Voice of the people fueled policy successes in the budget

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Washington, DC, May 19, 2017 | By Rep. Susan Davis | comments

Nothing defines our values more as a nation than the budget and the investments we make for the future of American families.

These investments signal what’s important and what direction we want to take our nation.

Investments in education indicate the value we put on the future we want for our children. They say we want our kids to be better off than we are now.

Investments in the environment say we want clean air and clean water to protect the health of current and future generations.

Prioritizing life-saving medical research sends the message to loved ones that we don’t want anyone, especially our children, to have to suffer from a life-threatening or a life-debilitating disease.

These are messages I hear every day from my constituents. People have been weighing in more than ever before. It was this powerful engagement that helped Democrats fight for these priorities in the omnibus appropriations bill recently signed into law.

With a government shutdown looming, Democrats resisted demands from the Trump administration for cuts in critical investments. We secured policy priorities and investment increases for vital non-defense items, which will educate our children, save lives, and create jobs.

The administration called for a 13 percent cut in education funding and would raid $4 billion from Pell grants. Since 1965, Pell grants have provided access to a college degree for millions of low-income students.

However, we were able to secure $24 billion for Pell grants, as well as increase the maximum Pell grant to $5,920.

Democrats also restored access to year-round Pell grants for hard-working students. This will give students the opportunity to accelerate their work toward a degree.

As the Ranking Member of the Higher Education Subcommittee, I will continue to push for greater funding for Pell grants along with robust investments in education at all grade levels.

Life-saving medical research was also on Trump’s chopping block with a proposed 18 percent cut for the National Institutes of Health.

San Diego receives about $800 million in NIH funding each year. Thousands of scientists are hard at work in our region making discoveries and looking for cures.

If these cuts were to materialize it would have a significant impact on that research and our local economy.

I recently held a medical research roundtable in San Diego with local life science leaders and disease advocacy groups. The discussion focused on the role of NIH investments and its particular importance to our region.

In the House, I led 206 members in urging for a $2 billion increase in NIH investments. I was pleased to see that funding included in the omnibus.

In another win for the health and safety of American families, Democrats protected 99 percent of the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency. This is in contrast to Trump’s designs to slash the EPA’s budget by 30 percent.

We need to provide the EPA with the resources necessary to enforce protections that keep our air and water clean.

These are just a few of the successes secured in the omnibus. We also insisted that more than 160 policy riders to undermine the health, safety, and financial security of the American people be removed from the omnibus.

A rider threatening women’s access to health care by defunding Planned Parenthood was stripped out of the bill. Planned Parenthood provides vital health services to both women and men, many of whom are young and low-income.

The same went for a rider to dismantle the consumer protections under Dodd-Frank. The last thing we want is a repeat of the financial meltdown of 2008.

While we can be proud of this victory, another budget fight is still ahead.

Trump has indicated that he may force a “good” government shutdown this fall to get the cuts he wants.

There is no such thing as a good shutdown. Shutdowns hurt families, hurt seniors, and hurt our veterans.

The American people let their voices be heard and their values were defined in the omnibus. We must continue to push for these priorities.

This editorial first appeared in Uptown News.

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