Chairwoman Lowey, a Human Needs Champion, Deserves Our Thanks
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced last week that she will not be running for reelection in 2020. Those of us who care about meeting human needs owe her a debt of gratitude for her support for essential services. When she was in the minority, Rep. Lowey fought against cuts and achieved important gains (the child care funding increase in FY 2018 is onegreat example). When she assumed the Chair of the Appropriations Committee last year (the first woman to hold this important position), she presided over a significant shift in priorities: fair funding levels for job training, child care and early childhood education, home energy assistance, education, public health, housing, immigrant and refugee assistance, nutrition programs, and much more. In many of these areas, services that had been flat-funded for years finally received increases. Chair Lowey’s long support for child care was affirmed when the House approved the Appropriations Committee’s 45 percent increase in the Child Care and Development Block Grant over the previous year, as well as increases in afterschool care, Preschool Development Grants, and Head Start. These expansions were made possible because she worked successfully to lift caps that would have strangled human needs appropriations.
In her over thirty years in Congress, Rep. Lowey has championed services for the most vulnerable among us, including children and their families, seniors, and immigrants. Her appropriations priorities call for limits on counterproductive Department of Homeland Security funding, instead investing in meeting our nation’s real needs. She has asserted the Congressional power of the purse, opposing President Trump’s emergency declaration to move funds to border wall construction over the explicit objections of Congress. Rep. Lowey said, “The President chose his wall over our national security and the needs of our servicemembers and their families.” Now a federal District Court has agreed that the emergency declaration is illegal.
Chair Lowey has been a leader in decrying the separation of migrant children from their families and has included language in spending bills seeking to prohibit inhumane treatment of migrant children. She joined with other members of Congress in visiting the Homestead facility for children in Florida and heard testimony later about their severe distress. She said at that hearing, “For many of these children – I dare say, most – they have lived in so much danger, poverty, or both, that their parents chose to risk a dangerous journey to the United States, regardless of the fate they or their children faced at our border. The mental health challenges resulting from these experiences are compounded exponentially by the trauma of separation from their parents.”
We at the Coalition on Human Needs thank Chairwoman Lowey for her insistence on humane priorities. We have every hope that her leadership will point the way to further progress in the years to come.