By Representative Robert Aderholt & Representative John Culberson
House Republicans made a commitment to the American people that Congress would get back to an open, transparent and timely budget process. And we delivered -- the latest action being the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills.
Twenty days ago, the House passed appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security; nine days ago, we passed the military construction appropriations bill through the most open process possible -- with bipartisan support. These bills now join the growing backlog of responsible spending measures the Senate is waiting to consider.
What are they waiting for? Where is the Senate's DHS appropriations bill? Have they forgotten about the numerous disasters affecting communities all across our country? Or the ever-present threat of terrorist attack?
Where is their military construction appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012? Have they forgotten the importance of funding our military bases and veterans operations?
Senate leadership needs to know that the American people elected them to do just that -- lead. The reality is that waiting only puts our national security and disaster relief operations on hold and leaves our nation's veterans hanging in the balance.
Waiting only strengthens our enemies' determination. It only hurts hardworking U.S. taxpayers.
First, the House sent over an appropriations bill that not only funds homeland security for the coming fiscal year, it invokes strong fiscal discipline and needed oversight. The House bill covers our front-line security personnel, like Border Patrol agents, immigration and customs enforcement agents, Coast Guard military personnel and Secret Service agents. The bill also fully funds vital intelligence, watch-listing and threat-targeting functions.
It also supports critical programs the administration and the department have failed to address -- like the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief.
In addition, the bill funds disaster relief efforts for the coming year and includes a much-needed $1 billion in supplemental funding for FEMA's continuing relief efforts -- available immediately on enactment. These funds will sustain crucial aid for communities like Joplin, Mo., the flooded regions along the Mississippi River and the many northern Alabama towns devastated by tornadoes.
Second, just days after passing the DHS appropriations bill, the House agreed on legislation that can fund our military bases and veterans services for the next fiscal year. This bill supports construction of new hospitals, schools and housing -- all identified by military commanders as pressing infrastructure needs. While supporting the men and women of our armed services, this bill would cut spending by $615 million from last year's level.
The bill would guarantee that military, their families and also veterans receive the health care, housing and facilities they deserve. All material support our military families need will be fully funded, and our veterans will continue receiving the pensions and disability payments they've earned.
Sadly, the Senate remains committed to the status quo -- no budget, no plan, no leadership and no commitment to fiscal discipline, veterans, security or disaster relief.
But this doesn't have to be. The Senate has an opportunity to take action and take it immediately. In the middle of our continuing and widening, economic crisis, anything less is a dereliction of duty.
The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is only weeks away. The American people are demanding action on our budget and our national security. Will the Senate follow the House's lead and actually deliver?
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.