Chairman Ryan Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Legislative Branch Funding Bill

2021-06-29 12:10
Statement

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), Chair of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Appropriations Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2022 Legislative Branch bill:

“I’m pleased to present the 2022 Legislative Branch appropriations bill.

“While this subcommittee may be small in size, it has an important role. I very much appreciate the hard work and collegial attitude of all the members of this subcommittee, particularly the contributions and cooperation of our Ranking Member, Ms. Herrera-Beutler. 

“This is a good bill, and I’m proud that it makes a substantial investment to expand recruitment and retention of staff, prioritizes funding to expand diversity and inclusion Campus wide, and funds needed investments to support the day-to-day operations of the House. 

“Included within this bill is a 21% increase for the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) which covers staff, district office space, and day-to-day operations for lawmakers to best serve their constituents. This has been a priority for me as I recognize the important role of expanding pay and benefits for our staff as we strive to recruit a more diverse workforce in our offices and then to retain these staff instead of losing them to the private sector.

“Additionally, this year’s bill makes important steps in exploring other areas where we can expand benefits for staff to compete with the private sector. And so, this year’s report directs the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to conduct a benefit and retention study to look at possibilities such as tuition credits, the creation of 529 accounts—similar to the TSP with matching employer contributions, a House wide leave policy, and childcare subsidies so that we can continue to meet the needs of existing and future staff.

“In a year full of trauma and hurt, with the apex being the Insurrection on January 6th, our human resources entities within the Capitol Complex have adapted to the evolving and increasing mental health needs of our campus. The bill includes $2.3 million – a $635,0000 increase for the Office of Employee Assistance and $ 1,780,000 for the Office of Well-Being to ensure they have the resources to support needs of our community and to fund culturally sensitive mental health services, so everyone feels comfortable seeking the support they need.

“We have also included $2 million for the House Modernization Initiatives Account to build off last year’s efforts to make Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent on behalf of the American people.

“Second, the bill provides $15.4 million to expand the paid internship program – this will increase the amount to $35,000 per Member office pay interns. We also have extended this funding to Committees and continue to support these funds being used for interns both in DC and in district offices.

“But we also recognize the ongoing inequities in congressional internships, and so we included language directing the Office of Diversity and Inclusion working in conjunction with the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to conduct a feasibility study on re-creating a centralized House internship program – similar to the LBJ program years ago – which could provide various support services such as housing, training, professional development, and focus outreach on students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges or Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions  and other Minority Serving Institutions. I believe this is a vital step to creating a pipeline for students from all background to come and work on Capitol Hill.

“The bill also includes $3 million for the Office of Diversity Inclusion and directs the CAO to increase their staff cap from 7 to 10 staffers to allow them to hire additional staff.

“It is vital that we prioritize initiatives to expand a diverse and talented workforce on Capitol Hill. The report provides an additional $350,000 to establish a Task Force within CAO to include the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, and any other House office as may be necessary, to develop a methodology for regularly surveying the House workforce on pay and benefits issues, to provide guidance and support for the content and development of a centralized Human Resources Hub, and to make policy recommendations for how to improve human resources management practices throughout the House.

“Additionally, once again this year’s bill includes language to permit DACA recipients to work for Congress and other Legislative Branch Agencies. I hope we can address this issue government-wide at some point this year, but in the meantime, I want to welcome these members of our national community to seek employment with Congress and the Leg Branch agencies.

“Turning to the other Legislative Branch agencies, the bill provides strong support for the security and operational needs of the House and surrounding Capitol Complex.

“I’ve included $603 million for the Capitol Police which is a $89.7 million increase above the FY 2021 bill. This provides with vital resources for training, recruitment, retention, and readiness efforts. This funding will provide for a total of 2,112 sworn officers.

“Additionally, this continues to build off previous efforts in ensuring a robust trauma and resiliency program for our sworn and civilian officers. This is an extremely important investment as they continue to heal from the events of January 6th and Good Friday.

“The bill includes an increase of $37 million from 2021 for the Library of Congress, as it is this subcommittee’s duty to protect the valuable collections and preserve the Library’s ability to chronicle this great nation and provide access to our history for generations to come.

“And it includes $3.8 million to continue the Library’s work on the Veterans History Project to collect and preserve the personal accounts of American war veterans.

“The bill also increases funding for the Architect of the Capitol over 2021 by $152 million to address necessary construction activities such as the Cannon Office building renovation.

“Also included are various other provisions to ensure the Capitol Visitor Center and Capitol Complex is accessible for individuals with disabilities and all visitors who wish to tour the Capitol or meet with their member of Congress.

“Finally, the bill includes language for the removal of statues or busts in the Capitol of those who tried to overthrow the government of the United States or were white supremacists; and we carry language that prohibits the COLA for Members of Congress.

“Before I yield back, I would like to recognize the staff for all of the hard work and time they have put into this bill.  From the Majority Committee Staff I would like to thank Steve Marchese (MAR-CASE), who is doing his first cycle as the Clerk of Leg Branch, Anna Hansen – who recently left us for OMB, Malachi White, and Rachel Jenkins my Legislative Director. From the Minority Committee staff I would like to thank Michelle Reinshuttle.

“Once again, I ask for your support for this bill. I yield back.”

117th Congress