The Republicans have a problem … turns out that President Trump hasn’t been able to get Mexico to pony up the cash for The Trump Border Wall … so in H.R. 3354 Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, American taxpayers are gonna have to fork over the cash … lotsa cash …. $784 million for 32 miles of new border fencing in Rio Grande Valley (RGV), Texas, $498 million for 28 miles of new levee wall in RGV, and $251 million for 14 miles of secondary fencing in San Diego, California.
So when you hear Erik Paulsen remind us “Washington must do more with less”, it means that when a congressman wants more money for a program that he favors, he has to find an offset … and sell it to the other Members of Congress.
Well, if you follow the Paulsen playbook, you talk up small business — maybe even invite them to appear at a hearing — like Thomas Hoghaug of Minnesota’s Signus Medical for a hearing on the repeal of the medical device excise tax, Clint Roberts of Minnesota’s Surly Brewing for a hearing on the repeal of the beer excise tax, or Nick Quade of Minnesota’s Relay Networks for a hearing about how digital trade helps small business.
Well, this week, the House got to hear the story of Hunter Lin.
Born in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory situated just off the coast of the Philippines, Lin grew up in Fujian, China. By the age of 11, he was working two jobs: one on a tennis shoe factory assembly line and the other installing locks in bank vaults.
His mother, seeking a better life for her children, sent Lin and his sister to live with a family member in California. When that living situation deteriorated, the siblings found themselves homeless.
Although he was once a homeless student living in poverty, he participated in a TRIO program at St. Olaf College in Minnesota’s Second District.
As part of Associate Professor of Biology Kevin Crisp’s research team, Lin constructed a minimalistic electromyography (EMG) device that records the electrical activity of muscles to detect abnormalities.
“We are able to produce our devices at a cost of $5, while a conventional device can cost upwards of $50,000,” Lin says.
Now, as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, he is the founder of a biomedical startup company with the mission of launching technology to innovate a disease diagnostic tool that has been found to be cost effective and will be utilized worldwide.
TRIO has given Hunter Lin the chance to get not only out of homelessness, but the ability to really create economic prosperity in our country.
In Minnesota’s Second Congressional District, there are 1,521 TRIO students being served at four institutions, including two community colleges.
So, after hearing the Hunter Lin story, you may be thinking that Minnesota’s Second District Congressman Jason Lewis was seeking more money for the TRIO program.
Hunter Lin’s story was told by Gwen Moore (D-WI-04).
Congresswoman Moore is an alumnus and strong advocate for the Federal TRIO programs, which are designed to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and help them get to college. TRIO includes six outreach and support programs targeted to serve and assist low-income, first generation college students – and students with disabilities – to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post baccalaureate programs.
Congresswoman Moore is a co-chairman of the TRIO caucus (as of the last published list, June 23rd, Jason Lewis is not a member).
Congresswoman Moore told Hunter Lin’s story because Jason Lewis offered an amendment to increase funding for a program that he favored and looked at the TRIO and GEAR UP programs as offsets.
There was a brief debate with the last speaker being Tom Cole (R-OK-04) of the House Committee on Appropriations [highlights below]
Mr. COLE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
It has been a good and robust debate, but I don’t think it has been a particularly partisan debate. As a matter of fact, I see people on both sides of the aisle that actually have both solutions. My friend, Mr. Scott, may have the best solution of all: let’s plus-up both of these programs because they both do a lot of good.
But, in this case, I don’t think you make one the enemy of the other.
I have seen TRIO programs work, and I have seen how many jobs they produce. We are not serving anywhere close to the population eligible for TRIO. Somewhere less than 10 percent of the eligible students actually take advantage of the program.
This is a program that has paid for itself over and over again.
Perhaps as we go forward, we can find other ways to help both of these programs capitalize on their potential.
So while I agree with the objective my friend is trying to achieve, I don’t agree in achieving it at the expense of TRIO or GEAR UP.
Mr. Chairman, I oppose the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Jason Lewis called for a recorded vote … it failed as 77 Republicans joined with 186 Democrats to keep the TRIO program funding in place as proposed in the underlining bill. Jason Lewis was able to get Tom Emmer to agree with him but Erik Paulsen joined the majority.
These are the budget battles that Republicans have to face … Trump wants a Border Wall so even when Republicans find a program that they want to fund, there just isn’t enough money — especially when they are pushing tax cuts for medical device makers, brewers and eliminating the “Death Tax” for estates over $5.49 million per individual. How desperate are Republicans to cut taxes that even Paul Ryan is now open to the idea of adding to the deficit ?
Tom Cole is correct … TRIO, GEAR UP and CTE are all good programs … that deserve funding.
Let’s build a wall around funding those programs and promoting education and innovation.
Six feet of Trump Border Wall would have paid for Lewis’ program !
And a little advise for Congressman Lewis, join the TRIO caucus and reach out to the 1,521 TRIO participants in the Second District … ask them if they think the program should be eliminated, reduced or expanded … you might gain a whole new appreciation.