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Lowey statement on 302(b) allocations

April 22, 2015
Press Release

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, today delivered the following statement in opposition to the Republican majority’s proposed 302(b) allocations, which set funding levels for each of the Appropriations Committee’s 12 subcommittees:

I rise today to offer a Democratic alternative to the Chairman’s 302(b) allocations. 

The Majority’s allocations, which are based on the House budget resolution that passed on a party-line vote, are insufficient and fundamentally flawed.  No member of my side of the aisle supported it. And even though it was just an outline, it provides a reasonably good notion of what will or will not be possible in this year’s appropriations cycle.

We will vote on these allocations today, against a backdrop of news articles about efforts to craft a new budget agreement.  Yet the Chairman’s budget allocations chart a partisan path, very different from the one outlined by the President and different from any new “Murray-Ryan” plan for the coming next fiscal year, which many Members from both parties seem to hope is possible.

The Republican plan makes it more difficult to grow the economy and give hardworking Americans opportunity to succeed. For the Labor, HHS, and Education bill, House Republicans will cut more than $3.7 billion from critical areas such as biomedical research, public health, early childhood education, education for children with special needs, and job training. It will result in cuts to NIH research grants; fewer kids enrolled in high-quality early learning programs; reduced support for Pell Grants; and a public health system that is less prepared for the next infectious disease outbreak.

In contrast, the President’s budget includes a number of important investments that the majority’s proposal can’t fund, such as an increase of $1 billion for biomedical research at the NIH, including $200 million for a Precision Medicine Initiative; $2.4 billion for early education programs that would benefit Head Start, Child Care and Development Block Grants, and Preschool Development Grants; $1 billion for Title I to support our nation’s highest-need schools; and more than $600 million for advanced research and development of medical countermeasures to prepare the nation for public health threats such as Ebola or Pandemic Influenza.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill will be equally hard hit under the Chairman’s proposal. If the past is a guide, capital programs will be grossly underfunded at this allocation.  Specifically, it is likely that CDBG and HOME will be reduced to the lowest levels in history, progress on transit programs funded through Capital Investment Grants will stall, and nothing will be done to alleviate the shortage of affordable and appropriate housing for the elderly and disabled. 

The President’s budget request and the Democratic alternative for the THUD bill would fully fund Capital Improvement Grants at $3.2 billion, expand housing opportunities for the elderly and disabled, and expand affordable housing construction through the HOME program.

The Interior bill’s allocation paints a similar picture with an allocation that is $246 million below the FY 2015 enacted level. We will still have to cover the increased costs to combat deadly wild fires, provide contract support costs in the Indian Health Services, and prepare for Centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, all from an allocation below last year. The Democratic alternative would provide for these predictable needs.

The State-Foreign Operations allocation under the Chairman’s 302bs is $5.7 billion below the request and jeopardizes critical priorities for our national security and global leadership. A 12.3% cut impacts our ability to build stronger and more stable communities around the world, degrading our impact on health outcomes, education and the economic well-being of generations to come. 

Dramatic changes in climate are predicted to be a major driver of conflict around the world.  This allocation does not provide the resources to combat climate change and greatly increases the risk that states will fail in the face of catastrophic weather events, making populations more vulnerable to radicalization. Additionally, participation in multilateral institutions is vital to help the United States share the global burden and tackle challenges bigger than any single country.  But the Chairman’s allocation will not meet the needs.

The President’s budget blueprint calls for an end to the mindless austerity of sequestration, replacing it with more targeted spending cuts, program integrity measures, and the closure of some outdated tax loopholes. I think my colleagues on the other side generally agree that sequestration was a failure, and a return to those sequester-level caps threatens important defense and non-defense priorities alike. 

Mr. Chairman, I realize the minority doesn’t have the votes to pass my amendment to the allocations. Yet it is essential to acknowledge there is a different approach, one that would protect key investments and meet the needs of an economy that has begun to bounce back.

114th Congress