"Thank you all for joining us today. I especially want to thank our great Democratic leadership team: Whip Steny Hoyer, Caucus Chair Bob Menendez, and Assistant to the Democratic Leader and Ranking Member on the Budget Committee John Spratt. John is the master of the House on the budget, and I thank him for his outstanding effort.
"As you all have heard me say, the federal budget should be a statement of our shared national values. We should allocate our resources to those proposals that are important to us. The budget passed by the Republicans in the House certainly does not meet that standard.
"When the President sent his budget to the Congress, we thought we had seen the worst of it. It shortchanges senior, children, and the environment. Just when we thought we had seen the worst of it, the House Republicans did the Presidents budget one better and made even deeper cuts.
"Americans value our veterans. We value education. We value access to quality health care.
"Passing a budget that cuts those priorities to pay for a huge tax cut that wont even benefit most Americans is quite simply, wrong.
"We are here today to urge the House and Senate conferees on the budget resolution to do the right thing. Reject the cuts to veterans benefits currently in the bill passed by the Republicans in the House.
"We must do the right thing for the veterans who have so courageously
defended our country, and the thousands of future veterans who are risking their
lives in Iraq as we speak. The irony of it all is that we passed a resolution
to honor the troops-as we should have-and then we dishonored them by making
deep cuts in veterans benefits. The conferees should accept the Senate
language that provides $14.6 billion more than the House Republican bill for
veterans disability and education benefits.
"We must do the right thing for students who rely on student loans and other education programs that expand opportunity and promote excellence. We should accept the Senate language that rejects $9 billion in cuts to student loans and the school lunch program.
"We must do the right thing for the millions of seniors, children, and disabled Americans who rely on Medicaid for their health care coverage. We should accept the Senate language that rejects $94 billion in cuts to Medicaid. These cuts threaten access to nursing home care, hospital services, and prescription drugs for some of our most vulnerable citizens.
"It is simply wrong to pass a budget that fails veterans, fails students,
fails seniors, fails children and fails the disabled. The American people deserve
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