Chairman Ryan Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY 2021 Legislative Branch Funding Bill
I’m pleased to present the 2021 appropriations bill written by our Legislative Branch subcommittee. I very much appreciate the hard work and collegial attitude of all the members of this subcommittee, and particularly the contributions and cooperation of our Ranking Member Ms. Herrera-Beutler, it is a pleasure working with you.
This is a good bill. It reflects the participation and hard work of our subcommittee members, as well as good ideas we received from many sources, including our House colleagues and outside experts and advocates.
The bill provides increased funding to support the staff and other resources that Congress needs to do its job well, to build analytic capacity in the Legislative Branch, and to address high-priority needs in information technology and security.
For example, the bill provides a $25 million increase for the Members’ Representational Allowance, which covers staff, district office space, and other necessities. I also believe this funding is sufficient to address our new normal as Members move to higher tech means of interacting with constituents. This works out to an average of about $56,000 per Member office.
Our bill creates a new House Modernization Initiatives Account and provides a down payment of $2 million start the process of modernizing the House. I believe this funding is necessary to bring the House into the 21st Century. The bill also provides increases to the main analytical agencies in the Leg Branch to continue building their capacity, including the Congressional Budget Office, Congressional Research Service, and Government Accountability Office.
Now that I have mentioned all the parts of the bill that I know there is broad consensus on I want to discuss some items that require a tough conversation.
First, I once again included language in the bill to permit people holding employment authorization under the DACA program to work for Congress and other Leg Branch agencies. DREAMers are Americans and should be able to serve their country in this body. I included it because it is the right thing do and I want to welcome these members of our national community to seek employment with Congress and the Leg Branch agencies.
Second, the bill includes language blocking the cost of living adjustment for Members. Right now, with everything going on in our country, I believe this is necessary. However, I would like to point out that this will be the 12th consecutive year that no cost of living adjustment has been provided. Right now, every federal judge, from the District Court to the Supreme Court is compensated at much higher rate than Members of Congress. We need to have a real discussion on this issue, or we will have a Congress where only millionaires can afford to serve.
Finally, the bill includes long overdue language directing the Architect to remove the statues or busts in the U.S. Capitol that represent figures who participated in the Confederate Army or government, as well as the statues of four white supremacists, including Roger B. Taney. I hope that this action will begin a larger conversation we need to have about other statues in the Capitol representing figures who oppressed various minority groups. And there may be portraits throughout the Capitol complex that need to be reevaluated.
I know this is part of a larger national debate that other Appropriations subcommittees will address, but we need to make a statement now on something we CAN control – the removal of statues that many visitors to the Capitol find offensive. This is the People’s House so let’s make sure ALL people are welcome.
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 under difficult circumstances. From the Majority Committee Staff I would like to thank Matt Washington, who is doing his first cycle as the Clerk of Leg Branch and Sue Quantius as well as Rachel Jenkins from my personal office. From the Minority Committee staff I would like to thank Michelle Reinshuttle, who is also in her first cycle as Minority Clerk as well as Ben Bruns from the Ranking Members Staff.
Finally, I want to thank Chairwoman Lowey for her three decades service to this country. Over these three decades you have been an effective, committed legislator, and a leader on this Committee and in this Congress. I can’t wait until we are back in our Committee Room hanging your portrait, so you can take your rightful place among the titans of this Committee.
I ask for your support for this bill.