September 13, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I rise to present H.J.Res. 117, the Continuing Resolution making appropriations for the first half of fiscal year 2013.
This 6-month CR will keep the government’s doors open and its wheels turning until March 27, 2013. It’s a necessary bill that ensures that the Congress is doing its job – even if this is not our preferred way of going about it. Funding the government in short increments – without addressing the details for each program – is not the right way to govern and not something that should be common practice. It is essential to our nation’s financial future that the Congress complete these important Appropriations bills in regular order.
However, the Senate failed to act on any of the 12 Appropriations bills this year, instead choosing to default on their most basic fiscal duty in the name of election-year politics.
Over the past few months, the House did its very best to support the core functions of the government and provide responsible levels of funding for critical programs and services. In fact, the Appropriations Committee considered all 12 bills, fulfilling our duty as shepherds of federal tax dollars and our responsibility as representatives of the people of this country. I’m deeply disappointed that this work is now on hold, and that Congress will not complete this work before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
Though we have found ourselves in this undesirable position, it does not mean we can’t yet act responsibly. This CR is a good-faith effort to provide limited but fair funding for government programs. It sticks with the agreement the House leadership made with the Senate and White House to continue government operations at the Budget Control Act-approved level of $1.047 trillion, thereby avoiding the perils of a threatened government shutdown.
The legislation is very limited in scope, and funding levels have been held at rates essentially consistent with the current fiscal year. It makes minor changes to prevent detrimental, catastrophic, or irreversible changes to federal programs and to ensure good government. This includes provisions to allow additional funding for nuclear weapon modernization efforts, wildfire suppression, to maintain current border security staffing levels, to process Veterans disability claims, and other critical issues.
We have also made sure that we will take care of those individuals, businesses and communities affected by recent natural disasters like Hurricane Isaac by providing $6.4 billion in additional disaster funding. This funding will prevent any lapse in critical assistance to those already working to recover from these catastrophes, as well as adequate financial resources should any need arise in the future.
This bill also protects critical funding for our national defense – maintaining last year’s levels for Department of Defense programs, which the Senate and the White House have sought to significantly cut.
My Committee will stand at the ready to continue the Appropriations process, and we intend to use the lame duck session to the fullest extent. Just because this CR will last until March 27, we will not rest on our laurels until then – we will do as much as we can to allow ample time to complete this essential work.
Mr. Speaker, we must pass this important bill to maintain the continuity of our government and its vital programs and services – for our people, nation, and for the stability of our economy. I ask for support of this critical legislation.