Lowey statement at full committee markup of 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill
Thank you, Chairman Yoder, Ranking Member Ryan, and Chairman Frelinghuysen for your work on this bill.
The Legislative Branch bill takes on added importance this year, given the tragic shooting at the Congressional baseball game. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and all those who were injured by this senseless violence. Members are rightfully concerned with ensuring our own safety, and that of our staffs and constituents.
Despite the added importance of this year’s bill, I am deeply concerned that we are considering it haphazardly, without any apparent plan to complete the 2018 budget and appropriations process. It is nearly July, and no budget resolution exists. No bipartisan talks are ongoing to raise budget caps so that appropriations law can be enacted. And there is no apparent plan to keep the government funded and avoid a catastrophic debt default in the fall.
Perhaps most disturbingly, the majority on this Committee has failed to meet basic transparency by proposing a full slate of 302b allocations so that spending bills may be evaluated as part of a whole. In fact, at markups today and tomorrow, I understand the majority will not even advance interim suballocations. Quite simply, this is unacceptable.
The American people deserve better than this secretive and arbitrary process.
Now, on to the bill before us. The Legislative Branch Appropriations bill would provide $4.49 billion for Fiscal Year 2018, a $50 million increase above current levels and $357.5 million below the budget request.
The bill provides a $29.2 million increase for Capitol Police and a $5 million increase for the Sergeant at Arms, for 72 new officers and improved security not only for Members but especially for constituents and staff in our district offices.
While these investments are extremely important, I cannot say that everything in this bill is positive. The Government Accountability Office would receive $568.3 million for FY 2018, $46.2 million less than its budget request. It is irresponsible to underfund the GAO, especially when Administration officials have reportedly been ordered not to comply with Democratic oversight requests. Yet, at this funding level, GAO would have over 200 fewer staff by year’s end, undermining its ability to conduct oversight and ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent.
Despite my misgivings, I would like to once again thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for their hard work on this bill. I look forward to continuing to work with them as the bill progresses.