WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released the following statement tonight on the consolidated appropriations bill being voted on tonight in the House:
"Unfortunately for the American people, the President has chosen to engage in political posturing on this year’s appropriations bills.
"Although his policies over the last seven years have instigated record budget deficits and added more than $3 trillion to the national debt, the President has deliberately concocted a fight on domestic funding in a vain effort to establish his bona fides with his right-wing political base.
"And thus, he has refused to strike a reasonable compromise over the $23 billion difference in domestic funding that separates Democrats in Congress and the Administration.
"Let’s be clear: The President's position on domestic appropriations is not fiscally responsible. Especially not when he is demanding, at the very same time, that we add $50 billion to the debt to pay for a one-year patch of the alternative minimum tax and another $196 billion for Iraq – none of it paid for.
"As Bill Hoagland, the budget advisor for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, told the Washington Post on Saturday: 'I have difficulty seeing how $11 billion or $22 billion in discretionary spending on the domestic side of the equation is so fiscally responsible when juxtaposed against these major AMT provisions of $50 billion, or certainly against the $70 billion plus they want for the global war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan.'
"The fact is, the domestic funding provided in this consolidated appropriations bill denies the American people the full investment they need in priorities such as life-saving medical research, kindergarten through 12th-grade education, Pell Grants and college financial aid, energy independence, and home heating assistance.
"However, in the face of an intransigent President and his allies in Congress, this legislation is the best we can do for the American people.
"Furthermore, in this consolidated appropriations bill, Democrats reject the President’s misguided budget cuts and begin to reinvest in the priorities of the American people.
"Specifically, this omnibus appropriations bill invests in medical research, providing $607 million above the President’s request to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s, and diabetes.
"It invests in health care access, providing $1 billion above the President’s request for programs such as Community Health Centers to provide 280,000 uninsured Americans with access to health care.
"And, it invests more than the President requested for K-through-12 education, for student aid, for vocational education, for state and local law enforcement, for homeland security grants, for highway infrastructure, and for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"In the final analysis, this legislation is far from perfect. But it does reject many of the President’s misguided budget cuts, and reflects many of the policy priorities of the American people – which Democrats have fought for all year long.
"The fact is, most of the appropriations bills passed the House with large bipartisan majorities. However, the President refuses to compromise, and the Senate is unable to produce the 60 votes needed to move legislation forward.
"This bill is the best we can do this year."