Chairman Ryan Statement to Rules Committee on Legislative Branch Bill

2021-07-27 15:29

Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) today delivered the following remarks to the House Rules Committee in support of an appropriate rule for the House to consider H.R. 4346, the Legislative Branch appropriations bill:

Thank you, Chairman McGovern, Ranking Member Cole, and distinguished members of the Rules Committee for the opportunity to testify in front of you all today in support of H.R. 4346, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act. 

This bill makes a substantial investment in expanding recruitment and retention of staff, prioritizing funding to expand diversity and inclusion Campus wide, and funding needed investment to support the day-to-day operations of the House.

This bill totals $4.8 billion dollars for the Legislative Branch for Fiscal Year 2022 which is a 13.8% increase over the previous fiscal year.

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 report directs the Chief Administrative Officer 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. The report provides an additional $350,000 to establish a Task Force within the office of the Chief Administrative Officer 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. This taskforce will provide us the opportunity to continually monitor, guide and modernize a diverse workforce.

The bill also includes $2.3 million – a $635,000 increase for the Office of Employee Assistance and $1.7 million for the House Office of Well-Being to ensure they have the resources to support the needs of our community and to fund culturally sensitive mental health services, so everyone feels comfortable seeking the support they need.

Furthermore, the bill provides $15.4 million to expand the House paid internship program – which increases the amount to $35,000 per Member office to pay interns. We have also extended this funding to Committees and continue to support the funds being used for interns both in DC and 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 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 Chief Administrative Officer to increase their staff cap from 7 to 10 staffers to allow them to hire additional staff.

Additionally, once again this year’s bill includes language to permit DACA recipients, or Dreamers, to work for Congress and other Legislative Branch Agencies.

This bill includes the provision to prevent the increase in the Member COLA, but I have directed the office of the Chief Administrative Officer to provide a report comparing Members pay with executives and managers in the private sector with similar levels of responsibility and experience.

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.

H.R. 4346 includes $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. Additionally, this continues to build off previous efforts ensuring a robust trauma and resiliency program for our sworn and civilian officers.

For the Library of Congress, the bill includes an increase of $37 million from 2021 and increases funding for the Architect of the Capitol over 2021 by $152 million. 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.

I’m proud of the bill we’ve put together this year which continues efforts to re-invest in the Legislative Branch. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4346, and I yield back the balance of my time.

117th Congress