Chairwoman Lowey Remarks at Full Committee Organizing Meeting
Good morning. Welcome to the first meeting of the Committee on Appropriations for the 116th Congress. We meet today to consider and adopt our Committee rules and subcommittee jurisdictions.
Before we turn to the business at hand, I would like to say what an honor it is to serve as the Chairwoman of this Committee, to work alongside each and every Member in this room, and for all of us to work on behalf of all the people of the United States of America.
I had hoped we would have met before today but we’ve had some important work to do in order to re-open the government. I am pleased that we now have the entire Federal government open working on behalf of the American people, and I hope it stays that way. I am confident that if it were up to only appropriators, there would have never been a shut down.
As you might guess, it’s going to be a busy 2019 for the Committee. We must complete the 7 remaining fiscal year 2019 bills by February 15th. To that end, we will have a meeting of the House and Senate conferees later today at 1:30 p.m.
Further, as soon as next week, I expect that the Committee will begin holding necessary oversight hearings, which will eventually transition into budget hearings on the fiscal year 2020 bills and an aggressive markup schedule.
I look forward to a productive year for this Committee and this Congress. As appropriators, we have a very important power – the power of the purse – and it’s important we treat this responsibility with respect. I ask that we work together, in a bipartisan way, with programs under our jurisdiction. Members should get out and visit the departments and programs over which we have jurisdiction, to let them know that we are interested and involved in how the programs are being carried out. How we spend our time reflects our priorities.
We will soon send travel guidance to all offices outlining the process and rules on member travel. We will lead by example in encouraging members to conduct oversight and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
And, to continue a priority of Chairman Frelinghuysen, we also intend to hold Member days on each subcommittee, to encourage all Members to be involved and to work with us. We want all of our colleagues to know we are open and interested in their input, their perspective, and their support of our 12 bills on the floor.
Although this may seem daunting, I believe that we are all up to the task.
My partner in these efforts this year is Kay Granger. I want to congratulate her on her new role as Full Committee Ranking Member. Kay and I previously served together as chair and ranking member – we took turns – on SFOPS, and we both share a commitment to completing our work on time and under regular order, and pride in the Committee.
Kay, your collegiality and dedication have served this committee well, and I look forward to continuing our friendship this Congress.
Before I turn to Ms. Granger for her opening remarks, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the eight new Democratic members of the Committee – and I know Ms. Granger will introduce the new member on her side shortly.
- Representative Lois Frankel of Florida’s 21st District;
- Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois’ 17th District;
- Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey’s 12th District;
- Representative Brenda Lawrence of Michigan’s 14th District;
- Representative Norma Torres of California’s 35th District;
- Representative Charlie Crist of Florida’s 13th District;
- Representative Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona’s 2nd District; and
- Representative Ed Case of Hawaii’s 1st District.
We’re all looking forward to working with you this year.
You may also recognize some of the faces at the dais, including Shalanda Young, our Committee Clerk and Staff Director. Chris Bigelow, our deputy staff director, is seated next to Shalanda. I cannot say enough good things about these two thoughtful, intelligent people. You should feel free to reach out to either with any questions or concerns you may have.
One of my highest priorities is that we ensure that all members, including those not on the committee, are able to use the appropriations process to benefit their constituents and communities. The committee staff will do everything they can to help you and your staff.
I would like to recognize and thank the three Members from the majority side who will serve as our representatives on the Budget Committee: Rosa DeLauro, David Price, and Barbara Lee. I know they will represent our committee well as they take on this task.
Also, I would like to mention that in accordance with House Democratic Caucus rules, we have elected a vice-chair of the Committee, Pete Aguilar.