Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Floor Statement On President Trump’s Rescission Proposal

Mr. President, three months ago, Republicans and Democrats came together and reached a bipartisan budget agreement.  We reached an agreement to lift the budget caps, provide relief from sequestration and make responsible, new investments in the American people over the next two years. 

The President signed this agreement into law.

Now the President proposed and House Republicans have drawn up a proposal to claw back vital funding for children’s health care, rural communities, infrastructure programs, and our law enforcement.  

The programs they want to raid are not Democrat priorities.  These are bipartisan, American priorities.

Ivanka Trump has said that American families need relief.

And that Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm.

President Trump’s proposal would claw back $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  $7 billion. 

CHIP currently provides health insurance for 8.7 million vulnerable children from low-income families.  Millions of families from red states and blue states, urban and rural, depend on CHIP to keep their children healthy and happy. 

How does pulling $7 billion out of this program align with the call to have policies that allow children to thrive to be the norm?  And if the money can no longer be dedicated to the CHIP program, we should reinvest it in other important programs, as we have done in the past, that support our nation’s children and families including Head Start, the Child Care Development Block Grant, opioid prevention, and cutting edge research at the NIH. 

The President’s proposal will take $159 million back from our law enforcement.  The President has claimed that he is going to “support our police like our police have never been supported before.”  This week is National Police Week, with today – May 15 – designated as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.  This is when we pause to thank and recognize our Nation’s law enforcement officers for their important work and many sacrifices. How does cutting $159 million in resources support our law enforcement?

The President’s proposal would claw back $462 million from infrastructure programs. 

The President has tweeted that our infrastructure will again be the best in the world. The greatest in the world.  The President should match his actions and his words.

He would cut $252 million meant to combat infectious diseases that threaten the United States and millions of Americans traveling, working, serving, and studying abroad.  Just last week, there were confirmed cases of the Ebola Virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  This is not a fight we should be retreating from. 

The U.S. won't be ready to face a flu pandemic until it improves its vaccines, health care infrastructure, and coordination with other countries — all of which are top priorities for the White House. According to a National Security Council official who said on Monday, “influenza is a priority to the White House, and represents both a health security and a national security threat... Today, however, we cannot respond with the speed that we need to."

This proposal would claw back $1 billion meant to invest in our rural communities. 

In March, Secretary Perdue testified before the Senate that “prosperity in rural America is particularly vital, not just for the rural communities we love, that many of us call home, but also for our entire Nation

That is a statement I agree with.  But we cannot invest in the prosperity of our rural communities if we strip $1 billion in resources from them.   

The President has promised this will not be his last proposal, and he will send another package in the coming weeks that would attack the foundation of the bipartisan agreement reached by Congress and signed into law by the President.

The President’s tax giveaway to billionaires and corporations increased our Nation’s deficits by $1.9 trillion.  According to the CBO, the rescission bill that the House will debate next week will save only $1 billion. 

It is time the President’s actions match his words. 

The President says “America First,” but goes out of his way to save Chinese jobs and strip investments in the American people. 

Now, here in the Senate, though, there is good news.  We’re focused on moving forward on a bipartisan basis on the fiscal year 2019 process.  Just yesterday, Chairman Shelby and I announced the schedule for marking up all 12 of the Appropriations bills by the end of June. 

Our staffs, Republican and Democratic alike, have been working nights, weekends, to get us into this position.  And we as Senators are committed to spend whatever amount of time it takes, whether we have to go into the evening, whether we have to go throughout the week to get all 12 bills marked up by the end of June.

So I hope the House Republican Leaders will abandon this ill-considered rescission bill. It’s not the start to the fiscal year 2019 process I would have hoped for.

Mr. President, Chairman Shelby and I, different parties, different philosophies, but we want the Senate to work.  We’re working very hard together, and I have great respect for him in putting together our 12 Appropriations bills.  We can do it.  We’ll be a better body if we do it. 

Let’s stop the tweeting and the sloganeering, and let’s deal with substance. 

Now, I say on another matter, a personal matter, before I yield the floor.  My wife Marcelle and I wish the best and a speedy recovery for the First Lady.  That is one thing I know every, every single member of the Senate, Republican and Democrat, agree with.  We hope she has a speedy and complete recovery.

My wife knows from personal experience what she is going through.  Recovery can come, but you have to work at it. 

I also would note, Mr. President, that in our family, our thoughts and prayers are for the recovery of the former Democratic Leader, Harry Reid.  We have prayers for him and his family.  I’m glad to hear he is recovering from his surgery, and we wish him the very best. 

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor. 

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