Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), released the following statement in support of the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills and Continuing Resolution, keeping the government in operation until December 16, 2011:
"This legislation, also known as the mini-bus, is another step in the right direction of reigning in wasteful spending and getting our economy back on track," said Aderholt. "This mini-bus fulfills what we have promised: it cuts discretionary spending for the second year running and establishes much needed priorities. Given the state of the economy, now more than ever, it is imperative to institute responsible spending levels, creating a better environment for economic growth and private sector job creation."
"I am pleased to say that North Alabama is not left out of this spending bill as there is an increase of $60 million in FY12 for the development of the SLS rocket, for a total of $1.86 billion. In addition the bill requires quarterly reports on the SLS project from NASA Headquarters. Specifically this provision limits spending on infrastructure and requires NASA demonstrate sufficient progress on the SLS project, before receiving all commercial crew funding. The continued development of the SLS rocket is a critical to human spaceflight and exploration and important to Alabama's economy and I look forward to continuing to work on this project," concluded Aderholt.
Responsible Funding Levels -- The bill provides responsible funding for integral federal agencies and departments, maintaining the critical services and programs our citizens rely on. These programs facilitate public safety and health, improve our infrastructure, protect our most vulnerable citizens, and help grow our economy.
The conference agreement for the three bills upholds the overall regular base discretionary level of $1.043 trillion as agreed to in the Budget Control Act (BCA). This funding level is a decrease of $7 billion from last year, and represents a savings of $93 billion compared to the President's request.
Important Policy Items -- This Conference Report contains important policy items that will discourage government overreach in the daily lives of Americans, provide better oversight on the use of precious taxpayer dollars, protect our citizens and our homeland, and tighten the reins on harmful, job?killing federal regulations that make it harder for employers to create jobs. Some of these items include:
- Bolstering Trade and Job Creation -- The report includes language to bolster U.S. trade and strengthen the marketplace, including language encouraging free trade agreements, manufacturing growth, a better import-export trade balance, and repatriation to bring jobs back to the U.S.
- Deportation Funding -- The report provides additional funding for judges to expedite deportation hearings of illegal immigrants.
- "GIPSA" Rule -- The report places restrictions on the implementation of a proposed rule by the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) that would have allowed harmful government interference in the private market for livestock and poultry.
- Second Amendment Rights -- The conference agreement includes numerous provisions that protect the right to keep and bear arms. Three of these protections are made permanent beginning in FY 2012. These three provisions prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) from consolidating firearms sales records, electronically retrieving the records of former firearms dealers, and maintaining information on persons who have passed firearms background checks. In addition, the conference agreement contains numerous one-year firearms protections, and new language prohibiting DOJ from requiring imported shotguns to meet a "sporting purposes" test.
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Oversight -- The Conference Report includes new oversight reforms at HUD, including: oversight reports on how community development program funds are used, reforms to the mismanaged HOME Investment Partnerships Program, required reports on eliminating waste, fraud and abuse; a 37.5% funding cut for the mismanaged HOME Investment Partnerships Program; and no funding for the unauthorized "Sustainable Communities" program.
- Gitmo - The report continues provisions related to Guantanamo Bay -- including a prohibition on the transfer or release of any detainee into the U.S., and a prohibition on the acquisition or construction of any new prison to house detainees.
- Federal Home Loan Reform -- The bill does not increase the maximum loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These entities have been under public scrutiny for their questionable businesses practices and use of billions in federal bailout funds, some of which have been used for extravagant management bonuses. The bill limits the increase in the conforming loan limits to only the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), which is subject to greater congressional scrutiny and oversight.
- Climate Change -- The conference agreement does NOT include funding to establish a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Service. The Administration requested $322 million to establish this new entity within NOAA.
Disaster Funding -- Numerous major natural disasters this year have cost states and communities billions -- requiring historic levels of relief and recovery assistance. Federal agencies are receiving relief requests from nearly every state, and it is critical that Congress provide necessary funds to help families, businesses, and communities recover from these devastating disasters.
After close scrutiny of disaster funding needs within the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, and Agriculture, the Conference Report provides $2.3 billion in disaster relief funding for these agencies --approximately $850 million less than the Senate-passed legislation. These funds will be used solely for recovery related to natural disasters and catastrophes and will not grow the underlying budget or size of these agencies.
Aderholt currently serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Committee's Commerce, Justice and Science; and Agriculture Subcommittees, and also serves on the Helsinki Commission.