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Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I just wanted to ask the gentleman a question.

Has the gentleman given any consideration as to what the impact of this Federal cut is on State programs and as to the likelihood that States are to follow suit after the enactment of his proposed amendment?

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Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Lowey amendment, I rise in strong opposition to the Flake amendment, and I want to begin by saying that my friend, Mr. Flake from Arizona, is a very nice man. He's a decent man. He's just dead wrong on this. He's just wrong, wrong, wrong. Before I get into the specifics of the amendment, I want to highlight the deep cuts my friends on the other side of the aisle want to make to the accounts in the Labor-Health and Human Services and Education bill.

This subcommittee not only funds the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, but programs that make vital investments in people. That's why the Labor-H bill is often referred to as ``the people's bill.'' It provides resources that train people for jobs; offers educational opportunities in early, secondary, and higher education; and expands social safety net programs to millions of Americans that need temporary assistance.

While some of my colleagues will argue that with our growing budget deficit and growing levels of spending that we need to make some cuts--and we must, by targeting wasteful and unnecessary spending--the legislation that has been brought to the floor by my colleagues from the other side of the aisle seeks to weaken some of the critical social safety nets for the most vulnerable amongst us: for working families, for children, for seniors, and for the poor.

Mr. Chairman, I've been listening to this debate for a couple of hours now, and as we get later and later into the night, I'd just like to take a moment to remind my friends that these cuts are not just about dollar amounts and percentage cuts over the last fiscal year, but cuts to real people. I think some of us often forget that. So the way this works is the Federal Government cuts these programs. Without matching funds available from the Federal Government, States then in turn cut the exact same programs, and suddenly, millions of Americans wake up without the Federal Government or without the State government providing them with any assistance. This isn't just about the Federal deficit and the Federal budget. The ramifications of this cut spiral, trickle all the way down to the States, and the ramifications for States' indebtedness continues to grow.

Under the Department of Labor, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle propose a $2.5 billion cut to programs to support job training opportunities for dislocated workers, the unemployed, and young Americans at a time when the unemployment rate remains at a historic 9 percent. That's nearly 14 million Americans. By some estimates, this number is even higher. This is a 40 percent cut to programs that help unemployed people get out of the unemployment office and get their feet in the door.

From Health and Human Services, this legislation cuts $1 billion for 1,250 community health centers. That does not include the ramifications of States that are not likely to fund the exact same health centers and even more. These health centers serve nearly 20 million low-income individuals by providing access to primary, dental, and preventative care.

The $1.8 billion cut from the Head Start program will threaten jobs of thousands of teachers and teachers' aides and will cut off access to an estimated 200,000 low-income children across this country.

And $694 million will be cut for grants to schools that serve disadvantaged students. Teachers, tutors, and teachers' aides are likely to lose their jobs, and after-school and supplemental programs will be cut. And the students that need the help the most will suffer. Nearly $558 million will be cut from special education programs that serve children with disabilities.

As the cost of tuition, textbooks, and living expenses continues to rise, the 8 million students in community colleges and universities that benefit from Pell grants will no longer be able to receive the current maximum award of $5,550 per year. My colleagues across the aisle believe that $4,705 is adequate.

I could go on and on, Mr. Chairman, with the detrimental cuts my colleagues plan to make to these social safety net programs. But the fact is that the legislation in front of us provides cuts to people in this country that can least afford it. These devastating cuts to health care, to education, to energy assistance, and other programs means the most vulnerable Americans will be left to fend for themselves, in the midst of the worst economy of our lifetime.

Mr. Chairman, I recommend my colleagues vote against any amendments that further cut any of these vital programs for Americans. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote against this irresponsible continuing resolution.

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