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Effects of H.R. 1 on Women and Children

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from California for her leadership and her articulation on the floor earlier about the rider that is on H.R. 1 that would undo what the Supreme Court said EPA should do, which is to make sure the Clean Air Act is enforced.

I thought the comments of the Senator from California about no one in California telling her they wanted more smog was a very profound statement because that is what people are saying when they try to do a rider: EPA, do not enforce the law the Supreme Court told you to enforce. It is as if they are jamming down small children across the country air and air quality that is something less than sufficient. We know that. We know that because it is based on science. That is what EPA has said, and that is what the Supreme Court has said they should enforce. Yet here we are, in the middle of all of this, the solution to our economy is to have a rider on legislation basically saying: Do not enforce what the Supreme Court says is the Clean Air Act.

I thank the Senator from California for her leadership on this issue.

I come to the floor to join my other colleagues because I think the American people sent a clear message. They want us to focus on creating jobs, promoting innovation, and putting people back to work. That is what we are trying to do in the Senate.

But in the House, the Republicans seem to be saying: Let's cut programs and vital services to working women and families, and somehow that will generate economic growth. Instead of creating jobs, all they have done is launched a war on women.

H.R. 1 would eliminate funding for title X, which would provide health services, including family planning, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other preventive health care. This certainly would impact low-income women. It does not create jobs. There is nothing in what I just said with regard to these cuts that would create jobs. How are jobs created out of cutting those services? It is actually an attack on access to health care. When we do not have healthy people, I guarantee you, Mr. President, we end up with bad economic consequences.

The bill also cuts funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and funding for Planned Parenthood centers that serve more than 3 million women each year, jeopardizing, again, access to critical preventive health services.

Just in the State of Washington, we have 39 centers and serve over 130,000 patients annually and administer over 170,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections. One of my constituents was diagnosed at age 22 with abnormal cell growth on her cervix wall. She went to a Planned Parenthood clinic. Why? Because she did not have health insurance. In fact, quoting her, she said:

I would not have scheduled an annual exam on my own. Without Planned Parenthood, I may have died or lost my ability to have children in the future. ..... Aside from these personal effects, as an uninsured student, I would have been a huge financial burden to my family and my community.

There it is. Planned Parenthood has been effective in preventing over 40,000 pregnancies and diverting $160 million back to the State, which we need in these tough economic times.

Instead of supporting women and families so they can be productive parts of our economy, Republicans are continuing to turn the clock back on hard-fought access to healthy services and attacking a woman's right to choose. Their proposal would deny women using flexible spending accounts, from using pretax dollars for insurance to cover a wide range of reproductive choices; deny small businesses their tax credits if they choose employee health coverage that includes reproductive health care; and would disallow tax deductions for health insurance for the self-employed if the insurance included reproductive health care.

The Republican answer to the economy is attack reproductive health care? It seems to me that these proposals are just about attacking the most vulnerable in our society, including the elderly where they would have an impact on services for the elderly, including meals, housing, and employment services.

Women comprise two-thirds of our elderly, and they would be harmed most by these cuts. For example, in 2009, 25 percent of all families with children were female head of households, and 78 percent of mothers with children between the ages of 6 and 17 were in the labor force. That is a big percentage. Therefore, cutting programs that support working mothers, such as job training, childcare, education, and health care will impact those families' ability to be productive members of our economy.

I personally do not understand why in the world at this point in time, with this high unemployment rate, we would ever cut job training programs. I can tell you, I travel the State of Washington and I constantly hear, even in these hard economic times, employers who cannot find the workforce they need to do the jobs. When one thinks about that, when a company cannot find the workforce it needs because there is a skills gap, that is holding that company back from producing higher revenues, from meeting their goals, and from adding stimulus to the economy, all because they cannot find the workforce.

Yet we in the Senate are trying to promote workforce training and to have programs that have been tested successes, such as the Workforce Investment Act. For every dollar invested by the Workforce Investment Act, it is $10 in stimulating our economy. It is a 1-to-10 ratio. Why would we cut such a program?

In Washington State, our local WorkSource Centers have helped over 78 percent of job seekers find jobs. It is a high percentage of helping people and placing them.

I look at the example of this big decision on Boeing winning the refueling tanker decision. Here we are with 11,000 jobs in Washington State and a supply chain that is going to also have more jobs created. Yet if we do not make an investment in workforce investment that supply chain will not be able to find the people to fill those jobs to help fulfill this contract. Something as big as a $35 billion contract we are involved in because it is the Department of

Defense, and yet at the same time the Republicans in the House are saying: Let's cut the Workforce Investment Act--even though we know we have a plane to deliver, even though we know it has a military purpose we support, and we are going to say let's cut programs because somehow that is going to make our economy healthier.

I can give an example. General Plastics would not have been able to keep its current staff level or grow its business in the past year without the help of workforce investment dollars. They were in partner with Tacoma Community College and trained a workforce in improvement techniques that allowed the company to streamline its production and grow its business effectively.

In the last year, they grew 10 to 15 percent and became more competitive. They also added about 22 new employees because of additional new business.

These are programs that would be cut by the proposal in H.R. 1 that the House Republicans are trying to push. I do not think it would improve our economy. I think it would stall what is a very fragile recovery. Workforce development is economic development, and when people are trained and skilled, the employers get what they need, the community prospers, and everybody truly wins--what the President has called for in winning the future.

We need to make sure that we in the Senate stand and say no to these cuts, such as in the Workforce Investment Act, in family health, cuts in the Pell Grant Program which would be cut by more than $800 per student or Head Start or Early Start that, again, would impact thousands of children in Washington State.

In addition, we should not cut what are the healthy elements of our economy but make sure we are helping women and families do what will help them survive and help them help us with economic recovery.

I know some people think this is the way to get our economy going again. But I can tell my colleagues, our economy certainly hit the iceberg in 2008. But what H.R. 1 does, instead of saying women and children first, they are basically cutting them off the lifeline they need and cutting off what are essential programs to help us grow jobs and have a healthy economy.

I yield the floor.


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