As the Senate prepares to vote on final passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (H.R.1105), it is important to remember why passage of this legislation is important to the American people. The bill contains nine bills that are essential to keeping the federal government working to enhance the health, safety, and security – economic and otherwise – of the American people.
After months of Republican politicking and obstructionism to delay passage of these bills, the time has come to quickly pass this important legislation to fund the federal government this year so that Congress and President Obama can move on to addressing the other priorities of the American people, including the financial and housing crises and health care and education reform.
Passage of the Omnibus is critical to our economic security.
- The Department of Transportation would not be able to increase its investment in highways, which would prevent the creation of thousands of jobs and result in increased congestion, which costs the nation approximately $78 billion each year.
- The Department of Labor would not be able to provide reemployment and retraining services to millions of unemployed and otherwise vulnerable Americans in this tough economy.
- The Federal Housing Administration would have to stop helping families facing foreclosure to refinance into affordable mortgages.
- The Housing and Counseling Assistance program and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation would be less able to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development would not be able to provide the necessary community and economic development grants to help communities weather and recover from the current economic storm.
- The Department of Energy would not be able to make increased investments in more energy efficient vehicles and buildings as well as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy sources.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission would not be able to undertake more vigorous enforcement of securities laws to help bolster the integrity of the financial markets, just when this enforcement is needed the most.
- The Department of Education would not be able to continue the Pell Grant program, which helps seven million low- and middle-income families pay for college and vocational training.
Passage of the Omnibus is critical to our health and safety.
- National Institutes of Health would not be able to maintain adequate funding for lifesaving research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes.
- Community Health Centers would not be able to provide health care services to nearly 470,000 uninsured Americans.
- The Department of Health and Human Services would not be able to assist small, rural hospitals and create health care networks for more than 775,000 rural residents in underserved communities.
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission would not be able to implement many of the new reforms in place to make children’s products safer.
- The Food and Drug Administration would significantly decrease the number of food and medical product safety inspections it can perform, both domestic and overseas.
- The Federal Aviation Administration would not be able to improve aviation safety and air traffic organization by boosting the hiring and training of air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would be hindered in their ability to enhance and enforce workplace safety standards.
- The Centers for Disease Controland Prevention would be forced to close a minimum of five quarantine stations at ports of entry around the country.
- The Drug Enforcement Agency would have to institute an immediate hiring freeze of agents, as well as a 13-day furlough of all agents. As a result, DEA would carry out 90 fewer raids against drug producers and traffickers.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation would have to institute an immediate hiring freeze of agents, analysts, and support staff. This would mean 650 fewer FBI Special Agents, and 1,250 fewer intelligence analysts and other professionals fighting crime and terrorism in the United States.
Passage of the Omnibus is critical to global health and our national security.
· The Department of State would be unable to meet critical goals for combating HIV/AIDS around the world. Without the additional funding for life-sustaining anti-retroviral drugs, prevention and care programs we would not be able to save one million more lives, we would lose the opportunity to prevent two million additional HIV infections, as well as the chance to save or care for one million more orphans or vulnerable children who are either infected with HIV or have been orphaned because a parent died from HIV/AIDS.
· USAID would not be able to expand malaria programs in Africa, where one million people (mostly children) die from malaria each year, and will be forced to cut life-saving immunization programs resulting in higher maternal and infant mortality for illnesses that are entirely preventable.
· The State Department and USAID will be forced to cut key security and assistance programs and personnel in Jordan, the West Bank, Pakistan and Afghanistan at a time when additional investments are urgently needed.