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Public Statements

Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I came to Congress 25 years ago and joined the Appropriations Committee a few years later. With a strong sense of responsibility and optimism, with hard work and bipartisanship, this committee has the power to transform lives;

To ensure that whether you are from the poorest block of urban America or a penthouse in Manhattan, with hard work, you can achieve the American Dream;

To research treatments and medicines so that we can cure the most tragic illnesses like cancer and HIV/AIDS and childhood disorders like autism;

To give every youngster the opportunities my grandchildren have, not let hardworking parents struggle to find child care or afford pre-K, or think about how they're ever going to pay for a college education;

To invest in the initiatives that have made this Nation great, bolstering our economy, giving Americans jobs, building our infrastructure, teaching our children, and protecting our communities.

While the bill we consider today represents a great deal of compromise, it fails these tests; but with the current continuing resolution expiring in just 6 days, we have run out of options, my friends, to avoid a government shutdown.

When the House first considered this package, I voted against it, in part, because it included just two bills--Defense and Military Construction--leaving every other government agency to live under a continuing resolution from fiscal year 2012. The Senate, wisely, added three additional full-year spending bills to the measure we consider today--Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, and Science; and Homeland Security--and amended the bill to help other agencies adapt to current needs. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Mikulski and I were in constant contact throughout the negotiations. I'm satisfied she got the best deal she could at this time.

Yet I remain deeply dissatisfied that sequestration is not addressed and will slash the very priorities I believe all of us came here to fulfill. This $68 billion in detrimental cuts will diminish services Americans depend on, job growth, and our overall economy. According to CBO, 750,000 jobs--more than a third of the jobs we created last year--will be wiped out by sequestration. This package lacks vital assistance to fully operate and promote Federal health insurance exchanges needed to give millions of uninsured Americans health care. It also provides inadequate funds to enforce financial reforms to protect consumers.

The majority sets a dangerous precedent by refusing to fund the implementation of laws they simply don't like but cannot overturn. Health and financial reform are the laws of the land, and the health care law has even been affirmed by the United States Supreme Court.

The American people face serious challenges--children who will lose Head Start, diseases for which we will decrease research, unsafe roads and bridges, and a food supply that could be less safe. We cannot relitigate partisan battles. We should instead forge ahead toward compromise and practical solutions.

In that spirit, I'm pleased the bill includes the administration's full request for embassy security to protect Americans working abroad. In addition, it fully funds our commitments to Israel, our only and vital ally in the Middle East.

H.R. 933 will support 20,757 claims processors to help address the shameful Veterans Administration claims backlog, which delays care to our Nation's veterans. The bill also directs the VA to report to Congress on progress to reduce the backlog, which I intend to follow closely. Transportation funding is also increased to meet the levels authorized under the MAP-21 plan, and critical highway and motor carrier safety programs are included.

Mr. Speaker, despite its imperfections, I will support this bill to avert a government shutdown, which would be disastrous for our economy. As we finally put fiscal year 2013 behind us and move on to 2014, it is my sincere hope that we can work together to stop sequestration's mindless cuts before American jobs and livelihoods are lost.

Once this bill is passed and we have avoided a government shutdown, we must ask ourselves, Why are we here? We're here to ensure every family has access to high-quality health care and every child has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. We're here to protect the safety and economic security of Americans and to leave our world and our country better than we inherited it for our children and grandchildren.

We are failing, and we must do better. Let's restore the sense of responsibility to improve the lives of our constituents and the prosperity of this great Nation.

I want to close by thanking Chairman Rogers and the wonderful staff on both sides of the aisle. We've all tried to work across the aisle. I hope we can do so as future bills are discussed and as we face a new challenge.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, as we conclude our discussion, I just want to make it clear that I look forward to continuing to work with my friend, Chairman Rogers, and hopefully we can consider each bill as we address the needs of fiscal year 2014.

I agree with my dear friend, Congresswoman DeLauro, on the problems with this bill and the accounts that we have not funded adequately. I do hope as we move forward we can work in a bipartisan way to, yes, continue to root out waste, fraud, and abuse, but also address the many needs of our constituents, all the people of the United States of America, and people around the world who look to the United States as a beacon of hope and opportunity.

So I again feel that I will support this bill because we cannot allow the government to shut down in 6 days, but I look forward, with optimism, that we can work together to address the many needs that we have not considered appropriately in this bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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