Appropriations Ranking Member Lewis Statement on House Consideration of Interior Spending Bill
WASHINGTON – Congressman Jerry Lewis, the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee, presented the following floor statement on the Fiscal Year 2008 Interior Appropriations Bill:
The Interior Appropriations bill is, by tradition, one of the most bipartisan bills among all of the bills that our committee considers each year.
The House is indeed fortunate that the work of this subcommittee this year falls to Chairman Norm Dicks and Ranking Member Todd Tiahrt. They are not only good friends, they are capable legislators who recognize the value of bipartisanship.
Clearly, they do not agree with each other about every funding and policy issue within this bill. But, even when they disagree, they recognize the value of communication and sharing information. What makes this relationship even more valuable is that it also extends to the professional staff on both sides of the aisle.
The working relationship of Chairman Dicks and Mr. Tiahrt, coupled with a reasonable allocation, could produce a fine product. In this instance, however, an excessive subcommittee allocation has thrown this bill out of balance. More money does not always guarantee a better bill. In this instance, in fact, just the opposite is true.
This subcommittee allocation for this bill is $27.6 billion, a $1.9 billion increase over the President’s budget request and a $1.2 billion over the enacted fiscal year 2007 Interior bill.
This subcommittee allocation represents exactly the kind of unfettered spending that so closely identifies the differences of philosophies between House Republicans and the Democrat majority. And, who is going to pay for this increased spending?
In 2004, 50 percent of the total Federal tax burden was shouldered by the 65 million households earning between $24,000 and $65,000 per year. The vast majority of those taxes are being paid by individuals between the ages or 45 and 54 with incomes between $55,000 and $77,000 a year.
These are middle-income families, many of them from “the sandwich generation,” shouldering the financial burden of supporting both young children and aging parents. Middle-income families end up paying the bill for expanded government. The 302(b) allocation for this bill guarantees years of payments middle-income families do not want and cannot afford.
Mr. Chairman, the Interior bill has great potential of being a truly bipartisan bill. My hope is that Chairman Dicks and Ranking Member Tiahrt will work with their Senate counterparts in conference to fashion a conference report that the House can support and the President will sign.