Chairman Graves Floor Statement on FY 2017 Legislative Branch Funding Bill

Jun 9, 2016

Today, House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee Chairman Tom Graves gave the following statement on the floor in support of H.R. 5325, the Fiscal Year 2017 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill:

The goal of the bill we are considering here today is to ensure that we continue to preserve the beauty, enhance the security and improve the institutions of the United States Capitol complex. I’m glad to report that we have accomplished our mission, and we have done it in a way that respects taxpayers. By making tough choices, this bill demonstrates the great work Congress can do even during a time of lean budgets.

The American people will be proud to know that this bill continues to use a zero-based budgeting approach. That means each Legislative Branch agency was required to justify its budget request from scratch. This practice curbs wasteful spending and safeguards taxpayer dollars.

Another part our effort to respect taxpayers is the orderly shutdown of the Open World Leadership Center, which is an outdated, multimillion-dollar per year program.

Additionally, we continue the freeze on Member’s pay. This was a simple decision for me: if our constituents aren’t getting a raise in this economy, we shouldn’t either.

It’s also worth noting that the Capitol Dome Restoration Project is on time and under budget. In fact, my office has had fun posting pictures every day on social media of the scaffolding coming down, using the hashtag “Free The Dome”.   

We also have a family-themed bill this year. We worked with members on both sides of the aisle to make certain that baby changing stations are available throughout the House office buildings and in the Capitol.  Visiting the Capitol with a new baby can be difficult enough. Young mothers and fathers traveling with their children in tow should have necessary facilities available to them.

Additionally, with so many mothers-to-be working for the House of Representatives through their pregnancies, the Committee wants to ensure these working moms have access to convenient parking.

We’ve carried on the new tradition of sledding on Capitol Hill. Again this winter, children living in the area can sled on the West Front of the Capitol – something that, unfortunately, was banned until we changed it last year.  

Simply put, this bill makes the Capitol more inviting and accessible for young families.

I would of course like to thank the Ranking Member for her role throughout the process of writing this bill, and every member of the Appropriations Committee for their hard work and valuable contributions.

In seeing this bill through the Committee process, a good bill was made even better.  Together, we received and worked through more than 200 submissions, many of which we’re carrying, from both Democrats and Republicans. 

We continued conversations with members of both the majority and minority up to and through full committee markup, and saw an amendment process that incorporated proposals from both sides, including additional resources to better serve our constituents, increased savings dedicated to the Historic Buildings Trust Fund, support for efforts to secure the Capitol campus, and others. 

I would also like to thank the staff on both sides of the aisle who worked on the bill this year. In particular, I am very appreciative of the work of Liz Dawson, Tim Monohan and Shalanda Young.

And of course, Jenny Panone, who really stepped up to the plate after we lost our good friend Chuck Turner.  

As a longtime professional staff member on this subcommittee, Chuck has been missed this Appropriations season.  The Appropriations family just isn’t the same without him. I want to express my continued sympathies to his family, friends and those he worked so closely with for all those years.

I would also like to thank Jason Murphy and John Donnelly in my personal office and Sarah Arkin and Rosalyn Kumar from Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz’s office.

Finally, I would like to note the important contributions that Congressman Sam Farr and Congressman Scott Rigell have both made to the Legislative Branch Subcommittee.  Their hard work and dedication has been extremely valuable, and they will be missed.