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Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Chairman, this Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bill before us today is the latest in a long series of appropriations bills from the House majority that grossly underfunds the fundamental priorities of American families. Every time we see a new appropriations bill come from this majority, the vital national needs that are meant to be covered in that legislation have been cut to the bone.

In this case, this bill makes deep cuts in everything from the upkeep of the traffic control system to Amtrak to Community Development Block Grants and HOME grants. This bill endangers our infrastructure, our public safety, and our communities. It is yet another example of the problems created by the majority's obsessive fixation on slashing all nondefense spending programs to the detriment of the priorities we were elected to uphold.

Let's step back for a moment and look at the big picture. The Budget Control Act of 2011 placed strict limits on appropriations--defense as well as domestic--that are scheduled to remain in place through 2021. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that these caps will reduce spending by a total of $840 billion over 10 years, compared to the policies previously in place.

Now, on top of these Budget Control Act caps, we also have the deep and indiscriminate across-the-board cuts caused by sequestration. Despite claims to the contrary by this majority, the effects of the sequester cuts are real. They're real and they are damaging. We are talking about children losing access to Head Start and the opportunities for their growth and development that early childhood education provides. Low-income women will lose access to the cancer screenings that could say their lives. Seniors will be hungry because Meals on Wheels distribution has been pared back.

When the new school year starts in September, school districts already struggling to make ends meet will face an additional across-the-board 5 percent cut in Federal aid. And in terms of medical research, the National Institutes of Health will be supporting the smallest number of research project grants this year in more than a decade.

These cuts will have profound and lasting consequences for families, for students, for the pace of scientific research. But despite that, the majority apparently thinks that the problem with sequestration, at least when it comes to domestic spending, is that the cuts were too small. They have been assembling a series of bills for 2014 that cut the resources for nondefense programs by a total of almost $47 billion below the 2013 postsequester level. That is not the right direction for this country. That's not what we ought to be doing.

In total, the majority's 2014 budget bills will bring funding for nondefense appropriations to their lowest level on record as a share of GDP, with records on this basis going back to 1976. In other words, the majority proposes to spend less, relative to the economy, on things like infrastructure, scientific research, education, environmental protection--the key investments that grow our economy--than at any time in nearly the last 40 years.

Within the total, some bills are targeted for larger cuts than others. Sequestration already cuts the transportation, housing, and infrastructure programs covered in today's bill by more than $3 billion, and this legislation would slash another $4.4 billion.

That's bad enough, but the largest cuts of all come in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bill, which the majority seems to consider the very lowest priority. The allocation to that bill starts with this year's $7 billion in sequestration cuts, and then cuts $28 billion more. Think about it for a moment. For programs like education, medical research, job training, public health, the majority does not just want to double down on sequestration; they want to quadruple down.

This is not about saving money or reducing the deficit. This is about ideology, pure and simple. The majority's approach is not required by the Budget Control Act. On the contrary, in total, their bills are $47.7 billion below the Budget Control Act cap on non-defense spending, and that is the cap with sequestration in place.

Because this bill is already far leaner than even the BCA and sequestration require, there are no offsets to be had to ameliorate the deep and dangerous cuts to Community Development Block Grants, housing, Amtrak, or mass transit. The bottom line is the majority is very explicitly trying to underfund the priorities in this legislation. They have put forward a budget that sets our government and our Nation up to fail.

This is not the right choice for America, for our kids or our future. Responsible budgeting means making key investments that grow the economy and improve American families' quality of life. This is just not a responsible budget. I urge defeat of this grossly inadequate bill.


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