Honda Statement on 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First I would like to say thank you to you and your staff.
You have been a good partner, and I look forward to continuing to work with you throughout this process.
I know that while we may have a difference of opinion on several issues, we do share a large number of priorities, and I look forward to continuing to work with you on these topics.
The topline CJS funding allocation in this bill is essentially flat from last year. This allocation is inadequate to fund the many vitally important public investments covered by this subcommittee.
Before I get into that, first, let me stress how thankful I am for Chairman Culberson’s help in making sure many core programs were sufficiently funded in this bill.
Let me take a moment to highlight a few of these critical programs that I am happy to see included in this bill.
I am happy that we were able to robustly support community-based solutions to the sexual assault kit backlog at $4 million above the President’s request. This money will go a long way to help address the unacceptable backlog of processing of rape kits.
I am also thankful to see robust funding for the Victims of Trafficking Grant Program to help address the growing human trafficking problem our Nation faces.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is funded above the President’s request, allowing more examiners for the National Background Check system for firearms purchases, as well as improvements to instant background checks.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative receives $15 million for the new Trade Enforcement Trust Fund that was authorized in trade legislation enacted last year. This money will help enable the protection of American companies and workers by enforcing the rules of our trade agreements.
I’m pleased that Drug Courts are funded at the requested level of $42 million. These alternative courts address the special needs of those with drug problems. This is especially important in light of our nation’s opioid epidemic, and I am thankful for our Chairman’s leadership.
Funding for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery fund will help rebuild salmon populations along the West Coast and help ensure we maintain this important resource.
I’m pleased that the bill will give USPTO access to all of the fees it collects during fiscal year 2017. This will allow the Silicon Valley office, along with USPTO offices across the country, to continue outreach to our nation’s leading inventors and to make it easier for them to protect their inventions.
Mr. Chairman, we both share a strong passion for the sciences, and I know you share my belief that providing robust funding to the sciences is critical for training our next generation of innovators and ensuring our competitiveness in the global economy.
Along this line, I am pleased that we are able to provide a healthy NASA topline at $19.5 billion and strong funding across many of the fields including science, aeronautics and human space exploration efforts. Within this funding, it is important that we provide increases across all the fields and not just a few mission directorates or a few of the sciences. It is also critical that we invest in maintenance and security for NASA’s aging infrastructure through a robust SSMS program.
Having robust aeronautics numbers will allow us to support the research needed to develop the next generation of aircraft to remain competitive in an increasingly flight dependent world. This includes developing low boom supersonic jets, solar electric aircraft and developing super fuel efficient aircraft.
I am frustrated that the bill funds the National Science Foundation at $158 million below the request. This is a time where we need to be increasing, not decreasing, our investment in fundamental basic research that is the foundation for supporting an innovative and globally competitive economy.
Despite so many great programs being included in this bill, I am very disappointed that many other effective programs were not included or were underfunded. These omissions are major issues and I am hopeful that we can work together and try to address them before this bill goes to the floor.
I was very disappointed to see that one of my top priorities, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) in NIST, received very little support in this bill. Only $5 million was provided to oversee coordination of this network of industry-led innovation centers.
Funding was not even included to continue the new open competition NNMI center that was funded in last year’s appropriations bill and is being selected in the coming months. These extremely successful, industry supported and primarily industry funded innovation hubs are wonderful incubators that focus on developing and bringing to market the next generation of advanced manufacturing technologies.
This is a critical program and I am extremely disappointed that we could not support American manufacturing and industry and help ensure that the next ‘Silicon Valleys’ will be right here in the United States.
Similarly, I am very disappointed to see that support for programs helping Native American populations took deep cuts. Last week the National Institute of Justice released a study confirming the devastating rates of violent victimization in tribal communities—the highest rates of any group in the country.
More than 85% of Native women experience violence in their lifetime. The study found that they are more likely to require medical treatment and other services as a result of this violence, and significantly less likely than non-Native victims to have access to these services.
At the same time, over the past two years, Congress has more than tripled outlays from the Crime Victims Fund and has not specifically directed any of these increased funds to tribal governments. Instead, most tribal communities continue to be effectively shut out of the life-saving services funded by the Crime Victims Fund.
This is unconscionable. This injustice can be easily remedied by directing a portion of the outlays from the Crime Victims Fund to tribal governments, as the Senate has done in its version of the CJS bill.
Native American tribes were also dramatically short changed within the Department of Justice Grant Programs where the provided funding level is 55% below the President’s request. Hopefully, we can address these grant issues as we move forward with this Bill.
I am also disappointed by the lack of support for NOAA programs and all the critical services they provide for our nation. NOAA as a whole is cut by $185 million below the FY16 level.
Some critical NOAA programs were not included at all, and while some specific fisheries programs received decent funding support, many ocean, coastal, and climate programs were simply not given priority and were cut below FY16 levels.
The bill also stipulates that NOAA will study the effects of removing predatory fish from the Stanislaus River in California. The effect of this language is to imply that predatory fish, and not water usage patterns by farmers and others, is the primary cause of the decline of certain endangered fish in central California.
An additional provision will direct NOAA to work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to expand the use of conservation fish hatchery fish programs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries, to the point in which measures under the Endangered Species Act are no longer necessary. This language effectively changes the Endangered Species Act as it applies to salmonid fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Census Bureau is another victim in this bill. The Census Bureau received $163.6 million below the request. This funding level will limit the programs that Census can continue in its efforts to ensure a cost-effective 2020 Census.
The Census Bureau believes that a well-designed and well-funded research and testing program could help save as much as $5.2 billion in eventual 2020 Census costs, compared to simply continuing previous decennial census practices.
In order to achieve these cost savings, we must invest now in developing the necessary tools and methods. We need to be fiscally responsible and have an understanding of costs beyond the timescale of a 1-year funding bill, which means investing in the Census now.
The Legal Services Corporation took a big cut as well, funded at $35 million below FY 16 and $125 million below the request. The LSC seeks to ensure equal access to justice under the law for all Americans by providing civil legal assistance to those who otherwise would be unable to afford it. LSC is the largest single funder of civil legal aid in the country. This is a program we need to increase, not cut.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is $48.3 million below the President’s request, and the proposed funding does not effectively include support for the additional ATF agents and inspectors proposed by the President that are an integral part of the President’s Executive Actions on Gun Violence.
I was disappointed to see so many partisan riders included in this bill including a rider that prohibits DOJ from requiring firearms dealers to report on multiple sales to the same person of certain rifles or shotguns – hampering law enforcement’s ability to track those who may be stockpiling weapons with the intent on conducting a mass shooting. This has been a very effective law enforcement tool especially in the southwest part of the country.
Additionally, I am troubled by a rider preventing the Commerce Department from transitioning the oversight of certain internet domain name system functions to an international multi-stakeholder process, even though this transition has been supported in principle by every Administration since 1998.
These partisan riders and lack of attention paid to so many key programs makes this bill problematic.
I have very much enjoyed working with you, Mr. Chairman, and I am very hopeful that we can find some room to include some of these critical programs and remove some of these poisonous riders as the process moves forward.
Thank you again for your leadership.