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

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Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 23, 2005)

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(Mr. JACKSON of Illinois asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Madam Chairman, I do not know what to say about H.R. 3010. I know the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Regula) and the subcommittee staff did the best they could under the circumstances. But to virtually eliminate title VII health professions is draconian and unconscionable.

Since I started serving on this subcommittee almost 6 1/2 years ago, I have fought to end disparities, disparities in employment, disparities in education, and especially disparities in health.

Health disparities are real. If you are black in this country, your life expectancy is 66 years. If you are white in this country, your life expectancy is 74 years. Infant mortality is twice as high for African American babies than white babies.

Fortunately, institutions like the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences have laid out a framework on how to end these disparities. One of the recommendations of the IOM was to increase the number of health professions, and this bill virtually does the opposite. It essentially eliminates health professions, a cut of $250 million.

I think a society says a lot about the way it treats the weakest and most vulnerable of its citizens. I believe we live in a ``united'' States, and like a chain, we are only as strong as our weakest link. By leaving some of our citizens behind, we prove that we are not strong and compassionate, but weak and uncaring.

There is a phrase that former Labor-HHS Chairman Porter was fond of saying, ``Noblesse oblige,'' the belief that the wealthy and privileged are obliged to help those less fortunate. In Luke, chapter 12, verse 48, Jesus simply says, ``To who much is given, much is expected.''

We are the wealthiest country in the world. We spend more money on our military than the entire world combined, with the sole mission of protecting this country and advancing U.S. interests, interests which should include a high-quality education and high-quality health care for every American.

I keep hearing members of this committee and the House leadership say that this is a tight budget year. Well, this tight budget year did not occur because of immaculate conception. Congress voted to make it a tight budget year. Congress approved the budget resolution. Saying it is going to be a tough budget year is like a farmer saying he is going to have a bad harvest because he did not plant any seeds.

Madam Chairman, when Congress approved the budget resolution, we did not plant any seeds. Nothing will grow this year. This is not a natural disaster like a drought. This is a disaster of our own making.

What does it say about a society that approves tax cuts for millionaires instead of trying to solve why babies of color die sooner? What does it say about a society that approves tax cuts for millionaires instead of trying to solve what ails the weakest amongst of us?

Madam Chairman, I know the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Regula) and the subcommittee staff were dealt a bad hand and did the best job they could under the circumstances, but we should be ashamed of this budget that has produced the product that is before us today.

In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, ``For where your treasure is, there will your heart be, also.'' If this verse is true, what does it say about us, about this Congress, about our government, that we pass a budget resolution every year that spends almost half of our discretionary dollars on defense and hundreds of billions on all kinds of tax cuts for the most well off?

Madam Chairman, I encourage my colleagues to vote against this bill. In good conscience, none of us should support H.R. 3010.

Madam Chairman, I don't know what to say about H.R. 3010. I know Chairman REGULA and his subcommittee staff did the best they could under the circumstances, but to virtually eliminate Title VII Health Professions I think is draconian and unconscionable.

Since I started serving on this subcommittee almost six-and-a-half years ago, I have fought to end disparities--disparities in employment, disparities in education and especially disparities in health.

Health disparities are real. If you are black in this country, your life expectancy is 66 years. If you are white in this country, your life expectancy is 74 years. Infant mortality is twice as high for African American babies than for white babies.

Fortunately, institutions, like the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, have laid out a framework on how to end these disparities. One of the recommendations of the IOM was to increase the number of health professions. This bill does exactly the opposite. It essentially eliminates health professions--a cut of $250 million.

I think a society says a lot by the way that it treats the weakest and most vulnerable of its citizens. I believe we live in a `united' states, and like a chain, we are only as strong as our weakest link. By leaving some of our citizens behind, we prove that we are not strong and compassionate but weak and uncaring.

There is a phrase that former Labor-HHS Chairman Porter was fond of saying, ``Noblesse oblige'', the belief that the wealthy and privileged are obliged to help those less fortunate. In Luke, chapter 12, verse 48, Jesus simply says, ``To whom much is given, much is expected.''

We are the wealthiest country in the world. We spend more money on our military than the entire world combined with the sole mission of protecting this country and advancing U.S. interests. Interests which should include a high quality education and high quality health care for all Americans.

I keep hearing members of this committee and House leadership say that this is a tight budget year. Well this tight budget year did not occur by immaculate conception. Congress voted to make it a tough budget year. Congress approved the budget resolution. Saying it is going to be a tough budget year is like a farmer saying he is going to have a bad harvest because he didn't plant any seeds. Madam Chairman, when Congress approved the budget resolution we didn't plant any seeds. Nothing will grow this year. This is not a natural disaster like a drought. This disaster was of our making.

What does it say about a society that approves of tax cuts for millionaires instead of trying to solve why babies of color die sooner? What does it say about a society that approves tax cuts for millionaires instead of trying to solve what ails the weakest among us?

Chairman REGULA, I know you and your staff were dealt a bad hand and did the best job you could under the circumstances, but we all should be ashamed of the budget that has produced the product before us today.

In Matthew chapter 6, verse 21 , Jesus said, ``For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'' If this verse is true, what does it say about us, about Congress, about our government that we pass budget resolutions each year that spend almost half of our discretionary dollars on defense, and hundreds of billions on all kinds of tax cuts for the most well off. I have a masters in theology from the Chicago Theological Seminary and have read my bible from cover to cover, and nowhere does it say, ``only clothe the naked and feed the poor if it fits into your annual budget resolution.'' Noblesse oblige, Madam Chairman.

In 1984, referring to Marxist-ruled Ethiopia, President Ronald Reagan said, ``a hungry child knows no politics.'' I would also add that a hungry child, or a sick child, doesn't know a 302(b) allocations from a point-of-order.'' All he knows is that he is hungry or sick.

Every day I am proud to say I am a Member of the United States Congress. Since December 1995, I have gone home every night and held my head high knowing I worked to improve the lives of all Americans. Tonight I will not be able to do that.

Madam Chairman, fellow Members of the House, I have dedicated my service on this subcommittee to ending disparities in health, education and employment. This bill will only increase them. In good conscience, I cannot support H.R. 3010.

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