July 17, 2017

Rep. Lee Offers Amendments to Appropriations Bills for FY18

Washington, D.C. – Last week, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced several amendments in the House Appropriations Committee to the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS), Financial Services, and Agriculture bills dealing with access to healthy food, criminal justice reform, reproductive freedom, and medical marijuana regulations.

Congresswoman Lee’s amendment funding $1 million for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) was adopted into the Agriculture Appropriations bill. “It’s shameful that many low-income neighborhoods are cut off entirely from sources of healthy foods,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The HFFI funding, which provides one-time loan and grant financing to attract grocery stores and fresh food retailers to low-income communities, would begin to address the problem of food deserts and bring healthy options to neighborhoods that have been left behind for too long.”

In the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill, Congresswoman Lee’s offered an amendment to prohibit funding for the implementation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ policy memo directing federal prosecutors to roll back sentencing guidelines for low-level drug offenses. This amendment was defeated by Republicans on the Appropriations Committee. “The failed war on drugs has caused irreparable damage families across the country, and mandatory minimum laws were written to target communities of color,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Instead of doubling down on policies that further entrench systemic racism in our criminal justice system, Congress should be working within the bipartisan consensus to modernize these laws and bring justice to the communities affected by this broken system.”

Congresswoman Lee’s amendment in the Financial Services Appropriations bill to strike the prohibition on abortion coverage in the District of Columbia was also defeated by Republicans. “No other jurisdiction or state is told how to use its own locally raised revenue, yet year after year this committee imposes ideological restrictions on the women in the District of Columbia,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Congressional Republicans who claim to support ‘states rights’ should follow their own advice and stop interfering in D.C. Home Rule. I am disappointed that my colleagues have chosen once again to meddle in local governance and the personal health decisions of the women who live here.”

Lastly, Congresswoman Lee also offered an amendment in the Financial Services Appropriations bill to end arbitrary banking restrictions on legitimate cannabis businesses in states and jurisdictions that have passed laws reforming marijuana laws. “It’s outrageous that legal businesses, permitted under state law, are prevented from using banking services offered to every other business,” said Congresswoman Lee. “My amendment would have levelled the playing field for legal cannabis business owners, who are unfairly restricted from banking services by archaic laws. Forcing small businesses to operate as all-cash businesses also leaves entrepreneurs, their employees, and businesses vulnerable to dangerous criminal targeting. In the past, this has been a bipartisan issue. As the appropriations process moves forward, I encourage my colleagues in both parties to consider this a matter of both public safety and economic necessity.”

To watch the full committee markup of Financial Services and CJS, please click here. To watch the full committee markup of Agriculture, please click here.