May 19, 2015
House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee Chairman Tom Graves today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 2250, the fiscal year 2016 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill:
"Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
"When I joined the Appropriations Committee a little over 4 years ago, I said that I wanted this committee to be known as a place where taxpayer money was saved, not spent.
"And in recent years there’s been a major change in the perception of this committee, thanks in large part to the leadership of Chairman Rogers and the members of the committee.
"The process is open and transparent, and this committee has made a priority of ensuring every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely.
"In keeping with that trend, the bill we are here to debate today holds the line on spending. It’s a bill that honors and respects taxpayers, while preserving the beauty of the Capitol campus, providing essential security for visitors and staff, and ensuring that we are able to provide the services that our constituents expect and deserve.
"This bill provides a total of $3.3 billion for the Legislative Branch, excluding Senate items.
"The bill continues the freeze on funding for the House of Representatives, including leadership, Committees and member office budgets. It also continues the member pay freeze that was put in place in 2010.
"In all, this represents a14 percent reduction in funding for the House of Representatives since Republicans gained control of Congress in January 2011.
"More specifically, this bill increases funding for the Capitol Police and allows small increases for several other agencies, while trimming budgets in less critical areas.
"This bill recognizes the continuing challenges faced by the Architect of the Capitol. There’s a balance that must be struck between preserving these historic buildings and funding other critical projects, including life safety projects. Overall, the Architect’s budget is one that was trimmed.
"This bill puts a new emphasis on transparency and accountability in the major construction projects under the Architect. That’s why this bill transitions to direct appropriations for the Cannon restoration project rather than continue to use the House Historic Building Revitalization fund.
"This change will significantly improve the committee’s ability to provide oversight for this major project.
"Additionally, this bill includes language that places a 25% cap on the amount available for the larger projects within the Legislative Branch.
"In order to receive the remaining 75% of the appropriation, this new oversight feature requires a plan for any projects over $5 million to be submitted to the GAO and the Committee for approval. The plan must address any projected changes to the project’s schedule and costs, and it must include a description of the safeguards taken to ensure the project remains on time and on budget.
"Regarding the Library of Congress, this bill includes funding to meet the Library’s current needs, including an increase for the Copyright Office to reduce claims processing and analyze possible process improvements.
"Additionally, the Committee will be working with the Library in the upcoming months to track its progress in addressing its critical IT infrastructure problems, which were identified in a recent GAO report.
"In closing, I would like to thank Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz, Chairman Rogers, Ms. Lowey, the members of our Subcommittee and Full Committee, and staff for their hard work throughout this process.
"This is a product we can be proud of.
"I reserve the balance of my time."