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U.S. Rep. Pocan: Slams GOP Approps members for blatant LGBTQ+ discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (WI-02), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, delivered remarks at the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations markup after the Republican majority refused to fund one of his community projects solely because it aimed to help at-risk LGBTQ+ youth.

“This earmark wasn’t allowed from a member of Congress, much less a member of the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Chairman, to be included in this budget. That’s discrimination, plain and simple. No matter how you want to put lipstick on the pig, it is a pig. A really dirty, smelly one at that.”

Click here to watch his speech and find Rep. Pocan’s remarks below.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

While there are many problems with this bill, I want to highlight one small but extremely significant problem that not only really has me disappointed, but I have to admit a bit disgusted. It’s a new low, I think, in Congress in terms of discrimination and division. Last year, during this process, there were 2,400 earmarks in one line of the T-HUD bill and three were removed.

And guess what? Those three affected one group of people, the LGBTQ community, and we moved forward with that. During this process, we heard that they were going to outright ban LGBTQ+ earmarks, but obviously, you would have been sued for doing that because that’s discriminatory – in case anyone doesn’t understand. So you banned all nonprofits on that T-HUD line from getting money.

Ridiculous, but accomplished the problem for a few people in Congress who this seems to be a significant issue. This year, we put an earmark into a line in CJS, because that was not banned for nonprofits, to a faith-based organization, $125,000 to support the creation of a Juvenile Justice Prevention and Education for at-risk LGBTQ+ Youth Program.

And through the process, we were told that if we would remove any reference to LGBTQ+ and change the public-facing description, the earmark would be all right. That is ridiculous. I am not going to throw a group of people under the bus that already have higher incarceration rates, worse experiences going into the program, all documented, face bias and mistreatment and abuse in confinement facilities on and on and on.

And yet this earmark wasn’t allowed from a member of Congress, much less a member of the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Chairman, to be included in this budget. That’s discrimination, plain and simple. No matter how you want to put lipstick on the pig, it is a pig. A really dirty, smelly one at that.

Now, there are other earmarks in here I support. Mike Garcia has two earmarks, for example, identical purpose. Lost Angels Children’s Project and the Pyles Boys Camp. And we should help kids who are going to go into possible incarceration, help to give them different direction in life. Tim Burchett has one for Big Brothers. Big Sisters. Exactly the same thing about avoiding going into the criminal justice system. I was a big brother for years and years and years.

I was matched with a child who is eight years old and to this day we still keep contact. He texted me the day he said, “You’re about to become a big uncle” when he and his wife had a child. And he’s now in his early forties. We still keep in contact. It’s a great program. I wish I could have money targeted towards the Big Brothers, Big Sisters on the T-HUD line, but we couldn’t because we had to be discriminatory overall.

So we had to do this. But specifically, go after a population of kids who are more at risk for criminal justice and literally tell us if we just took out those words that the earmark could go through is honestly beyond ridiculous and beyond comprehension. In the 1930s and 40s in another continent, there was a country that did this.

They specifically targeted certain populations, and then they went a little broader to other populations, and then they went a little broader to other populations. Look, we are so much better than this. And I understand in your party right now, there is a contingent, I hope, a small contingent, that this is extremely significant to. But we don’t target any other group of people in the appropriations process.

There are no profiles in courage going to be awarded today here. All right. That’s what I said. Not just disappointed, Mr. Chairman. It’s kind of a bit of disgust. And when I look at things like Project 2025, which also targets this community and other things, I am really fearful for the direction of your party and fearful for the direction of actions like this.

A faith-based organization trying to help kids stay out of incarceration who are targeted more. And we couldn’t come up with the money. Mr. Chairman, I think this is a terrible move for the committee, and I yield back.

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