The Line-by-Line: March 31, 2023
Welcome to the Line-by-Line, a summary of activities and highlights from the House Appropriations Committee Republicans, Members of Congress committed to reviewing the Federal budget, conducting oversight of taxpayer dollars, and making funding decisions, line-by-line.
The Committee held 25 hearings this week, competing for one of the busiest weeks for Appropriators in recent years.
Budget and Oversight Hearings
China’s efforts to modernize and its increased aggression in the Pacific have raised concerns about the potential for conflict. At the same time, Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine underscores the range of threats that our country and allies face.
It is vital for our armed forces to maintain a robust and responsive force to deter threats and ensure the safety and security of our interests.
To ensure that the men and women of our military are properly equipped and prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force Leadership joined the Committee to testify on their budget request for Fiscal Year 2024.
Photo of United States Air Force and Space Force Leadership
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
ICYMI, read the Committee’s wrap-up of the DHS and HHS budget hearings: Appropriators Grill Mayorkas, Becerra on Border Crisis
Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
House Republicans are focused on reducing costs for the American people, especially for everyday essentials like energy.
Instead of restricting U.S. producers, we should be embracing an all-the-above approach that invests in new and innovative technologies and bolsters support for traditional energy sources.
From the beginning, President Biden pulled the rug out from under our oil and gas producers and focused overwhelmingly on Green New Deal initiatives, which have driven energy costs to their highest levels in decades.
Unfortunately, the President’s Budget continues the administration’s out-of-touch energy policies. This week, Interior and Environment Subcommittee Members pressed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and EPA officials on their budget requests.
Photo of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland
During the Interior Department hearing, Congressman Ryan Zinke, former Secretary of the Interior, focused his questioning on our reliance on China for critical minerals.
Likewise, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler highlighted the Secretary’s consistent support for the Green New Deal.
“Are you aware that the Green New Deal bans fracking? Are you aware that it also bans clean coal? Are you aware that it also bans oil and gas leasing?.. And you don’t regret that [you cosponsored the bill while you were in Congress]?”
Department of Justice (DOJ)
The American people continue to be concerned with the growing opioid epidemic. Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl remain the primary driver of the increase in overdose deaths.
During a budget hearing on DOJ’s request for Fiscal Year 2024, many Subcommittee Members urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to take the fentanyl crisis more seriously.
Photo of Attorney General Merrick Garland
Subcommittee Chairman Hal Rogers teed the conversation up, saying “In your own budget submission, you note data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health and Statistics, which indicate an estimated 107,000 Americans needlessly died of drug overdoses in the United States during 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from 2020. With that backdrop, we received your budget which doesn’t seem to convey the appropriate sense of urgency. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s budget request, for example, requests only 4 additional agents for Fiscal Year 2024.”
Photo of Subcommittee Chairman Hal Rogers
Congressman Mike Garcia echoed Rogers, saying: “300 people will die today because we are doing nothing about it. It’s you. It’s the DEA. Everything we have done has failed. We need this administration to recognize that the fentanyl crisis, not climate change, is the closest alligator to the canoe killing Americans right now.”
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Given SEC’s proposed ruling on climate reporting, all eyes were on the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee budget hearing with SEC Chair Gary Gensler.
Subcommittee Chairman Steve Womack asked, “How does burdensome reporting requirements and other disclosures, especially those related to the climate, possibly enhance capital formation and increase taxpayer wealth?”
Congresswoman Ashley Hinson and Congressman Michael Cloud both noted that the SEC is over the line on this issue:
Hinson: “We’ve seen you sprint outside of your Congressional jurisdiction, specifically when it comes to the climate disclosure rule. I see it as a true weaponization of the Department, and Iowa farmers, Iowa businesses, Iowa workers see it that way too. I think it is high time to reel it in.”
Cloud: “You do not have clear authority to implement climate-related data gathering on people participating in our markets.”
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
During the hearing on the FDA’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2024, Commissioner Robert Califf – no stranger to testifying before the Committee – was again pressed on the ongoing infant formula crisis.
With the FDA looking to restructure, reform, and improve operations in the Foods program, Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Dr. Andy Harris discussed how important stakeholders are in the decision-making process, tying dysfunction at the FDA to the infant formula crisis.
“I know you are keenly aware of how vocal stakeholder groups have been on the restructuring proposal. And given the Politico article from Monday titled, ‘Lessons have not been learned: FDA knew of positive test months before latest infant formula recall,’ I expect stakeholders to be even louder. FDA continues to be passive and reactive when it comes to infant formula inspection activities when surely everyone at the Agency knows infant formula is in the spotlight.”
Photo of Subcommittee Chairman Dr. Andy Harris
Congressman David Valadao forced Commissioner Califf to admit that he hadn’t personally visited any of the major U.S. baby formula facilities that have had bacterial outbreaks.
Appropriations Subcommittees held 13 other budget and oversight hearings:
- Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, and Related Agencies: Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Energy And Water Development and Related Agencies: Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation
- Homeland Security: Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Transportation Security Administration
- Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Requests for the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service
- Labor, Health And Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies: Oversight Hearing – Addressing the Challenges of Rural America
- Legislative Branch: Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the House of Representatives, Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Architect of the Capitol, Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the United States Capitol Police
- Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Department of Veterans Affairs
- State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Department of the Treasury International Programs
- Transportation, Housing And Urban Development, and Related Agencies: Oversight Hearing – Inspectors General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department and Transportation
To ensure that Members have an opportunity to provide input into the annual appropriations process, the Committee held two Member Day hearings:
- Energy And Water Development and Related Agencies: Member Day
- Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies: Member Day
House Appropriations Subcommittees will not hold hearings during the District Work Period and will continue hearings the week of April 17th. The schedule is subject to change. Refer to the Committee’s website for the most up-to-date information.