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Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COLE. Mr. Chair, I thank the distinguished ranking Republican member of the Appropriations Committee, my good friend, Ms. Granger, for yielding.

I want to begin, Mr. Chair, on a positive note. I want to thank, particularly, my working partner, Rosa DeLauro, whom I have had the great opportunity to work with now for the fifth year. There are a lot of good things in this bill, a lot of things to be proud of. Frankly, we have worked together in the past and continued to work together in this bill.

I am particularly pleased with the additional support for the National Institutes of Health and for the Centers for Disease Control.

I very much support the focus on early childhood education, on first- generation college students through programs like TRIO and GEAR UP, frankly, through our ChalleNGe children, the IDEA program, and many other good provisions. However, there are certainly a number of other things in this bill that mean I won't be able to support it at this time.

I was disappointed to see language inserted throughout the bill that ties the hands of the administration in many ways. The bill forces a return to the Obama-era policies on Title X family programs. The bill ties the hands of the administration by not allowing it to process waivers that protect deeply held religious beliefs of institutions that provide vital services funded in the bill.

The bill micromanages the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, even going so far as to prescribe specific amounts of money to be used in advertising programs.

I am also concerned about a number of limitations in this bill that are going to lead to a Presidential veto.

While the bill does many good things, I remain concerned that it has been developed in a vacuum. As my good friend, the ranking member, said, these numbers are simply too high. They are not going to be accepted by a Republican Senate. They are not going to be signed by the President of the United States, and we run the risk of a Presidential veto.

We need to come together, Mr. Chair, House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, with the administration to hammer out a deal on top-line funding before we can move forward and actually move this bill into law.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the significant crisis facing us on our southern border. That has yet to be addressed in this bill, and a number of our speakers have made that point.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Chair, is at the breaking point. We literally will go broke this month taking care of unaccompanied children unless the majority works with the administration and their Republican colleagues to address this problem.

I want to end by announcing that I will oppose the bill, but I look forward to working with my friends on the other side as we go through the process. I am convinced that under Chairwoman Lowey's leadership with Ranking Member Granger, we can arrive at a good solution for the country.

This is a work in progress, and I think it is going to get better as it moves through the process.


Mr. COLE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, the bill as reported out of the full Appropriations Committee contains a poison pill which my amendment seeks to remove.

The rider of the underlying bill blocks the exercise of civil rights of all Americans.

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule which gives the Office for Civil Rights the tools it needs to investigate discrimination and enforce the laws as written.

The new rule protects physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students, and faith-based charities, who do not wish to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage for, or refer to services such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide.

The Labor-HHS bill will never become law if this language remains in it.

Mr. Chair, I ask my colleagues to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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