December 8, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for yielding to me. It is a great pleasure to be here again working with you, on another, and maybe our final, bus of the year. Under your guiding hand, I know we will have a fair and efficient process to bring these bills to a conclusion in the short period of time that remains before adjournment.
I want to salute you, Mr. Chairman, and Senator Cochran for the work you have done to get us to this point. All the work done on your side, and the work done on our side, has allowed us to move to the conference stage on every one of our bills. It’s a testament to your leadership that we are all coming together in this conference to iron out our issues and complete this very important work.
On our side, I’d like to thank the Ranking Member Mr. Dicks for all of his hard work this past year. He has set an excellent standard of respect, patience and decorum throughout this whole process, and I’m grateful to have him as Ranking Member. I’d also like to thank all of our Subcommittee Chairmen who have been working nonstop since the beginning of this session, to deal with both Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 appropriations. It has not been easy.
Now, with the most recent continuing resolution set to expire on December 16, we need to act quickly to keep the government operating. Beyond that, it’s imperative that we finish these Appropriations bills to get our government agencies and departments the funding they need and to assure our citizens that the government will continue to provide the services and programs they rely on. The most basic duty of Congress is to provide necessary funding for the core functions of government – including our national defense.
With these nine bills, we all recognize the need to make smart choices on how we spend our precious but limited tax dollars. We are sticking to the spending rate agreed to under the Budget Control Act – $1.043 trillion for the fiscal year – and providing funding at levels proportionate to the effectiveness of the program, the quality of the service and the importance to the taxpayer.
All told, we are on track to reduce overall discretionary spending by nearly $93 billion compared to Fiscal Year 2010 – continuing the downward trend towards accountable, responsible levels that will help address our deficits and spur economic growth and job creation.
In addition, we lived up to our promise to include absolutely no earmarks in any appropriations bills this year.
Although we were not entirely able to get through these bills in regular order, I am proud of the work of our Subcommittees thus far. I believe we’ve successfully laid the groundwork for a more complete and open Appropriations process next year.
It is our hope and expectation that we will have a final agreement on this must-pass legislation by next week. So many months after we began this appropriations cycle, it’s time to finish it. After all, Fiscal Year 2013 is right around the corner.