WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) delivered the following statement on the House Floor today in opposition to the Republican Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2005. The bill cuts essential funding for education, health care and research and job training. Rep. Hoyer strongly supported the Democratic alternative crafted by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) which would have added an additional $7.4 billion for these important services:
“Mr. Speaker, this bill fails to meet the crucial priorities that the citizens of this great nation expect and deserve – in education, in health care, in medical research and in many other areas.
“But as I’ve said before, this is not the fault of the subcommittee chairman (Mr. Regula) or the full committee chairman (Mr. Young). They did the best with what they had. Instead, this bill’s deficiencies have been caused by the Republican majority’s irresponsible budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2005 that abandons fiscal discipline and makes crucial investments in the American people virtually impossible.
“Despite the rhetoric coming from the other side of the aisle, the inescapable fact is that this bill under-funds the bipartisan “No Child Left Behind Act” programs by $9.5 billion – a staggering cumulative shortfall of $25 billion since this legislation was signed into law. Unfortunately, we are falling behind in other areas, as well. At a time when this Congress and this Administration proudly tout the doubling of the National Institutes of Health, NIH only gets the president's request level ($28.53 billion). This represents the smallest increase in NIH funding in 19 years.
“Moreover, it simply is not enough to keep up with medical inflation and will force NIH to lose momentum on the scientific progress they gained from the doubling. In addition, Head Start is cut $45 million below the president's request. Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs are largely frozen. The maximum Pell Grant is frozen at $4,050. And the Department of Labor is slated for an overall cut of $98 million.
“In contrast, the substitute that Mr. Obey offered – and which was rejected by the Rules Committee – crystallizes the clear differences between our two parties. And it is for that very reason – the fact our two parties hold such different views on making investments in the American people – that the majority refused to make Mr. Obey’s substitute in order.
“The Obey substitute would have added nearly $7.4 billion for education, employment and training, and health and human services. And every nickel of this funding would have been paid for. How? By reducing the average tax cut received by taxpayers with annual incomes of more than $1 million from $127,000 to $89,000.
“Mr. Speaker, when push comes to shove, the Republican majority chooses those at the top of the heap – those who’ve reaped the most that America has to offer – over our children and those who are struggling just to make ends meet. That is the regrettable result of Republican policies.”