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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 - November 17, 2005)

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Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I know the subcommittee chairman, the ranking member, and the majority and minority staff, did the best they could under the circumstances. But I think cutting title VII health professions by 69 percent, eliminating some title VII programs entirely, is draconian and unconscionable.

Since I started serving on this subcommittee almost 7 years ago, I have fought to end disparities, disparities in employment, disparities in education, disparities in health. And health disparities are real. If one is black in this country, their life expectancy is 66 years. If one is white in this country, it is 74 years. Infant mortality is twice as high for African American babies as it is 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 minority health professions. This mark does exactly the opposite, cutting health professions by almost $200 million.

Mr. Speaker, in the Centers of Excellence Program, this cut will eliminate 30 programs at Minority Serving Institutions, negatively impacting approximately 1,000 under-represented minority students and almost 180 under-represented faculty at these schools.

In the Faculty Loan Repayment Program, approximately 40 under-represented staff persons will lose their jobs. In the Health Careers Opportunity Program, 7,000 minority disadvantaged students will be negatively impacted and 3,000 K through 12 students will be negatively impacted.

Mr. Speaker, this assault on minority serving programs is unjustified and overtly irresponsible. I think that a society says a lot about the way it treats its most vulnerable of its citizens. I believe that 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.

I keep hearing Members of this body say, Jessie, this is a tight budget year. Mr. Speaker, this is a tight year. It was not created by immaculate conception. Some of us voted to make it a tight budget year. Some of us voted to approve 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. Mr. Speaker, when Congress approved this budget resolution, we did not plant any seeds and nothing will grow this year, not because of a natural disaster like a drought, but because of our own making in this Congress. Shame on us. The chairman and the subcommittee did the best they could, but this is a terrible mark, and I urge a ``no'' on this bill.

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