Chairman Rogers Statement on H.R. 933 Before Rules Committee
March 5, 2013 -
Good afternoon, Chairman Sessions, Ranking Member Slaughter and members of the Committee. I am here before you today to present H.R. 933, a Continuing Resolution to provide funding for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, and to provide full-year appropriations for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
The current six-month Continuing Resolution expires on March 27, so there is a need to move this legislation quickly, get it over to the Senate, and ultimately on to the White House. As you know, the White House has indicated it does not want a government shutdown, and neither do we. Consequently, Mr. Chairman, I would request an appropriate rule to bring this bill to the floor.
This bill continues current funding levels as set by the Budget Control Act. However, sequestration is now in effect, and the levels in this bill are subject to those reductions. Therefore, the effective funding level in this bill is approximately $984 billion, as required by the President’s sequestration order.
H.R. 933 has 3 main parts. To protect our national security and ensure that our troops and veterans receive quality care, this package provides full-year Appropriations for Defense, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. These bills were fully negotiated on a bipartisan and bicameral basis last December, and will provide DoD with some leeway to do the best it can with the funding it has. And, of course, Continuing Appropriations funding is included for the remainder of the federal government.
Without this bill, the Pentagon could face serious funding shortfalls that, when combined with sequestration, would have serious and potentially harmful repercussions on our national security. In fact, all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of our nation’s military have expressed strong, public support for this CR package. This bill makes critical investments in our national security, protecting core functions – such as operations – to help ensure the continued readiness of our military.
For Veterans Affairs, the bill provides about a $2.5 billion increase, to make sure we continue to do our best to take care of our veterans. What we’re doing with this legislation is right-sizing our military and veterans spending, to ensure funding goes to where it is best and most effectively used.
In addition, we made specific, technical changes only where absolutely necessary to prevent catastrophic, irreversible changes to programs, and to ensure good shepherding of taxpayer dollars. For instance, we have allowed additional funding for embassy security in light of the Benghazi attacks, offset by reduction in other spending, and have worked to ensure that critical law enforcement functions – including border patrol and FBI – are continued. We’ve also extended the federal pay freeze – which, as you know, also effectively freezes the pay of you, me, and every Member of Congress.
In addition, I’ve submitted a very technical amendment that I would ask the Committee to include in the rule. The amendment simply adds the required appropriating clause to division B of the bill.
It is abundantly clear that this nation is facing some very hard choices when it comes to how to deal with our finances. It’s up to Congress to pave the way for our financial future. But right now, this bill is absolutely necessary. We must show our people that we can do what is best for our nation – keeping the government’s lights on, funding essential federal programs and services, and helping maintain our national security.