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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3293, Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of this rule and the underlying bill.

I would like to thank Chairman Obey for his leadership in developing a bill that represents a major investment in our nation's human capital and strikes a responsible balance between funding critical priorities that will put the nation on a path toward growth and prosperity and making the necessary adjustments for controlling spending and promoting government efficiency. I would like to thank his committee staff for all of their hard work in achieving all this within reasonable spending constraints.

As a strong proponent of adequate federal funding for education, I believe that this bill builds upon the historic investments Congress made in the Recovery Act and provides unprecedented support to help close the achievement gap plaguing our schools. The inclusion of several key investments will help America achieve educational excellence for all children and retain its global competitiveness and leadership.

From funding for schools serving low-income children, special education, adult education, adolescent literacy, Head Start, and English Language Learners, to Pell Grants and other programs that help disadvantaged and first-generation college students to attend and graduate from college, this bill takes another bold step toward our shared goal of providing educational opportunity to each and every child.

And as a longtime advocate of education reform and innovation, I am particularly pleased that this bill proposes more than quadrupling funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund, which will help reward effective teaching outcomes in high-need schools, and a significant increase of $40 million to support the start-up of additional new public charter schools. Also, for the first time, this legislation recognizes that the federal role in public charter schools needs to move beyond the start-up phase to scaling up successful innovation by allowing the Secretary of Education to provide up to $30 million to organizations to replicate and expand outstanding charter school models.

The need to build on and scale up educational innovation that gets the job done is greater than ever and this new flexibility is an important step in the right direction. I would like to thank Chairman Obey for incorporating this recommendation in the Manager's Amendment. However, given the large number of exceptional models with a proven track record of serving the needs of at-risk students and closing the achievement gap, this approach cannot meet our public charter school expansion and replication needs.

That is why I will soon introduce the All Students Achieving through Reform (All-STAR) Act to create a new competitive grant program in the Department of Education to enable and encourage excellent public charter schools to expand and replicate. This bill will allow more students in underperforming schools to access educational opportunity and realize their full potential, while strengthening accountability and transparency.

But in addition to education investments, which will pave the road for our nation's long-term future, this bill provides immediate relief to the American people who are experiencing the longest and deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression and tackles the challenges facing hard-working families, local communities and states across the country. With vital services being cut back and eliminated, this bill protects the most vulnerable among us,

supports our health and social safety net, and gives hope to all those struggling for economic survival.

Few things can be more disruptive and destabilizing than a job loss. Uncertainty and economic insecurity have a devastating effect on families and communities. This bill helps unemployed and underemployed workers by providing training and supportive services to dislocated workers, veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce, and older workers. It offers at-risk youth the opportunity to earn high school credentials and construction skills training while building affordable housing for homeless families, and prepares workers for careers in energy efficiency, renewable energy, health professions, and other high-demand and emerging industries. It also helps States process unemployment insurance claims, strengthens worker safety and health law enforcement, and ensures that approximately 7.5 million low-income households continue to receive the home energy assistance they need in a volatile energy market.

As we move forward to enact meaningful health care reform, we must also continue to support the infrastructure that serves many of the uninsured and most vulnerable populations. This bill achieves this goal and lays the groundwork for the comprehensive reform we're working so hard to pass. Community health centers play an essential role in rural and urban areas by addressing unmet primary health care needs. Recognizing this, the funding in this bill will serve 17 million patients, of whom 40 percent are uninsured, in 7,500 service delivery sites.

My district is home to several such community health centers, including Clinica Family Health Service. Clinica's mission is to provide high-quality health care services to low-income and other underserved people in South Boulder County, Broomfield County and West Adams County. Last year, Clinica provided 160,190 medical, dental, behavioral health and health education encounters to 34,257 Coloradans at its four clinics, which are located in Boulder, Lafayette, Thornton and unincorporated Adams County. Half of its patients had no health insurance.

I would like to thank Chairman Obey for providing Clinica with funds that will be used to help cover the cost of technology upgrades and medical and dental equipment for a new clinic in Boulder and a dental clinic in West Adams County. The new facilities will allow Clinica to serve an additional 1,500 people with medical care and 3,500 people with dental care annually, while the information and communications technology upgrades will significantly improve clinical quality and efficiency.

Finally, this bill also provides funding to the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research to improve health and reduce health care expenditures that will help doctors move away from today's costly and predominantly curative model to a presumptive model, allowing intervention before disease occurs. Further, it increases funding for public health programs administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and for mental health services, and substance abuse and treatment programs administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Mr. Speaker, by helping people train for jobs, protecting workers, meeting the needs of our nation's most vulnerable populations, laying the groundwork for comprehensive reform of health insurance, and providing historic levels of education funding, this bill represents a responsible, yet bold, step to a more prosperous, healthier, and stronger America.

I urge passage of this rule and the underlying bill.


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