Womack Remarks at Rules Committee Hearing on H.R. 4664, The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the distinguished acting Ranking Member, and I too, send my prayers to the family of Jim McGovern for the hardship that the family is facing right now. It's an honor to be before you today as we tee up the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee appropriations bill. I also want to thank my good friend and Ranking Member, Steny Hoyer. He is a dear friend, and I say that with all sincerity. We've had a lot of conversations through the years, we've worked on a lot of things in a really bipartisan way, but it is an honor to serve with him, and I'm deeply honored that he is the Ranking Member of this Subcommittee.
Before I spend some time discussing the FSGG bill, I'd like to reiterate my concern about our broken budget process. And this will come as no surprise to you since I co-chaired the Joint Select Committee on Budget Process Reform. We got a lot of really good work done, and I might say that had we been successful, and there are some reasons why we weren't, had we been successful we would not be having this conversation right now. There would have been some changes introduced to this Congress that would have been healthy and I think, so far keeping us away from government shutdowns, big Omnibus packages, and Continuing Resolutions.
Our national debt is both a national security and economic security issue. And we recognize that - this bill reflects that. We have to do something about spending. We are spending far too much money, we're taking in less, and that is not a sustainable outcome.
Recognizing the inflationary spirals that are happening, I think we have to act before it is too late.
We know most of our fiscal issues are on the other side of the spending ledger and if Congress is truly committed to fixing our balance sheet, we must begin the conversation on mandatory spending. I'm not going to bore you or impress upon you any major revelations about the mandatory side of spending, but it is in fact, where the drivers of the deficit and debt actually are. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be doing something on the discretionary side, and I think Chairwoman Granger deserves a huge amount of credit for helping to pass seven out of twelve appropriations bills in the House. I am hopeful we can increase that number this week by a factor of two with my bill and the bill of the Chairman of this Rules Committee.
The bill before us today provides $25.279 billion in non-defense discretionary spending across a number of critical agencies. It also includes $45 million in defense spending, and rejects over $6.3 billion in discretionary funding increases within the President’s Budget Request.
The bill represents an adequate level of funding, given our fiscal constraints. It is seven percent below the Fiscal Year 2023 enacted level and two percent below the Fiscal Year 2022 enacted level.
The bill provides the resources necessary to combat threats and protect the integrity of our financial and judicial systems.
We claw back $10 billion of unused and unobligated Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) money that would create a super army of IRS agents poised to target individuals and small business owners. This rescission does not touch Taxpayer Services or Business Systems Modernization, which means taxpayers will still be able to get the assistance they need to file their taxes and the IRS can continue to modernize their systems and better protect taxpayer data from cyber-attacks.
We also rescind IRA money from the General Services Administration targeted to make federal buildings greener. Instead of “leading by example” in the construction of sustainable buildings, GSA should lead by example and bring their employees back to the office. I am proud this bill requires federal agencies to return to the office at pre-pandemic telework levels. The Administration has been unwilling to make any real progress on this front and we cannot afford to have vacant federal buildings in the District and across America. Additionally, we must hold the federal workforce accountable for the quality of their work and the service they provide to the American people.
On that topic, I am gravely concerned about safety in the District of Columbia, which is why I’m proud that this bill prohibits D.C. from carrying out its Policing and Justice Reform Act. It is time the District finds solutions to its brazen increase in crime instead of implementing this misguided legislation.
The bill demands that agencies concentrate on their CORE mission. The pursuit of a job-killing, burdensome, and unnecessary regulatory agenda only serves to further bloat a federal bureaucracy that has become too big, too intrusive, and counter-intuitive to limited government.
Specifically, we turn off rulemakings at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that lack proper cost-benefit analysis and aggregate impact analysis. Further, we prohibit agencies like the SEC and CFPB from collecting and storing personal data that is unconstitutional and serves no regulatory purpose.
To be clear, the agencies under our jurisdiction perform important functions; however, many have strayed from their mandate and the results have been a true disservice to the American people. This bill responsibly returns them to their core mission.
I am very proud of this bill, and I ask that the Rules Committee to adopt a rule that provides an opportunity for every member of the House to have input on this bill.
Thank you for allowing me to testify here this afternoon, and I yield back my time and look forward to your questions.