October 04, 2017

Harris on Senate Republicans’ Budget: “Americans Deserve Better”

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WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, delivered remarks at a hearing on the FY 2018 Budget Resolution. In her remarks, Harris spoke out against the proposed Republican budget for not addressing the core responsibilities of the federal government, including public health, public safety, and public education.

Key excerpt from Harris’ remarks:

 

  • “The budget is supposed to be a clear indication of American priorities and values. And the way I see it, the government has three core functions and responsibilities: public health, public safety, and public education. This budget does not prioritize or value a single one of them.
  • “Americans deserve better than this budget. It puts America’s future at risk. And I intend to fight hard against it.”

Full remarks by Harris below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Sanders and my colleagues on this Committee. I look forward to working with all of you to create a responsible budget that works for all Americans. 

The budget is supposed to be a clear indication of American priorities and values. And the way I see it, the government has three core functions and responsibilities: public health, public safety, and public education.

This budget does not prioritize or value a single one of them. 

It cuts Medicare by $473 billion, a program affecting 57 million seniors and the disabled. It cuts Medicaid, which ensures basic access to health care for our most vulnerable populations: children, low income working Americans, Americans with disabilities, and seniors by $1 trillion.

It cuts funds available to the LIHEAP program, which helps Americans heat their homes. It would eliminate heating assistance for nearly 700,000 seniors on fixed incomes, people with disabilities and families with children.

The budget would also cut essential funding to public safety programs like the Crime Victims Fund. 

It cuts public education by slashing Pell Grant funding by more than $100 billion. That’s a 33% cut to a program that makes college more affordable for more than 8 million students in this country. This budget does nothing to address the rising cost of higher education, or ensure that students do not fall prey to for-profit colleges that mislead and defraud their students.

And beyond those core functions of public health, safety and education, it lacks investment in jobs, affordable housing, reforming the criminal justice system and fixing our nation’s failing infrastructure.

Instead, this budget has a clear goal: reducing taxes for the top 1% and cutting the investments that give working families and the middle class the opportunity to meaningfully participate and share in the success of our economy.

In this budget’s proposed tax plan, the 20% of households stand to receive nearly 90% of the tax cuts.

This proposed Republican budget creates a $1.5 trillion tax plan without paying for it. It will drive up our country’s deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. And what does this mean? It means a Republican budget that has made a choice to give a tax cut to the top 1% while leaving the federal government unable to pay $1.5 trillion worth of bills.

That’s just not fiscally responsible, and it’s not smart, and it’s not what the American people want or deserve.

What the American people want is for us to work together in a bipartisan way on the issues that matter.

And Mr. Chairman, one area that has seen bipartisan compromise and is not addressed in this budget is the issue of immigration.

Immigrants helped build this country. They are service members, business leaders, Nobel winners, teachers, and neighbors.

And right now, 11 million people live in fear of deportation even though they are contributing to our country’s security and prosperity. Undocumented immigrants pay state and local taxes. They contribute to our businesses and they are workers in our industries and they harvest our crops and tend to our farms.

DACA recipients alone will contribute $460 billion in the national GDP over the next decade.

My amendment calls for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. This amendment would decrease the budget deficit by nearly $200 billion over a 10 year period. 

Welcoming people into citizenship, just as Presidents of both parties have done, makes our country and our economy stronger.

Yet in our current climate, we’re seeing young people threatened who are American in every way except one. We’re forcing them to potentially leave the only home they’ve ever known.

This amendment would fully acknowledge those people who are already our neighbors so we can all live up to our nation’s proud history as a nation of immigrants.

This budget should address that. Americans deserve a budget that is true to our history as a nation of immigrants.

Americans deserve a budget that fulfills government’s essential functions like public education, public safety and public health, including the immigrants that contribute to our society.

Americans deserve a budget that strengthens the middle class and opens up more opportunities for the middle class and working people to succeed.

They deserve a budget that increases training programs for workers so they can get the advanced skills they need to move up in their current roles, or retrain for new industries 

And the American public deserve a budget that improves the health care that they have, creates more opportunity for a quality and affordable education, and provides for safer communities.

Americans deserve better than this budget. It puts America’s future at risk. And I intend to fight hard against it. Thank you.

 

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