Today Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2) voted "For" the Omnibus Appropriations bill. The Bill passed with a vote of 296-to-121 with Democrats casting a majority of the votes to pass it. Congressman Jackson said: "Like most bills I've voted on in this session of Congress, this one is a very long way from what I would prefer. Nevertheless, on balance, I believe it would be irresponsible and neglectful of the needs of my constituents to vote against it.
"There are some very good things in this bill that I strongly support: the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health - tasked with promoting the health of minorities and underserved populations and reducing health disparities - received a $67 million increase in the conference agreement.
"Nearly $12 million was included for the McCook and Thornton Reservoir project which supports flood control and combined sewer overflow discharges for Chicago and its 51 surrounding communities. This has provided significant water quality improvements and flood damage reduction for the majority of northeast Illinois residents. In the Department of Education, funding for the Promise Neighborhoods program doubled from the previous year, which will be used to promote the educational outcomes of students from low-income, distressed urban and rural school districts; the Federal TRIO programs, which provide academic support and college preparation to underserved, disabled and first generation college students received a modest increase; and in this tough budget situation, Title I funds which provide grants to schools that serve a large percentage of low income students, like many of the schools in my urban, suburban and rural communities, only experienced a small cut.
"At the same time, there are riders that I vehemently oppose: a rider that bars the use of federal funds for needle exchanges nation-wide; a rider that bars the use of federal funds for abortions in the District of Columbia; a rider that weakens the National Labor Relations Board; and a section that includes funds for discredited "abstinence only" programs. While it may be hard to believe, the worst and most troubling partisan provisions originally insisted upon by Republicans have been stripped from this bill.
"While I do not support the cuts or leveling of funding for programs in a wide variety of health care areas, cuts to LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), cuts to Historically Black Colleges and cuts to community service programs, funding our government and ensuring economic stability for American families is too important to risk.
"In the final analysis, I voted to support this Omnibus package because the good outweighs the bad," concluded Jackson.