Lewis Statement on the Democrats Inaction on Critical War Funding and Appropriations Legislation

Apr 12, 2011
Press Release

Lewis Statement on the Democrats Inaction on Critical War Funding and Appropriations Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis today gave the following statement in a subcommittee mark up of the Fiscal Year 2011 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. This mark-up – the first of the year – comes at a time when traditionally the House would be completing all Appropriations bills on the House floor, in order to have them approved by the Senate and White House before the end of the fiscal year.  Lewis remarked on this lack of progress on the 12 annual Appropriations bills, as well as the continued delays by Democrat leaders on a vital war funding bill. His statement follows:
“I won’t take up much time this afternoon, but I would like to make a couple of brief comments. 
“Let me begin by expressing my concern about the lack of progress—and the lack of a roadmap—on the long overdue and much needed troop and disaster aid funding bill.  It’s now almost 30 days since the full-committee markup of the emergency supplemental was postponed. We have no indication that Chairman Obey plans to ever re-schedule this markup.
“We have barely one week left before the 4th of July recess. There is little evidence that the House will take any action to provide General Petraeus and our troops the tools they need to be successful.  At this late date, it appears we have few options remaining to get funding to the troops by the 4th of July as requested by Secretary Gates. Either the House must pass the Senate-passed supplemental or the House and Senate must meet in conference on the House-passed FEMA/summer jobs package and the Senate-passed supplemental. The Senate has appointed conferees and is awaiting action by the House.   
“Before we get on with the business at hand, I also want to note that today is June 24th and we are, at this late date, marking up in subcommittee the first of 12 spending bills for the new fiscal year which begins in about three months.  To say that these bills are long overdue, and that the Appropriations process is badly broken, would be an understatement.  By contrast, it was only five years ago under a Republican majority that each and every spending bill passed the House by June 30th under an open rule process. 
“It’s also worth mentioning that we are proceeding with today’s markup in the absence of a budget document establishing a top-line number for annual spending.  This is the first time since the passage of the Budget Act of 1974 that the House has failed to pass a budget blueprint governing our appropriations process.  As a result, Members of the Homeland Security Subcommittee are being asked to make judgments on this bill without the benefit of a comprehensive discretionary spending plan.
“So, as we begin this year’s appropriations process, Committee Members on both sides have a number of legitimate questions. What is the 302(a) top-line number governing our spending for next year?  What are the 302(b) subcommittee allocations going to be?  Without a budget resolution, how does the majority plan to implement a deeming resolution and what gimmicks will be contained in it? 
“I am told that the Homeland Security bill holds to the funding level in the President’s budget request because it is widely regarded as a security-related bill.  That being the case, I’m going to assume that the majority will also maintain funding levels in the defense spending bill at the President’s budget request—and not the rumored $10 billion cut from the President’s request.  The defense bill is, after all, the most important security-related bill that we consider each year. 
“Amid such uncertainly, one thing is perfectly clear:  There appears to be little or no expectation that any of this year’s spending bills will ever be marked up by the full committee or ever see the House floor.  Over the last three years of Democrat control, the opportunity for Members on both sides to participate in an open process has been almost non-existent.  This heavy-handed approach to governing—this lack of governing—is a dangerous precedent that undermines the traditional bipartisan work of this Committee and this Congress.
“Because of this inaction, it’s likely that the House will proceed in an all too familiar pattern.  Under this now common scenario—as evidenced by the pending emergency supplemental—our annual spending bills will not have full committee markups, will not be amended on the House floor, will not be subject to a motion to recommit, and will not be negotiated in an open and transparent conference process.  
“The Democrat majority is trying to simply run out the clock before the mid-term elections hoping the public either won’t notice or won’t care.  I believe our constituents back home will send a different message in November. 
“Lacking any opportunity to participate in the process, or amend spending bills in any way, Republican Members of the Committee now have no choice but to take the unusual step of offering amendments during today’s subcommittee markup and subsequent markups.  It appears that this will be the only opportunity we will have this year to push for smarter and more disciplined spending.  
“It’s simply astounding to me the incredible lengths to which Chairman Obey and the Democrat leadership have gone to circumvent the traditional Appropriations process while continuing to spend at historic and unprecedented levels.  This is further evidence of the disconnect between the Democrat majority and our constituents who are literally screaming at Washington to reduce spending and put Uncle Sam on a diet.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.” 

112th Congress