Floor Statement on the Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Act
MR. REED: Mr. President, we are currently debating the Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2008. Let me commend Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Specter for their great work on this legislation.
As Chairman Harkin said, this bill truly defines America. It defines our nation's commitment to our children's future through education, it defines our Nation's compassion to seniors and working families, and it defines our hopes in many different areas, particularly in the area of helping to cure disease and improve the public health. This is an extraordinarily important piece of legislation. Both Senator Harkin and Senator Specter have done a remarkable job bringing it to the floor.
Let me highlight a few of the important points that I believe should be emphasized.
First of all, the bill increases Head Start funding, whereas the President's budget would decrease it. The legislation before us will provide sufficient resources to continue Head Start, which is an important aspect of giving children a chance to succeed earlier in their lives. It also provides resources for higher education: Pell grants, the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program--LEAP Program--TRIO, and GEAR UP. All of those are vital to ensuring that our citizens can seize the opportunity of America, and the greatest opportunity is education.
This legislation also provides an important safety net for many of our low-income families and our seniors; that is, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. We could see a very severe winter in the Northeast, in the Northwest, and in the Central Plains of America. We are also seeing incredibly expensive prices for oil. Without this LIHEAP money, we will not be able to deal with the issue, and countless families will make difficult choices between literally eating or heating their homes. This legislation, in contradistinction to the White House's proposal, would maintain, not decrease, LIHEAP funding.
The legislation provides additional resources--about a billion dollars more--for the National Institutes of Health. This is vital to our ability to do research and to provide new diagnoses and new cures for disease. But it is something else that is important: It provides the infrastructure for research in this country. It gives those young Ph.D.s and M.D.s who are doing research incentives to stay in the field. Without it, we will not only miss out on the cures, but we will also miss out on the physicians and researchers who can give us, over the next 20, 30, 40 years, insight into the problems with disease in human beings.
We also are supporting in this bill the vaccination program. The 317 vaccination program, immunization program, has been essential to improving the public health, particularly the public health of children. This bill supports those commitments.
It also provides for training and employment resources. In a world of globalization, where jobs are going overseas, we just cannot tell people: Tough luck. We have to give them an opportunity to change their training, change their workplace, to go ahead and seize new opportunities. The President's budget diminishes these programs; this legislation increases the programs. I think that is the right direction.
The Job Corps Program--very successful since the 1960s. We have in Rhode Island what I think is the best Job Corps center in the country. I just had the director in a few days ago talking about how they are being evaluated higher and higher in each evaluation across the country in terms of other Job Corps centers, providing not only training but jobs. All of their students are walking out into good jobs. These are young men and women who, frankly, we haven't been able to reach before this stage. Either they have dropped out of high school or they have had a long process to get their GED and to get into this program. Some are just getting their GEDs in this program. This program deserves our support.
But there is one area in which we have not committed resources; that is, the Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act of 2007. Trauma--injuries, accidents, falls, automobile wrecks, recreational mishaps--is actually the leading killer of young Americans up to the age of 44. It claims more than 140,000 lives and permanently disables about 80,000 each year. But only one in four Americans lives in an area served by coordinated systems that will transfer patients to designated trauma centers from less-equipped hospitals. This is particularly a problem in rural areas. It affects urban and rural communities but particularly the rural areas. At the highest risk are those people in rural areas. Sixty percent of the trauma deaths occur, even though there is only 20 percent of our population, in rural areas--60 percent of the trauma deaths, 20 percent of the population. This is a program which is desperately needed in rural parts of America.
The Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act is an important building block to an improved national network of care across the country. This program would allow for planning, infrastructure development, and standards development to determine the procedures that are most appropriate to do this. It would also require coordination with Federal agencies. It is a sensible investment in a systemic approach to trauma care. I believe it is very important.
As a result, I ask unanimous consent to call up amendment No. 3360.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore: Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk will report.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Rhode Island [Mr. REED] proposes an amendment numbered 3360 to amendment No. 3325.
The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To provide funding for the trauma and emergency medical services programs administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration)
On page 59, line 22, insert before the colon the following: , of which $6,000,000 shall be made available to the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration to carry out trauma and emergency medical services programs''.
Mr. REED. This amendment would provide $6 million for the program. It is fully offset. It is a small amount of funding to improve and expand the availability of trauma care across the country, particularly in rural areas, to ensure all areas are equipped with appropriate emergency and medical services, thus improving the survival rate and recovery rate for injured patients.
Trauma care is not only critical to providing timely access to lifesaving interventions, it is central to our national security and disaster preparedness. It is an essential component of our overall health care system and something I believe we have to do.
I hope that at the appropriate time my colleagues will be able to support this very worthy measure. Let me thank Senator Harkin and Senator Specter and particularly their staffs for a bill that I think does speak to the best of America, and does, in fact, define, in a very positive way, our most important priorities.
I yield the floor.