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Conference Report On H.R. 2918, Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, D.C.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 772, I call up the conference report on the bill (H.R. 2918) making appropriations for the Legislative Branch for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 772, the conference report is considered read.

(For conference report and statement, see proceedings of the House of September 24, 2009, at page H9924.)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Wasserman Schultz) and the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Aderholt) each will control 30 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida.

GENERAL LEAVE

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include tabular and extraneous material on the conference report to accompany H.R. 2918.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Florida?

There was no objection.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, the conference agreement which we present to the House today for the fiscal year 2010 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill authorizes a total of $4.6 billion for the operations of the House and the Senate and for the operating budgets of the legislative branch support agencies. The overall amount is $254 million above the 2009 enacted level and $500 million below the request. The net increase over the enacted level is 3.5 percent.

This is the first freestanding conference agreement for the Legislative Branch bill since 2005, and the first since I became Chair of the subcommittee. I am pleased to report that the agreement preserves all of the priorities of the House, and that the Legislative Branch bill is on time and under budget. Madam Speaker, this package was developed in full cooperation with the minority and represents a fully bipartisan agreement.

The principal responsibility of our subcommittee is to serve as stewards of the legislative branch, its institutions, and its employees. In fulfilling these goals, the 2010 Legislative Branch bill provides funding for the routine and recurring costs of paying our hardworking staff, maintaining and repairing the buildings in which we work here in Washington and in our districts, securing the Capitol complex from threats, and for the technologies which we depend on to communicate among ourselves and with our constituents.

Key investments in this category include $1.369 billion for the operations of the House. This includes basic pay and benefits for employees as well as a number of technology improvements, including funds to replace the aging electronic voting system in the House Chamber. It includes $328 million for the Capitol Police to protect the Capitol, the Members, and our visitors; $602 million for the Architect of the Capitol to support ongoing operational costs to the Capitol complex and to fund key initiatives to repair and upgrade these facilities; $643 million for the Library of Congress, which is an increase of $36 million over 2009, or 6 percent. This includes $15 million, as requested, to accelerate improvements in the Library's IT infrastructure, the Librarian's top priority for 2010.

Madam Speaker, this bill is about more than just maintaining the status quo; it includes a number of new investments intended to provide for the long-term health of the Congress, and especially for the House of Representatives. It includes important security funding to protect the employees, visitors, and the institution itself. Let's not forget that one of the planes piloted by terrorists on September 11, 2001, was purported to be headed for the Capitol. A few weeks ago, a brave Capitol Police Officer engaged in a shoot-out with an individual brandishing a gun. Last year, a bomb was found in a car confiscated by the Capitol Police in the underground garage of the Government Printing Office. The legislative branch budget may seem trivial and unimportant, but it funds the greatest democratic institutions in the world.

Madam Speaker, the Legislative Branch bill also funds our most important assets: the dedicated employees who staff our offices, committees, and support teams. We have endeavored to provide adequate funds for their compensation and benefits, but must do more if we are to continue to be able to recruit and retain the high-quality workforce which each Member depends upon. I am pleased that this conference agreement retains a House priority--funding for new childcare and tuition assistance programs which are currently being considered by the Committee on House Administration.

We also must take care of and preserve for future generations the grand buildings of the Capitol complex, many of which are aging and badly in need of repair. I am pleased that the conference agreement retains $50 million of the $60 million approved by the House in June to initiate a long-term effort to provide for the revitalization of the iconic buildings of the Capitol complex.

The new House Historic Buildings Revitalization Trust Fund will allow us to spread the cost of very expensive renewal projects, such as the 100-year-old Cannon House Office Building rehabilitation, evenly over the next decade. It allows the Congress to deal with these requirements in a more thoughtful and deliberate way. I am very proud that this bill steps up Congress' effort to deal with its aging infrastructure in a more forward-thinking manner.

Madam Speaker, this conference agreement also includes the fiscal year 2010 continuing resolution. I fully support this action. There are just 5 days until the start of the new fiscal year, and a continuing resolution is necessary to continue basic government services. It is a clean continuing resolution which follows the same pattern used in previous years, in particular, the fiscal year 2007 continuing resolution

which was added to the Defense Appropriations bill by our friends on the other side of the aisle when they were in the majority. The only differences that have been added above the current rate are important increased investments in veterans' health care and funding in preparation for the 2010 census.

Before concluding, Madam Speaker, I want to take a minute to thank the minority, particularly my friend and ranking member, Mr. Aderholt from Alabama, for their very strong contributions to this conference agreement. I also want to thank my colleagues on the subcommittee, Vice Chairman Mike Honda, Representative Betty McCollum, Representative Tim Ryan, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, Representative Ciro Rodriguez, Representative Steven LaTourette, and Representative Tom Cole. They all made important contributions to this product, and I truly appreciate their friendship and their effort.

I also want to thank our staff for the work that they have done throughout the year. They have put in long hours and have been very helpful to the Members. This includes Mike Stephens, our subcommittee clerk; Liz Dawson, the minority clerk; Shalanda Young, who has just joined the subcommittee staff; Jenny Kisiah, from the minority; Dave Marroni; and Matt Glassman, from the Congressional Research Service. And I want to thank my own associate staff, Ian Rayder, and the associate staff of all the Members on the subcommittee.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present this conference agreement to the House and urge the support of all Members.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute just to point out that with the greatest respect to the gentleman from Kentucky, the Legislative Branch appropriations bill before us being used as a vehicle for the continuing resolution was the most ready to go. There were no outstanding issues at all.

The gentleman from Wisconsin has just indicated a number of issues remaining on the Homeland Security bill. We are 5 days from the end of the fiscal year with an intervening weekend included in those 5 days. It is simply a matter of making sure that we are not shutting the government down.

I appreciate the good work of my colleague, Mr. Aderholt, and the members of the minority on getting this bill, the Legislative Branch appropriations bill, in the best possible position to serve as a vehicle to keep the government open.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Speaker, I want to again thank the gentleman from Alabama and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, as well as the members of our subcommittee, for the good work that they have done on developing this Legislative Branch appropriations bill.

We have a good solid product to make sure that we can move the legislative branch institutions forward and to preserve the legacy of the Capitol complex and its institutions for future generations. We also are going to make sure that we keep the government running.

I am hopeful that my colleagues, both on the other side of the aisle as well as on my side of the aisle, will vote for this bill. A vote against this bill would jeopardize the security and safety of our citizens. Shutting the government down is not a responsible action

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