Senate Democrats have developed fiscally-responsible appropriations bills that invest in America’s needs here at home, many of which have suffered from years of neglect under the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, Republicans continue to ignore these priorities, refusing to fund domestic needs even while they demand that Congress provide a massive blank check for the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, after increasing our debt by more than $3 trillion and producing massive budget deficits, Bush Republicans have little credibility when they claim to be “deficit hawks.”
Democrats will continue to fight for important initiatives that help ensure the security and well-being of American families. Too many times this year, our good-faith attempts to work with congressional Republicans and the President to meet America’s priorities have been met with relentless obstructionism and unreasonable vetoes and veto threats. This experience has made it painfully clear that Congress is divided between Democrats who want change and Republicans determined to promote gridlock and protect the status quo. As we move into a new year, Senate Democrats call on all Senators and the President to end the obstructionism, change priorities, and focus on Americans’ needs here at home.
The President’s determination to block funding that is badly needed to address the priorities of middle-class and working Americans has a far ranging effect. Republican obstructionism has blocked funding for each of the following agencies:
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce (including NOAA and NASA)
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services (including NIH and FDA)
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of Interior
- Department of Justice (including the FBI)
- Department of Labor
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of State
- Department of Transportation
- Department of Treasury
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Environmental Protection Agency
Through the year, Republicans have blocked Democratic efforts to:
Improve the health of our country. Democrats have made investments to:
- Provide first-class healthcare for veterans who have served our country so heroically;
- Maintain and improve VA hospitals and clinics to ensure that VA facilities do not suffer from Walter Reed-type neglect and disrepair;
- Build hope for medical cures by increasing resources to research cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; and
- Increase access to community health centers to provide healthcare to the growing number of uninsured in our country.
Increase access to quality education. Democrats have made investments to:
- Make college more affordable for millions of students by increasing the Pell Grant program to offset skyrocketing tuition costs;
- Invest in our schools to place more qualified teachers in classrooms and help disadvantaged students succeed; and
- Provide more of our nation’s neediest children with Head Start’s comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and social services to help prepare them for success in school.
Help our nation’s hard-working families make ends meet. Democrats have made investments to:
· Soften the impact of the nation’s subprime mortgage crisis through foreclosure-avoidance and loss mitigation services to ensure that Americans cannot only get a home, but can keep a home.
· Help families struggling with record-high energy costs;
· Reduce excessive delays for people applying for Social Security benefits; and
· Promote American competitiveness in a global economy.
Make our communities safer and our nation more secure. Democrats have made investments to:
- Fill significant gaps in our national security and protect us from future terrorist attack with vital investments in first responder grants, port security, border security, explosives detection, and FBI agent hiring; and
- Enhance the readiness of the National Guard and Reserves, which have been stretched thin by repeated and extended deployments;
- Combat the rise in violent crime by enabling state and local police to hire additional officers and employ new and innovative crime fighting strategies; and
- Rehabilitate and maintain America’s roads and bridges.