|Lowey Statement on 2013 Continuing Resolution|
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, today delivered the following statement on the House floor regarding the FY2013 Continuing Resolution and Defense and Military Construction/VA Appropriations bills:
Mr. Speaker, the bill before us contains a defense bill and a military construction/Veterans Affairs bill adjusting the FY 2012 funding levels to meet FY 2013 needs. It is unacceptable that federal agencies and departments covered by the 10 remaining bills would be forced to operate under full-year continuing resolutions based on plans and spending levels enacted 15-18 months ago.
Congress' failure to do our jobs and pass responsible, annual spending bills limits our ability to respond to changing circumstances, implement other laws enacted by Congress, and eliminate funding that is no longer necessary.
Specifically, this bill will delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, scheduled to begin enrolling participants in October. Without IT infrastructure to process enrollments and payments, verify eligibility and establish call centers, health insurance for millions of Americans could be further delayed.
Last year's levels will hamper enforcement of Dodd-Frank protections against improper practices in the financial sector.
This bill underfunds Head Start and Child Care, which are essential for many working parents who would otherwise have to quit their jobs.
The bill fails to strike outdated language allowing HUD to use Public Housing Agency reserves to fund operations, or provide a requested increase to make up for the shortfall, resulting in the lowest per-unit operating subsidy since 2007 despite rising housing costs.
The bill we consider today even denies increases for Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control (HCFAC) and Social Security disability reviews and SSI eligibility determinations, both of which return more money to the treasury than they cost.
The Continuing Resolution excludes loan guarantees for Jordan, necessary to help an important ally stabilize its economy.
The effects of these outdated plans and spending levels in the Continuing Resolution are compounded by Congress' failure to replace sequestration with a balanced and responsible long-term debt reduction plan. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequestration would cut economic growth in 2013 by a third. Last year, our fragile economy struggled to create a total of 2.2 million jobs. CBO says sequestration will wipe out 750,000 jobs, more than a third of all the jobs created last year.
Because this bill reaffirms sequestration, the terrible impacts of those indiscriminate cuts will begin to take effect.
This summer, we can expect significant flight delays and long lines at airports due to furloughs of air traffic controllers and a hiring freeze and reduced hours for transportation security officers.
Yesterday, the Labor-HHS subcommittee heard testimony from the directors of NIH and CDC on the detrimental effects these irresponsible cuts will have, including declining medical research, fewer child vaccinations, and reduced protections against epidemics.
All Americans rely on timely and accurate weather warnings and forecasts from the National Weather Service. Reduced resources will compromise critical satellites, radar, and computer analysis and modeling.
And let's not forget that sequestration will still strike our national defense. Even if this bill is enacted, another $46 billion will be subtracted from defense spending. Most of the civilian workforce will face significant furloughs, readiness will still face cuts, and defense healthcare will need to make some tough choices with scare resources.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this bill because it fails to take responsible steps to support the middle class in tough economic times or responsibly address the long-term fiscal health of our nation.