Mr. Speaker, I oppose the combined D.C./Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations
- Attaching the DC appropriations to the larger Commerce--Justice--State bill
once again does a great disservice to the people of the District. The DC portion
of the conference report is a great improvement over the version passed earlier
by the House. It includes provisions that increase funding for two projects that
I have strongly supported: $25 million for the New York Avenue Metro Station,
and $3 million for environmental clean-up of Popular Point along the Anacostia
River. Both projects are top priorities for residents and the City to help spur
new economics development activity for the District. Combining it with the
larger Commerce-Justice-State bill, which contains provisions wholly
unacceptable to the President, means that once again the District is being held
hostage to Congressional tactics. It is unnecessary and it is wrong!
- This bill fails to include critical provisions that would bring fairness and
justice to our nation's immigration laws. Last month, I joined 154 other House
Democrats in sending a letter to President Clinton promising to sustain a veto
of this bill should the Republican majority fail the Hispanic community yet
again. While Republicans speak of compassion, their actions tear families apart
and support inequalities in our laws. The Latino and Immigrant Fairness act
(LIFA) provisions are critically-needed pieces of legislation that would bring
fairness to families and individuals who call America home, and who have made
significant social, economic, and political contributions to our nation.
- I am cosponsoring legislation calling for all three of LIFA's provision: to
allow those who qualify for permanent residency to complete the final stages of
their application in the U.S. rather than returning to their country of origin;
to provide Central American and Caribbean immigrants who have been here since
1995 the right to apply for permanent residency (as is the case for Cubans and
Nicaraguans); and to update the `registry date' which would allow immigrants
here since 1986 to apply for permanent residency. Unfortunately, the Republican
leadership will not permit a vote on our legislation and attaching it to
appropriations legislation is the only way this Congress can provide justice to
- I am also disappointed about the failure of this conference report to
include the hate crimes enhancement law as the Administration had requested.
Along with more than 190 Members of the House from both parties, I cosponsored
the legislation to extend current federal hate crimes law to cover violence
motivated by prejudice against the victim's sexual orientation, gender or
liability. It will not become law this year because Republican leaders have
shown once again that they are opposed to passing the legislation in any form.
We have a long way to go on to ensure the safety on all citizens. I will
continue to support efforts to fight hate crimes and discrimination.
- This legislation also does a disservice to the environment. Section 636 of
the bill would prevent the Cuyahoga Valley National Park from gaining stronger
clean air protections. Provisions in the bill also allow Coastal Impact
Assistant funds to be used for environmentally damaging projects and activities,
making a mockery of ongoing efforts to restore our endangered coastal areas.