From the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today spoke out against a government shutdown, asking her Senate colleagues to protect the health and safety of women, children and middle-class families by rejecting the long-term continuing resolution proposed by House Republicans.
Senator Mikulski outlined the reasons HR-1 is bad for women and children, including cuts to Head Start, Pell grants, Social Security and health care reform. She was joined on the Senate floor by her Democratic women colleagues in the Senate.
“As we move ahead in what we hope will be a settlement and a negotiation, we, the Democratic women of the United States Senate, will not surrender the women and children of this country. We will not let them be thrown under the bus and run over by H.R. 1,” Senator Mikulski said.
The full text of Senator Mikulski’s statement follows:
Mr. President, I’m here representing 150 million women in the United States of America. They are bewitched, bothered and bewildered by what the House of Representatives has done to women in H.R. 1.
Women all over America have to balance the family budgets, so they know that the United States of America needs to get its fiscal act together. They also know that we need to live in a more frugal time – they understand that.
What they don’t understand is that what the House did in H.R. 1. The entire burden has come from a very limited amount in discretionary spending. When you take off defense, homeland security, women and children are actually thrown under the bus.
Well, they’re mad as hell and they don’t want to take it anymore. So the Democratic women today are going to lay out the consequences of what H.R. 1 means. Now, we women in the Senate, and we your Appropriators, of which there are many women – Senators Landrieu, Feinstein, Mikulski, and Murray – we know that we had to bring about fiscal discipline. The Senate Appropriations Committee, with one of the great men of this Senate, Senator Inouye, has already worked to reduce the Appropriations in the Senate by $41 billion.
Now, Mr. President, that’s really meat and potatoes. So we feel we’ve already given an option but, my god, enough is enough.
Let me give you just the top ten reasons why H.R. 1 is bad for women and children and examine why we’re ready to negotiate so that we don’t have a shutdown of the government. We need a final settlement on the budget for 2011.
Let’s just go through them. One, we defund the entire health care reform law. That is bad for saving lives and for saving money. It also eliminates the Title X family planning money. It jeopardizes breast cancer cervical screening for more than 5 million low-income women.
They even went after Head Start. Little kids in Head Start have to take it on the chin. It’s going to cause 218,000 children to be kicked off of it. But we go farther. Republicans say they are pro-family, pro-family values, and that they’ve got to defend life, yet they slash the nutrition programs for pregnant women by $747 million, affecting 10 million low-income pregnant women, new mothers and children.
We also cut funding for Pell Grants. We terminated funding that helps schools comply with Title IX funding for job training. That hurts over 8 million workers, many of them getting new training for the jobs of the new economy.
They went after the Social Security Administration. Not social security in terms of benefits, but they went after the people who work at the Social Security Administration. The people work on everything from the direct social security benefits to the disability benefits.
If H.R. 1 passes, more than 2,500 people at Social Security will be laid off. They go to work every day, provide actuarial information on how to keep it solvent, make sure the checks are out there on time and in snowstorms we’re showing up to make sure everything works, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be told we’re “non-essential.”
This whole “non-essential” talk drives me crazy, because ironically, Members of Congress are considered essential during a government shutdown. If we’re going to be essential, we need to get real about how we come to an agreement on this Continuing Resolution. So, Mr. President, we in the Senate feel we’ve given $41 billion already and we think H.R. 1 just goes too far. It goes too far by leaving so many things off the table.
Now, I want to talk about health care reform. We had many goals during health care reform, one of which was to expand universal access. Again, the presiding officer has been a champion of that, a stalwart defender of the public option and a stalwart defender of the single-payer system. And as we worked on it and we came up with a compromise, what was very clear was there were certain things we had to do. One was whether we reform the public option or not, whether you’re for a single-payer system or the system we have now, we knew we had to end the punitive practices of insurance companies.
We know that in the health care reform bill, we also had to improve quality measures that would actually save lives and save money. We also knew that there should be a strong preventive care benefit, that through early detection and screening we could minimize the costs to the insurance companies in the federal budget and also the terrible cost to families who face all kinds of problems – particularly cancer. So that’s why we passed health care reform.
Now, over in the House they thought it was really cool to say they could repeal health care reform. Remember, they said repeal and replace. They’ve only talked about repeal, because they don’t know how to replace. They decided through H.R. 1 to defund it, to take the money away. So let me outline very quickly what it means to women and children. First of all, we ended gender discrimination by the insurance companies in health care reform. Before we reformed health care, women were charged 40 percent more, in many instances, for health care premiums, compared to men of comparable age and health status. Forty percent more. There was a gender tax of 40 percent put on by the insurance companies. We ended that.
The second thing was that the insurance companies were treating simply being a woman as a pre-existing condition. So we went to the floor, and with the great guys in the Senate, we passed the preventive care amendment. We wouldn’t let them take our mammograms away from us. We also made sure that our children could have early detection and screening in schools. And because it’s not about gender, it’s about an agenda, we included men in these preventive health services as well.
Now, if we agree to H.R. 1 and defund health care reform, we will take away the preventive health care benefits. We cannot go back. It would also repeal the quality measures like the famous Pronovost checklist developed in Maryland by a Johns Hopkins doctor. When used at Michigan hospitals alone, the simple, low-tech way to lower in-house infections
in hospitals, it saved Michigan hospitals 2,000 lives and saved the state $200 million. We can do this, Mr. President. There are so many things that were important in the health care reform bill. We cannot defund it.
As we move ahead in what we hope will be a settlement and a negotiation, we, the women of the United States Senate, we, the Democratic women, will not surrender the women and children of this country. We will not let them be thrown under the bus and run over by H.R. 1.