Chairman Crenshaw Opening Statement on FY 2013 Legislative Branch Bill On House Floor
Ladies and gentlemen of the House, we bring before the House today the 2013 appropriations bill for the Legislative Subcommittee. This is a bill that spends $3.3 billion, which is approximately 1 percent less than last year. That's a $33.4 million reduction from last year.
I think all of us know that we are living in difficult economic times in this country. Taxpayers want to know that when they send their money to Washington it's being spent wisely. We also know that government needs money to provide services, but right now government needs something more. The government needs a sense of discipline to rein in spending. The government needs a commitment to make sure that every task of government is accomplished and completed in a most efficient and most effective manner, more so than ever before.
Our subcommittee took this philosophy to heart, and we had a series of hearings. We listened to the Agency heads as they came before us and talked about their needs, their wants, their priorities. We considered all of that and made some very difficult, some tough, but I think workable, decisions that allow us to move forward.I would remind the Members that over the last two cycles we have reduced spending on the Legislative Branch Subcommittee funding bill by almost 8 percent, and after we finish this bill, we will have decreased spending by nearly 9 percent.
So let me just give you all a summary of the highlights of this bill.
First and foremost, we fund the House of Representatives at $1.2 billion. That's the same level as last year. It's the same level that was requested by the House of Representatives. When people say, ``Well, why didn't you reduce the House any further?'' I would remind Members that over the last two cycles we have reduced funding for our own House by 10.5 percent. The Members' office accounts--the so-called Members' Representational Accounts--are funded at last year's level. Once again, when people say, ``Why didn't you cut those again?'' I would remind Members that we have cut those. The appropriations have been reduced by 13.5 percent for the office accounts. That takes us back to 2008 levels, which is a substantial cut.
We have certainly led by example. We have tightened our belts. We have reined in spending, and I think we can be proud of that. We also have language that allows Members, if they don't spend all of their office account, they can reduce the national debt with their leftover funds.
The Capitol Police receive about a $20 million increase. That will allow them to reduce the backlog in training that they have. It will also alleviate some of the salary shortfalls, because this is a year where we have the two national conventions and we also have the inauguration.
The Congressional Budget Office receives a very slight increase to acquire some much-needed equipment.
The Architect of the Capitol, which we fund, actually receives the largest reduction, about a 10 percent reduction. The Architect brings to us a series of projects that he would like to see funded. We can't fund them all, but we give priority to those that deal with health and safety issues because so many people work in the Capitol complex, so many visitors come here every year.
This subcommittee was concerned about the fact that we don't have the money right now to continue the rehabilitation of the Capitol dome, that great symbol of freedom that we see every day. We have spent $19 million to begin that rehabilitation project, and it's about $100 million to finish that. I'm confident we'll find the money very shortly and complete that project.
If you look at the Library of Congress, they receive a very modest increase.
The Government Accountability Office, the so-called watchdog of this Congress, they receive a slight increase to allow them to add 21 new full-time equivalent personnel. That will allow them to continue to write the reports that they write that tell us whether we're spending the money wisely or not.
And I think it will allow them to continue to meet the ever-increasing demands that we, as Members, place on them.
The Government Printing Office receives a cut, again, for the third straight year. They're doing a much better job of dealing with binding and printing of the information that they provide for us.
So, in a nutshell, Mr. Chairman, that summarizes the bill. I want to be sure and say thank you to all the members of the subcommittee, both the Democrats and Republicans, for the work that they put in to bring this bill before us today.
I want to say a special word of thanks to my colleague, Mr. Honda, the ranking member. I thank him for his bipartisan spirit as we work together to fund these agencies that we depend on every day.
And, finally, I certainly want to express the gratitude of all the members of the committee to our staff, both the Democratic side and the Republican side, for the tireless effort they put in to bring this bill before us.