Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member on the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (Labor-HHS-Education) Appropriations subcommittee today fought for a vote on funding for those agencies. She offered an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would have added funding for those departments to that legislation. The amendment failed on a party line vote.
"I offered this amendment in order to ensure that fundamental education, health and labor priorities get a vote. Instead of sitting idle while the Majority shreds funding for our domestic programs, Congress should be working together to fund both defense and domestic programs adequately. And further, the addition of this amendment would not alter the defense bill in any way. I believe my colleagues are fully capable of looking at both our defense and domestic needs simultaneously. This should not be an either-or conversation.
"Funding the critical programs that protect the public health and safety, promote and develop our workforce, and educate the next generation of Americans is just as important as funding our defense. We have a responsibility to debate them vigorously and that is what I asked my colleagues to do. This amendment was a bipartisan compromise that was already signed into law once, and supported by a majority of the Appropriations Committee. I am disappointed we are passing up a chance to take that step again."
The amendment would have added funding identical to the fiscal year 2012 law for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to the Defense Appropriations bill. That funding level has previously won the support of an overwhelming majority of the Appropriations Committee.
The Labor-HHS-Education funding bill has not been debated by the House of Representatives since 2009. DeLauro has repeatedly asked Appropriations Committee Chairman Rogers when the Labor-HHS-Education bill will be brought before the committee and received no answer.
DeLauro also introduced an amendment that was included with the bill passed by the Appropriations Committee. The provision ensured that members of the military who are victims of sexual assault have access to accurate records after their service. It requests all branches of the military include the steps taken to ensure the retention of, and access to, complete evidence and records of sexual assault in the annual report put out by the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. They must also detail steps taken to ensure the transfer of records to the Veterans Affairs Department.