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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, it's rare, indeed, that I have the opportunity to watch my chairman speaking from the well, and it almost diverted me a bit. The minor adjustments in this package that cause him to be so unhappy only amount to some, like, $33 billion. Actually, if both of us dislike it so much, Mr. Obey, and if we both voted ``no,'' maybe we could bring the turkey down and start all over again.

But in the meantime, let's not dwell too long, Mr. Speaker. We are now 9 weeks past the beginning of the new fiscal year, and Congress has yet to enact a single appropriations bill. Out of 12 total for 2011, two have passed the House while 10 bills have never even been considered by the full committee. As a result of this historic breakdown of regular order, the House will soon be considering what many people are describing as a full year continuing resolution, to keep the government operating through the end of the current fiscal year. Truth be told, it's more of a CR rolled into an omnibus spending bill because of the adjusted spending levels, the $33 billion that I was talking about, and the many extraneous policy provisions that are being added to the package as well.

It's worth noting that none of these spending adjustments or changes in policy were ever debated or considered by the Appropriations Committee or the House this year. Like so many other items added to bills in the Democrats' era of closed rules, new program funding levels and legislative riders just somehow magically appear in bill after bill, and particularly in this bill.

For the record, I remain adamantly opposed to extending this CR for the balance of the fiscal year at Democrats' current levels, which are too high, or at the inflated levels proposed in this package. Rather than simply keeping the government running, this bill picks winners and losers among agencies and programs across the government by moving some, I suggested, $30-plus billion for all kinds of programs. None of it, by the way, for defense.

Not surprisingly, Labor and Health and Human Service programs are among the biggest winners in this package, receiving an almost $7 billion net increase over fiscal year 2010. The State-Foreign Operations bill also receives a $2 billion increase over the current year's levels. By comparison, this CR omnibus provides $513 billion in base defense spending, which is over $18 billion below the department's request. It is also over $11 billion below the level the Defense Subcommittee reported out back in July.

While I freely admit that all spending, including defense, must be on the table as we look to rein in this historic set of deficits, we must proceed smartly and wisely, especially when our troops are engaged in the battlefield. Ultimately, this approach is neither. It shortchanges our troops at a time when we should be supporting them. At a time when we should be supporting our troops, this bill uses defense funding as a piggy bank for the majority's domestic priorities.

Additionally, this legislation triples the time for which the Department of Interior has to approve exploration plans for offshore operators, extending the timeline from some 30 days to 90 days and essentially codifying the de facto moratorium offshore operators have been operating under for months.

This significant policy change, done without debate or a single committee or House vote, has far-reaching implications relating to both existing and future oil and gas leases.

Simply put, this is a Christmas tree bill that provides more spending for the majority's many domestic priorities before their time in the majority comes to an end in early January.

I am encouraging our colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are concerned about excessive spending to oppose any effort to extend the CR beyond February. That would allow the new Republican majority to complete the unfinished FY 2011 appropriations bills at the FY 2008 levels and save taxpayers some $100 billion. This would be the clearest signal the House could send to the American people that we got the message in November and are deadly serious about cutting spending.

Even as the House prepares to consider the CR/omnibus, the House and Senate majority are finalizing the details of a 12 bill, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. The Senate faces a 60-vote hurdle to pass that omnibus bill; but if they succeed, it will fall on the House Democrats to pass it, and they will have to do it without a single Republican vote, I can assure you.

Mr. Speaker, none of us believe we should shut down the government, but I cannot and will not support the CR/omnibus because it simply spends too much and contains unnecessary and extraneous legislative riders. If we pass a CR, we should pass a clean CR funded at the FY 2008 levels and demonstrate our commitment to cutting spending.

Mr. Speaker, just perchance the Senate is not able to get those 60 votes, this could be the last time that my chairman, Mr. Obey, and I are on the floor together, and as we do that, I wanted to recognize especially my staff director, Jeff Shockey, for the fabulous job he has done working for us over these years.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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