October 8, 2013
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers spoke on the House floor today in support of H.J. Res 89, the Federal Worker Pay Fairness Act, which provides back pay to federal employees who have worked during the government shutdown. The bill passed the House unanimously, 420-0.
The Chairman's statement follows:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this legislation. This bill addresses a critical issue facing this Congress right now.
"It ensures that the “essential personnel” who have been working throughout this shutdown receive their hard earned pay on time. These diligent men and women are protecting our homeland, ensuring our safety and well-being, providing critical services for our people, and shielding our economy. They have been by our sides as we work to find a way out of this mess
"They have been guarding this very building – putting themselves in harm’s way. It is our responsibility to these dedicated professionals that they receive due compensation for their service to this nation.
"In addition, the House will consider a second piece of legislation this afternoon, which will be combined with this bill and sent to the Senate.
"The second bill will provide a path forward to bring all parties to the table to end this government shutdown. For a week, this House has been toiling, trying to find a way to end this impasse, or at least mitigate its effects as we work toward a solution to this very serious problem.
"We’ve provided bills that would fund the entire government, and avenues to re-opening certain, critical government functions. We even proposed a conference committee – hoping the Senate would finally agree to talk to the House.
"But a week later, we are still no closer to a resolution. The Senate has turned down nearly every bill we’ve sent them, and rejected every compromise we’ve offered. They have flatly refused a conference committee to attempt to find some sort of solution. After eight days of a shutdown, it’s high time that we all start having real conversations about how to get out of this mess.
"This bill will establish a working group that will provide a framework to get the House and Senate together to hash out our differences on the myriad of fiscal crises we are currently facing.
"If enacted, it will require – by law – Members from both Houses to meet and work our way toward a final agreement. There is far too much at stake now to be stuck in our ways; we must work together, in a productive fashion, if we wish to get anything accomplished.
"It is imperative that we get our fiscal house in order, and put our budgets on an attainable and sustainable path.
"We MUST have a common, agreed-upon, top-line discretionary spending level with the Senate, which will allow our annual Appropriations work to be completed this year.
"To do this, we MUST enact meaningful, common sense entitlement program reforms that will slow the monstrous growth of these auto-pilot programs. We need to ensure that they are sustainable in the future, stop them from devouring the entirety of our federal budgets – including funding for our domestic programs and our national defense – and prevent them from plunging our nation further into debt.
"I believe that the Members of this House and of the Senate are reasonable people – people of goodwill, people who wish to do right by this country. That’s why I hope that this House will approve both of these bills today.
"This is the right thing to do: to help find an end to this government shutdown, to tackle our spending problems and our debt limit, and to show the people of the United States that we are here to legislate, not pontificate. They expect and deserve no less.
"I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and this path forward. Thank you."