January 14, 2014
Good afternoon, Chairman Sessions, Ranking Member Slaughter, and members of the Rules Committee. I am pleased to appear before you today on a momentous occasion, the conclusion of our work on the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2014.
We have been working toward completion of the fiscal year 2014 bills for months. We have said over and over that what we needed was a common, overall discretionary budget cap number to allow the House and Senate Appropriations to work together toward the same overall target, instead of two different numbers nearly $100 billion apart.
Last December, finally, thanks to the Ryan Murray agreement, we got that. We were given a month – time that included Christmas and New Year’s – for staff and members of the both House and Senate Appropriations Committees to work day and night to get this done - often at great sacrifice to their families. But Mr. Chairman, we have done it. We said a month, and we’ve kept to our word.
I'd like to thank my Democrat counterpart, Mrs. Lowey, for all her hard work as well. Though we don’t always agree on everything, we did agree that a topline number and getting our work done was our top priority. She has been fair, reasonable, and dedicated throughout this process, and we are here today in no small part due to her efforts.
I am here to seek an appropriate rule on this package to allow for timely consideration and passage so we can fund the federal government for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year, and avoid another government shutdown.
As you know, we are seeking to move this package as a House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3547. I only wish we could consider each and every bill in this package separately, but unfortunately, the timing gives us one shot and one shot only to get it done. For that reason, we are compelled to consider these bills as a consolidated appropriations package, made up of all 12 of the appropriations bills for fiscal year 2014.
But there is hope for a more regular process next year. Because of the Ryan/Murray agreement, we now have a common number for fiscal year 2015, and we will redouble our efforts to get back to what we all want, regular order, next year.
This consolidated package fully abides by the terms of the Ryan-Murray agreement – providing a total of $1.012 trillion in discretionary funding, with $520.5 billion for defense, and $491.7 billion for non-defense programs. It touches every aspect of the federal government, from critical national security efforts, to important transportation infrastructure, to the education of our children.
It also includes a “fix” for military retiree pensions to ensure that medically retired personnel and survivor benefit plan annuitants receive their full, yearly cost-of-living increase.
This consolidated package is the bipartisan product of a month of long, hard, and careful negotiations with our counterparts in the Senate.
Senator Mikulski and I both came to the table with a commitment to getting things done – and I believe we succeeded in drafting a solid piece of legislation that keeps our nation on the right track. It continues the downward trend of federal spending, and maintains our priorities and values. I believe this package is worthy of the support of each and every Member.
As you know, after the short-term CR is enacted, we have until January 18 to approve this omnibus.
Three and a half months into the fiscal year, it’s high time that we put our 2014 work to bed. The House must pass this omnibus as soon as possible, so that the Senate can pass it and send it to the President for his signature.