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E&C Republicans Reject Pallone Amendment Requesting a Hearing on Family Separation

June 27, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks during a Health Subcommittee markup on his amendment that urged the Committee to hold at least one hearing on the status and welfare of the children separated from their families as a result of the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. The Pallone amendment failed to pass after all Subcommittee Republicans voted against it unanimously:  

Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk

As this Committee is well aware, we are currently watching not only a moral crisis but also a public health crisis unfold along our southern border as families have been ripped apart as a result of President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

I continue to have grave concerns about the well-being of the children currently in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement and the federal government’s ability to swiftly reunify each child separated from their parent or guardian as a result of this policy.

Congress must exercise its oversight function and this Committee should immediately hold a hearing on this issue so we can understand what the Administration is doing to care for these children and what steps they are taking to reunify them with their families.

This amendment expresses the sense of Congress that the Committee on Energy and Commerce should hold at least one hearing to examine the current status and welfare of those children who have been forcibly separated from their families as well as the long-term implications of this policy and this Administration’s actions on the health of these children.

This amendment echoes the request that was sent to Chairman Walden and to Chairman Burgess from each Democratic member of this Committee last week that we hold a hearing on this matter immediately to examine both the current status of these children and their long-term health implications.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that the trauma from separating these children from their parents and guardians can cause, “irreparable harm” and can affect a child’s short-term and long-term health.

I believe this could be a man-made public health emergency created by the Trump Administration that will have lasting impacts on the roughly two thousand children that were ripped away from their families for purely political reasons.

We have an obligation to conduct oversight and understand how these children are being cared for, how and if they can be reunited with their families, and how this dark chapter in their lives could impact them in the future. 

Secretary Azar said yesterday that he believes there is, “no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located” and that he can personally locate any child in HHS’s care within seconds.

But we have been given no indication on how this is feasibly possible or how long it will take to reunite each child with their parent or guardian.

These are the kinds of questions this Committee must get answers to and the most efficient way to do that is to call the key officials involved in front of our Committee to testify.

This should not be a partisan amendment, as I believe all members of this Committee care about the welfare of children in the custody of HHS and how we can ensure they are reunited with their families as quickly as possible.

For this reason, I urge my colleagues to support the amendment and I yield back.