Remarks of Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Opposition to the Paul Amendment

The Paul amendment imposes a 1 percent across-the-board cut below last year’s funding level, to the vast majority of discretionary spending for the duration of the CR, and I urge all members to oppose it.   

This means arbitrary cuts to defense and other national security programs, cuts to veterans’ healthcare, education, child care, and opioid prevention programs, just to name a few.  Across-the-board cuts are simplistic tools that ignore the complexities of our federal budget, and they are no way to govern. 

Congress is tasked with doing the hard work and making the hard choices about how to fund programs each year depending on realities on the ground, not to resort to an across-the-board cut just because it is easier and makes a good soundbite.  The American people deserve better.  

If the Paul amendment were to apply to the entire fiscal year, funding for the Pentagon would be $6.7 billion lower than in FY 2019—less money to support our troops, less money to defend our nation. 

If this amendment were to pass, our veterans would be short-changed—imposing cuts to suicide prevention programs, mental health programs, and treatment for PTSD, issues every member in this chamber believes to be a priority.  

If extended through the fiscal year, this amendment would cut $37 million from our firefighting accounts, compromising our ability to fight catastrophic wildfires and safeguard people’s lives and property. 

The Paul amendment would redirect these funds to various infrastructure programs.  I support increased investment in our nation’s infrastructure.  And I would be happy to work with Senator Paul to ensure that these programs receive the resources they require.  I would welcome support on this from the other side of the aisle given that the Trump Administration consistently proposes cutting resources to improve our nation’s infrastructure.  But funding it through an across-the-board cut on all other programs, including veterans’ healthcare, national security, and education programs, is irresponsible and not the answer.