WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in support of overriding the President's veto of the Labor-Health-Education Appropriations bill:
"Mr. Speaker, for the second consecutive day, the Members of this House – and particularly my friends on the other side of the aisle – must answer this fundamental question:
"Will we stand up and fight for the priorities of our people? For critical investments in our nation’s future? And for a stronger, more prosperous America?
"Or, will we accede to the demands of President Bush – who, despite instigating record budget deficits and adding more than $3 trillion to the national debt, now wants to pretend that he an exemplar of fiscal responsibility by vetoing this vital conference report?
"Yesterday, we voted to support our troops in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to require the President to heed the demands of the American people to change direction in Iraq.
"Today, we must again require the President to heed the demands of the American people by overriding his unjustified, deeply misguided veto of the bipartisan Labor-HHS-Education Conference.
"Let’s put the President’s position in perspective.
"The President’s budget for labor, health and education programs for Fiscal Year 2008 calls for a cut of $3.6 billion below last year’s enacted funding levels.
"This would require us to cut vocational education; eliminate all student aid other than work study and Pell Grants; cut medical research; cut law enforcement grants; cut rural health programs; cut clean water programs; and cut the low-income heating assistance program.
"The bottom line is this: The President is demanding nearly $200 billion for his failing policy in Iraq – all of it added to the deficit – while he is refusing to invest even a fraction of that amount to expand access to health care, to educate our children, to train our people for new jobs, or to conduct medical research.
"It’s no wonder that bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate rejected the President’s proposal. Instead, we approved a modest, responsible 4.3 percent increase (or $6.2 billion) above last year’s enacted funding levels.
"And through this conference report, 1.2 million more Americans would have access to community health centers; 1,400 more life-saving medical research grants would be funded; Pell Grants would be increased by $325, and 117,000 more students would receive extra help with math and reading. And, an estimated 1.5 million more families in need would receive help through LIHEAP.
"It’s clear. This Conference Report reflects the priorities of the American people. The President’s proposal does not.
"And tonight we will override the President’s veto if the 63 Republicans who voted for either the House version of this bill or the Conference Report join with Democrats tonight to do so.
"The President’s veto is political pretense, pure and simple – which is demonstrated by the fact that the funding in this Conference Report represents a smaller share of our GDP than the Conference Reports passed by Republican Majorities in Congress in FY02, FY03, FY04, FY05, and FY06.
"Yet, President Bush signed every one of those conference reports.
"Mr. Speaker, the idea that we cannot find the funds necessary to invest in health care, in education, in medical research – indeed in our nation’s future – while spending another $200 billion in Iraq is patently absurd.
"It is up to us now, Members on both sides of the aisle, to do the right thing.
"I urge my colleagues: Let’s fulfill our promise to the American people, to our children and to this nation’s future. Let’s vote to override this unjustified veto of a fiscally responsible, very good Conference Report."