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Public Statements

Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, the fiscal challenges our nation faces are the result of the irresponsible policies of the Bush administration and costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as necessary measures that continue helping our economic recovery after the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. The high federal deficit is not, as some claim, due to over-investment in Head Start, schools, roads, bridges, medical research, or other critical priorities.

The federal government must operate more efficiently, eliminate waste, and find cost-savings and efficiencies that jeopardize neither vital services on which Americans rely, nor critical investments in our economic growth. The administration and congressional negotiators made progress toward that end in this bill.

We were successful in restoring funding for critical programs like Head Start, Pell Grants, public broadcasting, and Title I aid to local schools, and that the damage was mitigated for programs like family planning and medical research at the National Institutes of Health. The draconian cuts prescribed in H.R. 1 for these and other vital initiatives would have hurt our ability to grow the economy, create jobs, and compete in the future.

I commend President Obama and Senator REID for refusing to give in to Republican demands to de-fund Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning programs, which would have denied millions of women access to contraception, breast exams, Pap tests, and other critical health services.

While the bill is a significant improvement over H.R. 1, it is far from perfect. Among its flaws, I am extremely disappointed that the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) have been slashed by 18 percent and 24 percent, which will hurt New York's preparedness. It is shameful that my amendment to restrict UASI funding to 25 at-risk, densely populated cities, passed by the House of Representatives, was removed, allowing the program's recipients to continue to balloon and further dilute this already insufficient account. A unified House position and common sense should have been enough to convince the Senate to provide the most at-risk areas like New York adequate anti-terror funds before areas that face minimal threat. I call on Secretary Napolitano to use her authority to limit the number of grant recipients to 25 and will introduce stand-alone legislation today to make it a statutory requirement.

Many will reject this agreement on the grounds that the cuts are not severe enough while others will oppose it based on what they consider excessive reductions. However, to govern is to make tough choices, and I am working with my colleagues in a responsible and bipartisan way to protect vital services and investments in our future while reducing spending. My vote in support of this bill is not an endorsement of cuts to many important programs I believe are beneficial to economic growth, health, education, and public safety, and I will continue fighting against drastic and irresponsible proposals like H.R. 1.

As difficult as it was to reach agreement for 2011 spending levels, the challenges ahead are even greater. Moving forward, Democrats and Republicans must work together to eliminate wasteful or duplicative spending while protecting investments in our future and essential services like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

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