Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of 2018 Commerce Justice Science Appropriations bill
Thank you, Chairman Culberson, Chairman Frelinghuysen, and Ranking Member Serrano for your work on this bill.
Mr. Chairman, while I am sure some Members are pleased that we are moving forward through subcommittee markups, we really shouldn’t be patting ourselves on the back. Even as we consider this bill – which cuts priorities critical to the security and sustainability of our communities – the majority has still failed to advance a budget resolution or articulate any semblance of a plan to keep the government funded and avoid a debt default in the fall.
Enacting appropriations law to keep the government funded is among the most basic responsibilities of Congress and despite Republican control of both houses of Congress, we are not on track to do that on time.
This failure has consequences for every bill that this Committee considers, including Commerce, Justice, and Science.
The CJS bill before us would provide $65 billion in new discretionary spending for fiscal year 2018. For federal investments in Commerce, Justice, and Science, this means a cut of more than half a billion dollars below FY17.
Within this bill, while several items are funded at decent levels, there are a great many other items of serious concern. For instance, while the COPS program deceptively shows an increase of $12.5 million, resources and responsibilities have been shifted to create an illusion of robust funding all while eliminating the COPS Hiring Program.
Once again, a number of gun riders, including language blocking a reporting requirement on multiple purchases of rifles or shotguns, would prevent law enforcement from sensibly addressing gun crimes.
While the bill doesn’t completely eliminate the Economic Development Administration as President Trump recommended, it still cuts EDA grants by an unworkable $97 million, or 41 percent. EDA receives support from both sides of the aisle because it creates economic opportunity in many of our districts that would be jeopardized by these cuts.
Other deficiencies include:
An $85 million cut for the Legal Services Corporation, which provides vital civil legal assistance for Americans in need. This is a particularly cruel step by the Majority.
Providing only a slight funding increase for the Census will cause enormous problems. We are three years away from the 2020 Census, and the inadequate funding level requested by the Trump Administration and provided in this bill would greatly reduce the ability to carry out this constitutional requirement in a cost-effective manner, and will surely result in increased costs in the future.
This bill cuts NOAA climate research by 19%, further proof that the Republican majority does not take the science of climate change seriously, or have any intent to combat one of the great threats of our time.
As in other bills, the majority has included a number of other controversial riders, including on trademarks in Cuba. Despite numerous shortcomings, the bill provides modest increases for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants.
However, the mark still has a long way to go when it comes to Violence Against Women Act Programs, and the NICS Background Check System. These vital programs are essentially flat funded and must be increased to adequately serve and protect our communities.
Let’s stop the partisan games and work together to put forward a reasonable bill that makes sound investments in our law enforcement, our research capabilities, and our safety.