Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of 2016 CJS Appropriations bill
Before I make my statement, I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Chairman Culberson on his first CJS bill, as well as Ranking Member Fattah and full committee Chairman Rogers, for their efforts.
The House Republican “Work Harder for Less” budget resolution was opposed by every member on my side of the aisle in part because it makes it impossible to provide the funding necessary in the twelve appropriations bills to grow our economy and give hardworking Americans opportunity to succeed. Democrats much preferred the approach taken by the President, calling for an end to the sequester and more reasonable and realistic budgeting that could help families afford college, a home, and a secure retirement.
Refusing to adopt a sufficient overall allocation for discretionary investments has a significant impact on the initiatives in all the appropriations bills that grow the economy, create jobs, and make us more secure. While I appreciate the chairman’s efforts, the grossly inadequate allocation creates shortcomings that are evident in the FY16 Commerce, Justice and Science bill.
Instead of providing desperately needed investments in community policing, the COPS hiring program would receive no funding. This failure to invest in community policing is particularly shameful given the inclusion of a number of gun riders, including language blocking a reporting requirement on multiple purchases of rifles or shotguns by individual buyers. I hope that as we move forward, we can eliminate riders such as these that prevent law enforcement from sensibly addressing gun crimes.
While Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs would appear to receive an increase above both FY15 and the President’s FY16 request, it is actually below the request when you account for a transfer in Victims of Trafficking grants. Similar gimmicks are also included in the portions of the COPS program that would be funded.
The Legal Services Corporation would fare far worse, $75 million below FY15 and $152 million below the request. This is unacceptable for a vital service that provides legal help for hardworking Americans.
To continue a theme in other bills, the majority has included a number of controversial riders. In addition to those on firearms I already mentioned, another provision is aimed at placing restrictions on exports to Cuba.
Despite the numerous shortcomings, I thank the Chairman for his work related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, and the Community Backlog Reduction program to process sexual assault kits. These evidentiary kits have historically gone untested for decades, giving violent and culpable offenders the ability to strike again, so it is important that we fund this program at a workable level.
Democrats are more than willing to support bills that include adequate spending levels to promote economic growth and are absent of unnecessary riders. I hope that as we move forward, this bill makes those investments and sheds misguided policy changes.