Ryan statement at subcommittee markup of 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill
Thank you, Chairman Yoder. Let me just say how lucky I am to have you as my chair. You’ve sought my input and made sure that wherever there’s room for bipartisan agreement in this bill, we reach it. Your staff has done the same for my staff and I want to thank them, as well.
I’m going to support this bill. It provides $3.58 billion for the Legislative Branch of the Federal government, excluding the Senate. We expect a Subcommittee allocation of $4.49 billion to include the Senate, which will bring us to $50 million or 1.13% more than last year.
The bill gives much-needed budget increases to some of the agencies and offices in the Legislative Branch. But there are important priorities being neglected. For example, the Architect of the Capitol’s House buildings accounts and the personnel needs of the Library of Congress and CRS.
And frankly, this bill’s funding level for the Government Accountability Office is irresponsible. With the Trump Administration refusing legitimate oversight requests just because they come from Democrats, GAO’s investigations and efforts to root out waste, fraud and abuse are more important than ever. Under the flat funding in this bill, GAO would have in excess of 200 fewer staff by the end of the year. That’s the lowest staffing level for GAO since the 1930s. We must give GAO adequate funding.
Unfortunately, as we were reminded by last week’s senseless shooting, we also need to be very deliberate about funding to ensure the security of Members, staff, and our constituents who visit the Capitol or our district offices. The scariest part for us is, there used to be this impression by the public that we all had security everywhere we went. Now everyone knows that isn’t the case.
I support the additional $29.2 million in this bill for Capitol Police, and the $5 million increase for the Sergeant at Arms. But we also need more information about the full range of options for enhancing security at our offices and homes, including information about the cost. The Chairman and I have spoken about getting that information. I don’t know what the solution is, but it is the responsibility of the House as an institution to protect us all, and this Subcommittee needs to make sure the resources are there to keep everyone safe.
Finally, even though this is a good bill, we’re still budgeting blind. The Republicans control the entire government but they can’t agree with themselves on a budget or a plan to adjust the statutory spending caps. As a result, we don’t know if approving this bill means we won’t have any money left for cancer research, job training programs, or fighting the opioid epidemic. There’s still a rumor the majority is considering a giant partisan omnibus appropriations strategy, which could make all our hard work on this bill a waste of time.
But this meeting is about our Subcommittee’s product and, as I said, I’m proud of our work, even though I hope we can make further improvements to the bill. I look forward to the full committee markup, and I yield back.