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Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 3010, which provides federal funding for health, education and worker programs. This bill contains $1.6 billion less than the current year and fails miserably to make important basic investments in education, healthcare, job training and job protection programs.

On healthcare, the bill takes a huge step backward in efforts to maintain basic health care services for the people in this country who are uninsured or underinsured. It eliminates the Healthy Communities Access Program, which helps health centers and public hospitals provide care for the uninsured. The bill cuts rural health care program funding almost in half, and it wipes out almost all of the Title VII health profession training programs that institutions like the CU Health Sciences Center need in order to provide critical training and education for medical students and residents who aim to practice in rural, low-income, and under-served areas.

And while the bill eliminates or cuts funding for several programs, it also fails to adequately fund others. The bill is $200 million short for community health centers to cover rising health care costs at existing centers or to expand care for the uninsured. The National Institutes of Health, which works to find cures for many diseases, gets a paltry .5 percent increase in funding, the smallest percentage increase in 36 years which is not even enough to keep up with inflation in research costs. State and local health departments will be hobbled in protecting the public against infectious and other diseases because the bill cuts the Preventive Health Block Grant by 24 percent. Further, grants that help health departments improve their preparedness against bioterrorism and other public health emergencies are cut by $75 million. And the Ryan White AIDS programs funding is frozen, even though the number of people living with HIV/AIDS has been rising by more than six percent each year.

On the education front, the Republican Majority has imposed the first freeze on education funding in a decade while requiring local school districts to implement federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind Act. Though I am pleased to see some of the programs that were cut in the President's budget were restored in this bill such as vocational programs, I am concerned by the low levels of funding for several education programs.

Our nation has seen a decreased number of students studying the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and in turn fewer Americans are seeking careers in STEM fields. The Math and Science Partnership provides grants to recruit STEM majors into teaching, and links current teachers with state agencies or universities to improve teaching skills. This program, coupled with its counterpart at the National Science Foundation, works to improve the quality of teaching in math and sciences that will excite students to study these disciplines. This bill cuts this program by $11 million from the current budget and $79 million below the President's request. Unless we invest in these programs we will continue to see the decline in the number of STEM majors and those seeking these careers.

I am also concerned by the funding levels provided for Part B state grants under IDEA. Last Congress we passed an authorization for IDEA that sought to reach full funding of the program by 2011. This budget is $3.9 billion below the FY2006 level authorized in the IDEA Improvement Act. Though I am pleased to see this program received an increase of $140 million over the FY05 level, I do not think we are doing enough to help states provide adequate education for disabled students.

I am pleased that the House approved the Obey amendment to restore $100 million for public broadcasting. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting provides an important service to Americans that could not be possible without federal funding. In an effort to maintain independence the Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives funding two years in advance. I believe it is important to maintain the independence of public broadcasting and we should not be taking from already appropriated funds. I am proud that the House acted to protect this excellent programming and reject the cuts originally included in this bill.

Overall, this bill makes drastic cuts to critically important health care, education and job training programs, and it fails to adequately fund other programs and that is why I cannot support it.


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