Washington Review, April 4, 2016
Over the past few weeks, I have submitted funding requests to the House Appropriations Committee for fiscal year (FY) 2017. Here is a selection of the requests I made to support or increase funding for programs that are important in the 8th District.
As a former teacher, I know the importance of providing our students with a quality education; this is why I cosigned a number of letters supporting funding for various education programs. I urged the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to provide $3 billion in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). This program provides American families with access to quality and affordable child care that will contribute to the healthy development of their children. I sent a letter supporting the President’s budget request of $350 million for the Preschool Development Grant program in order to assist states in either expanding or improving high-quality, full-day preschool programs. These programs help improve school readiness and the long-term academic success of children by supporting their academic and social-emotional skills. I also requested $30.1 billion in funding for the Federal Pell Grant program which is the cornerstone of our nation’s student financial aid program. Pell Grants provide a pathway to college for students who might have thought their dream of obtaining a higher education was unachievable due to financial constraints. Currently, Pell Grants assist students by covering higher education costs such as tuition, textbooks, and room and board.
I supported funding programs that are dedicated to minority higher education. I specifically requested $11 million in funding for Predominantly Black Institutions to continue supporting approximately 33 institutions that serve at least 50 percent low-income or first-generation college students. Finally, I supported an increase in federal funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions to promote accessibility and affordability in higher education to the growing number of Latino students who wish to pursue a postsecondary education and graduate studies. It is my hope that all of these education programs will receive adequate funds to improve the lives of students across the nation.
I also sent letters to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to request funds for health programs. First, I called for continued support for Community Health Centers as providers of high quality, cost-effective primary care. These centers are extremely important as they provide various types of care including dental, behavioral, pharmacy, vision, as well as a variety of complementary services to America’s most vulnerable patients and communities. I also requested at least $34.5 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support forward-thinking investments that promote medical breakthroughs as well as our international leadership in biomedical research. NIH serves as the world's preeminent medical research institution and supports over 300,000 non-federal scientists, funds more than 2,500 universities, medical schools, and research institutions across the country and invests over $20 billion annually in medical research on behalf of the American people. Finally, I supported a $500 million increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research at the NIH to find a cure, or effective treatment, for Alzheimer’s which affects millions of individuals and families. These are just a few of the health programs that use federal funding to find cures, improve treatments, and gain a better understanding of the complex causes of diseases that affect millions of Americans.
Finally, I supported a variety of housing programs under the jurisdiction of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies. I urged the subcommittee to provide $3.3 billion in funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program which has proven to be one of the most effective programs for growing local economies. This flexible program is used to provide affordable housing and services to those who are vulnerable in our nation and create jobs by expanding and retaining businesses. The CDBG program is a useful tool for communities that are working to improve the lives of their residents.
I also submitted a letter supporting the President’s budget request of $20.9 billion in funding for the Tenant-Based Section 8 Rental Assistance program. Tenant-Based Rental Assistance helps 2.2 million low-income households, many of which fall well below the federal poverty line, rent homes at an affordable price in the private market. These housing vouchers have been shown to reduce poverty and homelessness and can help low-income children improve their lives. Finally, I requested $1.2 billion in funding be restored for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). HOME provides grants to fund a wide range of activities including direct rental assistance to low-income individuals as well as building, buying, and restoring affordable housing. These programs are important and should be adequately funded to help improve our community and ensure every American has access to affordable housing.