Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of 2018 Financial Services & General Government Appropriations bill
This bill embodies the worst of the damage the Republican agenda would inflict on American families and the worst of a broken and secretive process.
Mr. Chairman, it’s nearly July, and we have no budget resolution, no allocations for the majority of appropriations bills, and no plan to avoid a catastrophic debt default.
Now, the bill before us today provides an allocation of $20.231 billion, a cut of 6% or $1.3 billion, and attacks Americans’ health coverage, small business programs, and consumer protections. It’s no surprise which agencies would be subject to impractical and inadequate allocations.
Instead of investing in infrastructure, the bill prohibits GSA from spending $2.1 billion of estimated collections from the Federal Buildings Fund.
There is zero funding for construction and acquisition and only $180 million for Repair and Alterations, a cut of 73 percent. Most notably, the bill rescinds $200 million from the FBI Headquarters Consolidation provided by the bipartisan FY17 omnibus package. Healthy funding for the FBI matters now more than ever so I am astonished by this cut.
The SEC would be funded at $1.897 billion, which appears to be an increase of 18 percent. The catch is that the bill also requires a $245 million set aside for facility relocation and at least $50 million for IT. This means core funding is actually frozen at enacted levels, which thwarts the SEC’s ability to protect investors.
Notably, the bill would cut the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund by $58 million, or 23 percent.
As I noted when Secretary Mnuchin testified before this subcommittee, in FY16 alone, 79 certified CDFIs financed 950 businesses for a remarkable total of $163 million in my home state of New York. CDFIs expand economic opportunity for undeserved communities and give taxpayers a good return on their investment. This reduction is unacceptable.
Inadequate funding remains only part of the story. Poison pill riders turn a bad bill into another example of the Republican Majority’s culture war. Attacks on women’s health care, efforts to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and an attempt to sneak 88 pages of the Financial CHOICE Act into this bill and effectively repeal Dodd-Frank are particularly shameful. This long list of authorizing provisions remains troublesome and jeopardizes the appropriations process, or at least what remains of it.
In addition to these shortcomings, support for the Small Business Administration’s business and disaster loan accounts and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program are undermined by underlying program cuts like a $39 million cut overall for SBA including a 14 percent reduction to the Entrepreneurial Development Program grants, which includes SBDC, and a six percent cut to the Drug Free Communities program. Robust funding is required to stem the overwhelming and evolving prescription drug crisis that has affected every corner of our country and to sustain our small businesses, the backbone of our economy.
Make no mistake, while this bill is less drastic than the President’s FY18 budget request, it will nonetheless harm hard-working American families and fails to make sound investments in our economic future. It was produced with little to no bipartisan input and therefore, simply put, will go nowhere.
Democrats are eager to engage in an appropriations process that makes necessary investments based on adequate spending levels, not a purely ideological process that only serves to highlight our divisions. Thank you.