Lewis: Instead of Providing Critical Funding for our Troops, Democrat Supplemental is a “Irresponsible, Convoluted Legislative Exercise”

Apr 12, 2011
Press Release

Lewis: Instead of Providing Critical Funding for our Troops,
Democrat Supplemental is a “Irresponsible, Convoluted Legislative Exercise”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis made the following statement on the House floor today blasting the Democrats’ supplemental spending bill. The legislation was crafted entirely behind closed doors, and was just released to Members and the public late this afternoon. In addition, the bill is loaded with extraneous and non-emergency spending and policy items, has been targeted by the White House for a veto, and puts critical and urgently needed funding for our military at risk.
If Congress does get a clean troop funding bill to the White House by the July 4th recess, Secretary Gates has said the Department of Defense will have to make “stupid” budget decisions – including cost-cutting measures that could affect our military readiness.
The statement by Ranking Member Lewis follows:
“Mr. Speaker, let me begin by making a personal observation:  this evening we are embarking upon the most irresponsible, convoluted legislative exercise I have seen in my 32 years in this body.  My dear friend and former Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the late Senator Robert Byrd, would be embarrassed by the process—or the lack of process—because it greatly diminishes the integrity of this Congress he loved so dearly.  I can hear his voice clear as day:  “Shame, shame,” he would say.
“It was 35 days ago that the full Appropriations Committee was scheduled to mark up the fiscal year 2010 emergency supplemental before us today.  Republicans and Democrats alike had a number of amendments they planned to offer to make this package a better piece of legislation.  But, for reasons that remain a mystery to everyone but Chairman Obey himself, that markup was abruptly cancelled three hours before it was to occur.  Tonight, the House is considering legislation written by Chairman Obey and the majority leadership with absolutely no input from rank and file Members on either side of the aisle.  
“The only legislation we should be considering today is a clean emergency supplemental bill to provide critical funding for our troops; foreign assistance and economic support for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq; FEMA disaster assistance; oil spill cleanup assistance; and relief for Haiti.  Many other funding and policy items could easily be addressed through our regular-order spending bills. 
“Just hours ago, we were sent a package of six different amendments and two resolutions totaling over 153 pages.  Included in that package were efforts to cut off troop funding; a timetable for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan; billions in additional spending on domestic programs; a variety of complex legal settlements piggybacked onto a billion dollar Summer Youth Jobs Program; and a “deem and scheme” resolution that proposes spending $31 billion more in discretionary spending in FY 2011 than was spent in FY 2010.  It’s worth noting that only in Washington could Chairman Obey and Chairman Spratt characterize this $31 billion increase as a cut. 
“I am deeply concerned about the impact these amendments could have on our ability to approve a bill for the President’s signature prior to the July 4th recess.  The failure of this body to approve critical funds for our troops before the 4th of July would send absolutely the wrong message to our men and women in uniform and delay needed funds for many other emergency needs. 
“Further, this inaction would force our commanders to begin making budget decisions that could compromise our military readiness.  It would also signal to our enemies a lack of resolve that could undermine our mission in several very dangerous areas of the world. 
“The fact that we are sitting here in July without this spending bill passed and signed into law is, frankly, astonishing to me.  The President submitted his request in February of this year.  The Senate passed its war funding measure on May 27th and indicated that it was ready to conference the bill with the House.  The House never marked up this supplemental or had an opportunity to amend it in any way.  And yet, here we are—35 days and tens of billions in spending later—and we still have not approved funding for our troops.    
“Yesterday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a long-term budget outlook.  The CBO noted that our national debt equaled 40 percent of our country’s annual economic input in 2008.  By the end of this year, the federal debt will represent 62 percent of the national economy.  That’s a 22 percent increase in the level of debt in just two years.  The additional unrequested, non-troop-related spending the House is considering today would drive that debt even higher. 
“I recognize that there are tremendous political pressures that come to bear on majority Members when it comes to opposing measures sponsored by your own party.  Today my request to the Members of the majority is quite simple:  please think long and hard about the consequences of supporting anything beyond the clean Senate supplemental spending bill.
“I urge my colleagues on both sides, particularly my friends in the majority who are truly concerned about the ever-escalating rates of growth of spending, to reject these amendments and reject this 4th of July spending spree.  Let’s support our troops, pass a clean version of the Supp on a broad, bipartisan basis and get this package to the President tomorrow.   Our men and women in harm’s way deserve no less.”

112th Congress