February 19, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – San Diego’s Congressional delegation is speaking out on spending and budget-cutting priorities –with widely divergent views. While Republicans have slammed President Barack Obama’s proposed budget, Democrats are blasting the rival Republican House appropriations bill.
As with any omnibus proposal, the devil is in the details. Issues at stake include funds for local border projects, birth control access, water supplies for Southern California, job training, and more. Here’s what our five local House representatives and both California U.S. Senators have to say about the spending proposals that Congress is weighing.
Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) said she cast a vote against the Republican House appropriations bill for fiscal year 2011, H.R. 1, “to protect the middle class, job creation, and the budding economic recovery.” She added, “I opposed the funding bill because it would make irresponsible cuts in critical programs. Decreases in education funding would kick children out of Head Start programs, put teachers out of work, and eliminate job training programs like the summer youth employment program .”
The spending bill would cut funding for public safety, meaning fewer police officers and firefighters protection San Diego families. It would also make cuts to science, health care, and energy research programs, Davis said, adding that the latter would lead to fewer research jobs in San Diego. She also faulted HR 1 for slashing money for family planning including eliminating birth control funding, as well as cutting funds for public TV and radio (PBS and NPR) and eliminating a housing program to help San Diego’s homeless veterans get off the streets.
“In stark contrast, the President’s budget for the 2012 fiscal year invests in the future of our country, communities, and children while also making tough but necessary choices to rein in spending,” Davis concluded. “My colleagues and I may not agree with every decision in the budget outline, but the President’s budget is a realistic and reasonable first step towards greater fiscal responsibility.”
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-San Diego) issued a statement expressing disappointment in President Obama’s budget, which he said “includes excessive spending, $1.6 trillion in new taxes, and accelerates our country down the path to bankruptcy.” He called on Congress to foster an environment that “makes it easier for small businesses to operate and grow jobs.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) opposes the President’s budget, which called for investment in infrastructure and education, methods similar to those used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that historians credit with ending the Depression. Obama’s budget also called for some spending cuts and a freeze on federal wages.
“We cannot spend our way out of an economic downturn and into fiscal solvency,” Rep. Issa said. We cannot sidestep the tough decisions about the future of entitlements and expect to make legitimate progress on the deficit…If we are to move our nation forward, beyond the challenges of the present, we must first demonstrate a commitment and a willingness to live within our means, reduce the footprint of government in our lives and reform a bureaucracy that has grown to [sic] comfortable with being careless with the American people’s money.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) criticized the Republican H.R. 1 appropriations measure for its impact on water in California.
“House Republicans seem to think there are simple solutions to California’s water problems,” Sen. Feinstein said. “That just isn’t the case. Their idea to defund the San Joaquin River settlement, approved after 18 years of litigation, would likely send California back to the courtroom.” She added that the bill would defund the federal government’s ability to enforce environmental laws and further, that the measure would restrict water supplies to southern California.
“Water pumped out of the Delta is shared by federal and state water users. The bill’s language would prohibit federal users from limiting their share, so state users—including Southern California farmers and cities—could be forced to give up a significant portion of their water supply to compensate,” Sen. Feinstein said.
Senator Barbara Boxer warned that H.R. 1 amounts to an “assault” on women’s rights including defunding access to birth control. “We are sending a clear message to House Republicans that their agenda on women’s health is extreme, it breaks faith with a decades-long bipartisan compromise and it risks the health and lives of women. It also punishes women and businesses with a tax hike if they wish to keep or buy insurance that covers a full range of reproductive health care. We want the women and families of America to know that we will continue to defend women’s health and, with a bipartisan effort, we will stop an agenda that would do them harm.”
Congressman Bob Filner (D-San Diego) spoke on the House floor to express his “outrage” over elimination of substantial border project funding in H.R. 1, the Republican’s proposed appropriations resolution for fiscal year 2011. Construction of the Calexico project was to have begun this year, while expansion of the other two facilities were slated for 2012.
“As written, H.R. 1 would remove $894 million from the General Services Administration (GSA) construction and acquisition budget, eliminating all funds for those projects in FY 2011. The bill would also cut $133.8 million from the GSA repair and alterations budget,” he said. “These drastic cuts will jeopardize construction and modernization of the Calexico, Otay Mesa, and San Ysidro land ports-of-entry,” Rep. Filner said. “Not only will California lose jobs associated with the construction, but our economy will suffer from the loss of efficiency at the border.”
Joe Kasper, spokesman for Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) said the resolution “is all about prioritizing funds and programs. Not every member is likely in agreement with each and every cut but the bill overall puts in motion some of the tough choices Mr. Hunter and others have been talking about for some time.” He questioned Rep. Filner’s numbers and asked whether Rep. Filner plans to offer an amendment to restore funding for the border projects, adding, “The funding under discussion is only for the remainder of the fiscal year. There will be plenty of opportunities to raises this or any other issue during the FY 12 budget debate.”