Remarks of Ranking Member
Jerry Lewis of California
THUD Omnibus Appropriations bill
December 8, 2009
Mr. Chairman, I plan to be brief this afternoon but would like to make a few observations.
Once again, we find ourselves approaching the holiday season with our Appropriations work largely unfinished. This marks the third straight year that Congress has had to rely on a patchwork of continuing resolutions and Omnibus spending bills to keep our government running.
This failure is astonishing when you consider the fact that House Members of both parties were systematically muzzled by the majority leadership on each and every spending bill this year with virtually no opportunity to participate in the legislative process. Chairman Obey declared on more than one occasion that this was necessary to get our work done on time. That strategy has clearly failed.
Here we are two weeks before Christmas—and ten weeks after the beginning of the fiscal year—demonstrating to the world that Congress remains incapable of doing its work. As deficits mount, each of us bears witness to a government spending spree unrivaled in our nation’s history.
There is no question that the era of big government has returned to Washington, DC. One need look no further than the so-called Recovery Act, double-digit unemployment, a job-killing cap and trade bill, and an unpopular government takeover of health care as evidence.
It’s inconceivable and laughable to this Member that some in the Democrat majority are pointing fingers at the Republican minority for this failure of leadership. After all, it’s the Democrat majority that controls both the House and Senate and the White House. As much as it may pain my friends on the other side of the aisle, they can no longer blame George Bush or the Republican Party for their own failure to lead.
Left unfinished is the Defense Appropriations bill which many believe will be used by the majority leadership to pass unpopular legislation that has little chance of passing on its own. On this point let me be very clear: House Republicans will not support passage of the Defense Appropriations measure if it is used as a vehicle to raise the debt limit and if it contains other unrelated legislative items. Further, any effort to pass this legislation without a full and open conference, or by limiting the rights of the minority, will cause Republicans not to support it.
The reckless record of spending by this Congress has caused our national debt to more than triple over the last year. In this $450 billion package before us today, spending on domestic programs is increased by an astonishing 14 percent while military construction and veterans funding is held to five percent. Sadly, the misplaced priorities of this Appropriations process have resulted in too much spending, fewer jobs, and bigger government that the public doesn’t want and can’t afford.
The rhetoric of “change we can believe in” may suggest otherwise but there is no doubt that the era of big government has returned to Washington, DC.