt an amendment that is cosponsored by every Republican on this committee to reinstate these policies today so that the bill can continue through the process with this issue already resolved.
Finally, the bill contains many other policy and spending provisions that I find objectionable and that will need to be modified to get to a final deal. I am hopeful that some of these issues can also be addressed through the amendment process today. We have a number of issues that will be raised by Members on our side of the aisle and are hopeful that many of these can be agreed to.
In closing, while the bill does fund many good things, I will be opposing it today. The price tag is too high, and the bill contains many poison pill policy riders, funding for unauthorized programs and, frankly, bows to a leftist agenda that is out of step with the American people.
I thank the gentlelady and her staff again for all their hard work and I do pledge to work with you in good faith as the year continues. Working together, you and I, have passed this bill through the Congress and avoided a continuing resolution time and time and again. Seven in a row if my memory serves me right. We’ve been able to pass it no matter which party was in the Majority, no matter who was president, no matter who was in the Senate. I hope we can do that again. It is my sincere hope that as we work through this process that we will find consensus as we have so often in the past. I yield back the balance of my time.