12/02/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/02/2021 15:39
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) today delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of H.R. 6119:
Madam Speaker: Before I go any further, I would first like to take a moment to mourn the loss of Congresswoman Carrie Meek. She was an extraordinary force in the Congress, a pioneer who was never deterred by any challenge that came her way. I like to say that though she was unassuming and soft spoken, she carried a big stick. And that is evident in her enduring legacy today. I had the honor of serving together with Congresswoman Meek on the Appropriations Committee years ago and I feel immensely privileged to have worked with her to help expand opportunity for all Americans.
Madam Speaker: I will be frank. Instead of being here today discussing another Continuing Resolution, I wish that we were here to present a bipartisan, bicameral appropriations agreement. Continuing Resolutions are not the way to govern. They are a short-term patch that leaves the American people behind. But we are here today because my colleagues across the aisle have refused, time and time again, to begin negotiations, or even offer a proposal of their own, for government funding that delivers for the American people. House and Senate Democrats have put forward their proposals. But Republicans have not presented an offer of their own - there is not one piece of paper describing what Republicans want. It has been 30 days since I brought together a bipartisan, bicameral four-corners meeting on November 2, and to date we have not heard one word from them. Not one word.
But now my Republican counterparts want more time - something they have had since we came to this Floor to pass the last funding extension 62 days ago. Which means we now have no choice but to pursue a short-term extension. Make no mistake a vote against this continuing resolution is a vote to shut the government down.
The legislation before us, the Further Extending Government Funding Act continues government funding at current levels through February 18. It makes minimal changes to address the most urgent of needs during the period of the Continuing Resolution and provides $7 billion to continue supporting Afghanistan evacuees after the end of 20 years of war.
And while I wish the February 18 end date were earlier, and I pursued earlier dates, I believe this agreement allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement that addresses the needs of the American people.
Let me be clear: Working families, small businesses, veterans, and our military need the certainty that comes with passing omnibus funding legislation instead of short-term funding patches. Republicans must join us for bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to resolve our differences and keep government working for us all.
For our communities, we need an omnibus to create and sustain good-paying American jobs, support small businesses, prevent future pandemics, and advance lifesaving medical research. We need an omnibus to strengthen public schools, protect our air and water, combat the opioid epidemic, and support core services such as food safety and consumer product inspections. Without an omnibus, investments in all these areas will be denied.
For our veterans, we need an omnibus to provide sufficient funding for veterans' benefits, reduce backlogs for veterans and their families and meet the needs of the VA's health care system. Without an omnibus, there will be a shortfall that will cause veterans not to receive their benefits in full.
For our national security, we need an omnibus to support defense readiness and modernization, secure our cyber infrastructure, and strengthen American leadership abroad. Without an omnibus, a pay raise for troops will not be funded while funds will be misdirected to a war we are no longer fighting.
As I said before, I wanted to be here today passing a bipartisan, bicameral appropriations agreement. Sadly, we are not. But as Republicans take the next two and a half months, Democrats remain ready, willing, and able to move this process forward. We are ready to go, but we need willing partners to put the American people first.
With a new deadline of February 18, it is long past time for our Republican colleagues to offer constructive proposals to address the critical issues facing the country by funding the federal government's important work. As the American people put their faith and trust in us, they deserve no less. I urge a yes vote on this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.