October 28, 2015
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 – an agreement that helps advance this nation toward our goals of fiscal stability, strong national security, and entitlement reform.
"These are goals that we’ve been advocating for for years – ones that will secure significant long-term savings, provide our economy with the certainty needed to grow and prosper, and ensure the readiness of our military to meet current and emerging threats.
"First, this agreement prevents the economic damage of a default – which could happen as early as next week – by suspending the debt limit through March 2017.
"Next, the agreement includes the first significant reform to Social Security since 1983. These structural reforms will help maintain the solvency of vital Social Security trust funds by closing loopholes, increasing program integrity, and cracking down on fraud – resulting in $168 billion in long-term savings. The agreement also finds savings in other mandatory programs, including over $30 billion in Medicare entitlement savings.
"As I’ve said many, many times before on this floor: mandatory and entitlement programs make up two-thirds of the nation’s budget, and are the primary drivers of our deficits and debt. Reforms to these programs are necessary and overdue, and I hope that this bill today paves the way for additional action in the future.
"This bill also repeals a flawed provision of the President’s health care law – eliminating the automatic enrollment mandate that forces workers into employer-sponsored healthcare coverage that they may not want our need.
"Finally – and, in my opinion, most importantly – this agreement provides new topline spending caps of $1.067 trillion for FY16 and $1.070 trillion for FY17. This will roll back the harmful, automatic, meat-ax approach of sequestration cuts, which gut important federal programs and slice the good with the bad.
"A two-year plan provides much needed certainty to the appropriations process, ensuring our ability to make thoughtful, responsible funding decisions. Having established, agreed-upon topline numbers for both FY16 and FY17 will allow Congress to do its work on behalf of the American people, and avoid a harmful government shutdown. This is particularly crucial when it comes to our national security: It provides the Pentagon with the certainty needed to plan for the future, maintain readiness, and provide for our troops.
"These adjustments are fully offset by mandatory spending cuts and other savings – NOT through tax increases, as the Administration proposed in its budget submission earlier this year.
"And these new levels do not undermine our remarkable success in limiting federal discretionary spending. Since 2011, we have reduced discretionary spending by $175 billion – and we remain on track to save taxpayers more than $2 trillion through 2024.
"With passage of this important agreement, my Committee stands at the ready to implement the details of the deal – going line by line through budgets and making the tough but necessary decisions to fund the entire federal government in a responsible way.
"We will begin work with our Senate counterparts immediately.
"We have our eye on the December 11 deadline – and it is my goal to complete our Appropriations work ahead of that date to avoid any more delays, continuing resolutions, or ‘shutdown showdowns’ that hurt important federal programs, our economy, and trust in the Congress.
"I want to thank and commend our leaders for their courage, tenacity, and resolve. While I know that the deal isn’t perfect – and the process by which it emerged is less than ideal – I believe it is in the best interest of our country that we move forward.
"This agreement takes steps in the right direction – from finding savings in our entitlement programs, to protecting our economy from a dangerous default, to providing for the future of the nation through funding certainty.
"These are goals that I believe we can all get behind, and so I ask that my colleagues support this bipartisan agreement today.
"Thank you, and I yield back."