Mikulski Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY17 CJS & THUD Appropriations Bills
***Broadcast quality audio for download – here
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS), participated in a Full Committee markup to consider the fiscal year 2017 CJS and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bills.
The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you Chairman Cochran. We have our Energy and Water Development bill on the floor and two more bills before the Committee today: CJS and THUD. These bills keep America safe, moving and discovering. We share the same goal to enact all 12 appropriations bills, doing the job of this Committee and the Senate based on the Bipartisan Budget Agreement.
“These bills are important, and I will discuss them in a moment, but we also need to act without delay to fight rapidly developing emergencies. Opioids and heroin know no boundaries, geographic or economic. Lead in our pipes is creating a generation of children with health and education challenges. And the Zika virus – no wall can stop the mosquitos. These challenges are urgent, temporary and unanticipated. The need is great, and the need is now.
“With regard to the Zika virus, the mosquitos are coming and over 30 states are vulnerable. Already there are 833 cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. and its territories, 89 are pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us Zika causes birth defects and impacts that last a lifetime including impaired cognitive function and potential paralysis. The mosquitos are here, we must act now.
“I also look forward to working with the Chairman to address the other two urgent items: growing opioid use and addiction, which is a problem in every state and every county, as well as the national tragedy of lead in Flint’s water. We can’t wait on those either.
“But today we are considering the THUD and CJS bills. Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed worked together on a bipartisan basis to write a THUD bill that meets compelling human needs, helps commuters get to work safely and on time, and creates opportunity with affordable housing and community development.
“The THUD bill is our annual jobs bill, making federal investments at the state and local level that create jobs today in construction, delivering on America’s physical infrastructure needs, and keeping our roads and transportation systems safe and in good repair, while also preserving housing assistance for those Americans most in need.
“I am especially proud of Senators Collins’ and Reed’s decision to put funds in the federal checkbook to get the lead out of our communities. As the Maryland Senator from Baltimore, this is an issue I know all too well. Our children and our citizens are being poisoned by the paint on their walls. Senator Kit Bond and I worked together to on the VA-HUD bill to first bring attention to this crippling public health problem.
“This week marks the anniversary of Freddie Gray’s death. He was a young man who grew up in Baltimore’s low income housing. Before Freddie’s second birthday his blood lead levels were seven times the CDC’s suggested level, leaving his life forever changed with permanent cognitive impairment. Today, there are still half a million children under the age of six with lead poisoning.
“This bill increases funding for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes to $135 million to provide safer homes for over 6,200 people, the Mikulski-Bond Lead Hazard Reduction Demo Program to $55 million for competitive funds to state and local governments, and the Public Housing Capital Fund to $1.925 billion to remediate 1,500 public housing units as a result of reforms in this bill.
“These reforms include requiring the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to update its blood level standard, which hasn’t been updated since 1999, to the stronger CDC standard and making studios and efficiencies eligible for remediation grants because 34,000 ‘zero bedroom’ dwellings house children under the age of six.
“This bill cuts the first federal checks under the FAST Act passed last December. This means more formula funding for every state – for Maryland, that’s an increase of $62 million. The bill also provides an increase of $575 million for the Federal Transit Administration. The Job Corridor – Purple Line construction receives a total of $125 million to build the new light rail system in the DC suburbs of Maryland.
“Also funded is the Washington Metro at $150 million. In keeping my promise to riders, the bill requires Metro to show progress on safety and finances, certified by Transportation Secretary Foxx, before money can be spent.
“In writing the CJS bill, Senator Shelby and I focused resources to keep America safe and help America create jobs through science and innovation as well as trade and economic development. Within our allocation we provided targeted resources to address key national threats brought up by members.
“Heroin is a deadly drug affecting all of our communities, so our bill provides $132 million for law enforcement, treatment and prevention. Key science agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), received increased resources to commercialize discoveries and create new jobs and business – not just win Nobel prizes. There is also increased funding for weather prediction, warning Americans to get out of the way of severe storms with next generation weather satellites and computers. Weather operations save lives, property and businesses.
“I want to assure my colleagues the CJS bill contains no new riders on the many controversial issues that the bill touches on. I would also like to note the bill provides needed funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to increase staffing by 1.5 percent and to get the FBI into a modern headquarters and out of the 14 sites scattered through the region, including the crumbling Hoover building.
“This bill represents Appropriations at its best, helping improve the lives of Americans. This Senate CJS bill is a good bill. Senator Shelby and I listened to our colleagues on this Committee and worked with all of you to write a bipartisan bill. I fully support both bills under consideration today and look forward to moving them to the floor.”
Contact: Mara Stark-Alcalá (202) 224-2667
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