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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. POLIS. Mr. Chair, Americans' top priority is creating jobs. But six weeks into the 112th Congress, the Republican leadership has yet to bring a single, solitary jobs bill to the floor.

Once again, we are here today to exercise one of our primary constitutional responsibilities as members of Congress--to pass appropriations legislation to fund the many basic and essential programs the federal governments, on which millions of Americans rely. Today is an incredible opportunity, for Republicans and Democrats to work together--to bridge the gap between parties and talking points--and pass a bill that meets our shared goals of creating jobs, building our infrastructure, and strengthening our economy.

Sadly, the Republican leaders have brought to the floor a continuing resolution that jeopardizes American jobs and our economic future by rolling back investments that will help our private sector grow and put people back to work. It thoughtlessly makes extreme cuts to appease an extreme wing of their party, at the expense of the American people.

EDUCATION

Mr. Chair, building an excellent public education system that provides each and every child the opportunity to succeed is the single greatest investment we can make to secure our nation's future--an investment that I have devoted much of my life to support and achieve. From Preschool to K-12 to Higher Education, Republican cuts would undermine our global economic standing by denying opportunity to students, who depend on the government for their education.

As President Obama said in his state of the union address, it's not just about ``how we cut'' but ``what we cut.'' Education is an investment in our future, and we can't sacrifice our future. But Republicans--through this CR--seem willing to sacrifice our future to meet their arbitrary campaign pledge.

They want to drastically reduce quality preschool for poor children with a $1 billion cut in Head Start, which has shown positive results. For K-12 students, Republicans are proposing to dismantle a wide range of essential school supports--literacy programs; teacher improvements; math and science partnerships; arts in education; parent education; counseling; and graduation promotion.

Their proposal would also slash special education services and college preparation. And many more students would be blocked from going to college if the Republicans had their way--with about half a billion dollars less for Pell grants for disadvantaged youth.

Education is how America can reclaim our edge in job creation, in business leadership, in providing a livable wage, and in economic innovation. Destroying this promise by attempting to balance the budget on the backs of poor children and youth is both unwise and unjust.

By cutting to the heart of the learning needs of America's children and youth through these extraordinary and nonsensical measures, Republican lawmakers clearly don't understand the meaning of investing in our future.

ENVIRONMENT

This CR arbitrarily kills jobs, hurts the public health and is a slap in the face of environmental protection. The CR will set our country back decades by curtailing scientific research, simply because Republican's don't like what the science says. It puts our children's health at risk by handcuffing the EPA to police polluters and simply keeps us addicted to foreign oil and discourages clean energy innovations. This is sound bite politics at its worst, the American public needs real solutions and thoughtful policy.

The CR prohibits any funding from being used to carry out the EPA's power plant pollution safeguard rules. These rules are tailored to only the biggest polluting power plants, ensuring average Americans and small business aren't affected by any regulations.

The Clean Air Act guards the most vulnerable Americans--those with asthma and other lung disease, children, older adults, and people with heart disease and diabetes--from the dangers of airborne pollutants, including the threats from growing carbon dioxide pollution. Each year the Act prevents tens of thousands of adverse health effects, including asthma attacks, heart attacks and even premature death. This year alone, the Clean Air Act will save more than 160,000 lives, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Yet Republicans plan to starve this life-saving agency of its funding based on purely ideological reasons.

IMMIGRATION

The CR would cut all funding for immigrant integration. Republicans claim that they support legal immigration and want to reward immigrants who waited in line and did things the right way. But then they go and cut funding to critical programs that help those legal immigrants become proud American citizens and better integrated into our communities. If Republicans really want to support legal immigrants, they wouldn't cut important programs that emphasize the value of learning English, learning American history and civics, and becoming U.S. citizens. Regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, these are commonsense programs that we can all support.

It would also cut overseas refugee assistance and admissions and domestic refugee assistance funding. These cuts would severely diminish our country's ability to help refugees across the globe. The victims would be some of the world's most vulnerable people: refugees fleeing religious persecution from Iran, political persecution from Burma, etc. We are the global leader in refugee resettlement. This is a proud American legacy and it makes us a shining beacon for the world. Haphazard cuts like this endanger refugees, but also America.

If Republicans truly claim to be committed to deficit reduction, then why as they cut millions from beneficial programs like head start and LIHEAP, do they continue to increase defense spending? Until Republicans get serious about controlling defense spending--the largest part of the discretionary budget--they will never achieve their goals of reducing our deficit.

LOCAL/US 36

Mr. Chair, at the state and local level, my home state of Colorado is getting slapped in the face by this CR.

A year ago, US 36--the highway that connects Boulder to Denver--was awarded a $10 Million TIGER/TIFIA Challenge Grant through the recovery Act--to expand one of the most used and heavily congested highways in the state, creating jobs and fostering economic development. The $10 million federal investment helps leverage the additional funds in the area, creating $276 million in employment income and 7,200 jobs. The project impacts 191,000 corridor employees--10% of the state's employment.

To date, only $900k has been obligated, and because the Republican CR rescinds all `unobligated' ARRA funding across the board without thought to details or individual projects--the many state, regional, and local transportation groups that have invested in the project will never see the remaining $9.1 million they were promised.

For the businesses and residents in my district--this is a slap in the face.

Colorado's US 36 Corridor project won the TIGER Award because it was one of the most innovative projects in the country. Mr. Chair, Rome wasn't built in a day and we can all agree that we should not be punishing innovation.

Mr. Chair, the President's budget release yesterday is an excellent example of cutting back in nearly every aspect of the federal government, while investing in the future. We must tighten our belts and make hard choices and tough changes. But we cannot do so at the expense of growth and innovation.

With cuts like these, Republican leadership has made it very clear that they're not interested in helping families to get ahead in this economy. Instead, they're holding our economic recovery and global competitiveness hostage in an attempt to meet an arbitrary spending goal, to appease the fringe of their party--the same people who advocate for cutting the Department of Education and privatizing social security.

The Republican's continuing resolution before us today is sound bite politics at its worst. The American Public need and deserve real solutions and thoughtful policy. We can and must do better. I encourage my colleagues to oppose the rule for this CR as well as the underlying CR to prevent the irresponsible impact of this Republican spending bill.

Mr. Chair, the Majority introduced H.R. 1, the ``Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011,'' which will make immediate and drastic cuts to the federal budget.

These mindless proposed cuts will hurt jobs, undermine public safety and law enforcement, and restrict fundamental civil liberties.

Below is an itemization of some of the funding decreases to areas of the federal budget that are within the Judiciary Committee's purview--the dollar references being the amounts less than the Administration's requested 2011 budget.

Department of Justice

COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING SERVICES (COPS)

COPS has funded the hiring of more than 122,000 state and local police officers and sheriff's deputies in communities across America. The Republican funding cut means that 3,000 fewer officers will be hired or rehired to be on the streets of our neighborhoods.

FBI

The Republican funding cut will delay construction of badly needed training facilities at the FBI Academy in Quantico. This will impact the FBI's effort to update and strengthen training for agents and intelligence analysts to maintain the fight against terrorism, sexual exploitation of children, drugs and other major threats to the U.S. from foreign and domestic sources.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT, VICTIMS OF CRIME ACT, AND FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND SERVICES ACT (VAWA)

VAWA programs support victims of domestic and sexual violence. It also has saved $14.8 billion in its first 6 years. If the Republican funding cut tracks FY 2008 levels, VAWA programs would lose an estimated $170 million. Any cuts to these critical programs would undermine law enforcement and victim protection services.

GENERAL LEGAL ACTIVITIES

DOD's principal divisions, including the Civil Rights Division, the Antitrust Division, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Civil Division are funded under the category of general legal activities.

The Civil Rights Division, which was chronically underfunded by the Bush Administration, will have to play a critical role with respect to how states and localities redraw their district lines following the decennial Census. As required under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice will have to ``pre-clear'' all voting changes. The Civil Rights Division is expecting more than 800 submissions this year and next.

The Republican budget cut will generally undermine the ability of these divisions to protect the civil rights and interests of all Americans.

VARIOUS STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

These reductions eliminate or essentially gut proven crime prevention and crime reduction programs that localities have used to keep crime rates down. The inevitable result of these cuts will be increased crime and victimizations, more unemployment and more resulting expenditures than these cuts save in federal, state and local law enforcement activities, imprisonments and other costs.

NATIONAL DRUG INTELLIGENCE CENTER

The Center plays a major role in the fight against international and national illegal drug proliferation. The Republican funding cut will force the Center to furlough valuable employees, which will harm the Center's ability to fight the war on illegal drugs.

OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS, JUVENILE JUSTICE PROGRAMS

The JJP strengthens community safety and reduces victimization by setting standards and performance measures for the nation's juvenile justice systems, supporting delinquency prevention and early intervention, and contributing to the prevention and reduction of youth crime and violence.

The inevitable result of the proposed Republican cut to BP funding will be increased crime and victimization; greater substance abuse; exacerbated mental health conditions; increased unemployment and incarceration; and a net increase in long-term costs to federal, state, and local governments.

LAW ENFORCEMENT WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS

This program provides critical support to law enforcement officers and agents in major metropolitan areas across the Nation in responding to terrorist attacks or other catastrophic incidents. The Republican funding cut will reduce by more than half the money used by the program to eliminate interoperability issues with wireless communications, thereby jeopardizing officer and public safety and the safety of millions of Americans.

U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE (USMS)

The USMS is responsible for protecting judges which is critically important in light of recent threats to federal judges. The USMS also secures courthouse detention facilities that hold defendants accused of drug, gun and immigration crimes. The Republican funding cut will delay and possibly eliminate over $100 million in needed upgrades in security and construction of courthouse detention areas and facilities, the impact of which will be most acutely felt on the Southwest Border.

Federal Judiciary

SALARIES AND EXPENSES; DEFENDER SERVICES

The Republican cut will force the federal courts to lay off more than 2,400 support staff and to stop payments to attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants, which may raise constitutional concerns about the availability of adequate criminal defense services. These cuts undermine public safety and the effective administration of justice at a time when criminal caseloads and the workloads of probation and pretrial services offices have reached an all-time high.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) anD Department of State

H.R. 1 makes huge cuts in funding to DHS. Around $160 million are cut from accounts that are used to protect our Nation's borders and to facilitate legitimate trade and travel that are vital to our country and its recovering economy.

DHS: CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION--BORDER SECURITY FENCING, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND TECHNOLOGY

The $124.2 million cut from Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology will jeopardize the Administration's plan to increase the use of technologies that have proven effective at securing our border. Such technologies include mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging devices, mobile radios, and the like. Tens of millions of dollars of cuts to Customs and Facilities Management will inhibit our ability to build needed Border Patrol stations and forward operating bases, and to modernize our severely outdated land ports of entry.

DHS: OFFICE OF CITIZENSHIP, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES

H.R. 1 eliminates all funding for the Office of Citizenship within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. De-funding the Office and the President's Integration Initiative means that no grants will be available for programs that fund state agencies and non-governmental organizations to help prepare lawful permanent residents to apply for and obtain citizenship. This will increase the burden on cash-strapped state and local governments and decrease the provision of civics-based English language classes that help aspiring citizens integrate into their communities. The President's budget request in Fiscal Year 2011 was only $18 million. This small investment has a big payoff: it assists immigrants to become proud, new American citizens who have studied English and the fundamentals of our government and who understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The President's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012 increases this investment to $20 million. The President is heading in the right direction of working to integrate immigrants into our country. The Republican CR takes us in the wrong directly entirely.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE: MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE

H.R. 1 cuts one-third of the funds for the State Department's Migration and Refugee Assistance program, which is used to protect refugees overseas and to admit refugees to the United States. This irresponsible and severe cut may seriously jeopardize our ability to protect the world's most vulnerable people-people fleeing persecution and torture. The cut will diminish our ability to support the critical work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross, who provide on-the-ground protection to refugees fleeing persecution. A cut like this could increase the risk of sexual violence for refugee women in camps. This cut also may jeopardize our ability to meet the President's goal of resettling 80,000 refugees in the U.S. this fiscal year. We are the global leader in refugee resettlement. This is a proud American legacy and it makes us a shining beacon for the world. Haphazard cuts like this endanger refugees, but also America.

Other Agencies and Programs

LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION (LSC)

LSC provides grants to support access to justice to our fellow Americans in need. The Republican cut would reduce LSC's funding by nearly 20%, which will result in a layoff of at least 370 staff attorneys in local programs, closure of many rural offices, and less civil access to justice for 161,000 Americans who will go without the services of an attorney. This includes women seeking safety for themselves and their children from domestic violence, veterans returning to civilian life without a job, and senior citizens trying to save their homes from foreclosure.

ADMINISTRATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES (ACUS)

ACUS is a recently established independent agency designed to save millions in taxpayer dollars by recommending ways to improve and streamline the regulatory and rulemaking process. Even though Republicans claim they support the same goals, the Republican funding cut will gut ACUS. It will cut ACUS's funding by 53%, which will result in freezing all research grants and causing staff cuts and furloughs.

UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE (USPTO)

The USPTO examines and approves applications for patents on claimed inventions and administers the registration of trademarks. It also aids in the protection of American intellectual

property internationally. The USPTO is fully funded by user fees paid by customers.

The Republican funding plan limits USPTO to 2010 user fee projected levels, which will deprive the overburdened patent office of approximately $200 million it collects in fees, and

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an additional $200 million from a fee surcharge and supplemental amount in the 2011 budget.

This will exacerbate the over 700,000 application backlog the USPTO currently faces, prevent needed upgrades in technology to insure quality patents, and freeze hiring of additional examiners. Many of the improvements recently initiated to increase efficiency and decrease backlog will have to be abandoned. Of the 700,000 patents pending, many are in the health related field or involve technological advancement.

The proposed cut will stymie private sector patent reliant industries, undercut job growth and creation and further delay the development of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals, as well as other technological improvements.

PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES OVERSIGHT BOARD

Established on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, the purpose of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is to establish a watchdog group within the Executive Office of the President to help maintain an appropriate balance between national security and civil liberties.

PERIODIC CENSUS AND PROGRAMS

The Census Bureau is in the process of completing the decennial census as required by the Constitution. The results of the census will be used to enforce the requirements of the Voting Rights Act and the constitutional doctrine of ``one person, one vote.'' Curtailing the work of the Census at this moment would be injurious to the protection of the right to vote.

ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION AND FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

These commissions safeguard the election process, promote transparency, fight corruption, and protect our citizen's right to vote. The Republican budget cut undermines this critical process and fundamental right.

FAMILY PLANNING TITLE X

Title X is the nation's cornerstone family-planning program for low-income women. Currently, this program receives $317 million. H.R. 1 would eliminate all funding for this essential program.

Restrictive Provisions

REINSTATEMENT OF GLOBAL GAG RULE

H.R. 1 would reinstate the global gag rule that bars USAID funds from overseas health centers unless they agreed not to use their own, non-U.S. funds for abortion services. President Obama repealed this harmful Bush-era policy during his first week in office, after eight years during which thousands of women and families in need of public-health services were turned away from underfunded clinics.

H.R. 1 also contains various restrictive riders, including:

1. a restriction on court review of regulations intended to protect endangered grey wolves

2. a restriction on the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gases and clean water

3. a restriction that forbids the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States for prosecution

This substantial list gives an idea of the broad-ranging adverse impact that these Republican cuts would impose on job growth, public health and safety, and basic American values that we should all hold dear. I hope that we can take a more sensible approach to the budget than the draconian and ill-conceived cuts contained in H.R. 1.

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