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Remarks to the House Appropriations Committee on FY 2021 Commerce, Science, Justice Funding Measure

Washington, July 14, 2020

Thank you, Madam Chair and my Subcommittee Chair, Mr. Serrano, as well as Ranking Members Granger and Aderholt, for bringing this Fiscal Year 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science bill before the Committee today.

It has been a privilege to serve with both the Full Committee and Subcommittee Chairs during my first term on the Appropriations Committee. The wise and gracious leadership you have both provided has been a deep education for me and is a lasting lesson for us all.

On this Commerce, Justice, Science bill, I am struck all over again by the breadth of its reach. For it supports so many vital programs that are of critical importance not just to our constituents and communities and country, but really to the health and wellbeing of our natural world and the deepest mysteries of our universe.

Of note, to support the economic development of our communities, this bill includes a $23 million increase for the Economic Development Administration. Additionally, to support our minority-owned businesses, which have been disproportionately hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19, the bill includes a $10 million increase to the Minority Business Development Agency.

Under the Department of Justice, this bill continues strong support for key law enforcement initiatives across the country such as community-oriented policing, along with important Justice grant programs that our communities rely on, such as Violence Against Women Act grants, grants to reduce the backlog of sexual assault kits, STOP School Violence Grants, Victims of Trafficking grants, Second Chance Act programs, and Missing and Exploited Children programs.

It also includes provisions to promote many of the reforms that were included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, including funding for independent investigation of law enforcement; for community-based organizations aimed at improving law enforcement; and to improve reporting on the use of force, comply with consent decrees and other reform measures, and create local task forces on public safety innovation to name a few.

The bill also includes critical continued investments in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.

I especially want to highlight support for our world’s endangered oceans. Representing the island state of Hawaii, surrounded on all sides by the largest ocean of all, the ocean affects every community in my state in myriad ways and the importance of our federal investment in management and research cannot be understated.

The FY 2021 CJS bill meets these needs with $5.45 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, which is $101.9 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and $829.2 million above the administration’s frankly paltry request. This will enhance support for the conservation of our coral reefs, our sanctuaries and marine protected areas, climate change and sea level rise mitigation, coastal zone management, protection of our marine mammals and sea turtles, ocean exploration and research, marine debris removal, tsunami warnings, the sustainable management of our fisheries and much more.

Speaking of climate change, this bill also supports the continued advancement of cutting-edge research and observations of our atmosphere. In Hawaii, we are home to the NOAA Mauna Loa Observatory, which has provided measurements of the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for over 60 years that are the basis of the world-renowned Keeling Curve proving climate change and whose data is used by more than 500 external partners and stakeholders internationally. This bill further upgrades the capabilities of the Mauna Loa Observatory and NOAA’s other Atmospheric Baseline Observatories to ensure we have an accurate understanding of how our atmosphere is changing and prepare for the impacts of such change.

In closing, I again thank Chairman Serrano for his leadership on this very important bill and urge my colleagues’ support. I yield back.

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