Chairman Frelinghuysen Floor Statement on H.R. 5895 Conference Report

Sep 13, 2018

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen today spoke on the House floor in support of the House-Senate Conference Report for H.R. 5895. This is the first "minibus" package of Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2019, which includes the Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch Appropriations bills:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present the Conference Report for H.R. 5895.

This Conference Report includes the Energy and Water; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Legislative Branch Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2019. It is the product of months of negotiations between the House and the Senate. 

This Conference Report is a responsible compromise that addresses shared priorities – funding for national programs that benefit all Americans, including national security, energy development programs and water resources infrastructure, care for veterans, and operations of the Legislative Branch.

Critically, this Conference Report represents the next step toward fully funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2019.

This is the first time since Fiscal Year 2017 that Congress will have passed any Appropriations bill before the end of the fiscal year, and the first time in well over a decade – since Fiscal Year 2007 – that Congress will be sending more than one Appropriations bill to the President’s desk before September 30.

We have done our best to repair a broken Appropriations process.

This is a welcome, and long overdue, return to regular order, and fulfills our promise to the American people to deliver results.

Passage of this legislation also provides certainty to the federal government – most importantly for our troops and their families who rely on military infrastructure to sustain their quality of life and accomplish their missions, and for our veterans, who deserve full access to their benefits and health care.

It is my sincere hope that we will continue this progress with the consideration of additional Conference Reports.

The Energy and Water portion of the report provides $44.6 billion for Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Defense’s nuclear programs.

Investments in national security programs helps our nation maintain its strongest possible nuclear deterrence posture, supports our Navy’s nuclear-powered fleet, and keeps nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.

The bill directs much-needed funds to water resources infrastructure across the country, improving public health and safety, advancing our economic interests, and keeping America “open for business.”

And the bill target funds to an array of Energy programs that support our goal of energy independence.

The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs portion of the report totals $98.1 billion in discretionary funding. This includes the largest dollar amount ever for the Department of Veterans Affairs - $86.5 billion – a substantial investment that will improve access to and quality of care for our veterans.

Importantly, this includes additional funding for the VA MISSION Act, and will support ongoing care for our veterans through community care centers, caregivers, and other medical services. This funding is provided within the existing discretionary spending caps.

Also, the bill provides strong investments for our Defense infrastructure and military installations.

This will support the rebuilding of our Armed Forces, help counter threats and aggression abroad, and support our troops and military families at home and abroad.

The third portion of this Conference Report includes the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill. This legislation continues the operations of the Congress and its support agencies – ensuring that Members of Congress are able to best serve the American people.

Within the total of $4.8 billion provided for both the House and Senate, funding is prioritized for security and safety within the Capitol Complex, including increases for the Capitol Police.

The legislation helps the Legislative Branch improve its functions – from supporting the Office of Employee Advocacy, to modernizing the Library of Congress’s information technology, to maintaining accountability.

Of note, for the first time, we have included dedicated funding for paid internships, which will allow more young Americans and students from all backgrounds to serve Congress.

I want to express gratitude to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the three Subcommittees that spearheaded this legislation: Energy and Water Chairman Simpson of Idaho; Ranking Member Kaptur of Ohio; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Chairman Carter of Texas; Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz of Florida; Legislative Branch Chairman Fortenberry of Nebraska; and Ranking Member Ryan of Ohio.

Along with all our conferees. I also want to thank Ranking Member Lowey for her service and support of the Appropriations process.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the Appropriations Committee’s hard-working professional and associate staff. Over the past several months, they have been working – without a break – to complete negotiations and get this Conference Report and other Reports to the floor.

Particularly, I’d like to thank: Nancy Fox, Maureen Holohan, Shannon O’Keefe, Jason Gray, Marta Hernandez, Tammy Hughes, Rachel Kahler, Parker Van de Water, and Tom Doelp in the Front Office; Angie Giancarlo, Loraine Heckenberg, Perry Yates, and Amy Murphy on the Energy and Water Subcommittee; Sue Quantius, Sarah Young, and Kiya Batmanglidj from the MilCon/VA Subcommittee; Jenny Panone and Tim Monahan from the Legislative Branch Subcommittee; along with Shalanda Young, Chris Bigelow, Jaime Shimek, Matt Washington, and Adam Berg from the Minority; and finally, Katie Hazlett, Austin Bone, Steve Silvestri, Chris Hansell, and Kacy Hobbis in my personal office.

Support for this Conference Report today indicates that Congress is willing and able to get its work done on behalf of the American people – on time, under regular order, and within our set budget limits.

I urge a “yes” vote on this Conference Report.