Chairman Hal Rogers Floor Statement on H.J. Res. 124, the FY 2015 Continuing Resolution
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers gave the following statement on the House floor today in support of H.J.Res. 124, the fiscal year 2015 continuing resolution keeping the federal government operating and preventing a government shutdown:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present H.J.Res. 124, a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the doors of the federal government open after the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
"H.J.Res. 124 is a critical measure that ensures that hard-working Americans continue to have access to the government programs and services they rely on, and helps avoid the unnecessary uncertainty and economic harm caused by the threat of a government shutdown.
"The bill continues government operations at the current rate of $1.012 trillion into the next fiscal year, and lasts until December 11, 2014. This level is in line with the Ryan-Murray budget agreement that this House approved last year.
"My Committee sought to draft a responsible, restrained bill that does not include controversial riders and does not seek to change existing federal policies.
"However, it does make several, very limited adjustments to prevent catastrophic or irreversible damage to critical government programs, to address pressing global crises that have surfaced in recent months, or to ensure good government. These are changes I believe all of my colleagues can support.
"These include provisions that: increase funding at the Department of Veterans Affairs to help deal with the disability claims backlog and further investigations into waitlist allegations; boost funding for Ebola research and response; provide some funding flexibility within CBP and ICE to meet border security needs; and continue a surge in funding for State Department programs that help counter regional aggression against Ukraine and other former Soviet states.
"Each of these provisions is funded within the total discretionary funding level of $1.012 trillion.
"The CR will also extend authority for certain laws currently in place, such the Internet Tax Freedom Act for the duration of the CR, and the Export-Import Bank through June 30 of next year.
"Later, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee will offer an amendment to this bill to address the President’s request for the authority to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIL. This critical amendment will address an issue of great importance to our national security, and attaching it to this Continuing Resolution will allow its enactment within a swift timeframe. It does not involve any new or additional funding for these activities, and I hope that my colleagues in the House will support its adoption.
"This is a good bill, Mr. Speaker, but we cannot address each and every aspect of federal agency budgets within the scope of a continuing resolution like this one. These line-by-line budget decisions must be made in full-year, regular Appropriations legislation.
"I am proud that the House made great strides toward completing this vital work – which is our constitutional duty – by approving 11 Appropriations bills in Committee and seven on the floor of the House – all before the August recess.
"The House made a good-faith effort to complete these efforts – but unfortunately, the Senate has failed to approve one single Appropriations bill – which is why we are at this point today.
"It is high time that Senate leadership allows us to complete critical legislation to fund the entire federal government in an up-to-date, line-by-line way. This Continuing Resolution will allow us the time to do just that
"However, as we move forward, we cannot and should not continue to fall back on stopgap funding bills like this one. These lurching, short-term bills only postpone the tough budget decisions, heighten our nation’s mistrust of Congress, and cause uncertainty within our federal agencies and the economy.
"At this point, though, the best way to avoid causing serious damage to this nation is to pass this Continuing Resolution. It is our most clear path forward. It allows us the time we need to draft bicameral pieces of legislation that reflect our real and urgent budgetary requirements and utilize our nation’s taxpayer dollars in the most responsible, representative way.
"Before I close, I would like to acknowledge the service and hard work of the clerk of the Defense Subcommittee, Tom McLemore. Over his years on this Committee, he has been an integral member of the staff – no more so than his time as Defense clerk. Sadly, this will be his last bill with us before he moves onto greener pastures, and we will miss him a great deal. Thank you, Tom, for your service to this Committee and to the nation.
"With that said, we have just under two weeks left until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, so I ask that the House pass H.J.Res. 124 today, without delay. I also urge the Senate to pass this bill and submit it to the President for his signature as soon as possible. Thank you, and I yield back."