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Public Statements

Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DICKS. First of all, I would like to pass along my appreciation to Chairman Crenshaw and to Ranking Member Honda for their willingness to work together in a very bipartisan manner. I also would like to commend the staffs of the majority and minority for their efforts in bringing this bill where we are today.

This bill's allocation is just slightly below last year's and is well within the range of what would have been expected had the majority stuck to the discretionary number agreed to in the Budget Control Act. But for the most part, this bill has been protected from Ryan budget austerity.

Many programs and agencies important to the operation of Congress have been spared from harmful cuts. Support agencies, such as the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the Government Accountability Office are all adequately funded, which will allow them to continue operating without further reductions in staff or services. However, it is important to note that not every account has been spared.

As we all know, the Architect of the Capitol is in the middle of an extensive restoration effort. This bill's allocation does not provide the funds needed to begin the second phase of that effort but, rather, cuts the Architect of the Capitol significantly below last year's funding level. As I'd mentioned during the committee markup, I'd rather the dome remain a monument to our Nation's greatness than become a symbol for shortsighted austerity.

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Mr. DICKS. If we have another Member, could we go out of order by unanimous consent? Is that a problem?

Mr. CRENSHAW. In response to your question, I think it is in order, Mr. Dicks. I know that I, Mr. Honda, and you as well, Mr. Dicks, could strike the last word and make a comment or two if you'd like. Mr. Honda might want to say a word.

Mr. DICKS. Apparently, we would have to go back in the House and ask unanimous consent if we wanted to go out of order on this. Maybe it's just better to wait for the gentleman from Arizona to get here.

Since we're here, what is the plan for phase two of the Capitol, of the dome restoration? How does the chairman see this?

Mr. CRENSHAW. That's an excellent question. We ought to take a little time.

Mr. DICKS. I thought it was.

Mr. CRENSHAW. As you know, phase one is in process, and that's the skirt of the dome. You can see some of the work that's being done there. The next phase is much more expensive. I think it's a little over $100 million. As you know, we have an inauguration that's coming. So, during the inauguration, I would hope that we wouldn't have a lot of construction going on to impair the view of that beautiful dome. It is my desire that, as soon as the inauguration is over, we can find the funds, which is a priority of this subcommittee. We might even break that up into two or three phases, but certainly that work needs to be done.

As you have often pointed out, when you look up and see that magnificent structure, it looks wonderful. But when you get up close, there are some problems that we need to deal with. We want to deal with those as soon as we can, so I think it's just a matter of priority.

Mr. DICKS. There is no emergency requirement here? I mean, this work is work that can be done over a staged period of time, and there is no real serious problem that could have an adverse effect on the Capitol, is there?

Mr. CRENSHAW. No, I don't think there is anything that makes it an emergency.

I think, clearly, like a lot of these projects that ought to be funded, the Architect has a long list of projects, and this is certainly one of those, so we want to be able to deal with that. It is a priority of this subcommittee, and we've talked about that. We want to make sure, as soon as we can, that we'll have the money to do that.

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Mr. DICKS. I thank the gentleman.

Just so we have a historical perspective of what we're talking about here today, the United States Botanic Garden is rooted in the Nation's heritage. During the late 18th century, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison shared the dream of a national Botanic Garden and were instrumental in establishing one on The National Mall in 1820.

It just seems to me that even though we're in difficult fiscal times--and I could make an argument that we should be spending money on projects to put people to work, including the dome. But this has a historic significance to our country--George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

To me, we can find $1.23 million to do the repair work that is necessary to keep this in good condition for the American people. This is a priority. I hope that we will all resoundingly defeat the gentleman's amendment.

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