In what could be an exercise in futility, two top Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee sent a letter to their GOP counterparts Friday to schedule consideration of the fiscal 2014 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill.
Appropriations ranking member Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., and subcommittee ranking member Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., sent the letter to House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
In response, Jennifer Hing, spokeswoman for the Republican majority, said: "The Committee has not yet scheduled the mark up of the LHHS bill. Committee mark ups are scheduled three days in advance."
The post-sequester budget levels used by the House in drafting the fiscal 2014 spending bills are at a lower level than the Senate bills, with the House proposing spending levels for security and defense that still exceed the budget caps.
As such, the Labor-HHS-Education measure would absorb many cuts that Democrats may want a venue to highlight.
The House and Senate are expected to move forward with a stopgap spending package in the coming weeks. The letter appears below:
Dear Chairman Rogers and Chairman Kingston:
We write to request that you immediately schedule a markup of the FY 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill. The Labor-HHS-Education bill is the only FY14 bill that has not been marked up in subcommittee this year. It is also the only bill that has not been marked up in full committee since 2009. The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out a bill nearly two months ago. Another year should not go by without regular order in the House for the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill.
As you know, the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill funds critical programs that protect the public health and safety, promote and develop our workforce, and support the education of our children. These programs are too important to be left behind and Members of the committee from both sides of the aisle deserve an opportunity to publically consider their proper level of funding.
At one time the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill was known by both Republicans and Democrats as “The People’s Bill” given its vital components, including: medical research for diseases like cancer, autism, and Alzheimer’s, support for our schools to educate students with special needs or children living in poverty, job training and career education to train our workforce to succeed in today’s economy, support for our senior citizens through Meals on Wheels, public health infrastructure to detect and combat infectious diseases and fight chronic illnesses, Social Security Administration services and so much more.
On numerous occasions, you pledged to move every bill through the Appropriations Committee, yet the consideration of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill was indefinitely postponed in July. The programs funded through this bill are too important to be ignored. When the House returns from recess next week, we request that you immediately schedule a subcommittee and full committee markup of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill.