Ranking Member Lewis Floor Statement on the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Apr 12, 2011
Press Release

Ranking Member Lewis Floor Statement on the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis gave the following speech on the floor of the House today regarding the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill:

“Mr. Speaker, like many of my colleagues, I’m embarrassed by this Omnibus spending bill and the process that created it.  Even as the President talks about the need to put our economic house in order, this House continues to spend and spend and spend and spend.  Clearly, this Congress has lost its way.

“Not one of the nine spending bills in this Omnibus was ever considered by the full House.  Six of the nine bills in this package were never considered by the full Appropriations Committee.  One more time we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars with no debate, no amendments, and no Member input.  Yes, clearly this Congress has lost its way. 

“It’s now standard operating procedure that only a handful of Members in leadership are actually involved in writing significant legislation.  That has been true with every supplemental spending package the House has considered over the last two years.  That was true in the development of the $789 billion stimulus package passed by the House two weeks ago.  And that is true once again today

“Under the rule just adopted, Members have one hour to debate $410 billion in spending with no opportunity to offer amendments.  That equates to nearly $7 billion for every minute of debate.  Sadly, the vast majority of our Members will have no voice in crafting this measure.

“The fiscal year 2009 Omnibus bill contains funding for nine out of the 12 regular appropriations bills—a total of $410 billion. The new fiscal year began on October 1st and today—nearly five months later—we’re jamming the work that should have been done last year into one massive, last-minute, “take-it-or-leave-it” spending bill. 

“The spending in this legislation represents a $32 billion, or eight percent, increase over last year for the very same agencies and programs.  With the exception of the spending boost after the September 11th attacks, this represents the largest annual federal government spending increase since 1978. 

“At the very time when our economy is forcing families to make do with less, Congress has embarked on the largest spending spree in our country’s history.  When combined with the three appropriations bills that were signed into law in September, this enacted fiscal year 2009 budget will become our country’s very first trillion dollar discretionary budget. 

“It comes as no surprise that the $410 billion Omnibus spending bill contains funding for many of the same government programs that received funding in the $789 billion stimulus package that passed just two weeks ago.  Stimulus funding for these nine spending bills totaled $270 billion. 

“When added together, the combined fiscal year 2009 funding for government programs in both bills is $680 billion—an increase of $301 billion, or 80 percent, from just last year. 

“The real surprise is not the unfettered spending but the complete and utter failure of Congress to encourage any fiscal discipline whatsoever.  At a time when American families are cutting unnecessary spending to weather this economic downturn, Congress should be doing the same.  Instead, the premise of PAY-GO has been replaced with the promise of GO-SPEND under this majority. 

“This delirious pace of government spending goes well beyond what most people would consider reasonable or responsible.  An eight percent—or $32 billion increase in one year—on top of the stimulus package—is simply unnecessary and unsustainable. 

“Balance is what we should strive for—providing enough money to allow the agencies to carry out their primary mission and achieve results.  Our public has grown weary of Congress simply throwing money at every problem in this country.  Spending fatigue has set in.   

“Mr. Speaker, as I commit to working constructively with Chairman Obey this year, I encourage the majority leadership to pursue regular order that is inclusive of all Members so our work can once again reflect the bipartisan voices of this House. 

“I reserve the balance of my time. “

112th Congress