WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer released the following statement today on the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which passed the House today, completing work on the FY09 appropriations process:
“Today, the House completed its work on the fiscal year 2009 appropriations bills. The omnibus bill we brought to the floor today is the result of collaboration between Democrats and Republicans, and today, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle were allowed the opportunity to vote to fund some of America’s most important priorities.
“We reached this point today because President Bush’s last budget ignored critical investments in our country’s future. It shortchanged our military families; it shortchanged police departments across America; it shortchanged our schools and teachers by $3.3 billion; and it shortchanged American workers by cutting job training and worker protections—an especially irresponsible step in a deep recession that was already underway when that budget was submitted.
“This bill corrects those oversights. This is legislation designed to confront an economic crisis and geared to mesh with the job-creating recovery legislation we passed this month. It funds worthy programs including research on energy technology and efficiency; investments in healthcare access and K-12 education; new training for Americans who have lost their jobs; and more.
“It would be shameful if the families and public servants and scientists and workers on the other side of this bill are shortchanged because of a phony pet issue—a pet issue like earmarks. Railing against earmarks may be a popular partisan crusade here in Washington—but I challenge any Member of this House to go to his or her district and ask the people there if the issue of earmarks is more important than a good-paying job, more important than quality schools, more important than safe communities.
“The truth is that it’s Democrats, not Republicans, who have reformed the earmark process. We imposed strict accountability and disclosure rules on ourselves—so that the public can see how every dime is spent. We cut earmarks by more than 40% last year, and we’ve cut them again this year. In this bill, we have taken them down to less than 1% of the budget. But if someone wants to stand in the way of better schools and healthcare and jobs because they have a problem with less than 1%—they can be my guest, and then they can explain it to their voters.
“The truth is that getting our fiscal house in order—after years of Republican neglect—is not about earmarks at all. It is going to take hard decisions and hard work. It’s the work that began when President Obama called a fiscal responsibility summit at the White House, and when he spoke to us last night in this chamber, as an adult speaking to adults. That is the hard work our country demands, work without partisanship or posturing. And for that job, everyone in this chamber is needed, and welcome.”