Chairman Rogers Statement For Full Committee Organizational Meeting
The Committee will come to order.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the first meeting of the Committee on Appropriations for the 113th Congress. I’m looking forward to a busy, successful year chock full of plenty of Appropriations work.
The main order of business today is the consideration and adoption of our Committee rules, subcommittee jurisdictions, and oversight plans.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I would like to make some general opening remarks.
First, I want to congratulate and welcome my friend from New York, Nita Lowey, as she assumes the very important post as the Full Committee Ranking Member. She is a long-time member of this Committee, and over the years, I have witnessed her dedication to the Appropriations process. With a seasoned, steady hand, she has led the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee as Chairwoman and then as Ranking Member, and I know she will do the same for the Full Committee.
While I know we will not always see eye-to-eye on policy matters, I look forward to continuing this Committee’s tradition of collegiality with her – as well as continuing the fair and open Appropriations process which we have been working under over the past two years.
I also want to take this opportunity to introduce our new or newly-returning members – 6 from each side of the aisle: Jeff Fortenberry, representing the 1st District of Nebraska; Tom Rooney, from Florida’s 17th District; Chuck Fleischmann, representing the 13th District of Tennessee; Jaime Herrera Beutler, representing Washington’s 3rd Congressional District; David Joyce, from Ohio’s 14th District; and David Valadao, from California’s 14th District.
And on the Democrat side: Tim Ryan, from Ohio’s 13th District; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, from Florida’s 23rd District; Henry Cuellar, representing the 28th District of Texas; Chellie Pingree, representing Maine’s 1st District; Mike Quigley, representing the 5th District of Illinois; and
Bill Owens, from New York’s 21st District.
Welcome to you all, and I am looking forward to working with you all this year. We have a lot on our plate, but I know you are all up to the task.
I now want to recognize the three members from the majority side who have agreed to serve as our representatives on the Budget Committee: Ken Calvert and Tom Cole, who both graciously took on this role in the last Congress, and Alan Nunnelee, who joins them this year. I know they will represent the Appropriation Committee – and the American taxpayers – well as they work through the tough issues the Budget Committee will be considering this year.
And finally, I would like to make a quick house-keeping note: This year, David Valadao and Bill Owens will serve as co-chairs of the Committee Flower Fund. For those of you new to the Committee, this is a fund used by the Committee to send flowers or food baskets to the family of a member who has experienced an illness, lost a family member, or is celebrating the birth of a child. Since I last made this request, the fund has shrunk a good bit, so I would ask that each Member make a contribution of $20 to the fund.
Before getting to our first order of business – the Committee rules – I want to tell you all that I am honored to continue serving our nation in this role of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Over the past two years, I have been proud to see a real stride toward returning to regular order, and a real commitment to getting our work done before the end of the fiscal year. We’ve been able to responsibly pare back discretionary spending while still providing funding for our national security, our infrastructure, and the programs that make this country great, as well as provide emergency funding for when disaster strikes, as we did last week.
I am optimistic that we will continue these trends this year: working with our friends across the aisle to find common ground whenever possible; holding hearings and doing important oversight work to ensure sustainable, accountable federal programs; getting all of our bills on the floor under an open amendment process; and striving to complete our work by September 30.
This year, we are already facing a little bit of a delay as we work to meet that deadline. I am hopeful that we will complete the Fiscal Year 2013 bills in short order. As you know, the current CR expires on March 27th. To complete legislation before then would serve the American people well, and help quell any uncertainty about whether the government will keep operating.
Of course, we also need to move forward quickly with the regular business of Fiscal Year 2014. We will likely have a busy spring and summer – and you all know how very important it is to complete our Appropriations bills in a timely fashion.
This country continues to face budget deficits that can’t be brought down immediately nor through discretionary cuts alone – though we have made significant steps toward reducing the discretionary footprint on these deficits over the past two fiscal years. It is crystal clear that Congress is going to have to take a broad look at entitlements and mandatory programs to make them more efficient, effective, and sustainable for the future. To do otherwise would be to ensure that these gridlocked debates and budget crisis will continue year after year.
In closing, I am honored to be able to work with all of you as we tackle the challenges in our portion of the budget, and look forward to continuing collaboration across the aisle to do the best job we can on behalf of the American people.