Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I rise today in opposition to H.R. 7608, the first package of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills to be considered by the House.
I wish the circumstances were different and I could support this very important piece of legislation that funds many key programs.
This bill supports –
- The veterans who have honorably served our country;
- The diplomats who promote American businesses and our values around the world;
- The farmers and ranchers who put food on our tables; and
- The custodians of our parks and public lands who protect our national treasures.
Unfortunately, I am not able to support the bill before us because it has some fatal flaws.
First, there are many policy provisions similar to the partisan legislation the Majority has pushed through the House the last few months; and second, the spending levels exceed the amounts the Congress and the President agreed to just last year.
While I acknowledge the hard work Chairwoman Lowey and her staff have done under very difficult circumstances, these bills do not reflect the way our Committee typically does its business.
Instead of building consensus with Members on our side of the aisle, these bills contain policy and funding proposals that appear to have been dictated from the top down.
For example, the bill jeopardizes our security by prohibiting funds from being used to address the crisis on our southern border and by restricting the President’s ability to respond to a national emergency.
Provisions are included that would permanently prevent any administration from implementing reforms to programs that help lift needy Americans out of poverty.
The bill reverses course on nearly all of the language that was negotiated last year in the State-Foreign Operations bill to protect life.
It does away with current policies that stop foreign organizations from receiving funds if they provide abortions.
I am also disappointed to see that long-standing provisions aimed at enhancing transparency at the United Nations were removed. These conditions have made an impact on these agencies, and they should be continued.
There are also new directives added that would jeopardize America’s energy independence.
And, instead of rolling back burdensome environmental regulations to help America’s businesses, this bill prevents many common-sense policies from being put in place and takes out key provisions from prior years.
The bill also contains billions of dollars in emergency spending.
$15 billion dollars is included for infrastructure.
Even though the Appropriations Committee has held more than 100 hearings and briefings this year, these proposals were never formally considered, and there were no discussions with Members on our side of the aisle. This is disappointing.
Another $10 billion dollars is included to address coronavirus, even though a three trillion-dollar bill passed the House in May and the Senate is planning to consider that bill in the next few weeks.
In addition, $12.5 billion dollars of veterans funding is unnecessarily designated as an emergency, even though it was known that this spending would be needed when the budget agreement was enacted last year.
We must work together on appropriations bills that avoid controversial legislative language and meet agreed upon spending levels.
This is the only way to get bills through the House and the Senate and signed into law.
For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to vote against this package, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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