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Concurrent Budget Resolution on the Budget, Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, the chairman of the Budget Committee has done an excellent job. While I appreciate the comments of my colleague from South Dakota, I actually think that in order to deal with the budget challenges facing the country, we have to look at both revenues and spending.

One of the areas of spending that have been the most problematic has been health care costs. It has been one of the fastest growing costs for the Federal Government, and what we have to do is look at how we can lower the health care costs.

The amendment I proposed that we are going to vote on this morning, amendment No. 438, is one that actually reduces health care costs.

In the 3 years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, women's access to affordable health care has improved. Women now have access to a wide range of preventive services, such as well-women appointments, screenings for cancer, diabetes, HIV, and counseling for domestic violence. All women now have access to contraceptive coverage for free through their insurance plans. Ninety-nine percent of women report that they have used birth control at some point in their lives, and access to birth control is directly linked to the decline in maternal and infant mortality. I think that is a really important message we need to get across to people.

There is a direct connection between access to birth control and maternal and infant mortality. Access to birth control can also reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. It is linked to overall good health outcomes.

Sadly, the United States has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies in the industrialized world, and preventing unintended pregnancies just makes fiscal sense. Studies have found that medical services to women who experience unintended pregnancies and to infants who are born as a result of such pregnancies can cost taxpayers up to $12 billion a year.

My State of New Hampshire has one of the lowest teen birth rates in the country. As Governor, I was proud to sign a law that required health care plans to cover contraception. It was a law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in our legislature. The fact is that accessible family planning matters, and it can make a difference.

Despite the research which shows that investments in women's health make sense, we continue to see efforts to deprive women from receiving the most basic of care.

The amendment I am going to be offering this morning will protect women's access to primary and preventive health care, to family planning, and to birth control. At the most basic level, this amendment ensures that a woman's family planning decisions are ones she makes with her doctor and her family, and that they are not dictated by government or by her employer.


Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, amendment No. 438 establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund to protect women's access to basic health care, including family planning and birth control. It ensures that employers cannot deny coverage for contraceptives.

We have seen that improving access to preventive care, including contraception, is good health policy, and as a result it means healthier women, healthier children, and healthier families.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.


Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleague from New Hampshire, Senator Ayotte, and the other opponents of this amendment.

Senator Alexander said that States should be able to decide what to do about taxes. Well, in New Hampshire we have decided. We don't want a sales tax. We don't collect one, and we don't ask our small businesses to collect one. And the fact is that this amendment would harm small, family-owned retail businesses in New Hampshire.

I talked to a business in Hudson, NH, which is along the border with Massachusetts. He has six employees, and he is about to reach $1 million in sales. He said that under this legislation, his company would have to start collecting taxes not just in New Hampshire but for 45 other States. It would put him at such a disadvantage that he could not continue to grow. Just as Senator Wyden said, what these businesses are going to do then is go look for someplace else where they don't have to worry about collecting these taxes over the Internet.

I agree with Senator Alexander. I think we should ensure States rights and ensure that small businesses are protected, but we don't do that by passing this amendment.

I yield back my time.


Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague Senator Isakson. I was a Governor for three budgets, and we were able to balance them every other year every cycle because biennial budgeting gives us an opportunity to prioritize scarce resources and provide more oversight to the budgeting process.

This is idea whose time has come. We need this reform and I urge my colleagues to support it.


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