WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) this afternoon spoke out on the House Floor in opposition to the Republican FY 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, just 10 months ago, many in this body decried the process that produced the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2003. Eleven annual spending bills were rolled into one 3,000-page piece of legislation, and Members were given literally a few hours to pore over it and then vote on it.
“Well, if that FY03 Omnibus was an embarrassment to the democratic process, the Omnibus before us today can only be characterized as outrageous.
“To be sure, there are many good provisions in this Omnibus bill. For example, I am very pleased that the Omnibus calls for a 4.1 percent pay raise for our Federal employees, thousands of whom are on the front lines in the war against terrorism. The Bush Administration had asked for a meager 2 percent pay raise.
“In addition, this legislation includes $1.5 billion in much-needed funding for election reform. However, despite these and other positive measures, we must draw a line in the sand today and say to the Bush Administration: No more. You cannot disregard and override the expressed of the House and Senate.
“At the Administration’s urging, the prohibition against the Labor Department’s new overtime regulations was dropped completely.
“Both the House and Senate barred the FCC from increasing the share of national market that one broadcasting company may own. The Administration insisted that this provision be rewritten.
“It also has ignored the will of the House and Senate on outsourcing and the Cuba travel ban, as well as drug reimportation and school vouchers in the District of Columbia.
“Furthermore, funding in this Omnibus for ‘No Child Left Behind’ programs is only sufficient to cover inflation. And funding for NIH represents a real reduction in the overall level of biomedical research for the coming year.
“The House acts, the Senate acts, and then the result disappears. Or it emerges on the Floor 180 degrees different from what was intended. This is a corruption of the democratic process.
“Mr. Speaker, the Congressional branch does not work for the Executive Branch. This is not a kingdom, this is not a dictatorship.
“As much as I would like to vote for this bill today, I cannot.”