Chairman Ryan Statement at Subcommittee Markup of FY 2020 Legislative Branch Funding Bill

2019-05-01 12:01

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), Chair of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2020 bill:

Welcome to our subcommittee’s markup of the 2020 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act.

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.  We’ve received a lot of good ideas from all the subcommittee members and tried to incorporate as many as we could. 

There are a lot of needs and good causes within the jurisdiction of our subcommittee, and we’ve tried to take care of the highest priorities throughout the bill with the amounts available to us.

Fundamentally, our bill provides modest increases to support the staffing and other resources needed by Congress to do its job well, to maintain and build analytic capacity in the Legislative Branch, and to address high-priority needs in areas like information technology and security. 

For example, the bill provides a $29 million increase for the Members’ Representational Allowance, which covers staff, district office space, and other necessities.  Part of that increase is needed to bring appropriations in line with currently authorized spending, and the rest is intended to support a 2 percent increase in the allowance in 2020.

Our bill also increases the allowance for paying interns, from $20,000 to $25,000 per Member office.  Internships are a valuable means of gaining work experience and opening doors to future employment—and that opportunity shouldn’t be available only to those who can afford to work for free.

We also increase the resources available to committees to do their jobs in developing legislation and conducting oversight.  The bill fully supports the amounts allocated to committees for 2020 under the funding resolution adopted by the House in March, which is 3.5 percent more than allocated in 2018 and a somewhat larger increase above the amounts actually spent.

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.   

It also restores a former member of that analytical team by once again funding the Office of Technology Assessment, which was de-funded in 1995.   To do its job in this era, Congress needs a good understanding of the benefits, risks, and issues posed by rapidly emerging technologies.  A restored OTA will be a valuable resource for accurate, well-informed, and neutral advice, as it was in the past.

Finally, there’s language in the bill to permit people holding employment authorization under the DACA program to work for Congress and other Leg Branch agencies.  The current obstacle to employment of this group, who we often call the “Dreamers”, is government-wide language in another bill that restricts federal employment of non-citizens to people who hold certain immigration statuses—a list that doesn’t currently include DACA.  I hope we can address this issue government-wide at some point this year, but in the meantime let’s welcome these members of our national community to seek employment with Congress and the Leg Branch agencies.

I ask for your support for this bill.

116th Congress