Hoyer Statement Against Labor-HHS Conference Report

Republican Conference Report Illustrates the Wrong Priorities for America’s Most Vulnerable Citizens, America's Future

For Immediate Release:

December 14, 2005

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), made the following statement today on the House floor in opposition to the Labor-HHS Conference Report:

 “Mr. Speaker, let us be clear: this so-called ‘new and improved’ Labor-HHS Conference Report is virtually identical to the Conference Report that this House rejected on November 17th because it under-funded key domestic programs.  And, there is no reason for any Member to vote for it today.

“Just like the flawed first version, this Conference Report betrays our nation’s values and its future.  And it is nothing less than a poster child for the Republican Party’s misguided priorities.

“Last week, this House Majority passed more than $94 billion in additional tax cuts, the benefits of which mostly go to the wealthiest taxpayers.  And this week, with this bill, we are slashing discretionary spending for education, health care programs, worker training and assistance to the most vulnerable by $1.6 billion.

“That’s just the half of it.  If the Republican Leadership gets its way, it will impose an across-the-board cut that nearly doubles the cuts in this bill to some $3 billion.

“Let no one be mistaken: when push comes to shove, this Republican Majority – without fail – puts its friends ahead of our nation’s future.

“Now, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim that there is little they can do to improve the funding levels in this bill.  They say that they have no options, no alternatives.  They say that they are only complying with funding levels dictated by the Republican Budget Resolution.  But they want to conveniently ignore the undeniable truth: they voted for that budget resolution. 

“And, now they want to have it both ways.  They want to vote for draconian cuts in April and proclaim that they are getting tough on spending, and then eight months later they want to disclaim responsibility when those cuts are enacted.

“The inappropriate funding levels in this Conference Report are the inevitable consequence of the most irresponsible fiscal policies in the history of our nation; of policies that have spawned record deficits and debt; of policies that this Republican Majority and the Administration have enacted to deliberately deprive our government of the resources that it needs.”

“Finally, let me say that I am particularly incensed that at a time of record heating costs, the Subcommittee defeated Mr. Obey’s Amendment to provide an additional $2 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“The message here is unmistakable: while the wealthy have money to burn, the poor get to shiver in silence.

“And, I simply do not understand why the Majority refused to adopt a second amendment to extend the enrollment period for the Prescription Drug Benefit for an additional six months.  We all know the reality: the Republicans’ Prescription Drug plan is so complicated and confusing that millions of seniors need – and deserve – more time to weigh their options.

“I urge my colleagues: vote against this Conference Report.”

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