Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I really wanted to take this moment as we begin full consideration of this bill to thank the chairman, the gentleman from New York (Mr. WALSH) and the ranking member, the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. MOLLOHAN), for their work and the improvements that we have been able to afford the citizens of our country in this fiscal year 2002 appropriation bill for the Veterans Administration, the Housing and Urban Development Department, the Environmental Protection Agency,
NASA, and the National Science Foundation.
The bill has many good points. Certainly the National Science Foundation increase, the President asked for an increase, we provided over an 8 percent increase in this budget. And even in smaller programs, like the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which has such a fine track record in communities across our country, a respectable increase. But I have to say that in other accounts this particular bill does not have adequate funding.
Other Members have talked about HUD's housing programs, and without question the reductions in public housing modernization, decreased by 15 percent; and community development block grants, every single community in this country affected by that cut by 6 percent; and homeless assistance down by nearly 9 percent. We still have not completely solved that problem across our country. The impact on Americans as a result of this underfunding of the HUD programs will be felt from coast to coast.
The bill eliminates the popular AmeriCorps program. HUD's Rural Housing and Economic Development programs have been eliminated. Empowerment zones, Enterprise communities, and the Public Housing Drug Elimination Grant Program I will talk about in a moment.
Now, I wanted to say a word about the Environmental Protection Agency, also a reduction, and as important as the reduction, the shift in responsibility for enforcement to the States. In the case of Ohio, my home State, The Washington Post reported just a couple weeks ago ``Nowhere are the problems cited by the EPA studies of State enforcement performance more in evidence than Ohio where so much backlog remains. During the past 2 years, 72 percent of Ohio's plants and refineries had violations
of the Clean Water Act, a third of the plants were in violation of the Clean Air Act, and over a third of the factories were found to be operating with expired permits required under the Clean Water Act.''
So we have to be conscious that as this bill is considered, there are serious imperfections that are contained within it.
Others have referenced the veterans portion of the budget. We hear lots about the greatest generation; books have been written, movies, and we are about to build the World War II memorial, one of the most important pieces of legislation I have ever sponsored here in this Congress. Yet the Veterans Medical Care budget, the budget that will actually go to care for those that the Nation says it cares so very much about, underfunded by nearly $.5 billion over what the administration needs in order
to accommodate the lines that are out there in hospital after hospital.
So as the bill moves forward, I really do look forward to working with the chairman and the ranking member to perfect it.
And I just wanted to say a word about the amendment I will be offering later this afternoon, because I heard my colleague, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. OXLEY), come to the floor a little earlier and speak against the drug elimination program in public housing, and my friend and colleague from Ohio is a former FBI officer.
I was very surprised to hear that. But I have to tell him that perhaps the part of Ohio he represents is not like my own. But his position is going to hurt Cincinnati, it will hurt Dayton, it is going to hurt Toledo, it is going to hurt Steubenville, and it is going to hurt Lima, because in fact the drug elimination program goes to the very heart of communities where drug lords and this drug trade took control of people living under the most vulnerable of circumstances.
The local policing forces, sometimes out of sheer racism and sometimes out of the fact that when they wore a uniform they were not accepted inside those projects, did not patrol the projects. My colleagues can go across this country, in places like Chicago, where I personally visited, and see people on the roofs with repeating shotguns, with repeating rifles, at a certain time of day. If a drug deal was coming down on the street, a mother could not leave that project and go buy a bottle of milk
because the drug lords were controlling the projects. Now, if we have not lived under that situation, we cannot appreciate what it really means.
But the amendment I will be offering will be to continue the drug elimination program in public housing at a level of $175 million, unlike this bill which zeros it out. And, in fact, our amendment will actually cut the program by nearly half from what was existing last year.
But to do this across America is truly a serious mistake.
Crime has been going down in our country. Why should we do any less than President Reagan, the first President Bush and President Clinton?
Mr. Chairman, I again thank the chairman and ranking member and look forward to perfecting this bill as it moves along.
Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that debate on this amendment and any amendment thereto be limited to 50 minutes to be equally divided and controlled by the proponent, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY), and myself, the opponent.