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Public Statements

Authorizing Funds for Emergency Relief Projects

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, H.R. 3174 makes funds already appropriated to the Emergency Highway Relief program available for response to the devastating floods in Colorado this summer. Critically, the bill accomplishes this without providing additional budget authority on net, or increasing the deficit over 10 years.

Under our budget rules, discretionary appropriations that the Congress designates as an emergency are not subject to budget limits and do not have to be offset with other spending reductions. To ensure emergency appropriations are only devoted to emergency requirements, our budget rules do not allow emergency funds to be used as an offset for non-emergency purposes. If this were allowed, it would provide a backdoor means of allowing funds for non-emergency purposes to escape budget limits.

This legislation is attempting to make available funding for flooding in Colorado using funds already appropriated and designated as an emergency by Congress. However, this bill is not an appropriations measure. From a budget scorekeeping standpoint the effect of the bill is to decrease emergency discretionary budget authority and increase non-emergency mandatory budget authority. If this bill instead amended the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-2) and designated the funding for Colorado floods as an emergency, then the purposes of this bill would be accomplished without any scored increase in budget authority. Because there is no effective process for designating mandatory spending as an emergency, the non-emergency mandatory budget authority increase in this bill cannot be offset by the decrease in emergency discretionary budget authority.

In the end, this bill intends to meet new emergency needs making use of existing emergency funds. For that reason, I am going to support this legislation. However, I do not view this as a precedent and will not view a reduction in emergency spending as an appropriate offset for non-emergency funding.

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