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Chairman Yarmuth Opening Statement at Budget Hearing on The President's 2021 Budget

Feb 12, 2020

Washington, D.C.— Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, gave the following opening statement at today’s hearing examining President Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2021. Remarks as prepared are below:

This hearing will come to order. I would like to welcome OMB Acting Director Vought -- thank you for coming here to testify on the President’s 2021 budget proposal. It is my hope that today’s hearing will provide an open and honest examination of the priorities set forth by the Trump administration so we can get back to work passing legislation and appropriations bills that reflect the needs and priorities of the American people.

Just six short months ago, the President signed a bipartisan two-year budget deal into law. It does everything the President’s proposal fails to do -- it set rational discretionary toplines allowing strong investments in our national and economic security; it had bipartisan support – including the Ranking Member and myself; and it set Congress up for a successful appropriations process. But now, the President is going back on his word. Instead, he is, once again, proposing deep cuts to critical programs that help American families and prepare our nation for the future. Once again, he is breaking his promises and lying to the American people. 

Less than a week after promising Medicare and Social Security would be safe from harsh budget cuts, the President went and slashed a half a trillion dollars from Medicare - knowing it would hurt seniors - and cut Social Security by at least $24 billion knowing it would hurt our nation’s disabled workers.

During his State of the Union address, the President said he was working to improve Americans’ health care. Then he turned around and cut Medicaid by more than $900 billion knowing it would result in families losing life-saving health care coverage.

After talking up his plans to “build an inclusive society” by “making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve,” the President proposes slashing discretionary resources for the Department of Education by $5.6 billion, disinvesting in America’s students. He then proposes a $170 billion cut over 10 years to student loan programs knowing it will make it harder for young people to earn a college degree.

The President is trying to cut nutrition assistance by more than $180 billion -- and that’s before taking his recent mean-spirited regulations into account -- knowing it will force more families to go hungry.

In his State of the Union speech, President Trump talked about planting trees to protect the environment. You know how you protect the environment? By putting people before polluters and not gutting the EPA by more than 26 percent like this budget would do.

Amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the President gave the American people his word that his administration would “take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.” That was another lie, because just days later his budget included a nearly 19 percent reduction to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s discretionary budget authority despite this ongoing threat.

The bottom line here is that this President and his Congressional Republican allies have routinely prioritized special interests and the rich and powerful over the health, safety, and economic security of American families. The President’s destructive and irrational budget continues that misplaced allegiance by intentionally going after working families and vulnerable Americans while simultaneously extending tax cuts and giveaways to the very wealthiest individuals and large corporations.

Over the course of the decade, the President’s budget would slash non-defense discretionary funds by more than $1.5 trillion, taking a wrecking ball to America’s economic future and security. At the same time, it extends expiring provisions of the 2017 GOP tax law adding more than $1 trillion to the debt – a reality the President was unable to hide even with his fantasy growth projections. This President is asking working Americans to sacrifice their safety, their health, their economic security, their futures – to cover the cost of Republicans’ tax scam that was never going to pay for itself.

While I have come to expect shocking and unthinkable budget cuts from this Administration, it never gets any easier to see our President’s complete disregard for the human cost of his budget. Thankfully, with a budget already in place for 2020 and 2021 and the Senate Majority Leader reaffirming his commitment to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, I am confident that Congress will stand firm against the President's warped vision for our nation’s future.

Finally, Director Vought, for obvious reasons, there is a lot of interest in your presence here today. This is the first time you have testified since President Trump was impeached. I’m not going to rehash that entire process, but a major finding of Congress’ investigations was that the Administration broke federal law when OMB failed to abide by the Impoundment Control Act. That law falls squarely within the jurisdiction of the Budget Committee, so I think it is critically important that you speak to OMB’s adherence to the ICA today. As Director, it is your responsibility, your obligation, to make sure that OMB is in complete compliance with the ICA and fully respects that the Constitution grants Congress the power of the purse. I promise that this Committee will continue its vigilance and not allow the President to unilaterally substitute this budget for the bipartisan budget already in place. And I keep my promises.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.