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Chairman Tom Cole Statement on H.R. 4487, the Fiscal Year 2015 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill


Washington, May 1 -

Legislative Branch Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole gave the following statement on the House floor today in support of H.R. 4487, the Fiscal Year 2015 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill:

"Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

"H.R. 4487, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015 provides $3.3 billion, for operations of the Legislative Branch (excluding Senate items).   The recommendation is equivalent to the fiscal year 2014 level and a decrease of $122.5 million, or 3.7%, from the requested level. 

"Conforming with longstanding practice under which each body of Congress determines its own housekeeping requirements and the other concurs without intervention, funds for the Senate at not included in the bill as reported by the Committee.

"Through seven hearings and meetings with agency heads, the Subcommittee listened to all who presented their respective concerns and budget requests. It was necessary to make critical decisions and prioritize programs, and we did this in a bipartisan manner.  We are presenting to the House today a bill that is fiscally responsible and maintains current operations for the Legislative Branch agencies.

"The bill includes $1.2 billion for the operations of the House.  This is equivalent to the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $20 million below the request.  It is worthy to note that the funding provided for Member’s Representational Allowances and Committees provides for current operations, and I do not anticipate further reductions in the coming year.  The bill also includes the Members pay freeze for fiscal year 2015. With this bill, total funding for the House of Representatives is 14% below fiscal year 2010.

"The bill includes $348 million for the Capitol Police.  This is $9.5 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $7.7 million below the requested level.  This will support 1,775 sworn officers and 370 civilian positions.  A slight increase above last year is provided to ensure the Capitol Police maintain current operations and restore mission essential training.

"Knowing that access to the House Office Buildings is of critical concern to Members, we directed the Chief of Police to develop an action plan that will make sure public access to our buildings is easily assessable during heightened periods of visitation.  The implementation of this plan is in the early stages and we will continue to monitor the budgetary impacts to the Capitol Police.

"The bill includes $45.7 million for the Congressional Budget Office.  This is at the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $378,000 below the requested level. 

"The bill includes $488.6 million for the Architect of the Capitol, excluding Senate items.  This is a decrease of $40.5 million from the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $79 million below the requested level. 

"Within the recommended level, the Committee continues its prioritization of projects that: (1) promote the safety and health of workers and occupants, (2) decrease the deferred maintenance backlog and (3) invest to achieve future energy savings.

"The Committee recognizes the continuing challenge of preserving and maintaining our infrastructure and prioritizing critical projects in the current budgetary environment.  It is important to note, $21 million is recommended for the final phase of the Dome Restoration, a very high priority of this Committee.  In addition, we are continuing the five year practice of including funds for the House Historic Buildings Revitalization Trust Fund.  A fund established by Ms. Wasserman Shultz when she was Chair of this Subcommittee in anticipation of the renovation of the historic Cannon House Office Building. 

"Also included is $16.0 million for the lease cost of a portion of the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Federal Office Building in preparation of the Cannon Renewal Project. 

"The bill includes $595 million for the operations of the Library of Congress.  This is an increase of $16 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $1.9 million above the requested level.  This amount will allow the Library to continue at current operations.

"Established by Congress in 1800, the Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world, with a collection of more than 130,000,000 print, audio and video items in 460 languages.  It is imperative adequate funding is provided to maintain acquisitions, preservation, the administration of U.S. copyright laws by the Copyright Office research and analysis of policy issues for the Congress by the Congressional Research Services, and the administration of a national program to provide reading material to the blind and physically handicapped.  The bill before you accomplishes that. 

"It is important to note, $5.5 million in funding is provided for the Deacidification Program, $1.0 million over the Library’s request.  $8.2 million for the Teaching with Primary Sources program , $1.0 million over the request to be used to increase competitive opportunities for developing online interactive and apps for classroom use on Congress and civic participation.  And, $1.2 million above the request for the Copyright Office to reduce the claims and process processing time for copyright registrations and to conduct business analysis for the process engineering of the documentation recordation function. 

"The bill includes $122.6 million for the Government Printing Office.  This is an increase of $3.3 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $6.3 million below the requested level.  Funds have been included for the continuation of development and infrastructure costs associated with the Federal Digital System (FDsys) and system replacement for upgrading the Extensible Markup Language (XML).

"The bill includes $519.6 million for the Government Accountability Office.  This is an increase of $14.2 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $5.5 million below the requested level.  Language is included to establish a Center for Audit Excellence to build global institutional auditing capacity and promote good governance.  The Center is to be operated on a fee-based basis. 

"Finally, this bill includes $3.42 million for the Open World Leadership Trust Fund.  This is $2.58 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $4.58 million below the requested level.   

"As a sign of support for Ukraine, the Committee has reduced the program by 43%.  This represents the programs percentage of participants from Russia.  It is important to stress that Open World’s program does not just focus on work with Russia.  Ukraine has the next largest group of participants, closely followed by other nations in the surrounding region.  Therefore, we encourage the Center to do more in Ukraine and with other participating countries in the surrounding region.

"I would like to thank Ranking Member Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her role throughout the process.  We have worked well together and in a bipartisan manner, it was truly a team effort.    Also, I extend my appreciation to all the members of this Subcommittee for their efforts in helping to bring this bill to the floor. 

"This is a sound bill and one that deserves the support of my colleagues. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time."

 

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As Prepared