November 17, 2011
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present the Conference Report on H.R. 2112, the Fiscal Year 2012 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act.
The House passed H.R. 2112, the bill making appropriations for the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, on June 16. The bill has since been amended to include the Commerce/Justice/Science and the Transportation/HUD Appropriations bills, as well as a Continuing Resolution to keep the rest of the government operating until December 16th.
With the help of our Ranking Member Norm Dicks, we successfully negotiated with our Senate counterparts to craft this agreement – which is the first Appropriations conference report since 2009.
This report is the next step in meeting the spending targets set by the Budget Control Act, which will save the taxpayers billions and help continue the effort to bring the nation’s deficit under control.
In fact, this bill keeps us on track to cut regular discretionary spending by $98 billion compared to the President’s fiscal year 2012 request, and some $47 billion below the fiscal year 2010 level. When all Appropriations work this year is completed, it will be the second year in a row that we have reduced total discretionary spending – a remarkable and historic achievement.
Yet, while we made significant cuts, we were also able to fund important priorities, such as food and drug safety, federal law enforcement, agricultural and scientific research, trade, infrastructure and economic growth.
Additionally, we’re helping communities, states, businesses and families deeply affected by a record-breaking year of destructive natural disasters and catastrophes. We have scrubbed the information from the agencies, and were able to reduce the disaster spending in this bill by $850 million compared to the Senate-passed bill. These funds are only for disaster assistance, and do not grow the baseline budgets or scope of the federal agencies.
This bill is the next step in breaking the status quo of excess federal spending that’s throwing our budgets out of whack. Our House conferees thoroughly examined each and every program and agency to ensure that we are reducing spending wherever possible. In this bill, this includes terminating wasteful, poorly planned and controversial programs such as High Speed Rail, NOAA’s Climate Change Office and the Livable Communities program.
This legislation also puts the breaks on government overreach by including several important policy items. These provisions stymie job-killing regulations that create economic uncertainty, and limit government involvement in issues of life and liberty – including several provisions protecting human life and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Finally, this legislation includes a continuing resolution that will keep the remainder of the government operating until December 16 – allowing us an appropriate amount of time to finish negotiations on the remaining nine Appropriations bills.
I’m very pleased that we were able to reach agreement on this bill. It has become all too rare a thing in this Congress to come to an agreement such as this – and I’m proud to say that this Conference Report was approved by all but one of the 38 House and Senate conferees from both parties. While there are no doubt items where Members might disagree, there are many achievements in this bill of which we can be proud.
However, we could not have done this without the tremendous help from our Ranking Member, Norm Dicks, as well as the dedicated conferees on both sides of the aisle from both Chambers. Chairman Wolf, Kingston, and Latham – as well as our dedicated staff have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to bring this bill to completion, and they all have our sincere thanks and appreciation.
Mr. Speaker, in closing, I strongly urge my colleagues to support this bill. It’s vital we pass this bill to prevent a government shutdown, rein in over-zealous regulations, and help put our budgets and our economy on track.