WAIVING POINTS OF ORDER AGAINST CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 3010, DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - November 17, 2005)
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Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from West Virginia for yielding me the customary 30 minutes, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Ms. MATSUI asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, today we consider House Resolution 559, the rule allowing consideration of the conference report accompanying the fiscal year 2006 Labor HHS Education Appropriations bill. This legislation is the clearest demonstration of the contempt for the proper functioning of this body and ultimately disrespect for democracy.
The Labor HHS Education Appropriations bill is an incredibly important piece of legislation. It determines funding levels for job training programs, community college programs, child labor protections, and community health centers.
This legislation is the primary funding vehicle for the National Institutes of Health. It determines how our government approaches timely and important issues like stem cell research, global AIDS research, pediatric medicine, cancer research, and so many other critical issues. It is also the principal funder of some of the most innovative and practical research going on today at the universities and colleges across the Nation.
In my home State of California, two thirds of all basic research at the University of California system is from Federal dollars. As examples using these dollars, the university researchers found a way to differentiate Alzheimer's from other dementia. They are making strides on identifying genes that cause specific cancers. They are looking into factors that influence brain development.
The reason I am pointing to all of this is to underscore just how important this legislation is to the daily lives of our fellow Americans. And having established that this bill is a crucial bill for the health, welfare, education, and prosperity of the American people, I would ask my counterparts on the Republican side of the aisle why on earth is it that no one has seen this conference report? Why is it that as of this morning, this very morning, we are scheduled to consider and vote upon this legislation that no one in the House of Representatives, with exception of a very few in the Republican leadership, has even laid eyes on, much less read or analyzed? We did not even go into the Rules Committee to consider this legislation until 7 o'clock this morning under emergency rules.
The original version of this bill passed the House months ago, and I might remind my fellow Americans that it was in this bill that the Republican leadership of this body tried to quietly eliminate funding for the Public Broadcasting System and Sesame Street. Thankfully, under incredible pressure they were forced to reverse themselves.
And since then, this bill and its Senate companion have been locked away in conference. A handful of appointees of this Republican leadership have had months to meet in smokey back rooms. This select group decided for all of us here today and for every American family what should and should not be in the final version of the bill. So with that understanding, let me say that this is, at best, a short-sided piece of legislation.
No Child Left Behind funding is cut by $784 million. The maximum Pell Grant award is frozen for the 4th straight year, and no new funding for all other student financial aid and support programs is provided. The bill provides $4 billion less than Republicans promised for special education through IDEA. Training grants for health care professionals are cut $206 million.
I want everyone in America to understand exactly why these programs are being cut. Because in the face of gross fiscal mismanagement on the part of this majority, they want to pass a $56 billion tax cut for wealthy Americans this coming week. Over half of that money, $23 billion, will go to the very wealthiest of Americans, those earning over $1 million per year.
Now, I am certainly not suggesting that there are not government programs that cannot be cut. But what we are talking about are educational programs, health and safety programs, and treatment programs that not only work, but they work well for middle class American families, and they are being sacrificed for tax cuts for the most wealthy and the super rich. The rest of America is being left behind.
Mr. Speaker, in closing, we are facing an increasingly costly war in Iraq, significant and necessary hurricane relief needs, and a looming crisis over avian flu. The debate I urge my colleagues to have, a debate not yet addressed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, is really about shared sacrifice and about what the true priorities of the American people are.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, this country is at a critical crossroads in terms of deciding what it stands for, what its priorities are. Our priorities should be to make decisions based on shared sacrifice and a long-term view that seeks to fight for the least powerful among us.
Unfortunately, this rule would allow legislation with a shortsighted approach to come to the floor. All of us, Democrats and Republicans, hope that medical science will provide the breakthrough to provide relief from a disease which will ease a family member's suffering.
We all worry about whether rising energy costs will force seniors to make life-and-death decisions about where to spend their limited resources.
And yet this conference report ignores those very needs. It narrowly restricts the future of all Americans so that a very few might have a bit more of a tax break. That is an approach that I hope all Members will reject.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
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