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Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, I rise this afternoon in support of the Legislative Branch appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010. The chairman of the subcommittee, Senator Nelson, and I have worked collaboratively in this process of putting the bill together. I thank him for that. I think we had some real substance in our hearings and spent the time, the energy, and the focus we needed on these matters regarding this particular appropriation.
When combined with the House items, the bill before us totals $4.7 billion, and while this is an increase of 5 percent over the current year, the bill we reported out of the committee represented less than a 3-percent increase over fiscal year 2009, as the chairman has said--in fact, 2.4 percent. I would argue for those who say we need to keep our appropriations bills within the range of inflation, we are probably there at a 2.4-percent increase.
We cannot, within this body, control the amounts the other body may provide for its own operations, but the amounts for the Senate and the other legislative branch agencies that are controlled in this bill are controlled very closely, especially when we compare this with the average 15 percent increase that was requested by the legislative branch agencies. I think we worked very hard to take the requests that came before the committee and really pared them down to what was appropriate, what was needed, what was necessary.
Both Senator Nelson and I are new to the Appropriations Committee. I am very pleased we were able to have these very good and substantive hearings with all of the legislative branch agencies. We discussed the wide range of issues and challenges before the legislative branch. We worked well together and have been consistent in our efforts to eliminate unnecessary spending, tighten our belts, and help ensure that the legislative branch is a model for the rest of the government. We believed we needed to set a good standard. If we stay on schedule, we will be able to get this bill enacted prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. It is a good start to the appropriations process.
I would like to highlight just a few areas, adding on to what the chairman has mentioned.
First, with respect to the Architect of the Capitol, the bill funds those projects that address the most serious risks to safety and health, such as repairs within the utility tunnels that underlie the Capitol Complex and projects that remedy deferred maintenance in our buildings. If we don't address the maintenance backlogs, the price tags, we know, will just increase down the road.
The bill continues the Architect of the Capitol's efforts to improve energy efficiency, with over $14 million in funding designated for this purpose.
Within the Library of Congress, we managed to include funding to begin to update the agency's information technology infrastructure. For about a decade now, there have been no increases to IT within the Library of Congress. Yet most of the users of the Library are virtual users. This was the highest priority of our Librarian of Congress, Mr. Billington. This investment will ensure that millions of people who access the Library through its Web site will be able to find what it is they are looking for.
Similarly, within GPO, we funded the final increment for updating GPO's--this is the Government Printing Office--Web site to ensure government publications can be easily accessed and searched.
Also, the bill provides the final increment of funding to complete the merger of the Library of Congress Police into the Capitol Police. This project was initiated by Senator Bennett when he was chairman of the subcommittee and has been promoted by each of the successive chairs and ranking members to improve security of the Capitol Complex.
Finally, there is a directive in the bill for a report by the Government Accountability Office of a study of Capitol Police staffing and overtime. Senator Nelson and I both share the concern that we right-size the Capitol Police and we control overtime spending. We recognize security is absolutely paramount, but effective management of the agency is equally as important.
I thank Senator Nelson for his efforts and those of his staff and my staff in putting this bill together. I also thank the full committee chairman, Senator Inouye, and the ranking member, Senator Cochran, for getting us to the floor today.
I yield the floor.
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