Rep. David Price (D-NC) gave the following remarks for the Congressional Record during debate on H.R. 1, the Republican bill to fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year. The bill cuts billions of dollars in funding for innovative medical research, green energy, education programs like the Pell Grant and Head Start and rescinds federal investments in critical infrastructure high-speed rail. In his remarks, Rep. Price says the cuts undermine our future competitiveness by crippling advantages that have made us strong, secure and prosperous as a nation.
Security, Strength, and the U.S. Budget
Remarks on H.R. 1, the Republican Spending Bill for Fiscal Year 2011
Rep. David E. Price
Entered into the Congressional Record, Thursday, February 17, 2011
Mr. Speaker, as Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I rise to discuss the impact this bill will have on our nation’s security.
I am talking, in part, about its impact on the efforts directly managed by the Department of Homeland Security. But I am also talking about our security in a broader sense: about what makes us strong, secure, and prosperous as a nation.
As for the bill’s Homeland Security title, I want to commend Chairman Aderholt for doing what he could to shield several critical programs from the ill-advised cuts throughout this bill. Our border security, disaster relief, immigration enforcement, and transportation security efforts – for the most part – are protected.
Unfortunately, these investments offer little consolation when we look at other areas of the DHS budget. This bill would severely cut federal support for state and local first responders, which is particularly troubling when we consider the fiscal restraints that state and local governments are facing right now.
The elimination of firefighter grants is especially galling. That cut is guaranteed to result in thousands of firefighter layoffs across the United States.
But while I am concerned about the problems with the homeland security section of this bill, I know that these cuts pale in comparison to other critical domestic services and investments.
And that is exactly my point: the strength and security of our country are about so much more than how much we spend on weapons systems or how thoroughly we police the border. They are about the investments we make in our people, in our nation’s ability to recover from the current economic downturn and compete in the global economy.
By this measure, this Republican proposal would dangerously weaken our security by undermining the things that make us strong – from education to scientific research to infrastructure – in an effort to achieve an arbitrary level of cuts dictated by the most extreme elements of the Republican Conference.
As an illustration, look no further than my own congressional district, the Research Triangle of North Carolina. In just a few decades, the Triangle has become one of the leading centers of research, education, and innovation in the world — an engine of economic growth whose impact extends well beyond state lines.
This bill would gut higher education by slashing the maximum Pell Grant award by 17 percent. In my district, over 27,000 students receive Pell Grants — over 249,000 students in North Carolina overall.
We cannot possibly “out-educate” our competitors by denying a college education to thousands of American students and allowing the most disadvantaged children to fall even further behind.
Nor can we “out-build” our competitors by slashing funding for high-speed rail, clean energy technologies, and other investments in the infrastructure that will be necessary to sustain the industries of the 21st Century – as this Republican proposal would do. Cuts to transportation and infrastructure in this bill would directly result in the loss of over 20,000 jobs in North Carolina alone.
Indeed, the enactment of this measure could sound the final death knell for any hope that the United States will become the global market leader in “green” technologies. Instead, we will only fall further behind as China and other countries develop the energy sources that will fuel our economy as the price of oil soars.
Finally, this Republican plan would eviscerate our investments in scientific research – the source of so much of our economic success, especially in the Research Triangle.
It would cut cancer research and other NIH funding by nearly $1.6 billion. It would cut National Science Foundation research and education by over $800 million. And it would cut $400 million from agricultural research that keeps our farmers competitive in the global market.
These are just a few of the dozens of initiatives which have built the foundation for our nation’s economic prosperity – and, by extension, our nation’s security. To take a wrecking ball to this foundation at a time when we are struggling to recover from a financial crisis and compete again in the modern global economy would be both reckless and reprehensible.
We shouldn’t even be calling this bill a Continuing Resolution. The “C-R” could more accurately stand for “Continuing the Recession”, or “Choking the Recovery” – because that’s exactly what this bill will do.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this dangerous measure, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Press Release, Washington DC, 2/17/11