Appropriations Committee Approves Homeland Security and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Funding Bills
In the first full Committee mark-up of the year, the House Appropriations Committee approved two annual funding bills – the Homeland Security Appropriations bill and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill – both of which will now move to the House floor for consideration.
Both bills reflect the need to make wise investments with precious taxpayer dollars, while providing funding for critical and necessary programs, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
“The funding levels in these bills reflect our commitment to the highest level of homeland security, and to providing our troops, their families, and our veterans the resources they deserve. Yet, this legislation also seeks to address our nation’s unparalleled fiscal crisis by paring down government spending to smart and sustainable levels, making tough but necessary cuts so that we can get our economy moving, create jobs and provide future financial security,” Chairman Rogers said.
As part of the Homeland Security bill, the Committee passed an amendment – offered by Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt – to add $1 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund, offset by funding reductions from the under-performing Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program at the Department of Energy. The additional FEMA funds are necessary to continue to respond to devastating natural disasters – including the recent tornados and flooding in the Midwest and South. In contrast, the vehicle loan program at DOE currently has $4.2 billion in unspent funding that has been available since 2008 – including at least $2 billion more than the program applicants have applied for.
“FEMA is projecting that under the best-case scenario, the Disaster Relief fund will essentially run dry before the end of the fiscal year. This amendment ensures FEMA’s recovery efforts are not interrupted and that those affected by recent, horrific disasters can continue to get assistance,” Subcommittee Chairman Aderholt said.
In addition, the Committee approved the spending limits for the 12 Appropriations subcommittees for fiscal year 2012 – also known as the 302(b)s. The funding for all twelve subcommittees totals $1.019 trillion, and reflects a reduction of $30 billion in total from current spending levels.
Summaries of the adopted amendments at the full committee mark up follow:
302(b) Subcommittee Funding Allocations – The subcommittee spending limits for fiscal year 2012 were approved on a vote of 27-21.
Subcommittee Chairman Aderholt (R-AL) – A manager’s amendment making technical corrections to the bill. The amendment passed on a voice vote.
Subcommittee Chairman Aderholt (R-AL) – An amendment to provide an additional $1 billion to FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund for fiscal year 2011 in emergency funds; offset by a transfer of $1 billion and a rescission of $500 million in emergency funds from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (in order to ensure proper offset of both budget authority and outlays). The amendment passed on a voice vote.
Passage – The FY 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations bill was favorably reported out of Committee on a 27-20 vote.
Military Construction/Veterans’ Affairs:
Subcommittee Chairman Culberson (R-TX) – A manager’s amendment adding three report language items: dialysis treatment pilots projects; Inspector General investigations; and Veterans Affairs marketing budgets. The amendment also adds two bill provisions: a prohibition on Pinon Canyon maneuver site expansion; and restrictions on Veterans Affairs spending on outreach and marketing prior to Congressional approval. The amendment passed on a voice vote.
Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) – An amendment striking language in the bill to prohibit certain Davis-Bacon wage requirements. The amendment passed on a 24-23 vote.
Rep. John Carter (R-TX) – An amendment to prevent the Army from relocating units of 200 personnel or larger, unless the Secretary of the Army certifies to Congress that the relocation complies with Army Regulation 5-10 (regarding the planning, studying, coordinating and authorization of stationing). The amendment passed on a voice vote.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) – An amendment prohibiting the government from entering into contracts or agreements with any corporation that was convicted of a felony criminal violation under any Federal or State law within the preceding 24 months. The amendment was accepted on a voice vote.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – The amendment prohibits funding from being used to enforce Executive Order 13502, related to collective bargaining. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
Passage – The FY 2012 Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations bill favorably reported out of Committee on a voice vote.