In floor speech, Cantwell opposes proposed cuts to women's health programs, workforce investment
Cantwell on House GOP Budget: 'Instead of creating jobs, they have launched a war on women'
In floor speech, Cantwell opposes proposed cuts to women's health programs, workforce investment
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) delivered remarks today on the Senate floor in opposition to the proposed House Republican budget cuts to women’s health and workforce investment programs. The proposed budget cuts in H.R.1 would disproportionately affect low-income women, working families, and the elderly.
The proposed budget, which passed the House on February 19, 2011, would eliminate funding for the Title 10 program, which has been providing vital health services to low-income women through Medicaid for 40 years. The budget also eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood centers, which provide access to critical preventative health services to more than three million women nationwide and 130,000 Washington state women each year. The budget would also cut $4 billion from Workforce Investment Act job training programs, which have helped 4.3 million people nationwide find jobs. In Washington state, WIA-funded programs have helped 78 percent of jobseekers find jobs.
Below are a few excerpts from Cantwell’s floor remarks:
“I think the American people have sent a clear message. They want us to focus on creating jobs, promoting innovation, and putting people back to work. And that's what we're trying to do here in the United States Senate. But in the House, the Republicans seem like they are saying, let's cut programs and vital services to working women and families and somehow that will generate economic growth.”
“Instead of creating jobs, all they have done is launch a war on women.”
“Cutting programs that support working mothers, like job training, like child care, like education, like health care, will impact those families' ability to be productive members of our economy.”
“Workforce development is economic development, and when people are trained and skilled, the employers get what they need, the community prospers, and everybody truly wins and what the president has called for, winning the future.”
“We should not cut what are the healthy elements of our economy but make sure that we are helping women and families do what will help them survive and help them help us with an economic recovery.”
Click here to watch a video of Cantwell delivering her remarks today on the Senate floor.
Cantwell’s remarks as delivered are below:
Ms. Cantwell: And I come to the floor to join my other colleagues today because I think the American people have sent a clear message. They want us to focus on creating jobs, promoting innovation and putting people back to work. And that's what we're trying to do here in the United States Senate. But in the House, the Republicans seem like they are saying, let's cut programs and vital services to working women and families and somehow that will generate economic growth. Well, Mr. President, instead of creating jobs, all they have done is launched a war on women.
And H.R. 1 that they are proposing would eliminate funding for Title 10, which would provide health services, including family planning and breast and cervical cancer screening and preventive health, and certainly would impact low-income women, and it doesn't create jobs. There's nothing in what I just said in the cutting of that that would create jobs. How are jobs created out of cutting those services? It's actually an attack on the access to health care. And when you don't have healthy people, I guarantee you, Mr. President, you end up with bad economic consequences.
The bill also cuts funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and federal funding for Planned Parenthood centers that service more than three million women each year, jeopardizing, again, access to critical health preventive services. Just in the state of Washington we have 39 centers that serve over 130,000 patients annually and administer over 170,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections.
And one of my constituents, who was diagnosed at 22 years old with abnormal growth on her cervix wall, came to a planned parenthood clinic. Why? Because she didn't have health insurance. In fact, quoting her, she said, "I have not had a scheduled exam -- I would not have had a scheduled exam on my own. Without Planned Parenthood, I may have died or lost my ability to have children in the future. And aside from these personal effects, as an uninsured student, I would have been a huge financial burden on my family and on my community."
There it is, Mr. President. Planned Parenthood has been effective in preventing over 40,000 pregnancies and diverting $160 million dollars back to the state, which we need in these tough economic times. So instead of supporting women and families so they can be productive parts of our economy, Republicans are continuing to turn the clock back on what are hard-fought accesses to healthy service by attacking women's right to choose. Their proposal would deny women using flexible spending accounts or from using pretax dollars for insurance to cover their wide-range of reproductive choices.
It denies small businesses their tax credits if they choose employee health care coverage if it includes reproductive health care and would disallow tax deductions for health insurance for the self-employed if insurance included reproductive health care choice. So the Republicans' answer to the economy is an attack on reproductive health care? It seems to me that these proposals are really just about attacking the most vulnerable in our society, including the elderly, where you would have an impact on services for elderly, including meals and housing and employment services, and these are women that compromise two-thirds of our elderly.
And they would be harmed most by these cuts. For example, Mr. President, in 2009, 25 percent of all families with children were female head of households and 78 percent of mothers with children between the ages of 6 and 7 were in the labor force. So that's a big percentage. Therefore, cutting programs that support working mothers, like job training, like child care, like education, like health care, will impact those families' ability to be productive members of our economy.
I personally don't understand why in the world at this point in time with this high of an unemployment rate we would ever cut the job training programs. I can tell you, I traveled the state of Washington, and I constantly hear, even in these high economic times, employers who can't find the workforce that they need to do the jobs. And when you think about that, when a company can't find the workforce that it needs because there's a skills gap, that's holding that company back from producing higher revenues, from meeting their goals, and from adding stimulus to the economy.
All because they can't find the workforce. And yet we here in the Senate are trying to promote workforce training and to have programs that have been tested successes, like the Workforce Investment Act, that are investing for every dollar invested by the Workforce Investment Act, it’s $10 dollars in stimulating more in our economy. So it’s a one-to-ten ratio. Why would we cut such programs? And in Washington state, over 78 percent of those job seekers who have found jobs have been -- I should say, of the workforce center, 78 percent of the workforce centers end up finding jobs. So it’s a very high percentage of helping people and placing them. I just look at this example of this big decision we just had with Boeing on winning the refueling tanker decision. Here we are with 11,000 jobs in Washington state and a supply chain that is going to also have more jobs created.
And yet, if we don't make investment in workforce investment, that supply chain won't be able to find the people to fill those jobs, to help fulfill this contract. Now, here we are, something that is as big as a $35 billion dollar contract that we're involved in, because it is the Department of Defense, and yet on the same side, the Republicans over in the House are saying, let's cut the Workforce Investment Act, even though we know we have a plane to deliver, even though we know it has a military purpose that we support, and yet we're going to say, let's cut programs because somehow that is going to make our economy healthier.
Well, I can give you an example. General Plastics would not have been able to keep its current staff level or grow its business in the past year without the help of workforce investment dollars. They were in partnership with Tacoma Community College and trained the workforce in the improvement and techniques that allowed the company to streamline its production and grow its business effectively. And during this last year they grew 10 to 15 percent and became more competitive.
They also added about 22 new employees because of additional new businesses. And these are programs that would be cut by the proposal in H.R. 1 that the House Republicans are trying to push. I don't think it would improve our economy. I think it would stall what is a very, very fragile recovery. Workforce development is economic development, and when people are trained and skilled, the employers get what they need, the community prospers, and everybody truly wins and what the president has called for, winning the future.
So I think we need to make sure that we here in the Senate stand up and say ‘no’ to these cuts, like the Workforce Investment Act, like in family health, like the cuts in the Pell Grant program which would be cut by more than $800 dollars per student or the Head Start or Early Head Start that, again, would impact thousands of children in Washington state. In addition, we should not cut what are the healthy elements of our economy but make sure that we are helping women and families do what will help them survive and help them help us with an economic recovery.
Mr. President, I know some people think this is the way to get our economy going again, but I can tell you, our economy certainly in 2008 hit the iceberg. But what H.R. 1 does, instead of saying women and children first, they are basically cutting them off of the lifeline that they need and cutting off what are essential programs to help us grow jobs and have a healthy economy.
I thank the president, and I yield the floor.
Next Article Previous Article