WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in praise of the inclusion of $1.5 billion in funding for election reform and a 4.1 percent pay raise for federal employees in the Fiscal Year 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report. Representative Hoyer voted against the bill for unrelated provisions:
“I am very pleased that we were able to include a 4.1 percent pay adjustment for federal employees in the Fiscal Year 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report. Though I voted against this bill for unrelated provisions, I believe that it was imperative that we provide federal employees, including those at the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, a fair pay raise to reward them for their dedication to serving and protecting our country. This pay raise respects the principle of pay parity, which ensures that both civilian federal employees and military employees receive fair pay adjustments for their service.
“September 11th reminded all Americans of the impact that public servants have on their everyday lives, from the Customs agents who protect our borders to the scientists at the CDC who toil to protect us against a bioterrorist attack, federal workers quietly work for the benefit and safety of all. I am happy to see that we have not quickly forgotten this tragic reminder.
“This legislation also provides $1.5 billion in much-needed election reform funding. While I am somewhat disappointed that we did not fully fund the remaining authorization of $2.36 billion for election reform that was in the bipartisan Help America Vote Act, the funding that was provided in this bill will go a long way in ensuring that the states are prepared for next November’s national elections. All of us recognize that there is simply no excuse for this nation, the greatest democracy on earth, being paralyzed by uncertainty because election machinery and election procedures failed us.
“The right to vote is the most basic right in any democracy. And we have an obligation to ensure that every vote cast is counted. We must never repeat the debacle of the national election in 2000. It is imperative that the states receive this funding as soon as possible. The November 2004 elections grow closer by the day, and there is simply no time to waste in preparing for them.”