DeLauro Statement to Rules Committee on Further Extending Government Funding Act
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) today delivered the following remarks to the House Rules Committee in support of H.R. 6119:
Chairman McGovern, Ranking Member Cole, and Members of the Committee: I want to say thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Rules Committee to discuss the Further Extending Government Funding Act, which continues government funding at current levels through February 18 and includes the Additional Afghanistan Supplemental Appropriations Act.
Honestly instead of sitting at this table discussing another Continuing Resolution, I wish that we were here to present a bipartisan, bicameral appropriations agreement. CRs are not the way to govern and it is a short-term patch which leaves the American people behind. I also might add that I have heard from some of my Republican colleagues on both sides of the Capitol that they would to prefer a year-long continuing resolution.
Unfortunately, however, Republicans have refused to negotiate on an omnibus, so we therefore have no choice but to pursue a short-term extension. House and Senate Democrats have put forward their proposals. Republicans have not presented an offer of their own — there is not one piece of paper describing what the other side of the aisle is interested in or not interested in. It has been 30 days since I brought together a bipartisan, bicameral meeting and this was on November 2, a four corners meeting, and to date we have not heard one word. We are looking at tabula rasa — a blank page.
The legislation before us makes minimal changes, negotiated by both sides of the aisle, to address the most urgent needs during the period of the Continuing Resolution. It is my strong belief that, by limiting the number of funding and policy changes, we are putting ourselves in a better position to reach a negotiated, full-year agreement on government funding.
In addition, a separate piece of legislation strongly supported by Democrats and negotiated I might add by both parties to provide $7 billion to continue supporting Afghanistan evacuees after the end of 20 years of war is included in this bill.
While I wish the February 18 end date were earlier, and I pursued moving more quickly on getting an earlier end date. Again, I might add that was not of interest with Republican colleagues on the other side of the Capitol. This agreement allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement which addresses the needs of the American people.
Because let me be clear: Working families, small businesses, veterans, and our military need the certainty that comes with passing government funding bills as opposed to short-term patches like the one before us.
For our communities, we need an agreement that would create jobs by supporting small businesses, bolster our public health infrastructure to prevent future pandemics and medical research to save lives, strengthen our public schools with a focus on those serving students with the highest need, protecting our air and water through environmental protection and enforcement efforts, combat the opioid epidemic on the ground and in our communities, support core services such as food safety and consumer product inspections. Without an agreement, investments in all these areas will be denied.
For our veterans, we need an agreement to provide sufficient funding for veterans’ benefits, reduce backlogs for veterans and their families who are seeking assistance, and meet the needs of the VA’s health care system. Without an agreement, there will be a shortfall that will cause veterans not to receive their benefits in full.
For our national security, we need an agreement to support defense readiness and modernization, sustain good-paying American jobs, secure our cyber infrastructure, and strengthen American leadership abroad. Without an agreement, a pay raise for troops will not be funded while funds will be misdirected to a war that we are no longer fighting.
Mr. Chairman, we are ready to go, but we need willing partners to put the American people first.
With a new deadline of February 18, now is the time for our Republican colleagues to offer constructive proposals to address the critical issues facing the country by funding the federal government’s important work for the American people.
I respectfully request an appropriate rule for Floor consideration of this legislation. I look forward to answering your questions.