July 9, 2013
Statement of Senator Tom Harkin At the Subcommittee Markup of the Fiscal Year 2014 LHHS, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill
*As prepared for delivery*
"The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies will come to order.
"We are convened to mark up the fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill for this subcommittee, in preparation for a full committee markup on Thursday morning.
"Our action today stands in stark contrast to the House of Representatives. The House began marking up appropriations bills in May, but so far there are no signs that it plans to consider the Labor-HHS bill.
"That would be unfortunate. Other than defense, this is the largest of the appropriations bills. It covers NIH, job training, Head Start, education, the Social Security Administration, and hundreds of programs in between.
"House appropriators approved an allocation for Labor-HHS of $121.8 billion. They claim they can pass a Labor-HHS bill that is 26 percent below the level of the bill before us today. If so, then they should put their cards on the table. They have a responsibility to explain to the American people exactly how they plan to achieve such a radical reduction.
"Here in the Senate, this subcommittee has an allocation of $164.33 billion. The bill before us adheres to that allocation, and I believe it does so in a way that responsibly reflects the priorities of the American people.
"That includes being as bipartisan as possible. On topics ranging from Alzheimer’s disease and public health to impact aid and teacher quality, this bill reflect the interests of members from both parties.
"I understand that the two parties have their differences on healthcare reform. But the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and as long as I am chairman of this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that HHS has the funding it needs to implement that law. Therefore, this bill fully funds the President’s request for that purpose.
"But I also believe there is much in this bill on which both parties can agree. For example, it provides a significant increase for the National Institutes of Health, including an exciting new initiative to map the human brain.
"In the area of early childhood care and education, the bill provides dramatic increases for Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and adds new funding for the Preschool Development Grants program, which will help states improve the quality of their preschool services.
"The bill also protects taxpayers by targeting fraud and abuse. For example, the bill includes $640 million for Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control activities at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – more than double the current level.
"We know that every dollar we spend on combating fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid generates $7.90 in savings. At that rate, this bill will return about $5 billion to the U.S. Treasury.
"The bill also invests in prevention measures that will cut down on healthcare costs. For example, the bill provides increased funding to prevent diabetes and smoking, and creates a new initiative to prevent elder falls.
"I would note that the bill protects funding for several programs that are popular on both sides of the aisle, especially LIHEAP and Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education. The administration proposed deep reductions to both of these programs, but the bill rejects those cuts.
"In summary, this is a good bill, given the budget constraints. I look forward to the full Committee markup on Thursday, followed quickly by consideration of the bill on the Senate floor.
"I yield now to Senator Moran for any statement he may wish to make."