Chairman Yarmuth’s Opening Statement at Hearing on President Biden’s FY22 Budget
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Chair of the House Budget Committee, gave the following opening statement at today’s hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget. Remarks and video are below:
I’d like to take a moment to welcome The Honorable Shalanda Young to our witness table. OMB is well-served to have you at the helm this budget season, particularly given your more than 14 years of experience with House Appropriations Committee. Thank you for being with us today and in-person.
With the help of some new safety protocols and guidance from the Office of the Attending Physician, it is good to be back in the hearing room today. We are finally, and thankfully rounding the corner of this public health crisis.
Vaccination rates are up, coronavirus cases are down. Job growth is up, and the unemployment rate is down to its lowest point since before the pandemic. Rescue checks have significantly reduced hardships facing American families, with sharp declines in food insecurity and financial instability. The American Rescue Plan has helped save communities, delivering the resources necessary to get shots into arms, workers back in jobs, and provide lifelines to state and local governments, small businesses, and families.
It was the plan our nation needed, and it was a plan this Committee was proud to help deliver. But this is not the time to stop and pat ourselves on the back. Our country is not where we need it to be. There is so much more work to do.
That is why President Biden has proposed a transformative budget that will ensure we emerge from these past 15 months of crisis stronger and better prepared for the future than ever. With critical investments in job creation, clean energy, infrastructure, education, child care, public health, and more, the President’s budget for 2022 lays out a visionary plan to build a better and more secure future for our nation.
For too long, self-inflicted austerity has been mistaken for fiscal responsibility, to the detriment of American families and our nation’s economy. The Biden budget ends this era of chronic underfunding and disinvestment in America’s potential, and addresses the longstanding deficits in our communities that have been exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic.
The thing that most impresses me about this budget, is that it represents a change in thinking that is long overdue. For decades and decades, the first question at the federal level has always been: What can we afford to do? President Biden’s budget asks the questions in a different order. It asks first: What do we need to do to serve the American people? And then: How do we resource those needs? I think that’s an important change in mentality.
The budget includes President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, proposing $2.2 trillion in historic investments over 10 years to fix and modernize our failing infrastructure, create good-paying jobs, and revitalize U.S. manufacturing so we can lead the global marketplace. The budget ends decades of underinvestment in transportation infrastructure and also makes transformative investments to address climate change, renew the electric grid, and spur energy-related economic development.
Together, the plan’s investments will increase energy resilience and security, lower energy costs for Americans, improve air quality, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen U.S. competitiveness – all while putting our country on the pathway to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035.
The budget also includes the American Families Plan and proposes long-overdue investments in affordable housing infrastructure, public health and child care infrastructure, expanding opportunities, and creating a fairer, more modern economy in the wake of the pandemic.
It extends key tax cuts in the American Rescue Plan that benefit lower- and middle-income workers and families – like the Child Tax Credit that helped to cut child poverty in half. It builds on the antipoverty and food initiatives in the American Rescue Plan, investing $45 billion over 10 years to deliver nutrition security to vulnerable families. To ensure parents – particularly mothers – can safely return to the workforce, provide for their families, and help power our recovery, the budget invests $225 billion over 10 years to make child care more affordable and accessible. Then it provides free universal pre-school, which is an enormous benefit to working families. And, because a more educated workforce builds a stronger economy, it provides two years of free college education.
Investing in the American people has always been a good bet, but with interest rates this low and the need so high, right now it’s a sure thing. For too long, our economy has not worked for those working the hardest to get by. Underlying inequities and widening income inequality – exacerbated by the pandemic-driven recession – continue to jeopardize the financial security of working Americans. In the United States, the wealthiest nation on earth, this is neither acceptable nor inevitable.
But by pairing the American Family and American Jobs Plans with reforms to ensure that big corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, we can make these powerful, pro-growth investments and set our nation on a fiscally responsible path.
President Biden has put forward a visionary budget that will transform our country and create a far better future for all American families. Acting Director Young, I look forward to working with you and the rest of the Administration to advance this budget – and to answer the President’s call to build a stronger country by putting the needs, goals, ingenuity, and strength of the American people front and center.
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